It has been a big week here in Beijing! Adam has been in Yunnan since Thursday, and I am very much looking forward to his return on Tuesday night. Here are some recent developments:
1. On Tuesday, Adam invited me to dinner with the CICAMS crew and representative from the Fogarty who was in Beijing. I did not know where the restaurant was, but found it on google maps and wrote down directions. I chose not to take a taxi because I allowed myself an hour to get there and it was rush hour, which is a terrible mess in Beijing. Sooooo clearly I got lost (walked too far south instead of turning, which tends to happen when you cannot read Chinese street signs). When I realized I needed to turn around, I stopped people and asked for directions in Chinese and I was understood!!! I was so excited!! However, I only understood some of the response (luckily there were many hand motions that I could follow), so I ended up asking every block or 2 to ensure that I didn't miss the turn off to the other street. Only 1 person ignored my "qing wen" (excuse me), but everybody else was eager to help. I made it to the restaurant only 10 minutes late (after an hour of walking around...) and we had a delicious Sichuan meal.
2. I [kind of] got a promotion! Things at school finally settled down in early November after a very hectic 2 months (long story, but basically my principal was fighting with Scholastic and RYB, the management companies for the school, and the foreign teacher, which happened to be me, was in the middle). So for the past 2 weeks, I have been teaching the 2 international classes at school, as I was originally hired to do. On Thursday, I received an email saying that my principal really likes my work and wants me to teach the "normal classes" as I did the past 2 months, which means I will be teaching for an additional hour each day. I was surprised because the principal has never actually seen me teach, but it means that the teachers and students have given positive feedback, so I was really really excited for the compliment. The best part is that I negotiated it so that I would not have to get to school any earlier or stay later, but I still will be getting paid for the extra hour, which will add up to a significant amount of money. Yay!!! In Adam's words: "Alison, you're going to be my sugar mama!" hahaha.
3. Last night I went to dinner with one of the new teachers at my school (she speaks the best English in the school) and some of her friends and former colleagues. Big step--socializing out with all Chinese people! We went to a hotpot place and it was delicious. Hotpot is kind of like Chinese fondue; there is a big pot of broth in the middle of the table (either spicy, mushroom, or clear), you order vegetables and meat that you put into the broth to cook, and then you dip into one of various sauces to eat. I did not partake in any of the ordering, which is why our food included stomach lining, duck tongue, and what was called "blood" (looked like liver color and gelatinous...ew). I stuck with the lamb, beef, and veggies. At the end, someone came to our table with noodles that he was going to hand-pull at the table. It was not quite what Adam and I did in our class; this guy was essentially jump roping, swinging the dough like a piece of ribbon, and twirling it around the room! He then split it into smaller pieces and put into the hot pot to cook. The conversations were difficult to understand at times, but overall it was a great evening and a lot of fun! (Then I got home and had a fantastic skype date with my friend Liz, which was the icing on the cake!)
4. My parent's skype FINALLY works!!!!!!! (aka I got to see Lucy! YAY! oh, and my mom and dad too:)
5. WE HAVE HEAT. Now that the weather has dipped to the 30s and 40s, it's about time!
Here are the pictures from Xi'an that I keep forgetting to post: (they are in a picasa web album) - Enjoy!