It’s been ages…

I can’t believe that it has been over a year and a half since my last post. I swear the last year and a half has gone by so quickly I don’t even know where it went. It seems like last week I was writing my dissertation and living in China.

Well I finished my dissertation, finally, in May of 2017. It was reviewed, approved (with great difficulty- that could be a post by itself) and presented. Read the preview below!

Coffee Market in China: Investing in Chinese Coffee 

This paper consists of eight chapters that look at previous research, the background of coffee, the coffee market in China and Nestlé to get a better understanding of the market. This study also looks at the perception of Chinese coffee to see if this coffee will be well received. An independent study was done that shows whether or not people will buy or drink coffee produced in China, what price it should be, where the quality is ranked compared to other coffee producing countries, and what they taste the participants thought Chinese coffee would have. Nestlé is already very successful in China, but there is significant room for growth in the brewed products. Nestlé should focus more on this market since the middle class is expected to grow drastically and this market has the most potential. Overall, improving the quality of the coffee beans from Yunnan is suggested if Nestlé wants to use the coffee beans from Yunnan in their brewed products since quality is valued more than the price. Read it here!

I was approved for graduation and given my official Master of International Business diploma. The graduation was at the end of June, which was a month after we were done with everything. I didn’t stay for graduation because I wanted to go home and start looking for a job.

After moving back to NY, I continued my search for a job. I had actually started looking in April of 2017 because I knew that it could take a while before I found something. I had applied to numerous jobs and only gotten a few responses. I wasn’t back from China yet, so that wasn’t helpful for the people who actually responded. They all wanted someone in the next month.

I was lucky, because one of those responses emailed me again in July asking if I was still interested in the position. I was! This was a perfect job for me! So I responded and got a phone interview with my now boss. After the phone interview, I went for an in person interview where I interviewed with my boss, people I would be working with, and the COO of my division.I won’t name my company, but I was impressed that so many people I met or found online had been with the company for so long. Most people have been with the company for 10, 15, 20, even 40 years!

I didn’t hear back for almost two weeks, so I called the HR recruiter and said, I’m not trying to be pushy, but I have another offer (which I did) and if you are going to offer me the position, I would like to take it, if not I completely understand I will take the other position. So he said he would get back to me and the next day I had an offer for a job at my company.

I work for the International Division doing International Marketing and Product Development. I really like my job because I do so many different things from website development, social media, graphic design, project management, etc. and I work with people from all over the world. I’ve even gotten to visit a few places since I started working at the company! I will do a blog post on each place I visited, but exciting is that there are two new countries to add to my list.

 

Oops…. My Summer till Now

Sometimes I wonder where the time goes and other times time can’t go by fast enough. It’s been 7 months since my last post.  I feel like it was forever ago. So much has happened that I haven’t written about. (better late than never)

I will have the following posts up this week or next:

My week and half home in January

Thailand with my mom

Second Semester

Ireland with my mom

Right now, I’m back in Chongqing starting my second year of graduate school. I’m trying to figure out what to write my 70 page thesis on. I want to combine my Bachelors in International Studies with my Master’s International Business. So far my advisor and I have talked about many things, some of which are completely irrelevant, but the going topic right now is about how Politics affect Business in China. We’ll see where that takes us.  I’m also trying to take Chinese classes, which is turning out to be harder than it should be.. typical Chinese way. Today I’m going to meet the new MIB class at our welcome get together and tomorrow night I’m going to a Chinese Business workshop.

Last semester I also got really into intense spinning, which isn’t like normal spinning in the states because I tried that when I went home. Here at my gym spinning class is a 45 min class where you are running on the bike the whole time and sometimes it’s slower and sometimes it’s faster. You also do pushup and get in a nice ab workout while running on the bike. It’s crazy but I love it. It’s the best workout I’ve ever gotten.

I did go home for the summer. I was home for 3 months and that time flew by faster than I thought possible. I went home sick and was pretty sick for over a week. The pollution here in Chongqing kills my lungs. Even now, I’ve only been back 12 days and I am already sick. When I was home I worked helping my mom as an assistant and I also helped out doing stuff around the house. I put up our pool that we barely used this summer and my mom found a dead squirrel in last week, eww never going in that again. She’s also making a garden in the back of our yard so I helped some with that and getting rid of stuff from the house that we didn’t want or need anymore and donating it. We didn’t do much this summer actually :/ We did one weekend at the beach in Rhode Island, which was great because we love it there. We went to a charity event at my mom’s boss’ house where the actors and directors from the Lennon Project were there and I got to meet the Hunger Games actress Stef Dawson ( Annie who married Finnick) which was cool and some other actresses like from Law and Order. For 4th of July I went up north to spend time with my bff Tyler and her boyfriend Ryan. I went to visit Gunjan my best friend from last semester. She was only here for one semester and she’s from Toronto but she’s really cool. So I went to Toronto to visit her. We had a good time just hanging out and we even met up with Will, another Canadian that we both met in Chongqing. I also went to visit my best friend Tyler in Connecticut for a weekend. That was fun! I always love going to visit her because 1 she has the cutest dog ever named Oakley and he loves me and 2 because we don’t get to see each other enough. My mom and I did go to 3 concerts this summer! We went to see the Band Perry who are AMAZING, we saw Randy Houser and Dierks Bentley, and of course to end the summer we saw FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE for my mom’s birthday! They’re amazing and we got the VIP experience so we got to go to a private acoustic concert before the actual concert. And at the concert they did the backstreet boys!! FGL is backstreet’s back.

So that was my summer and what’s been going on since I got back. I promise I’m going to write more from now on. I write this blog for myself to remember all my experiences but also for my friends and family so they can share the experiences with me. Last year I got caught up in school and the gym and going out. I was seeing someone too but it didn’t work out. So this year I want to make more of an effort and write more.

More posts to come

~Alexis

Dazu Rock Carvings

Sunday November 29th, 2015

So that Sunday Audrey, Alexis (Frenchie boy), Eloise, Aurelie, Cedric and myself met in front of where we live around 8:30 (no one was on time besides Audrey and the other Alexis but I was about 7 mins late, Eloise and Aurelie were 15 mins late and Cedric was 20 mins late )and headed off to the metro station. We then got off at Shiqiaopu and walked to the bus station where we got bus tickets to Dazu. We rode the bus at 10:20 for about an hour and a half and then we were in Dazu city. To get to the rock carvings you have to take another bus or a taxi so we ended up taking a taxi and it was pretty cheap since there were 6 of us. We got to the Dazu rock carvings and the taxi driver told us that there was also Beishan where there were rock carvings as well so we should get the discounted ticket for both. We did and paid 170rmb for the double entrance. So we went into the park and saw the rock carvings. They were really cool and there were people there but it wasn’t that crowded. So after we finished at Dazu we took the same driver to Beishan and then back to the bus station. Then it was time to go home. It was about 2 hours on the way back because we ran into traffic.

One of the frenchies made this pretty awesome video that is below and I got pictures to upload so I hope you enjoy!

Until next time,

~Alexis

Rainna’s Wedding

Sunday November 22nd, 2015:

I was invited to one of my students (from last year in Chongqing) wedding almost a month ago. I got a message on Wechat about a week before and I was very excited. One because Rainna is such a nice person and I knew I would see Catherine, another student, and two of my coworkers Grace and Jin. I asked about what I should wear and how much I should give in the red envelope. I was told I wasn’t to dress up too much because I couldn’t upstage the bride and that about 200-300 rmb was the normal amount to give for our relationship. You see everything in China is about the relationship you have with the other person. So I went out and bought a dress at Forever 21 because I didn’t have one for a wedding or a more formal occasion. I just got a simple cream colored dress that looked kinda lacy.

Catherine and I met and took a bus to the reception hall that doubled as the ceremony space. We got there really early and of course we had to walk and I wore a pair of Jenny’s shoes that were dressy but were a little big. I ended up getting a pretty big blister from them but whatcha gonna do.

Catherine and I found ourselves a table close to the ceremony space and waited for the others. We got to see Rainna before the wedding for pictures and she was stunning, such a beautiful bride! I saw Moody, another one of my students who was the Maid of Honor. Then Grace and her son came, he was sooo cute! And then Jin and her new husband came so that was cool. The ceremony took place and it was really pretty, I didn’t understand because it was in Chinese but still it was nice. It was very quick which is sad because it was done and over with in about 10 mins. Then the food started coming out and it was all pretty weird. I didn’t eat much besides the duck which was amazing!

So overall it was a good time! I’m really glad I got to be apart of it and share her special day! For her honeymoon she went to the Maldives!

And for you’re viewing pleasure I finally got pictures to upload!!!

~Alexis

Churches in Chongqing

I have been doing a lot of research trying to find out the time of mass at St. Josephs Church in Jiefangbei but it has been extremely difficult to find any information other than it’s physical location. (St. Joseph’s Church) I went to St. Jospeh’s last year a few times and I went for Easter mass which was really nice. They gave us a boiled egg at communion. I just looked back at my blog for China and I didn’t write anything about…weirdd.  Well the problem is that mass is only at 8am on Sunday’s and it is over an hour away from where I live.  I even went to the church last week for the holy day of the Immaculate Conception because I thought there would be mass, but indeed when I got there I found out there was no mass that evening. There were some people praying the rosary and I tried to wait for them to finish so that I could try to ask about mass for Christmas but they did not finish and I wasn’t feeling all that well that day. (I was recovering from a cold) But I did successfully ask the guard in Chinese what time mass was on Sunday and it is at 8am, which
I already knew.

So today I decided to do a little research on the internet to find out mass times because I really want to go for Christmas which is in 9 dayssss! So I found out a few interesting things. There are actually two other churches I never knew about, but they are pretty far away. I know there’s another one in Jiefangbei because I’ve been there but I have no idea how to get there. That should tell you something because I am really good with directions. I went there last year when St. Joseph’s was under construction, but we had a Chinese girl take us down alleyways and twisting and turning into the middle of nowhere in the city center. So the first one isn’t that much farther away from me than St. Joseph’s. It is called St. Teresa’s Church (St. Teresa’s) and it looks very nice. It also isn’t crammed into the city so it looks more like a church from home surrounded by green instead of alleyways and cement.

Then I came across Ci Mu Church (Ci Mu) because when the Prime Minister from France visited Chongqing last month he visited some places with French influence or were created by French people and all three of these churches on are there. Google Maps says that Ci Mu is a Buddhist Temple but that in fact is not true. It looks pretty cool too but Ci Mu is like 2 hours away from my house soo I want to go visit it but it won’t be for mass.

I think I just found the church in Shapingba!! I saw a few posts about it (Shapingba church and SPB Church) and I have been trying to find it for like an hour. The mass is at 7:30 am on Sunday’s and it isn’t terribly far away. Maybe 30 mins by bus or a 11rmb cab ride for about 13 mins. I translated the instagram Korean and Chinese writing and it said the back door of Shapingba park. So I went on the Chinese maps on my phone and Baidu and I found it!!! (Church by the Park and Google maps version)

So if you are looking to go to Catholic Mass these are the churches I have found. If anyone knows of any others or the actual times, let me know! Hope this helps anyone looking to go to church.

Other Links: French Prime Minister VisitChina Catholic

P.S. I’m still uploading pictures… very slowly :/

~Alexis

Taobao Ordering and Food

I just ordered a toaster oven, that is just a small counter top oven, on Taobao (chinese amazon basically) but it is going to be perfect for baking and being able to cook more things. I am still tired of Chinese food. I can’t wait to start making foooood. I’m thinking stuffed peppers, pizza, mac and cheese, and so much more. I already made pizza twice and it was omg good! I went with one of my friends to Ole and we bought bread flour and added baking powder to make it like pizza dough. We bought mozzarella cheese and some type of pepperoni type thing as well as basil tomato sauce. I’ve really been trying to cook so I’ve made beef with cheesy broccoli and mashed potatoes, chicken and broccoli cheesy pasta, pizza and french toast. I haven’t eaten out or had chinese food in like almost a week. Woohoo this is an improvement from eating out every day.

Jenny bought a blender on Taobao and we use it like every day. Seriously smoothies are my new addiction, soooo good! I even found blackberries and strawberries for like $2 a package (not as big as in America but still a good amount) So I put ice, coconut milk, greek yogurt, a banana, a handful of strawberries and blackberries and it is AMAZING!!!! I sometimes add protein powder too because as you know I don’t eat that much meat here so I have to get protein from other sources. So back to smoothies.. there is another smoothie I started making that is ice, coconut milk, greek yogurt, a banana, and peanut butter powder. It’s delicioussss! I brought the peanut butter powder from America and it is perfect for smoothies. It makes two cups so I have it for brunch during the week with my coffee! I just tried a new one that is pineapple, banana, greek yogurt, coconut milk and ice… yummm yumm!

P.S. I’m still working on this picture thing. Ta ta for now

~Alexis

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago. We started planning a few weeks before. Derrick and Eric were hosting and anyone was invited to come. I had my marketing class which is terrible, I swear I don’t know wheree they find these people. This lady can’t speak English well and she is alwayssssss talking about how rich she is. ANYWAY, I woke up early, went to the store and bought carrots, celery, hard dried French bread, whipped cream, and dried cranberries as well as storage containers to bring the food in. I got home and cooked my cranberry sauce, stuffing and and made pumpkin pudding. Then I got ready and went to class.

After class Jenny, and two Frenchies: Tom and Ben (my favorites! They wanted to experience an American Thanksgiving!) and myself took a taxi to Derricks house where Thanksgiving was being held. Tom and Ben made crepes with a caramel sauce that were to die for!  Jenny made deviled eggs, and a big salad with ranch dressing. We got there and there was a ton of food.  A lot of people got stuck in rush hour  traffic including us, but whatcha gonna do. There was mac and cheese, greens, pigs in a blanket, two Chinese roasted ducks, Chinese spicy veggie stir fried noodles, cranberry sauce, salad, deviled eggs, pumpkin and apple pie, chimichangas, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, crepes, hot wine. sangria, and more!

We played some card games and catch phrase and just had a good time. There was a few Chinese people, a bunch of Americans, two Frenchies and a few other Europeans. Overall there were about 20 people that showed up.  It was a good Thanksgiving! It was wayyy better than last year because I was with so many of my really good friends, there was so much good food and good times. So it was a good Thanksgiving 🙂

P.S. Once I can upload pictures there will be picture posts to accompany these posts 🙂

~Alexis

December Update

I know I know you don’t even have to say it. I’ve become the worst blog writer ever. I have been trying for daysssssss to upload pictures to wordpress with zero luck. It actually keeps crashing my google chrome. So I don’t know what to do about that right now so in the meantime I’ll have to write out some posts and do picture posts later.

 I can tell you I am alive and well. I am recovering from a cold but I’m almost better. So for my winter break I have about 6 weeks of vacation from January 9th to February 23rd or so. On Friday my mom bought her ticket to Thailand for January 23rd to February 8th! Ahhhhh so excited!!! Last night I bought a one way ticket to Thailand for about $80 which is a DEAL! (because I’m never coming back haha just kiddding I have to finish school but maybe afterrrr) After I meet my mom and we travel Thailand I might be meeting Derrick in the Philippines for a week or so! Other than that though I have no plans.

I finished another 2 classes so far. The first one was International Business and that actually wasn’t that bad of a class. I learned a few things. I got a 91 in that class. The other class was Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I didn’t like that class that much. We worked on this one project for the whole class which was a total of 6 full days and 2 big presentations. We were working on: The Chinese Government, specifically Chongqing for us, is planning on moving people from the countryside and rural areas into the city and suburbs making megacities and expanding the cities outward. We working on how it affected the city and the people such as transportation, the environment, healthcare, education, etc. For my first group we researched the environment. We found out that Chongqing already had many things in place to help protect and fix the problems with the environment. We also did a trip to the countryside with some of our classmates. We couldn’t really get into the countryside because that takes hours and they don’t speak English and it was hard to find Chinese friends to go with us. The only thing that needs attention is the pollution. For the second presentation we had to come up with some ideas and solutions to help orient people from the rural countryside to the city. We came up with a orientation guide book and an adaptation program to help people adjust to city life. It wasn’t fun creating solutions for a hypothetical problem that actually wasn’t happening but there are people that do that for a living at IDEO and they make bank doing it.

Right now I only have my Chinese class on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:30pm -6:20pm. It is a big class with like 75 people which is not a good language learning environment and the Chinese way of teaching leaves something to be desired. I have Economics Fridays at 8:30am to 11:40am and even thought my professor is Chinese, he speaks really good English in a Australian accent. Economics is not my thinggg and he doesn’t explain things well. Then I have Marketing on Thursdays from 2:30pm -4:50pm. This class… my professor again is Chinese and she does not speak good English AT ALL and she likes to invent new English words and say yes they are English words when we say that’s not a word. She also really likes to talk about much money she makes and spends… like all the time in every class. “I give my son studying in America (Rochester, NY oddly enough, what a small world) $150,000 a year, I give my sister in law 10,000 rmb/$1,553 to go travelling, I spent 10,000rmb on the 11/11 shopping day, my stocks made double my yearly salary today and I am very happy, I drive BMW because I like it, I need 2 million rmb/$310,578 to live which in China is a very rich person. I get 36,000rmb/$5,590 a year for my scholarship and I live just fine, I could make more and live better but you get the point. What makes Jenny made is she says she is a Christian and she has absolutely no humility.

Anyway, it’s not a bad schedule, in fact I have quite a bit of free time. I am not working on the weekends. I did a few days but I got busy with school and then I was supposed to do a trial class for the owner and then he was out of the country and it never happened. I did work another Saturday for a few hours and made some money. I need another job though. I need money for all this travelling during Spring Festival I’m going to do.

I did go out and buy a new winter coat because it is getting coldddd and I needed something heavy to keep my warm! I got a nice new Cheetah parka with sheep skin on the inside that can come out so that it isn’t as heavy too. And I just went out and bought Christmas decorations. I’m so excited!!!!! Two weeks until Christmas and I feel like the decorations get into the Christmas spirit. I already started listening to Christmas on Spotify and I’m loving N’Syncs, Pentatonix, Justin Beiber and Christina Aguliera albums. I know I know Justin Beiber really? But hey he can sing sometimes. This is actually going to be my first Christmas away from home, it’s weird and sad but I’m sure the group of friends I have here will do something just like we did for Thanksgiving. (that’s in the post to come)

Until next time,

~Alexis

Yes I am alive and well

So you might be asking what happened to me? Did she die? Did she drop off the face of the earth? Is she even still writing on this blog? Yes, I am alive and doing well. Sorry I haven’t posted. That really is on me, I wanted to do regular updates, but time seems to be getting away from me.

So let’s see, since I last wrote I actually moved into an apartment with Jenny. We got a nice apartment almost across from Wal-mart with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. It’s perfect! It’s close to Wal-mart of course, it’s only 10 minutes to the metro stop and 15 minutes to the gym and lastly it’s only 10 minutes from our classes. And all for the price of 1,800 rmb a month. ( 284 USD a month) The only downside is…. the bathroom! We didn’t get a Western bathroom 😦 So sad but hey you have to compromise somewhere and we decided that two equal big bedrooms out weighed the western toilet. We couldn’t be happier we moved! It was the best decision we made. We have our own spaces and some storage, our own kitchen and space to live in and the university gives us each 700 rmb a month so that leaves us with 400 rmb which is just under 65 USD we have to pay each month and if you split that in two it’s only 32$ a month for an apartment. Bam! Let that sink in!

 I started my Master’s program. I have a crazy class schedule.  Classes are going good. I had a Public Policy class for 2 weeks and I got a 94 in the class. Woohoo!  I wrote quite a long paper about gun control in America and then we had a final exam that was 25 questions that asked ridiculous questions with answer choices like the Vatican or the CIA. Now I just started International Business on Monday and it ends next week. I also have been taking an Innovation and Entrepreneurship class that will finish the Monday after the final exam for International Business. So I have 3 projects going at the moment. I have been taking Chinese classes and I don’t like the class because there’s like 75-100 students in the class, but I am definitely improving my Chinese. You have to here. I get frustrated going to a restaurant and not being able to read the menu or know what to order. I get by with the Chinese I do know or Pleco is this awesome app that is the best dictionary I have found!

I’m getting tired of Chinese food and I really miss food from home. Fresh, clean, normal food. I’ve had a few burgers, a few pizzas, some Italian and Subway! It’s amazing! The problem that even though the foods are soo good for your taste buds, they aren’t so good for the wallet. I don’t have any money problems but lets take a closer look at this problem. Chinese food can range from 5rmb=$.79 for noodles to 30rmb= $4.74 for a nice sit down dinner. Western food starts at 70 rmb=$11.05 and can go as high as 250rmb=$39.46 so in America that’s normal but in China it gets expensive because on top of that, none of the Western food places are where I live or where most people live. They take time and money to get there. So they are not an every day thing or even a very week thing, although sometimes for BOGO burger Mondays they are 🙂

 I started working part time on the weekends teaching little kids English for a company. Derrick set me up with it. It pays me pretty well. I won’t divulge how much but it is over a $100 a day. It’s not bad. The kids are cute and I get to have fun with it.

Halloween was this past weekend and it was sooo much fun. My friends and I all got dressed up and had a little party! Oh yeah, I have a lot of French friends here. There’s about 10 of them in my program! I have some American friends too of course, and a few Chinese! But it was a true American fashioned Halloween with jello shots, vodka gummy bears and worms, floating carved apple ghost heads in a punch and decorations! It was a great party and I’m really happy I have such a good group of friends here. It makes it feel like home.

I finally got my passport back after more than a month of the government having it so I could get my residence visa. You should know by now that the government takes forever and a year to do things and a tree of paperwork for each thing. Thankfully it is good until July 2017 when my program finishes!  YESS! I don’t have to do that again. It did start getting cold here. I wake up to about 50 degrees! We haven’t used our heat yet, but I think we will have too soon! So, besides that nothing is really new. We are trying to plan something with the other Americans for Thanksgiving! I’m going to order a few things from Taobao, the Chinese Amazon, so we can have a proper Thanksgiving or at least as close as we can get! So I guess that’s all for now.

I’ll post a pitcure gallery next! 😀

Hasta pronto,

~Alexis

Vacationing around China

This is what you’ve all been waiting for! I’ve taken ages it seems to write this. I’m so sorry it’s taken this long. I’ve been visiting family and friends, going all over New England and working. But the wait is over!

Let’s go back to August 10th the day my mom arrived! I woke up at 5am, and let’s be real I really didn’t sleep because I was too excited. I met the car taking me to the airport to pick up my mom which was kindly arranged by my work, they got reallllllly nice and surprised me. We waited at the exit for my mom and she finally came through and I got a big smile on my face and waved and wouldn’t you know it being the only white girl with semi-blonde hair in a sea of Chinese people, she didn’t see me. I started towards her and she finally saw me she gave me a big hug and started to cry a little bit! We made our way back to my apartment in the hired car and I made her breakfast, a big American breakfast with eggs, bacon, yogurt, coffee, potatoes, and oatmeal! The rest of the day we walked around my neighborhood, she met some of my friends and we went to dinner with people from my work! There were supposed to be more people there but they couldn’t make it for whatever reason. Oh well. Jessica and Neal are great so my mom, Jared and I didn’t mind. We had a great dinner with no weird food besides the inside of bamboo which looked like a wet sock and had quite an interesting texture.

August 11th: We packed, cleaned and moved out of my apartment. It ended up being an ordeal. The Chinese have to make it so hard sometimes. I apparently never paid my water bill but in my defense I thought it was this other bill that I was paying. It wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t a lot of money but it took like 4 hours to settle that and the little bit I owed for the 10 days of August. We went to our hotel near the airport called the Days Inn. Let me tell you, it is a 5 star hotel. We walked a little ways to get there in the rain and the back of my legs were covered in mud. We walk into the hotel and the maître d’hôtel brought me wet wipes wearing his white gloves. We get into the room and the tub is so big it could fit like 3 people! I almost cried. Y’all know how my bathroom was, this was like a dream come true. The beds were like heaven too. It was amazing! It’s definitely is the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

August 12: We flew to Beijing and met up with Jenny! We went to Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and to an Acrobatic show.

August 13th: It’s time to see the Great Wall. We all get up early and meet up with Eric and his friend Stephen. We take a bus to the middle of nowhere where we had to hire a guy to take us the rest of the way to Mutianyu which is a little farther away from Beijing but definitely worth the trip. There weren’t that many people and it was beautiful! We met another American along the way and he was really cool. We even had lunch at Subway and some Baskin Robins… go figure. Fun facts about the Great Wall: You can see it from space, it is a little over 13,000 miles long, the stairs on the Great Wall are scary- some are short, some are tall, some dip in the middle and some of them are missing! That night we board a train to Xi’an.

August 14th: We arrive in Xi’an pretty early. We go to McDonald’s and get some coffee. Then we try to get a taxi but no one will take us. Seriously we walked around the block and no one would stop and pick us up. We were standing on a corner wondering what we should do and this guy came up and asked where we were going. I showed him the address and he said he’d take us for 30rmb which hey isn’t that bad it’s 5$ and I have no idea where our hotel is. So he takes us and then we try to communicate in Chinese with my limited Chinese skills. He wanted to know where were going to go that day. It took a while and the help of a translator to figure out that he was asking us if we wanted to go see the Terracotta Warriors. He told me he’d charge us a certain price and we said ok hell ya we get a private car for the day. Well, he kept talking to me and translating things on his phone and being a little creepy. We saw the Terracotta Warriors and walked around for a few hours. It really is amazing how many of them there are and sad it is that they are so faded and broken. My mom was in heaven. She loves those kinds of things. I thought it was a little boring honestly. You can’t anywhere near them and they are all in ginormous pits that are about 25 feet or more down below you. On the way back things got really weird. This guy was a little older and was asking me if I had a boyfriend and asked me about the claddagh ring I wear. He then stopped and bought me pomegranates and touched my leg. He then pulls out his phone and translates something into “We go tonight” I was like umm yeaaaa nooooo! I have plans with friends. He got mad and called someone and talked about me and then charged us double when he dropped us off. It wasn’t a lot of money really and I couldn’t wait to get away from this weirdo.

August 15: We walked around the city and then caught our plane to Chengdu in the afternoon. That night we just ate dinner at the hotel and walked around a little bit.

August 16th: We got up early and went to the Leshan Buddha. It ended up being a 3.5 hour bus ride and then when we got there the lines were ridiculous! I’m not kidding we waited in line for like 3 hours just to get to the bottom of the Buddha. It almost was anti-climatic since we waited so long and people were so rude pushing and shoving even down the stairs. The Buddha really is incredible though. It is the largest sitting Buddha in the world. We were going to go to the Sichuan Opera but the ride back took forever and we got back too late but we did have a nice dinner of fried rice and veggies!

August 17th: PANDA DAY! We got up super early and got to the Panda Research center by 7am. They opened at 7:30am and we got walk around basically by ourselves and see the pandas. They are so darn cute and they eat so loud you can hear from a mile away! At around 10am we went to the place where you make the donations to get to hold a panda. So my birthday present from my mom was getting to hold a panda! BEST. PRESENT. EVER. SERIOUSLY! It was 200$ and I had to wear gloves and a gown. I’m not exactly sure why, to protect the panda or me? Probably the panda… they are a national treasure. So they bring out this baby panda and start feeding him honey covered bamboo. I waited my turn and then I got to sit next to him and pet him and hug him. AHHH it was so cool. They are not actually that soft, I could feel his coarse hair through my gloves. After that we went to the hotel and grabbed our stuff and headed to the train station. I hadn’t bought tickets because there are 20 trains a day from Chengdu to Chongqing. Well, on that day ever single train and seat was sold out. How I have no idea. We ended up on a bus from Chengdu to Chongqing that took 7 hours. I couldn’t wait to be off the bus. They played back Chinese sitcoms the whole time so near the end I busted out some Florida Georgia Line naturally. Every Chinese person turned to look at us and guess what… yea there were no effs given.We were going to see them in a few weeks and they are my favorite band right now! We finally made it and went to our hotel near the airport. The 5 star Days Inn. Thank God. We didn’t want to leave!

August 18th: We contemplated whether or not we wanted to go to Guilin. We were tired by this point and we had some things we wanted to do in Chongqing. We ended up going and as it turns out we got there too late in the day to go on the river cruises which is the only reason we went there. So we walked around and it was really hot. It wasn’t that cool of a place, there was nothing there.

August 19th: We wake up to a Typhoon, literally. There was typhoon while we were there, so we couldn’t go anywhere and we had to go shopping for me because I didn’t have a coat! I ended up buying this really nice jean jacket from Only. It has this cool black and white Aztec pattern on the shoulders. Then we headed out to the airport and went to Jared’s apartment to have dumplings! Jenny and Jared were waiting for us. The dumplings were amazing and Jenny and I actually made them with the help of one of my students April. They helped us bring our stuff to the hotel down the block. It was FREEZING in that hotel! holy cow! I tried to get rid of some more stuff because we had too much stuff to bring back.

August 20th: We packed and went to lunch with my boss the dragon lady or Miss Yuan and Miss Liu who is really cool! We went to a really nice restaurant where we had excellent food. We even got to try on some traditional dress. Jared and I matched and we looked gooood! Then we brought our stuff to the Days Inn and went to the bank to convert the last of my money. Then we went to dinner with my students and friends. There were 17 of us and we ordered 24 dishes. I don’t even think we touched them all. It was a good dinner. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, especially Jared. Jared my closest friend in China and he will forever be my China Husband! One of my students Jerry even started tearing up. It was sad. Jenny came back to the hotel with us and got to use that lovely tub we had and we gave her some stuff. Then sadly it was time to say goodbye to her too. She is like my sister. I love her!

August 21st: We boarded the plane to Helsinki and off we went. We got to the hotel in Helsinki and made our way into the city to have a look around. It was cold there too! Seriously it was summer it should be hot not cold.

August 22nd: Our last day of traveling and we flew from Helsinki to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Toronto which my mom almost didn’t make it on. She checked in at the Helsinki airport but she couldn’t check into the other flights so she had to check in when we got there. And then we weren’t placed together obviously. It was a nightmare, but thankfully she got on the flight and we just asked the lady next to me to switch and she was like an aisle seat hell yeah! Once we landed in Toronoto we had to wait to go through U.S. customs and finally made it onto the smallest plane I’ve ever flown on (and I fly a lot) to Syracuse. It was literally one seat on each side of the plane, no flight attendants and I could see into the cockpit from the back of the plane which was only 9 rows. WE MADE IT BACK TO AMERICA!!! It’s 12am and we drove home! Our kitty was so happy to see us.

That is the China trip. Pictures are worth a thousand words so I’ll post a gallery of them next. It was an overall good trip but we did run into a lot problems with people being rude and not wanting to pick us up in taxi’s. If you ever think about going to China… learn some Chinese or you’ll get no where, and go with a tour group and save yourself the stress and problems of going it alone. And go to see the nature places. They are so much better than the big cities. You have to see the Great Wall while in China and maybe the Terracotta Warriors. Then I would recommend Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaugou, Giulin (down the river and the rice terraces), Wulong, etc. China has some of the best scenic areas in the world. I would love to go back and see Juizhaigou, Guilin, and Wulong. Hopefully one day!