Sorry for such the late post. Internet has been acting up lately, and I finally had time to break from the activities of constantly studying to post these. As of right now the posts are streaming in from the first week of adventures. I am currently finishing the third week. So it goes.
The first chapter, entitled 初到青岛 (chu1dao4qing1dao3 = arriving in Qingdao) allowed us to become familiar with the city throughout the education process of the week’s lessons. By utilizing Lin’s textbook, we not only became knowledgeable on the history of Qingdao, but also began learning about the different food cultures within China and began to observe the large wealth differences within China.
The first lesson within the unit (each chapter consists of three lessons, so that Thursday we can review everything, and Friday can be spent testing), detailed a simple history of modern Qingdao from the German occupation to China’s post-reformation period.
Qingdao has changed a lot throughout its history, from its days as a German colony to its now modern role as a major port city. Qingdao can be split up into two parts: Old Qingdao, which is on the Western shore of the bay, and New Qingdao, which was developed on the Eastern shore. Qingdao’s old area is symbolized by its large pier stretching out into the Yellow Sea. This pier can be viewed by looking at Tsingtao Beer’s logo. Furthermore, it has many German structures including a large (but closed) German, Catholic Cathedral along with multiple mansions left behind by the German occupants.
New Qingdao is vastly different, being supported by immense skyscrapers and wide roads. It’s also littered with beautiful parks filled with greenery along with the Olympic memorial museum area and dock. We spend a lot of our time in New Qingdao’s downtown, whether we are at the karaoke bar, the multitudes of restaurants, or the immense supermarkets and book stores. The university campus is also located in New Qingdao, along its outskirts in one of the poorer neighborhoods. The university hosts a massive campus, at least two times the size of Ole Miss’s campus, filled with trees and different educational buildings and dormitories.
After finishing our first day of class, we prepared for the activity wherein we were bused over to Old Qingdao’s 八大关 (ba1da4guan1 = literally meaning eight forts, but used mainly just as the title of the forts and their accompanying areas) and were asked to go engage in conversation with locals from Qingdao. This proved to be our first true experience of interviewing locals, and speaking Chinese with people who weren’t classmates and teachers was both humbling and rewarding, as it slowly developed my listening skills.
After interviewing four separate groups of people, having around seven different pictures taken of me, and fulfilling the lesson requirements, we boarded the bus and headed for New Qingdao. There we interviewed more people and slowly began to realize the differing opinions between the youth and the elderly regarding the economic development of Qingdao. The youth all were exceptionally pleased and happy with the influx of material wealth, convenient transportation, and social advantages, while the elderly mostly seemed wary of the quick development and wished to not have the great western influence it currently possessed.
This enlightened me further into the opinions surrounding the different demographics within China…things could only get much more interesting as the program progressed. The second day involved a much more enjoyable activity during the hours of lunch. Our chapter dealt with the different delicacies within China along with the eight many styles of food preparation in China and their associated cultures. When we split into four groups to go try out the foods, I decided to go to the 川菜饭馆 (chuan1cai4fan4guanr3 = Chuan dish (Sichuan’s Chuan) restaurant) so that I could again partake in spicy deliciousness. Our teacher for the restaurant was the class favorite Fu, and the lunchtime experience was exceptional.
We arrived at around 12:37 to a back-alley Sichuan restaurant. Fu did most of the ordering, but what she did order was exceptionally delicious! The fish we ordered was initially brought out to us for our inspection. Once it passed the test, it was delivered to us in a heated oil broth filled to the brim with special red peppers. Although the fish’s head and fin’s floated around in the dish and our given chopsticks weren’t the best tools for scooping out the fish meat, the meal tasted delectable, and was only further complimented by the two special rice desserts also ordered. I enjoyed the meal very much and also happened to notice that they too cooked a special type of crustacean known as crawfish. Excited, I made a mental note of the location so that I could in the future return to experience the taste of the 小龙虾 (xiao3long2xia1 = little lobster, i.e. crawfish).
That evening, we participated in the official opening ceremonies hosted by the language professors and deans of the university. After the short ceremony, we all received pink packages with different Qingdao inspired goodies that could prove useful for our future stay here, if we ever got around to opening them. Next, we moved to the Qingdao University International Students Hotel, wherein the professors treated us to a multitude of dishes that seemed to go on ad infinitum. Although this may be a bit Martin-esque, I could only hope to describe all of the foods brought forth for us. The first items consisted of different hosts of dumplings each filled with different forms of vegetables, meats, and seafood. Another plate arrived next filled to the brim with braised eggplants in a special red sauce (the Chinese love their sauces). Next arrived a plate of plane white rice accompanied by sweet and sour pork. Orange glaze accompanied the following shrimp platter, which too was followed by a vegetable laced bowl of specialty noodles. Another dish arrived consisting of fried eggplants stuffed with shrimp and seasoning (a particular favorite of mine). Following these, both chuanr and 蛤蜊 (ga1la1 (as pronounced in Qingdao) = small clams) arrived in respective sauces of red peppers and hot glazes. Next, a platter overflowing with unique fruits and doughy desserts. Baozis followed and the night continued with Chinese chatter and liveliness not rivaled sense. Afterwards, we returned to our dormitories completely stuffed before beginning the following day anew…after some more intense studying of course.
During Wednesday’s activity, we learned about the local farmers market and spent the afternoon bargaining and getting quality food. The market was full of all sorts of vegetables and fruits, red meats and seafood, and seasonings and spices. Even more, it had a very unique section consisting of only the highest quality cow hearts, pig blood, and sea cucumbers. While not the most intriguing activity, seeing the different foods and purchasing dragon fruit proved rewarding. Upon returning to campus, we were greeted with meeting our 辅导 (fu3dao3 = tutor) for the first time. My tutor is named 姚舜 (yao2shun4) and is an athletic, basketball enthusiast, majoring in Environmental Chemistry Technologies. His major sounds fascinating, and I look forward to shadowing him during the education chapter.
|On Monday (of the first week) we arrived at a nice park in New Qingdao|
|The symbol of New Qingdao comes from the May 4th protest that signified a new spirit within China|
|The Chinese really like their kites|
|The restaurant we attended. Some excellent Sichuan food was consumed. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the dishes...next time I'll get one...|
|Entrance into the Chinese farmer's market|
|Alive Gala squirting around at the market|
|My lizhi and dragonfruit! They tasted super excellent!|
The first week ended with a cumulative test and a special tourism banquet contest, which was very similar to the SELU Foreign Language Festival competition…now there was a story.