Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Week That Ended

Sunday, August 10, 2008
It has been several days since I have last written, sadly there has not been very much to write about, hence it being several days since I last wrote :D I guess that my biggest news is that I have finished my first week of teaching at the preschool, alive and with no injuries to speak of.
This week went pretty well, I think that most of the kids have opened up to me, there are many that when see me they will call “Teacher Beth” and wave to me. Most of my lessons went pretty well but there were a couple where I didn’t have enough information or things planned to take up the time and so I had to improvise, I hope that as time goes on I will get better at having more things to cover the time, I do notice that generally I start off the first lesson pretty shaky but by the 3rd one I am doing pretty good-a couple of times though we had to play a game at the end of the lesson (of course the kids loved that :D). The first few days there were two kids, Leo and Rennie that came every day and all they did were cry, they obviously didn’t want to be there and there was not much that people could do about it. It was so nice though, Thursday morning when the 3 year olds came into class (both of which Rennie and Leo are in), Rennie came running up to me with a big smile on her face and gave me a hug, it was so nice to see a smile instead of tears. The 4 and 5 year olds are pretty easy to work with, sometimes they are pretty rambunctious and don’t want to sit and listen to me talking (which I understand), but the 3 year olds can be hard- I have them first for a 20 minute class, then a 30 minute class and then a combined 45 minute class. The things I plan don’t often work for their class, so I have begun to get better at being able to tweak my lesson from the older class to one simple thing that I can do with the class for the whole period. It is sometimes frustrating though as I feel that I am not doing anything for the 3 year olds if all we do is place pass the ball for twenty minutes or sing The Wheels On The Bus, but obviously they feel that we are doing something for them or they would not make the preschool for such a young age. I definitely think that the kids are opening up to me more, the other day when I was coming down the stairs they came running up and grabbed my hand to pull and show me a dead snail that was on the ground, Brooke said that they have some fascination with showing us dead bugs on the sidewalk.
Friday night I was reading some of my book when Natalie came to my window asking me if I wanted to go to Carrefour (the big store) with her, I didn’t really feel like it but feel like I say no to her a lot, so I asked her if I could read my book for 20 more minutes and then we could go, she said that, that was fine- we were supposed to leave at about 5:30 but probably didn’t end up leaving until closer till 5:40ish. We set off and I was feeling ok, she had told me that it wasn’t too far so I wasn’t worried about doing it. I recognized where we were at the beginning and I was able to find our way, when we hadn’t gone very far she told me when we came to a light that we were going to have to turn left, that kind of freaked me out- we had to walk our bikes to the front of the line and be ready to pedal, pedal, pedal as fast as we could as soon as the light turned green so as not to get hit by the cars coming from behind us and those coming from the other direction. I made it!!! When we had made that corner Natalie asked me if I was ok, I told her maybe, she asked how about half ok, and when she got down to 1/8 ok I told her that she was getting closer :D We were going along when all of a sudden I looked up and saw a sign, I was like hey I recognize that logo, it was Melaueca, I thought that it was the funniest thing. I just started laughing and Natalie was like what is it, I explained it to her but she didn’t know what the company was so it wasn’t as funny to her (I tried to get a picture of the sign on the way back but I was on the other side of the street, it was dark, and my zoom could not get close enough- I will try next time I am over there). Anyway we were going when I asked her how much further she thought it was, she told me we just had to go over the bridge and then we would have a little more after that, I hadn’t been looking up, but when I did I didn’t see just this nice little bridge to go over, oh no I saw a hill (and when I had asked Natalie she told me that most of it was flat—yeah the key word MOST), it wasn’t a little hill either, I asked if I could stop and take a breather really fast, so we pulled over in a parking lot that was conveniently placed a couple of blocks before the base of the hill. I got off my bike and took a little time to just walk around and to rest of my hands (I was clenching the handlebars with nerves—I am not very steady with the bike and so kind of scare myself), after I had taken my break we set off again, we took off going really fast so that we could make it to the top. I was able to make the bike at a pretty steady rate, though at the very end I slowed down a bit (on the way up we passed this guy that was barely peddling- I don’t know how he thought that we was going to make it up at that rate, as I was going full speed and barely made it up), I got a couple of looks on the way up by people passing me on scooters (I was proud of myself for making it to the top so their looks didn’t do anything for me). As soon as we made it to the hump of the bridge it started going down, Natalie told me that we again had to turn left, it kind of scared me as we were going to have to go from the right side and cross over 3 lanes (and it was a pretty busy road), but we made it to the front of the line again on a red light and we were ready to go. We turned at the light and got straight over to the right side, where it all of a sudden split into two little highways, one for cars with 3 lanes and another one for bikes and scooters (we went up on like a paved sidewalk and rode above the cars), at the end of the little sidewalk thing we pulled over to the right at a light and turned our bikes so that when the light changed we could “turn” (but really going straight because we had turned our bikes), we did that and turned into the parking lot, we had made it (with me in one piece no less :D), we parked our bikes and locked them up and went inside.
It was kind of interesting walking in, where we walked in was the grocery store level, but we were on the side where people who had already checked out were. We were both hungry so we decided to go downstairs first to the food court level. Oh, before I forget there was this thing that was right inside the door as you walked in that I thought was pretty cool, it was a umbrella bagger, you placed in and then a bag went on it, so that you would not drip water everywhere throughout the store (I thought that it was pretty ingenious). A restaurant that we passed that was not downstairs that I thought was pretty interesting (though I will never try it), was a sushi place called “I (heart) Sushi,” the part that I thought was interesting was that you sat down and then there was a conveyor belt that went by each seat and you would just grab all of the little plates that you want and then later they would come by and check what you had gotten and then you pay—I guess that, that is how their buffets work here, you go through and fill up your plate and then you go to the cashier and pay for what you got. Interesting! Anyway we went downstairs and looked at each of the little food places, we passed up the first place as it was also sushi and it cost something around $200NT (which is expensive for food here, even if it is only like $6), it was interesting each food place had a little display of their foods, all of the foods were plastic but they were still covered in plastic wrap (I thought that, that was a little weird), I didn’t really know what I wanted but I decided on the last place as they had fountain machine and I really needed something cold to drink ( I had my water bottle but there was no way that the water was cold anymore and so it wouldn’t have helped me any), it was kind of nice anyway as the lady at the place I went to spoke some English (though she kept on telling me that she didn’t speak very much- though her English was perfect), I looked at one of the pictures and decided that, that was what I wanted. While I was ordering Natalie had gone to another place to order her dinner, I filled my drink and waited for my food. It wasn’t very long until she the lady was coming back with my tray, I went to take it but she said that she would carry it for me, she asked where I wanted to eat and I chose the nearest table (I felt bad having her carry it for me). While I was waiting for Natalie I kind of realized that besides the sushi place where I had gotten my food was probably the most expensive (mine cost $115NT whereas many of the other places that I was looking at cost $45NT-$75NT, even at my price my dinner did not cost very much ($100NT is about $3, so a little over $3)). I had a drink (obviously), a rice bowl with some pork and onion mix on it (I didn’t really like whatever the sauce was on it), a dish of what the lady said was meat skin (it was mixed with vegetables, I didn’t really like it), and it also came with a bowl of seaweed soup (yeah that obviously did not get touched by me.. :D). We finished dinner and then headed upstairs.
We decided to start at the top floor, which houses the electronics, books, movies, sports equipment, and clothing. Natalie’s computer is broke and she misses having music, so she wanted to look at CD players, while she debated back and forth with herself I explored around a bit, it was really quite a cool store, with many things of interest. I think that the Ipods were cheaper than if you were to buy them brand new in the US, there were some pretty cheap printers, but if you wanted a camcorder they would actually be cheaper to buy in the US (in case anyone was interested ;D), the cheapest one that they had was $12,000NT. They had some really cool refrigerators (Brooke thought that I was really funny, that I had gone to Carrefour and looked at refrigerators, but oh well I like appliances). They had the Star Wars Trilogy for less than $20, I think that I might go back and get that sometime before I leave. We looked at scooters, considering them to buy (:D), but the cheapest were like $500,000NT (or something like that), and of course Beth wouldn’t want the cheapest one, she would want the one that was almost the most expensive, so we said “NO.” Natalie finally decided on which CD player we wanted (after we had looked for awhile and then walked around the level again and then came back that is) and so she had to pay for that upstairs. It was funny, we went up to the counter and one of the cashiers saw us and pointed to us to another cashier and she looked, saw us and stood up starting to yell someone’s name, it was interesting to see as I guess we make them nervous or something, but this guy came up and I guess that he speaks some English as he was the one to check us out. It was really weird as he stamped her receipt and then before we could leave the floor this other lady stamped it and then on our way out the store at the very end another person had to come and stamp it for Natalie, it was like her passport for her purchase or something.
After the electronics floor we went down to the grocery store level, Natalie had been telling me about how they have free samples like costco and sam’s club (the couple of samples that I tried I was not that interested in). We wandered up and down the aisles looking at things, we saw some very interesting things (some of which you will have to see in the next post of the pictures). It was very interesting to see what things got a lot of area, one of which was tea and coffee (should that be surprising?) but the other one that kind of made me laugh was instant noodles (yeah like top ramen and stuff), it had a whole aisle and a half or something like that, I never even knew that there were that many different kinds of instant noodles! Anyway what I ended up getting there (not all that interesting) was a bottle of ketchup (they don’t really have salt and so when I had made potatoes and eggs the other day it had lacked any flavor to them), body wash, and a box of cream puffs- they were interesting, they are kept on the shelf and are not cold, they weren’t bad but they weren’t my favorite either, they kind of had a hard crunchy shell. Anyway we paid and then headed out (I still do not have a fixed basket and so I put my bag inside my “basket” and then tied it around my handles).
My leg had been cramping up a little bit on the way there at the end and it started again after we started out again, so I asked Natalie if it would be ok if we walked up the bridge (I know, I know… WIMP), anyway we walked to the top (again probably with many looks, but it was dark and we could not see them—but I still say hey, you’re in your car and scooter and we are biking!) and then we biked the rest of the way home. We were going fine until right when we were in front of the college my flip flop slipped off (my feet were a bit sweaty :D (Natalie said that if we get some flip flops that are not made out of plastic then I will not have such a bad time dealing with sweat- so we are going to look for some other ones for me)), I had to go back several feet and grab my shoe and then we were off again. We made it home alright, I was feeling a little overheated and drank quite a bit of water, I wasn’t feeling well and so I did a my laundry, hung them to dry and then went to bed.
I woke up yesterday not feeling well at all, I knew that I had overdone on Friday and that it was going to be a very long day for me. I asked Natalie and Brooke if they would be willing to take my tablecloth to the Relief Society activity for me and do it, as I was not feeling well. I had not finished sewing everything and so they ended up changing my tablecloth completely and did it with chopsticks (which is ok as I really like how it ended up), after they left I went back to sleep. I ended up sleeping part of the day and then just kind of relaxing the rest of it, I also ended up missing the baptism. I was sad to miss it, but instead of getting better throughout the day I continued to get worse, at one point I was feeling really really hot and clammy, I had considered taking a shower just to try and cool off but I just laid down in front of the fan instead. I did end up finishing Harry Potter #7 though yesterday :D. Natalie was kind enough to go and get me some fruit at the end of the day yesterday so I had some this morning.
I was feeling a lot better this morning, still a little blah but definitely a lot better. Church was pretty uneventful (as uneventful as it can be with it being in Chinese and having it translated by missionaries). There is one of the elders (Pendleton) who thinks that he is really funny (he is the one that generally translates Sacrament meeting for us), today when they were saying the announcements he told us that there is going to be a priesthood meeting on Saturday that we don’t have to go to…and then he was like and neither do I and then he started laughing). I am starting to get used to everything being Chinese around me, I think that it will still be awhile before I am used to singing in Chinese though, I am not very good at guessing the sounds of the words. It is very comforting though as I don’t think that the kids really see that there is a difference or if they do they don’t care as they will smile at you all of the time and some of the ones that know English will pass me and just say “Hi” and keep walking, it is really quite cute to hear this little 3 year old walk by and say Hi to you.
As I have been writing this Luke, Kaylene, and Brooke have been preparing dinner, the other night I asked Brooke if she knew how far away Carrefour was but she did not so I wondered if maybe Luke and Kaylene knew, so I asked them. They figure that it is at least 4 miles one way (so a total of 8 miles)! Not quite your 100 miles Sallee, but considering that I have not been biking more than 5 blocks since I have been here (and a lot less at home) that was quite a lot for me, I now know that it will be quite awhile until I ride to Carrefour again (at least on bike), until I am in a lot better shape and don’t totally kill myself overdoing it.
Dinner is almost ready so I suppose that I will sign off, as after dinner I have much other stuff to do. Love you all and hope that you have a wonderful Sunday (that is when you wake up :D)

Love Beth!

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