I have been in China for one week now. I am used to the cold and yesterday, I bought an electric for eight American dollars. Which works great by the way. I am writing this sitting underneath it with only one layer of leggings on. I am used to wearing two or three. I’m still not brave enough to take my zip-up hoodie off.
Up until yesterday, I kept saying I was too cold to even workout until I realized, “I am running out of excuses,” and the majority of what I can seem to think about as I write down my lesson plans for the gym class I teach is, “How can I workout and stay fit during the cold weather, without running outside or laying on the iced over tile in my room?” I have come up with too many ideas to ignore. On top of my current mental 30 Day Challenge of no swearing (which by the way is coming along nicely. One whispered slip up and not a single swear word floating around in my mind.) I think it is time to start a physical fitness challenge again.
Since the weather is cold here, I do not sweat, leaving my body to store anything it can for warmth. Eventaully my cinnamon alliance won’t prove enough when I depend on that only to burn my fat. Nope! As of right now, I still fit in my clothes, but refuse to wait until it becomes too late.
I take in any vitamin I can. The only drinks I consume are water, milk tea, pineapple juice, cold green tea, and hot Jasmine tea. Everyday I eat oatmeal, rice, a banana, a couple different forms of Seafood, and maybe some crackers for a small snack. I haven’t even touched the Chips Ahoy! that I bought last Friday! It’s interesting how undesirable sweets sound to me now, although I can always go for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or a bag of M&M’s…. Some things you just don’t question
It’s hard to find protein here. Our commons area and dorms have no available resources for cooking, so eggs, unfortunately, are out of the question. The meat looks terrifyingly under-cooked. I tend to stray away from it, because it mostly comes along with the body it was in. I will eat the dumplings and I am still wanting to try the hamburgers at the only McDonald’s in town, but other than those two options, I may be turning semi-vegetarian for the next few months. I will be so excited to have a Sloppy Joe when I get back to America!
Also, up and down the staircases, they hang their meats to sausages and animal meat slabs to dry right next to their shoes and clothes. It definitely adds to my intimidation, but I learn to not look as I climb on by.
But who knows, I could also love chicken feet and duck head when I return 😉
The pricing here is absolutely incredible. Although I am learning how to budget, I can’t resist buying three pairs of thick, thick leggings for under eleven American dollars and a filling lunch for 20 American cents. Everything else, I can’t help to question. It shows me the lesson my mom is still trying to teach me: Want or need?
Although I’m not pro, I am taking my baby steps towards becoming in complete control of my finances. In fact, I have already set aside enough kuai for our week long vacation to Bejing, coming up in March!
Speaking of trips, we have 2 three or four day weekend trips available throughout the semester and one more week vacation at the beginning of May. Apparently no other ILP groups, even in the past, have gotten that lucky break. How we got that chance, I don’t know, but I am thrilled about it. That brings me to the word: grateful.
Being in another country shows me how incredibly lucky I am. China doesn’t have any debt, everyone who has a car drives a very nice one, and they make 90% of what Americans use.
However, their sewage system is not strong enough to flush anything other than what naturally comes out of you. Everything, including your toilet paper, gets thrown in the garbage. We were in a village yesterday, getting some fruit at that market and I am 110% positive that I was standing in a layer of feces. My mother did warn me about this and that is what I get for doubting her.
People are constantly washing their hands, because diseases in the water can come easily if the person is not sanitary. They prepare outfits ahead of time, because it takes around 5 or 6 days on average for one small load of laundry to air dry; they do not have dryers in this country.
This is how people live day to day here. This is their normality. Not only must I bow to their outstanding courage (although they are used to it), but I admire their strength to do the things they do and just be happy.
Even though I will be living this life for the next four months (or nineteen weeks, to be exact), I am both honored and extremely grateful for the life I have been given.
When you are taken out of your comfort zone and put into an environment where you are the minority, you talk a little slower and open your eyes a little wider. Suddenly, you hold a lot more respect for the people and things around you. You conserve what you have and take absolutely nothing for granted.
I have survived seven days in a world 100% opposite of the one I am used to. It’s felt like three weeks. I have a little less than 180 days to go and I am joyfully anticipating every moment and experience that comes my way.