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Koala Garden House

Saturday morning, I decided to make an over-night trip to Shanghai, but since the expo is there right now, available hostels and hotels are few and far between!  After a serious scramble, I was LUCKILY able to reserve a last minute room at the Koala Garden House!  I've stayed at three or four different hostels in Shanghai, and each one seems to get better and better.  The Koala House is my favorite... for now obvs! 

The street the Koala House is on:


Duolun Road looks exactly how I would picture parts of ancient China to look.  There are no high rises, and everything is modeled using dark grey and black stones.  The stone buildings and stone road has obvious been restored, but the street has definitely kept an "old-timey" feel!  No cars are allowed to drive on Duolun Rd which makes for a rather serene and super "Chinese" area in the constantly Westernizing city.

This excerpt is taken from a pamphlet sitting at the front desk: "Duolun road (formerly Duolean Road transliteration) is a little street in Shanghai, north of the Sichuanbei Road Trade Area, and south of Lu Xun Park and Hongkou Football Field, with its back to the Inner Ring Viaduct and Jewel Light Track.  The length of it is only about half a mile.  The street is both narrow and short, and is also winding and deep and qiuet, edged by little buildings of various styles, row upon row.  Through in the maps it can hardly be found, it's a major scene in the history of literature of modern times."

(When I got in last night, it was already dark, and this morning it was rainy so I was only able to take a few good pictures!) 


Inside the arch and LOOK! No high rise apartment buildings!! Would you ever believe it??


The hostel!


View from the third floor down into the cafe:


After waking up this morning and eating a nice Western breakfast (eggs and toast... mmmmmmmm), I hit the road to find one of the many famous pearl markets in the city!  I had the address written down in characters on a slip of paper so I could show a taxi driver, but I had to get in four different taxis before I found the lucky one who could read my attempted calligraphy. 

The coolest driver in the world and the partition surrounding him!  I suppose the partition is to keep him safe and dry from unruly passengers.


Don't worry parents! He's certified!


View out the front:


Will upload more later!
Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

That can't be right!

Today in my freshman oral English class, we did an activity to review language for renting an apartment. 

I gave the class a specific scenario where each student would do two things: sell their own apartment and buy a new one. After about 15 minutes of designing their own apartments, students began the selling and buying process. At the end of class, I had a few students share some facts about their new apartments.

A female student, English name Fish, reported that she “bought Blossom’s apartment. It is located in the city center with a super market nearby. There are three bedrooms, one wash room, a living room, a study, and a chicken.”

Me: “A chicken??? Are you sure you mean chicken??”

**bursts of laughter from the class**

Fish: “ohhhhhh no no no no no! KITCHEN! Kitchen!”

Over and Out,

Standard Monday.

Today was a beautiful sunny day so I rented an e-bike and headed into town for some errands.  On the way, I passed the usual plethera of unharnessed children, and began to wonder: if I had a Yuan for every unsafe baby I saw on the back on an e-bike, I would be a millionaire.

Exhibit A:


"Oh, he'll be fine!! Just hold onto him dear!"

After some running around in town, I made it to my weekly tutoring sesh in one piece, and walked into the “classroom” I am provided to tutor Yang, Stanley, Jerry, Elephant, and Tony.

My classroom: 


I have to "teach" (aka babysit in English) five young Chinese boys from 5-6 every Monday evening.  The above "classroom" is the amount of space I have to do it in.

At least I have these excellent learning poster to help:


Please pay special attention to the mangosteen and pitaya:


as well as the nelumbo and the longan:


Today I decided to use a word-find found on the internet to help the hour go by faster.  Each word find had 9 new English vocabulary words.  I could explain the new words, use them in some sentences, play a memory game, give out the word find, and voila an hour.  Well nothing is as easy as it sounds.  The beginning part of my "voila lesson" went fine, but when I handed out the actual word-find....

As my luck would have it, the word find had a blank line at the top of the page with the word "Name" in front of it.  The blank space was just too much for the boys.  Upon being given the worksheet, my favorte little angel, Elephant, decided he wanted to make some additions to his name.  Elephant asked how to properly write "pig" which I refused to show him.  He is quite the trouble maker and I have caught onto some of his trickery, but even without my help, Elephant had the other boys chanting winthin seconds (in English): Elephantpig! Elephantpig! Elephantpig! And oh no no. The fun didn't stop there. 

Elephantpig decided that for the remaining 30 minutes of the class, he would ask (in Manadrin) to go to the bathroom about every 3 minutes.  (In Mandarin: Wo qu W.C.??) 

Aside: A lot of English taught in China is British English so people spell color "colour" and favorite "favourite"; people call french fries "chips" and elevators "lifts".  My favourite one (haha... sike). My favorite one, however, is calling the restroom "W.C."  This is the shortened version of "wash closet".  All my students ask if they "can go to the W.C.???"

Back to Elephantpig.  So Elephantpig is asking qu W.C? qu W.C? qu W.C? qu W.C? which of course gets all the other kids riled up.  At the end of class, Elephant pig has altered his name one last time, and this is the word-find he turned in.

Incase the picture is too fuzzy, it says "elephant W.C. pig".

Over and out,
An American Girl in China

E-mail Etiquette

Today I was cleaning out my work email and here are a few I've gotten over the past year:

1. Hello! Hannah(may i just call your name directly?). I'm 刘新宇Nora. You can see me in English Translation 1.

I'm from 盐城YanCheng, if translated by its meaning, it is "salt city". It's not very far from here, it locates above NanTong in the map. I can tell you more about it if you are interested. I like music, books, movies and many other things. If you still have questions about me, just ask me, and you can also ask me about china,our tradition,anything you like! Just me treat as a friend!

To be exact, this is my first mail written in English. And I'm not very familiar with you and your culture( though we have classes together)., so i might made some mistakes in this mail. I would be glad if you predict them in your reply.

Waitting for your reply.

Best wishes!

2. Dear MS.Davis,

I'm very happy to have your class today about the knowledge of Politically Correct in the USA.I think it's a very meaningful and wonderful class,and I have learnt much from your class.

I noticed that you were very surprised at SUNSHINE'S comments on chinese government and chinese politics,because you continuously asked the question"Did you also notice that?"'do you also think so?" So ,I was wondering that ,I don't konw whether it's polite to ask or not, from now on,have foreigners still considered that chinese have the same thought that the Communist Party implant?How do Americans like China?

I want to say,in my view ,people in China do have democratic rights but which are not ensured very well because of our impefect democracy.People do have their own ideas on politic affairs and we can freely comment on current affairs both at home and abroad.We are able to access to the internet for all sorts of different information at any time ,so our society is not ill-informed.But I confess that some websits are forbiden to enter,such as websites in Taiwan,for some political reasons,but it's also possible to get access to them just thought free network agents websites if you really want to get into.I hold the idea that this practice is hard to be acceptable among most chinese.Many people express their dissatisfaction on BBS,especially when the YOTUBE was forbiden.

And, I don't totally agree with SUNSHINE’ comments on chinese government,especially,the" RULEs"in government she mentioned in class.Her sayings were too radical.As her words,if you enter political circles in china, you'll go bad.I f you want to get higher status,you need to be a flatter.Probably she is pessimitic on chinese gonvernment or seldom pays much attention on home news.China have intensified efforts to root out the corruption in governmen in recent years and has achieved much progress.Even though you don't have relationships or backgrounds with some officer,you can also be emgaged in government or get promtion as a officer as long as you get genine ability or learning.However ,I admit that there is still a lot of drawbacks existing in government.But her speech seems so absolute ,arbitray and subjective,it sounds like that our government is in a very bad and serious condition.So when you asked us whethert we had the same thought with her,we all kept silent,but we felt sorry we were not confident enough to stand up and expressed our own views in class.I think problems exit in every government all over the world, every country needs to face and settle issues about bribery ,corruption or other problems.Chinese government is on the way to adjusting and improving itself, we all have a strong desire to establish a sound and healthy government.I love my country, I really hope she can get a better development.

PS:your chinese pronunciation is excellent,especially the phrase"xia ke"(class is over),which sounds pefect.

best regard


This Joyce J, did you remember me ?

I'm busy reviewing,so I didn't write to you until today.

Did u eat an apple yesterday?

Best wishes

4. dear Hannah,
How is everything going in American?
Have you enjoyed yourself there?What about the weather?
To my surprise, Nantong is snowing today!How beautiful it is !
I often think of you when I read news about Obama.
It seems that Obama has experienced lots of setbacks in his medical reform and also met with a lot of troubles.
So I wonder about  the real truth of Americans' attitudes towards this man who once said that change has come to America.

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

May Day!

Nantong has two seasons: winter and summer. Last month it snowed. Now, about four weeks later, it’s unbearably hot by 10am. 

This past Monday was “May Day” more commonly referred to as Labor Day which = no school. As usual during this harsh change of season in Nantong, Monday was a scorcher. I had a yoga class Monday afternoon and the only way of enjoying the trip down to the Yoga studio in this heat is to catch a breeze by renting an electronic bike (street lingo: e-bike). So on May Day, I walked down to the local e-bike rental store to rent an e-bike. I had to write my name and number on the sign out sheet, as usual, but this time it was my lucky day. The e-bike I was given… would you have guessed it… was PINK. I know I know fate, right?

This is Jared and me posing on my hot rented wheels:

So I rode all the way to the park smiling on my super sweet pink e-bike to find that the park was absolutely PACKED. I should have known. No school. 80 degrees. Obviously it’s a park day.

E-bike parking outside the park:

Fortunately for me, an old man was selling baby chickens and ducks in a rather large box right outside the gate. I held a few, but then thought about germs so I put them back. It was tough down turning those babies though considering the entrepreneur was offering me two ducks for 4¥. (1$ = 7¥) Yea, I know!!

Trying to sift through the masses of people in the park was more annoying than usual. Every time I would walk by a group of people (which was every few minutes), someone would yell the first English word or phrase they could think of. I got your standard “Hello!”, “Welcome to China!”, “Wowowow!” and “Tall foreigner!” But then there were a few I hadn’t heard before like “What are your names??” and “What are you doing here?” Keep in mind none of these things were said directly to me. Usually people wait until I’ve walked a few feet past eye shot to yell in my direction. Finally I made it to the studio in one piece. Unfortunately, I had to leave at some point, but there was a surprise in store.   

On the way out of the park, I stumbled upon this handsome fellow. I’m a cheetah with the camera so I was able to snap a pic of his sweet hair style. The 80’s have NOTHING on this lil guy. 

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

Do you have 5 minutes?

My sister, Katie, sent me and email the other day about a 9 year old little girl named Riley. Riley has been battling cancer for the past 3 years, and she told the Make A Wish Foundation that her one wish was to have the mail man deliver a huge bag of get well cards to her door for when she arrives home. I have had each of my classes write a letter to Riley which will be sent later this week. If you’re interested in helping Riley’s wish come true, here is her address:

Riley Philpot
206 Slaney Loop Rd.
Winterville, N.C. 28590

Below are a few letters my students turned in!

Dear Riley,
     I am a college student in China and I know you from our teacher. Riley, you are really very brave and beautiful. I like you very much.
     I have a younger brother, he is very naughty and active. He has the same age as you. Riley, when your sickness is over I hope you can go back to school and enjoy your school life. Someday, I wish you can come to China. China is a very beautiful country and she has various kind of food and plenty of lovely animals. I think you will love her.
     Riley, you are a brave girl. We all love you very much. I really envy your big eyes. Riley, just believe yourself and you will get well very soon.
     Riley, you are the best. Come on!
     I’m looking forward to your coming.
     Yours Sincerely, Sophia

Dear Riley Philpot,
     I’m a Chinese college student. I hear of your wish from my foreign teacher, Hannah Davis and now I’m sitting in my classroom and writing this letter for you and expressing my best wishes for you. My foreign teacher will collect all the letters that written by my classmates and send them to you from China.
     I think you’re a kind and lovely girl because you make so beautiful wish. I hope that one day you can come to China for a visit and my classmates and me will feel happy to be your guards and guides. I love you, my princess.
     Yours, Sky

Dear Riley,
     My name is Kashish, I’m a 20-year-old Chinese girl, and this is my Chinese name “(some characters)”. The meaning of my Chinese name is “to be No.1”, however, I’m not the top students in my class. But I never give up, I always try to do my best. That’s enough, is it?
     I live in a small city near Yangzi River, in the east part of China. My hometown is famous for its delicious local food, such as pork and craw meat dumplings. These food are really out of this world. I really wish you can have a chance to eat them. ^_^
     Wish you a good day!

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

Ten days in the USofA

I’m back on American soil and it feels amazing. The travels were relatively painless -- only one layover in Newark from Shanghai before touchdown in Raleigh, NC. When I arrived in the land of the free late Friday evening, after over 24 hours of traveling, the first Americans I saw walking off the plane were two young airport employees. The young men were uniformed and waiting right outside the cabin door with wheel chairs. This was my welcome home conversation.

Employee 1 to Employee 2: “Hey, man. Do you speak Asian?”
Employee 2: “Naw dude. I can’t speak that shit! Can you speak Asian?”

I almost said something to the young intellectuals, but I felt it would be rude to interrupt their riveting debate. However, I was interested to know the outcome of their conversation considering I don’t know of anyone in the world that has the capability to speak a continent.  

Once I got off the walkway and into the actual terminal, I noticed how many overweight people there were which luckily reminded me I was craving peanut butter M&MS. My first American meal was a salad, glass of milk, and king size bag of peanut butter M&Ms.   

Welcome home!!!

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

Drivers Edjukashon

On Wednesday evenings, Rhona (a student) and I taxi home together after tutoring Snoopy and Jane (Rhona for translating), and yesterday we happened upon the topic of driving.

It would seem obtaining a drivers license in China is extremely difficult. At the end of all the paperwork, courses, and examinations, Rhona explained that each drivers license costs about 6,000 ¥. That’s more money than I make in one month. Please do not convert that to USD. 

As we continued home, Rhona told me all about “learning driving” through her giggles. She finds the bureaucracy of the entire process all very humorous so our conversation was continuously interrupted by brief bursts of laughter.

Rhona: “We must take three driving tests. None of which have anything to do with actual driving on the road!”

Me: “Oh really??”

Rhona: “Yes! We each must study driving very hard for a very long time, but at the end of our driving lessons, we have tests that have nothing to do with what we have been learning! Hehehe!!!”

Test number one:

The black letter dots represent 10 ft poles. The brown box is the car. Students arrive to the test with the car parked as shown in the diagram. The test requires the students to drive the car out of the parked position and in between poles BCEF. Then the students must drive in a circle around the poles and reverse the car back in between poles ABDE. Rhona explained that the test goes on in this fashion until the examiner approves of your skills.

Rhona: “I think that once I finally learn to drive, I must always ride with six friends in the car. That way when I want to park, they can stand and act as the six poles!!”

Test number two:

Students are taken to a bridge and must drive with one wheel up on the bridge for an extended period of time. This is to “show their skills”.

Test number three:

Students are taken to a road with nine large holes in it. They must drive the road and not touch any of the holes.

Rhona: “Yes. And then apparently you can drive!! But if I ever come to such a road, I will turn my car around and choose another way! It would seem all of our money is being used to make such roads for the tests!!”

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China

When in Rome...

This is a sentence taken out of student's paper just turned in:

"In my opinion, there is a saying that Do in Rome as Rome does. Google should obey Chinese rules when it is operating in China."

Is it just me, or is a little something lost in the translation of that...

Over and Out,
An American Girl in China