Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pizza Pizzaz!

It's International Labor Day in China, so we have a week off of school. It took me a while to figure out, but with some help from Google I learned that the Labor Movement which led to the creation of International Labor Day started in the US. BUT, the US is one of only 3 countries that don't celebrate International Labor Day on May 1 with the rest of the world. (The other two countries are Canada and South Africa.) I always thought Labor Day in September was fitting since it's right around when you have to go back to school and labor. I'm feeling a bit cheated, since in the US we only get a 3 day weekend, but in China they get seven days off!

Although you can find decent hot dogs in China, buns are hard to come by, and I don't have a grill. So, I decided to have a pizza party. Although it's a seven-day holiday, many students have stayed on campus. I had 22 people in my house last night making pizza! It was a new experience for most, as most Chinese have never made pizza, used an oven, and their only experience with cheese is the plastic cheese that comes on a McBurger or what comes melted on Pizza Hut pizza. They also weren't too sure about pineapple on pizza. However, everyone got into it as soon as I demonstrated. Here's a few pictures, there's more at

Tommy Helen

We're supposed to eat this???

Tommy 12

This is Tommy. I gave him my camera and made him the photographer, but somehow he managed to be in almost every picture. Tommy works for the English department, and his job is to help me when I'm confused. So he gets to do fun stuff like go downtown with me to get my phone fixed when it's not broken, or wait at the train station with me while my train that was supposed to leave at midnight is delayed until 2am. He deserves a medal, I think!


Like this, guys! My award winning pizza sauce was ketchup with italian seasoning.

Monica 3

Monica was an ace with the ovens.

w Jackie and friend

Pizza was eaten...

Jacky 1

And everyone (even the boys!) helped clean up!

Pizza Party Photos

If you are one of my lovely students looking to download pictures from our pizza party, click "photos" below where it says "for my students."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Vivi's a Rockstar

So, Vivi visited in one of my classes a couple weeks ago. She's a student stying biochemistry at our university. She has recently provided me with her next big hit, her cover of Tori Amos' "Silent all These Years." It's not a video, it's only audio, so listen and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


If you are one of my lovely students looking for song words to download, please click here:

You can download the document and print them out or save them to your computer.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Worst Easter Video Ever

So! I know Easter was a week ago, but due to some tecnical difficulties, I just now am posting my cinematic debut. I've had my camera for over a year, now, but I just recently discovered how to make charming little videos. This is at Easter brunch with my co-teachers and some of our students and friends.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Girly Times

Last weekend I went to Shi Yan, about six hours north of Wuhan by train. There I hung out with some lovely ladies. For those of you Northwesterners, Shi Yan is where the Lewises are teaching with their four lovely daughters.


We made cards...


...and washed eachother's hands...


...and generally had fun...


Then, we even had lunch with the boys!


It was a lovely time!

PS: I'll be back in Portland July 1!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easily Amused

This is very silly but I found it amusing...these are the kind of things I do on the internet when I am procrastinating planning curriculum.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Reports of my Death have been Greatly Exaggerated

Before you read this post, you may want to read this bit in italics, The Cliff's Notes. Lots of stuff has happened to me in the last couple months, and I know I get confused, so I know you may be also. Once upon a time, Christense had winter vacation. It was freezing in Wuhan, so she went to Hainan, an island province of China in the South China Sea, to eat pineapple and study Chinese. She really like Haikou city, and made lots of friends there, including a nice boy names Peter. Christense decided she wanted to return to teach there. So she went back to her job in Wuhan, but kept looking for a job in Haikou.

So, I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Haikou. I heard about a job opening at a language school, and I flew down to check it out. It's called Hainan Snow Foreign Language College.

new school 9

I like to pretend they hung that banner out for me, even though they didn't. It's a three year language college. Most of the students seem to be local girls. They are very lively and eager to learn and practice English. Because one of their teachers was out of town, I even got to teach a few classes, so I really got a feel for the school. Look closely at the chalkboard in the background of this picture, and you'll see I was teaching them the chart-topping American hit, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."

New school 1

Contract negotiations went very quickly, as they agreed to give me the same terms as my contract in Wuhan. That's good, because I've never negotiated anything in my life, but I know I have a good Wuhan contract. The school is run by a Chinese man called Mr. Snow and his son, and they seem very kind and accomodating. The school is right in the neighborhood where I stayed last time in Haikou, and close to everything I need. Also, in case I need a clearer sign, a new Friend's Waffle stand opened a block from the school.

Friends waffle

Friend's Waffle is owned by a Korean brother and sister. We all know I don't really like waffles, but they do something to these! They don't put on syrup (though they have it) but instead they put on apple jelly and butter and fold it in half. Over the course of my time in Haikou I've become addicted. I could go for one now!


Here's a picture of Peter, just because. We went out and had street food: goose neck, spicy noodles, oysters, grilled eggplant, chocolate popcorn. And waffles!

haikou family

This is my last night in Haikou with some friends. This trip was very refreshing. So I'll finish the school year in Wuhan, and then return to Haikou to get my visa. Then I'll be in the US for July and August, and finally move to Haikou to teach starting in September. Yahoo!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Daylight Savings Time

I've never really understood daylight savings time. Isn't there the same space of time between sunrise and sunset, whether the sun rises at 5am or 6am? I've never felt very passionate opposition to it, though, just a sort of vague confusion. Here's a quote my dad sent me that makes me feel better:

"I don't really care how time is reckoned so long as there is some agreement about it, but I object to being told that I am saving daylight when my reason tells me that I am doing nothing of the kind. I even object to the implication that I am wasting something valuable if I stay in bed after the sun has risen. As an admirer of moonlight I resent the bossy insistence of those who want to reduce my time for enjoying it. At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves."

--Robertson Davies, The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, 1947, XIX, Sunday.

However, in honor of my confusion, I have given you on my sidebar a couple clocks, with local time in China and in Portland, which I will probably have to reset next weekend. In China, not only do we have no daylight savings time, but no time zones at all! So, after DST, count forward 3 hours, and switch am to pm to figure out what time it is in China. No worries!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Everyday Chinese: Lesson Two

"Mei shi de."

I just learned this phrase today from a podcast I got from Though the Chinese themselves often render this phrase in English "no problem," I was beyond thrilled to learn that it literally means (are you ready?) "It ain't no thing." Ha!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Chinese Name

So, by far the coolest thing I got for Christmas was my Chinese name. I was visiting friends in Shi Yan, and on Christmas day we had a party. (I didn't get to blog all this at Christmas time because my internet was down.) There were of course Americans and Chinese, but also Germans, Brits, a man from Gibraltar, from Cameroon, etc. I met there a Chinese woman named Louise, which is my middle name. That got us started talking about names, and she asked if I had a Chinese name, a question I've had many times before. I told her I didn't, and she did what no Chinese person had yet: offered to name me!

My name is Tang Sha, the two characters above. (The tones are 2nd and 1st, respectively, for those that care.) This "tang" sounds like the word for sweet or candy, and we all know about my sweet tooth! However this character means the Tang Dynasty. "Sha" contains the character for sand, which is good, because I love the beach. This character has no modern meaning, but is common in girls' names, the Chinese say it sounds good. This "sha" also is the first character used when the Chinese write phonetically "Shakespeare" using characters.

Now I can write and say my Chinese name, so I've been using it much more often. So: I'm Tang Sha. Nice to meet you!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chinese New Year

I've been looking for a way to convey the essence of the Chinese New Year experience to you all. Well, I have it! I would like to have this posted directly on my site, but I'm not clever like that, so follow this link:
A friend of mine took this video a week ago Saturday, at midnight on New Year's Eve. My experience was similar, but much closer up! I wish you could hear it. Now the fireworks have calmed down a bit, but there's still lots to see every night. I love you all!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It's all about ME!

So, I've realized that I don't usually post pictures of myself. It seems normal to me, because I usually want to show you what I see, rather than show you myself. But, it's been about six months, and you may have forgotten what I look like. Besides, this month is my birthday, so I think I can get away with it!


This is my birthday cake.


This is me, on my birthday. I have to say that I have no idea how to cut a cake. Finally someone took mercy on me and took the knife away.


This is me with a coconut. Here you can buy a coconut right on the street, and they will drill a hole in it, and put a straw in so you can drink the coconut milk fresh. Fresh coconut milk tastes a lot different from canned; it's not as sweet, it tastes more earthy.


This is at my school. On your left is Suzy, who teaches English, and on your right is Cindy, my teacher!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Everyday Chinese: Lesson One

Nide kuzi zenme le?

What happened to your trousers?

For those of you that may believe this is silly, you need only speak, and I will post a picture of my textbook page where this very sentence appears!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Your Five Minute Tropical Vacation

Ni leng ma? Are you cold? Then let's get out of the frozen north! Let's head for palm trees and white sand. It'll only take five minutes, I promise. And where is this promised land? China, of course! Look, there's the flag, even...


You may not believe it, but even in China you can find pretty flowers...

IMG_1779 coconuts...


...sparkling waters...


...and pretty girls!


I even found some cool people to go with us. Here's Jamie and Andrew. They're from New York state, and they teach in a city a few hours north of Wuhan. They're passing through Haikou on the way to Southeast Asia.


This is Sanya, the Chinese Hawaii, three hours south of Haikou. Though Haikou is sub-tropical, Sanya is south of the mountains in the trpoical zone, and when you pass through the tunnel through those mountains, it's a whole other world. The weather is improving in Haikou. The rain has stopped and the sun's out. When I go out in my t-shirt and flip-flops, the Haikouren don't even say ni hao (hello) to me, they say ni leng ma? are you cold? It's 75 degrees and they're all wearing sweaters, because this is their winter!

Are you tired from your swim in the sea? Okay, well, before you go, "have a rest" as the Chinese say, and have a good look across the Pacific...zai jian!


Sightseeing in Wuhan

As an aside, here are some pictures from my sightseeing in Wuhan that I've been meaning to post. These first two are from the Ancient Lute Pavilion. It's a garden made to commemorate the ancient Chinese story of two friends. Long ago, a Chinese official was traveling on business when he heard the sound of someone playing the lute (a stringed instrument) beautifully. He snuck up close to listen, and the musician saw him. They talked long into the night and became good friends. They lived far from each other, but agreed to meet in the same spot one year from that day. Faithfully, the musician returned one year later, to the very hour, but the official was not there. Concerned, the musician sought him and discovered he had died. In his grief, the musician smashed his lute and swore never to play again, to honor his friend's memory.

Lute 49

Lute 9

China's full of round doors and I love them. This next picture is from one of the Buddhist temples in Wuhan. I love the architecture, and the details put into the stone carvings.

gbt 9

This is also from the Buddhist temple. They're turtles! There was a pool in the center chock-a-bock full of turtles.

gbt 13

That's all. There are more pictures I could show you, but they're on my computer back in Wuhan. I happened to have these with me. Ta ta!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

back in the saddle again

So I never thought I would be a snowbird! This year Chinese New Year is late, February 18, but I still have six weeks with no classes, so I have temporarily relocated to Hainan Island, a province of China. Hainan is just south of the mainland China, off the West coast. I'm told it's roughly the same latitude as Hawaii, though it's a bit cooler here than I think Hawaii is wont to be. Nevr mind, though, I'm here to work! I found a small language school run by a man who studied for his MBA in England. Usually they teach English to Chinese people, but they occastionally teach Chinese to waiguoren like me! After four days of class, I want very much to tell you that wo bu shi laoshi, wo shi xuesheng. Wo xueshi Hanyu, ye shuo de Yinyu. Qu nar? Ni chi le ma? Man zuo! That means "I'm not a teacher, I'm a student, I study Chiense but speak English. Where are you going? Have you eaten? Take care!" Okay, it's not the I Ching, but it'll have to do. In case you're wondering where all the cool Chinese characters are, that was Pinyin (not Pigeon!) which is a system of writing Chinese words with Roman letters (our ABC's). The system was devised by the Chinese themselves in an attempt to standardize pronunciation. Chinese is the only major non-phonetic language in the world, which means that how it's written has nothing to do with how it sounds. So learning Chinese is like learning two language, because you have to memorize the meaning of the word, and then the character. I'm not bothering too much with the characters yet, since I'm only planning on being here four weeks.
When not studying with Teacher Cindy, I have been wandering around Haikou city. The main tourist spot is Sanya, about four hours south by bus. But Haikou, (which means "mouth of the sea") is very lovely. The people are super friendly, and this city of 500,000 seems downright homelike after my 8 million closest friends residing in Wuhan. The pace here is slower, the weather's warm, and you never have to wait for a taxi. Not that you need one, it's easy to walk most places, and there are herds of friendly Haikouren that will give you a lift in their pedicab, three wheeler, or on the back of their motorcycle. No, mom, I won't be riding on the back of any motorcycles. It's a good place for experimenting, so following is a list of the things I've never done before that I've done since I came to Haikou on Sunday:
* Made a friend on the bus. : )
* Lost an earring. : (
* Eaten pineapple on a stick : )
I know you can't believe that one. I actually liked it too. The world's not ending, I'm sure I'll go back to hating pineapple eventaully, it just tastes better here!
* Eaten oysters : (
I think they were oysters.
* Ate a bowl full of cold coconut milk with watermelon and papaya..... : )
*......and also pasta, soybeans barley, and jello cubes in it. : (
Not as bad as it sounds, really. I could go for some now.
* And, of course studied Chinese! : ) : )
Anyway, I'm quite enjoying myself, even though I'm missing out on the snow not only in the Northwest but also in Wuhan. That's probably just as well, since my snow boots are in my parents' basement. I hope everyone is warm and safe, I miss you, and I love you more than pineapple on a stick!