As some of you may know, our dear friend and employee Cortney left for China last month bound for the city of Hefei to begin teaching children there. She is so very missed by all of us and until she returns, we will keep all of her exciting adventures posted.
Subject: I'm in china...and I'm safe!
Hello friends and family and greetings from China!! First off, I am safe and all is well...so far. Second, this is a lot harder then I thought it would be. We started off our journey with a 14 hour plane ride...not fun. After traveling to the other side of the world we all got on a bus and drove another 8 hours to our city. Longest 22 hours of my life. Did I mention that the bus didn't have a heater?? ha ha...yeah. FREEZING. It's kinda weird because I left America on Tuesday ( Wednesday china time) and arrived in my city on Thursday ( Wednesday American time) I never had a Wednesday February 20, 2008. I don't know if that makes sense at all. I am about 16 hours ahead of California. This time difference is going to be very difficult to get used to.
So I have only been here a day and I already have SOOO many stories.Here are a few:
- We were awakened this morning by these really loud noises ( sounded like bombs...no joke) we later asked our head teacher and she said that we will hear those everyday. People light fireworks here all the time. No matter the occasion, the light them randomly all over the streets. Tonight is the Festival of Lanterns and so they are especially going crazy tonight with them.
-Bathrooms...NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT THE BATHROOMS!!!! It was last night and it was on our bus trip to our city. We were about half way there and stopped to have a bathroom break. It was me, Aleksi, Becca and Aubrey. As we were walking up to the bathrooms there were little kids and grown men just going outside of the door....so not cool. As we entered the bathroom I cannot even put into words how bad the smell was. Literally gagging it was so bad. It was lined with stalls and inside the stall there was a hole in the ground....that's it. They also don't feel it necessary to close the door. I looked at my feet the entire time I was in there. They also don't like to flush...which doesn't help the smell. Aleksi and I ran out of there covering our mouths and eyes and decided to hold it another 4 hours till we got home. Very, very different then what we are used too.
-people...the people stare at us like we are celebrities or animals. ha ha...it's really weird. Everyone honks their horn at us. There was a bus full of people with their face plastered to the window staring us down. I just smile and nod my head. some smile back, some laugh, and some give us the angry eye. So far my experience with the people has been positive. We don't start teaching till Tuesday but we will walk around the school campus ( which is HUGE) and little kids will run up to us "teacha, teacha.....hi." It's cute. We also went to "joymart" it's like a walmart and the ladies that worked there TRIED to be so helpful. They would follow us around and try to help us find what we are looking for and of course all the labels are in Chinese so you dont know exactly what you were buying. The girls were really nice though...even though it was just playing charades the whole time. Everyone likes to try to talk to us. We had a man that came up to us at the bank and started talking with us. I told him that he spoke pretty good ( it was still very very hard to understand him but I was trying to be polite) he told us everything he learned about speaking English he learned from watching "Friends" ha ha ...the TV show. He said Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) was his favorite.
-the streets are kinda scary. We all stick together so it's not horrible, but we basically saw every kind of animal skinned and hanging upside down off of poles. Pretty gross. China is very dirty from what I have seen so far.
- the bank....oh my gosh it took us probably close to 2 hours to exchange all of our money today. Crazy...we had to fill out so much paper work. I exchanged 200 hundred US dollars and got over 1,400 yuan back. ha ha...it's fabulous.
-Our apartments are.....honestly, disgusting and not to mention freezing. It is warmer outside then it is inside. We all get our own apartment ( bedroom, living room, bathroom.) It gets really cold, scary and lonely at night so Aleksi, Bethany and I all sleep together. ha ha..last night all 3 of us slept on a twin size mattress. We were crazy, but warm.
I really do have so many other stories and things to say, but the fireworks are going off like crazy and I am dying to get out there and see them. I just wanted to let you all know that I am safe and doing OK. I will try to email again soon. Love you all!!- Cortney
PS. The food is really hard for me (some other girls too) I have probably eaten no more then 300 calories in the past 48 hours. The meat scares me so I will probably be a vegetarian (if not anorexic) for the next 4 months.
Mom/Dad- should I get a calling card??