Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Last post (for now...)

Posted by 雯雯 at 8:39 PM 0 comments
So I have been back from China from a while. Not entirely sure where to start! I've been so busy lately that I haven't blogged at all.

China was really great though. We travelled around for three and a half weeks with only huge backpacks. First we were in Beijing and saw all the standard sights, like the 13 Ming Tombs, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the People's Square. After a few days of sightseeing and Chinese-speaking, we took our rather big backpacks and went to Zhengzhou by train. There wasn't much to see in Zhengzhou, but we had a day trip to Luoyang and visited the Longmen Grottoes and the White Horse Temple. Neither place was particularly crowded, but it seems people there don't get much contact with large groups of foreigners. They took many pictures of us with varying degrees of discretion (from the ones who pretend they're texting and take a sneak photo of us to the ones who snuggle up to you and pose without your permission). We soon learnt to pose when people wanted us to!

After our day trip, we came back to Zhengzhou and had a good night's sleep before we were thrown into a minibus and drove to Tagou Shalin Martial Arts school just outside Dengfeng. We stayed and trained there at the old school (which only has about 8000, mostly male, students, as opposed to the new one which had 42,000 or so). Seeing as there are few girls there, and especially few foreign ones, me, Red Cross and Bendy Girl got quite a few stares. Training was hard and very good. We had a very sweet trainer named Wang Qiao, who was about 20. Our days were as follows: at 6.30 we had a morning jog to the nearby Shaolin Temple, where we did morning training and strength exercises until about 7.45. After breakfast, the next  training session was from 9 AM to 11.30. Lunch was long, and the next session wasn't until 14.30, and lasted to 17.00. All in all, we trained about 6 hours every day, which was quite a shock to our bodies the first few days. It was painful, but eventually we got used to it! It was a very good experience, and it would have been nice to stay there even longer than we did. We only stayed for 10 days, and after that, we took the train to Xi'an.

We stayed a few days in Xi'an, and Red Cross and Bendy Girl were very pleased. After a long time in the countryside, with loads of dirt and few shops, it was nice to stay in a hotel close to a shopping street with loads of food and clothes and other things. It was a very nice city indeed! By this time I was very tired of living out of a backpack, as most of the class were, but I still enjoyed shopping  for some new clothes and gifts. In Xi'an, apart from relaxing shopping, and visiting Mount Hua, we also went to see the Terracotta Army. We went on a weekend, during a public holiday, so the place was super cramped and very hot and stuffy. You had to queue up and push your way through loads of people to be able to see anything, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Finally, we took the train back to Beijing and stayed there for a few more days, visiting martial arts shops, tea markets and so on. By the end of it, I was happy that I'd be going home so I wouldn't have to live out of a bag any more, but sad to be leaving China. I got to practise my Chinese every day (in fact, the circumstances forced me to, seeing as I could gesture and get what I want in 30 minutes, or try to use Chinese and get  it in less than five). I would've liked to stay longer, if I didn't have to keep all my things in one backpack  that I travelled around with. All in all, a very good trip!

Nowadays, we are doing our final activities; packing, cleaning the dorms and classrooms, preparing for our graduation ceremony and so on. Always busy! I'm very much looking forward to the summer, to be done with this packing and staying in one place for a while. As the title states, it'll be my last post for now, not sure if I'll restart again soon, but if I do it'll be with a schedule that includes regular blogging! So with that, I'd like to thank whoever is reading for reading, and say goodbye for now!

-HMM
Our Beijing hotel room
The Great Wall

The Ming Tombs

View from The Ming Tombs

The Forbidden City

Gardens in the Summer Palace

Giant Buddha at Longmen Grottoes

Outside the Longmen Grottoes

Tagou Old School

View from Mount Hua

Om nom nom nom

Monday, March 17, 2014

0 days until China

Posted by 雯雯 at 9:22 AM 0 comments
Yes indeed, 0 days! I'm still at school, but in 30 minutes or so I'll be heading to the parking lot with my backpack, ready to go to the airport. It doesn't seem like I've been at school so long, but here I am, ready for the trip. Well I don't feel ready. I've got some shopping lists and directions, and some Chinese knowledge, but it doesn't feel quite enough. But I will do my best!

What I'm most looking forward to is probably the food, though it'll be really nice to just have Chinese all around me as well, on signs and on peoples' mouths. I'm a bit worried about the 10 days of training we're having in Dengfeng, but I'm sure I'll survive. I've recently been sick, so I haven't had the energy to do extra training, but hopefully I'll be all well again for when the training starts. Before that, I've agreed with Bendy Girl to do morning jogs (at least morning walks!) to explore a bit, so maybe my shape will improve slightly.

Well, not much to say now really, now that I'm so close to the trip. But I will say, I'll be careful, and try to take pictures which I can upload afterwards. Bye bye for now!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

12 days until China

Posted by 雯雯 at 4:50 PM 0 comments
Time sure flies! Only 12 days remain until we leave for China.
Since last time, we finished our group project. I did end up playing in the band, which was cool and fun. I was quite tired at the end of it though, and was very happy to get a week's holiday.

I'm back now though, and we've resumed regular lessons. In Chinese, we are preparing for going to China by practising loads of useful sentences and situations. I made sure to study during the break too, so I feel if anything my Chinese had improved over the break, but not everyone had. One thing I didn't do enough of though was exercise, which I noticed quite well when we had our first taolu lesson after the break. After 2 minutes of warming up, my heart was racing and I was dead tired. Even though we were playing tag, I didn't really run more than I needed too. Luckily, it seemed like most everyone else was in the same situation as me. In taolu we are currently, and since before the break, been practising with staves. It's quite fun, even if I still hit myself occasionally. It's all worth it though, especially when I manage to swing the staff around with a big swoosh noise!

I'm trying hard to keep on top of all the things I need to do, but it makes me pretty tired. I've taken to having midday naps after dinner because I'm so sleepy and tired after the day is done. I hope I get an opportunity to rest well this weekend!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

43 days until China

Posted by 雯雯 at 1:03 PM 0 comments
By my count, it's about 43 days until I go to China, so I better start blogging again!
The time before Christmas, and after new year, has been very hectic. My laptop stopped working, for one, at least the screen did. I'll do a short recap of the rest of the stuff that happened since my last post:

1. The China Class' Student Evening
I'd like to say it went without a hitch, but true to the China Class' reputation there were loads of bumps and plenty of improvisation. Regardless, the entire class had a good time, so I think it went well anyway. The food was pretty good too, and the PE hall looked very nice. I made some pretend-serious calligraphy wall scrolls with my sub-par handwriting with inscriptions like "Fried Rice" and "A Deep Sentence". I brought "Fried Rice" to my room  after we were done to fill up my wall a bit, it looks good, right?

Fried Rice. I personally prefer noodles!
Other things that happened during the student evening: a delayed start, a sprained ankle, a broadsword flying into the audience, nobody singing along to the sing-along, Red Cross stumbling on her dress during the dance, and us making FT (teacher) wear a Eeyore costume in a game of "Pin the Tail on FT". A good evening, all in all!

2. The actual collection of money for the charity action
The entire school was shipped into Bergen and surrounding areas to ask for money. Because of our obvious charms (cough), the China girls were placed in the best and most crowded area and subsequently collected the most money, winning free cinema tickets. Other people did not have as much luck, with one person from my dorm even being threatened with police since he didn't have an ID card. I can't remember how much we collected, but it wasn't bad at all.

3. Christmas choir performance
Every year, my school has a choir performance. It isn't always pretty, but I had a good time trying to sing with the others. Not everybody is as enthusiastic as me, but we still got through it, and I had a good evening. I went out with Mr. Prepared, Strong Handshake and Sheep for supper. We had some fine Norwegian fast food cuisine, mainly kebabs. It was a good day!

4. Christmas break
I went home for a few days before I left with Mum, Step Dad and Brother to America to visit friends. The entire America trip consisted of eating, shopping and looking at old presidents' houses. I stretched every day due to an agreement with Sheep - whoever misses the most days owed the other a meal (I won hohoho). I returned home Monday evening and got ready for a new semester.

Now, my days are back to the same old routine. My Wednesday elective has changed from guitar to musical (we're making one), and my Friday one from the charity action to tai chi. In taolu classes, we have finished learning a fist form, and have started with a staff form instead. Strong Handshake is pleased beyond measure. I enjoy it too, but quite a few others are not so happy with it after hitting themselves with their staves one time too many. I'm learning to take it easy in sanda too, though I have the most fun when we're just practising take downs and I get to do it with someone my own size. Coming up is the school project, where the entire school participates in arranging a musical (separate from my elective). Auditions for singing/speaking roles are this Wednesday, but I'm signing up for the band. I even brought my tiny pocket trumpet for this purpose. I hope I get in!

Right now, I'm preparing for a presentation. We're getting ready for our China trip, and have started learning about the places we are going to. I'm presenting Zhengzhou, but sadly, very little has happened in Zhengzhou city to tell of. That'll make my presentation all the more exciting, I'm sure. Well, I better get back to that!

02.02.2014

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 102

Posted by 雯雯 at 5:44 PM 0 comments
I don't know which day it is anymore. I think it's probably 102, but I'm too lazy to do the proper math. 102 is as good as any number.

I've been very busy recently, with loads of things happening. We've had the test collection for our Charity thing (the money goes to a rehabilitation centre for drug abusing children in Bangalore), so we went into Bergen one day to bother people with collection tins. We've also had a visit from troubled kids where the China class (which very often means me) arranged some activities for them. That was pretty tiring. This week, we've been preparing for the China class' student evening. I decided it'd be fun to do a dance performance, so Bendy Girl, Red Cross and I have been finishing some dresses which Mum had the patience and kindness to make for us the weekend I was home. Tensions ran high as we tried to figure out the sewing machine, but we managed somehow in the end, and we're all very happy with the dresses.

Today, we went out to town to buy some supplies for the evening, that is, me, Sheep, Bendy Girl and Red Cross. I'd barely gotten in the door to the dorm after a tiring day before the people in the living room yell at me "You're the dorm assistant, we don't have toilet paper!"
The weather has been pretty bad today, very windy and raining and/or snowing, but I went out regardless to find the toilet paper.

The storage room is beneath the kitchen. The school was mostly quiet except for two guys playing cards in the TV area. It was dark in the staircase and hall to the storage room, and it felt a bit like I was in a horror movie, what with me walking around the deserted school corridors on my own on a dark, stormy evening. When I reached the door, I realized it was locked. I have no idea who has the key, but I remember there's a storage room in the classroom building as well.

I walk over and look around. I even snoop around the teachers' bathrooms for extra rolls. Nothing.
The teacher on duty isn't in her office and I'm starting to think my dorm mates will have to be creative until tomorrow when I try the door between the two bathrooms on the first floor. There were no toilet rolls for the dorms there, but I did see three massive rolls meant for public toilets. I hid one under my jacket and headed back to the dorm.

Now, I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to be taking stuff from that closet. It's the washing peoples' closet after all. But if they do ask us about the missing roll of toilet paper during tomorrow's morning assembly, I'm sure they'll understand the need.

5.12.2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 85

Posted by 雯雯 at 10:19 PM 0 comments
Nothing much is happening here at school, but I figured I'd do a little update regardless.

We're back to regular schedules again, which means only 3 periods of exercise/training a week.The winter is also getting closer, so the nights are longer. It's pretty dark when I wake up, and darkens early in the evening. Life has been revolving around studying Chinese, exercising, playing video games and watching movies. To boost my speaking ability, I'm trying my best to respond to LH when she asks me something, as well as talking to my friend in Hong Kong via the internet once a week. It seems to be helping, as the words are easier to find and say than they were two weeks ago.

Perhaps because I'm suddenly exercising less again, I've been feeling very low on energy lately. Last week, I didn't manage to do any extracurricular exercise at all, and it made me feel very bad. Thus, I decided I'd make a change today. After finishing the morning and afternoon classes (sanda and Chinese culture, we're decorating porcelain), I joined the football P.E. group for 45 minutes, then joined the floorball group for another 45 minutes straight after. I then did some weapons practice. After a shower and supper, I helped Bendy Girl with Chinese, then returned to my room to do 20 minutes of stretching. Now I'm all done and pretty tired, but luckily I can sleep soon!

Also, I've managed to upload some pictures of my postcard wall. I do receive some postcards, and I appreciate it a lot. I hang them up on my wall over my desk where I'll see them every day, and feel happy. I've got stamps to send some cards back to return the favour, but sadly I live in the middle of nowhere and have been unable to find any actual postcards. I'll probably be able to find some the next time I'm going into Bergen though, so then I'll be mailing some out!

My postcard wall

Closeup of the cards!

18.11.2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 73

Posted by 雯雯 at 10:58 PM 0 comments
Though I was quite hyped for a week of all tea-drinking and exercising, we were asked Wednesday morning if we wanted to perform at a Chinese culture day arranged by the Bergen Confucius Institute. We'd be given free Chinese food, so we all said yes straight away. Since the performance would be that Saturday, we suddenly only had that day, Thursday and Friday to learn the choreography and then manage to do it well, all our tea lessons were replaced with more practises. I volunteered to do the staff part, as well as a "jump" (a butterfly kick) as well as participate in the forms. There was also a nunchuk group as well as a basic movement group (kicks, some spinny things and such).

We somehow managed to get through it, and come Saturday we were all on the bus to Bergen for our performance (save one person who had a slightly wild Friday night). We met LH in town (well, first we missed our stop and waved at her as she disappeared in the distance, then we ran back to her), and then walked to the place, with our staffs and nunchuks waving, sometimes talking Chinese. We must've been quite the sight!

We arrived to find loads of Chinese people everywhere. I felt like I was constantly pushed in front of the group to talk to people and was quite uncomfortable straight away. About half an hour before the entire programme of performances started, LH told us that her friend, a wushu professor visiting from China, wanted us to perform with him in a lion and tiger dance. This meant four people grouping up to wear two very red and shiny lion suits and jumping around like crazy, and the rest of us (save for one person who injured himself the evening before) being the dragon. We had maybe five minutes of practice before the professor was... semi-happy.

We had some free time to try some of the Chinese booths, like tea-drinking, calligraphy, kicking shuttlecock (much harder than it looks) before we were sent into the fray in our lion and dragon costumes. Apparently we looked like "an old dragon". Then, our wushu performance was nearly at the very end. We were suddenly pushed together with the wushu professor and his students' performance as well, but it went fine, all things considered. The food was good too, and all in all it was a very good day.

The next day, Red Cross and I enjoyed our day off by thoroughly by staying in bed, eating sweets and trash food and watching movies an series. Whii!
 

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