Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Tomorrow I head out on my "foreign" adventure for the summer. I put that in quotes because I've been in China for a few weeks now, but I feel like tomorrow I'm really heading out into China. Living in an expat community with my family makes it super easy to get around and to communicate. Starting tomorrow I'm on my own, in an unfamiliar city, and I'll have to try and make this all work. I think it'll be harder than Paris was last year, because Paris really was so easy. So much of what I experienced in Paris reminded me of living in Europe as a kid, right down to the black currant gelato which reminded me of drinking Rubana at my old piano teachers... but I digress. Paris, really was an easy experience. French and Spanish are close enough that I could fudge my way through reading some things, and the rest of the time we were in touristy enough areas that I didn't worry too much. Also, classes were easy because, with the exception of my harmony class with Mr. Bonet, all classes were in English. The dorms were also easy because it was the Spanish house, so I could fudge my way through that with out too much trouble. Tianjin, well, I think that things may be a little different.

I'm excited to get to see China through different eyes. Living in the dorms, potentially with other students (I'm not really clear on that yet) will be really a new experience. There will probably be some culture shock on my part as I've not lived in a situation like this before. I'm also thrilled because so much of this will be covered by my grant from BYU. For anyone who ever might even think they might possibly have something they'd want to do that an ORCA grant could help fund you really ought to apply. The application is really easy and the proposal you need to write is pretty short and straight forward. I've also been lucky because I really hit the jackpot as far as a faculty mentor goes. Dr. Saville is going to be in Tianjin at the same time as me, and while I don't expect to necessarily see him every day or anything, it'll be nice knowing someone there. I'm also really thrilled to be able to study with Dr. Wang. I heard him perform Fall semester and absolutely loved listening to him, and now to get to spend a few weeks studying with him and learning about Chinese flutes will be so cool. He already has two picked out for me, so I expect I'll be able to get up there and get to work. I don't have a lot of time, and this is really a rare opportunity so I want to get everything I can out of it.

While up in Tianjin hopefully I'll be able to do some exploring as well. I'll miss having a group to travel with like last summer when we went around Paris and explored Versailles and Chartres. However, it'll be really fun to explore around Tianjin and also to go into Beijing. Apparently there is a new train from Tianjin to Beijing that was just opened that cuts the trip down to an hour. That's pretty impressive, and I plan to take advantage of that one. Tianjin itself was heavily colonized by the Europeans, and I've been told it's pretty cool to bike around and visit the different sectors. The architecture in each sector relates to the nation that colonized it, so there should be lots of cool things to see.

The bad news for all of you is that I can't access blogger up in Tianjin, so you'll just have to wait with bated breath until I get home. I plan on writing the posts, because I've found my posts from Paris to be a really entertaining journal, but they just will all get posted much later. I may end up down in Hong Kong for a few days at some point, so if you are all very very lucky there may be a few posts then, but don't count on it. Bigger chances are that you'll get to read far too many posts after I'm back.

I think that makes for most of what I know about what I'll be doing up in Tianjin. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I'm excited to get started and I'm sure my time up there will fly.

Here at home things have been busy and fun. I've made two trips to the orphanage; bought a skirt, some watches and some jewelry; played countless games of dominion with the boys; watched more tv than I should; practiced a little less than I should (however, I've spent every minute of that practice on Chant de Linos, and in my mind one good hour of Chant de Linos is like two hours of regular practice, just sayin'); went swimming with Morgan; helped officiate (or something) at the coldest track meet in the history of Suzhou; watched a Living Legends concert and ran into none other than Kory at it (we were both rather surprised to see each other in China); aaaaaaaand enjoyed spending time with my whole family together before Trent goes into the MTC. What a list, and that only catches part of what we've done. The time has flown, I thought I would have all sorts of time here, but boy, it really wasn't very long at all. It's kind of weird to have Trent going into the MTC. As the oldest child I've done a lot of the firsts in the family, and so it seems odd that he's going first for everything with missions. Well, first for now since I'll probably beat him home.

So, there you have it. The events of the last week or so, and something to make you want to come back and see how things go for me up in Tianjin. See you all in June!

Here's an image of the Tianjin news tower, I thought it was pretty, and since I don't yet have pictures of my own, I figured I'd have to settle for swiping them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wuge heizi?!

Traveling as a westerner in China makes you somewhat of a spectacle. In a sea of Asians you stick out like a pointy nose (or is that because of your pointy nose... probably both). You stick out even more when you have at least 8 inches on the average population, and more on a whole lot of them. If you really, really want to stick out, perhaps you should travel in a group of seven, and it'd be really cool if you could find a family of seven where one is a blond and five are all six feet or taller. Then you've become the tourist attraction.

(This is swiped from our trip to Beijing but you get the idea.)

Believe me now? Pictures like this are often accompanied by exclamations of "wuge heizi" (pronounced(ish) oo-ga hi-tzsa) which translates as "five children" or other phrases commenting on just how many kids are in our family.

We end up taking photos fairly often with the locals, and you know, it's always fun to feel like a celebrity, right? I came out relatively unscathed, although a speedy Korean kissed me on the cheek... not quite what I wanted, but considering the four marriage proposals I got last year from really awful smelling locals, I figure things are getting better, slowly but surely they're improving. *gag*

For May holidays (think spring break for some non American schooling system... I think the Brits) we went down to Yellow Mountain. It was spectacular.

To look at.

You see that lighter line beneath the tree branch, it looks almost like it could be a stream or something. Actually, it's more stairs. And we climbed all the way down to them and all the way back up. Because we're awesome like that.

Climbing itself, well, I'd describe that more as exhaustive and a little terrifying at times.

Exhaustive for everyone but Trent, who had the heaviest pack and yet managed to be the least sore. Rude.

These stairs were literally just attached to the side of the cliff. I stayed as close as I possibly could to the cliff side, not that it would really help if the pathway decided to plummet, but it made me feel better, so I went with it.

And what goes up...

Must come right back down.

I think this guy had it all figured out... 150 RMB and someone else does the hiking for you. However, in some of the hardest stretches we didn't see any of those chair guys, so I'm guessing they really knew what was going on.

Some of the best views though did come when we had climbed all over those mountains. It was really really incredible. It was like hiking through Chinese paintings.

Basically it was pretty awesome, although I was so very sore for the next few days after. I think those stairs have subtracted ten years from my knees. But really, it was incredible. If you go to China, and are feeling masochistic, or you're like Trent and are a cross between a sherpa and a mountain goat, then this really is a must see. If you're not, you should still go, but perhaps you should train, because it's exhausting.

I'd upload more pictures, but at the rate this is going I'd be here until next week, so enjoy the ones I put up, and maybe I'll post more later.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I was gonna post...

I actually have a marvelous post waiting for you about are escapades as Yellow Mountain, however, pictures aren't working, and trust me, you want to see these pictures. So, here is a short blog post to tide ya'll over.

1. Mission call still M.I.A. We're hoping it will show up really soon, but as yet I've heard nothing.

2. National Flute Convention letters still M.I.A. I'm sensing a pattern here. I'm also hoping these will show up soon. If both letters don't come soon I just might start going a little crazy... just a little...

3. Morgan and I made a fiendishly delicious carrot cake with my sister yesterday. Because it has carrot and raisin it's healthy, so I've eaten it as fast as I can. Plus, junk food, when eaten at your parents house as a college student, should not count.

4. Mom and I are going to the orphanage tomorrow. Should be fun. Those kids need all the attention they can get.

5. I've become a Chant De Linos fiend in the last week. Only I'm waiting for it to decide it likes me... because currently it's just a lot of groveling on my part.

6. The trickiest thing about being home is college has really turned me into a decided night person. I'm a night person living with six morning people. I did okay for the first few days here when my internal clock was still lost back over the pacific, but in the last two days it's really come back and found me. As far as I'm concerned anything before 7am in an abomination. I think I may need to fix this problem pre-mission... we'll see how it goes.

7. BYU's Living Legends is performing here in Suzhou on Monday, we got tickets. I'm pretty stoked. It should be a fun concert. Now I'm just left to wonder what language they'll do all the narration in...

8. I'm gonna call it a night... it's "late" but really it's that family prayer is gonna come way way early tomorrow. So I need my beauty sleep... or something...

This will be me circa 6am tomorrow...