Sunday, August 30, 2009

Old Town

Today, we set out to explore Old Town Shanghai. Highlights included the Yu Gardens Bazaar (a series of little streets lined with stores), the Huxinting Tea House, the Temple of the City God (built in 1403), and the Nan Xiang dumpling restaurant, where we happily waited in line for over an hour for our take-out order of 16 steamed soup dumplings. Though crowded and a bit touristy, it was a great day and I'm sure we'll be back for more. In the meantime, here are some of the pictures we took: - enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The family that bikes together...

This is not an uncommon sight here - an entire family sharing a bike. The one-child policy is easily visible here, with parents never walking with more than one kid. For the purposes of transporation, it works!
On a side note - the man biking in front of them is hauling three crates full of eggs. Let's hope he got to his destination safely!

Menu from last night's banquet

We had another banquet last night, this time thrown by our school for all of the foreign teachers. It was a chance to meet the administration and celebrate the start of the school year with toasts, speeches, and a huge amount of food. The beverage choices included "Great Wall" wine and "Dark Beer."
We were each given a list of all of the food items - each was brought to our table and served family style. Thought you might like to check it out:

Mango Salad, Crystal Pork, Chilled Golden Mushroom, Roasted Dried Bean Curd, Kaifaw Lotus Root, Sichuan Chili Chicken, Sesame Jelly Fish, Roasted Goose, Lamb Chop Teppanyaki, Deep Fried Mandarin Fish, Fried Crystal Shrimp with Vegetable, Garlic Oyster Teppanyaki, Stewed Diced Beef with Red Wine Sauce in Pot, Steamed Sliced Pork and Fungus with Chicken Broth, Fried Eggplant with Taiwan Pasting in Sizzling, Stewed Bean Curd with Mashed Crab, Mushroom Soup, Fried Vegetables, Steamed Mashen Crab Dumpling, Twin Cake,  and Fruit Plate.


No risk of going hungry this year!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Marshall Banquet

Last night, we were treated to dinner and a river cruise by Marshall University, the organization that we came here with. We ate at the Seagull Palace on Pudong (the main financial district, across the river from the rest of Shanghai) and then took a cruise along the Huangpu River to enjoy the city's incredible skyline at night. We ended the night on Nanjing Road, one of Shanghai's main shopping streets.
Highlights of the night included the seemingly endless stream of food coming out from the kitchen, the extra-large Tsingtao beers, and Jeff eating a fish eyeball ("for good luck.")

We have another banquet tonight, this time with all of the teachers at our school. It would be easy to get used to this!
Enjoy the pictures here: - but, be warned, there are a lot!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New additions to our apartment!

We are very excited about a few new additions to our apartment. First, we got a water cooler from our "dorm guard" (like an apartment manager.) The water comes out cool or hot (perfect for tea!) As you can't drink water from the tap here without boiling it first, this is going to make our lives much easier. Replacement water jugs will be delivered to our door for 14 yuan each (about $2.00.) Awesome, considering that we live on the 5th floor (no elevators here...)

Second, we got this table and couch from Ikea. There were some language issues while arranging to have the couch delivered - it took the two of us (with almost no Chinese skills) and four Ikea employees (with similarly little English) to work out the details. We were thrilled when it managed to find its way to us tonight! These will definitely help our apartment to feel a little more like a home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Local Wet Market

Tonight, we went for a long walk to enjoy the "cool" weather (finally under 90) and break in the humidity. One of the things that we checked out was our local wet market, where you can get any sort of produce or animal part that you can dream up. It's definitely an adventure for all five senses, and is best enjoyed with old sneakers on, as the floor has all sorts of blood, guts, and other goodies running amuck. Though there are endless possibilities for experimenting, we stuck with the familiar tonight, walking away with a head of garlic and a jalapeno to spice up our home cooking.
Here are just a few photos to give you a feel for it: (though we really wish there was a way to send along tastes, smells, and sounds, too.)

Our Teaching Assignments!

Finally, we were given our schedules and class lists today. Jeff will be teaching 6th and 8th grade history and 8th grade honors English. I'll be teaching 9th and 10th grade low-level English. We'll both be teaching 17 class periods a week. We're feeling really excited, though we have a lot of details left to learn.

The Start of Orientation

We began orientation yesterday (Monday) with a governmental medical check, which included filling out forms, having blood drawn, and going onto a bus to be x-rayed, ultrasounded, vision tested, and generally poked and prodded. We spent the afternoon learning how to navigate the school's IT system. Today, we get our schedules and teaching assignments, as well as meet our mentor teachers (returning teachers who will work with us throughout the year to help us work through the ins and outs of the school.) With over 2,000 students in the international division alone, there are a lot of systems to figure out! Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Apartment

When we arrived, we were given keys to two different apartments, with the explanation that every teacher gets his or her own apartment, married or not. This caused some confusion, especially when we tried to return the keys to one of them and were met with shocked laughter. In the end, we kept one to use as a "guest apartment" (visitors welcome!) and storage space. We're able to move furniture between the two apartments, so long as we return it at the end of the year, so we've been able to spruce up our apartment with some extra tables and chairs. Although it still needs some homey touches, it's a great place and we feel very lucky to spend the year in it!

Adventures in Food

One of the things (if not THE thing) that we are most excited about here is exploring all of the culinary delights that China has to offer. We headed out early this morning for street food breakfast. I've attached a picture of Jeff eating it. It was an incredibly delicious crepe-like dish folded around scallions, sauce, and some other unidentifiables. We also tried out this soy/egg drink. In total, we paid about 40 cents. I think we'll have no problem eating well!
We've also been exploring the local supermarket. It has enormous variety and all sorts of things that we're excited to experiment with. Here's a link to a few pictures: (Jason, how'd you like to be the seafood manager at this store?!?)

Our "Milwaukee Compass"

Wherever we are, we seem to be able to spot the breweries. (Even amidst the stunning views on the Bund.) We didn't actually make it in this one, but now have one more thing on our must-see list.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Welcome to Shanghai High School!

We'd like to take you on a little tour of our campus. It's beautiful and feels more like a small college than a high school. Despite being located in a busy, bustling neighborhood, it feels very protected from its surroundings: locked gates, high fences, even electric wires, and is so far very quiet and peaceful (though the students haven't all returned yet!) It's a massive campus: thousands of students and over 70 foreign teachers (not to mention all of the Chinese teachers and staff!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Safe and Sound

After more than 20 hours of traveling, we arrived safe and sound last night. Despite a brief scare with the airline not having a record of our reservation (eek!) and rainstorms in Shanghai upon arrival, the trip was relatively painless. We have a couple of days before starting work, so are working on getting a sense of how to get around and moving into our apartment. Last night, we braved the nearby "TrustMart" - a multi-story department and grocery store just a couple of blocks away for a few essentials. Today, though, for some comforts to remind us of home, we're headed to the local Ikea. Wish us luck!
I've attached a couple pictures of us after clearing customs in the Shanghai airport.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Less than a week to go! We're knee-deep in to-do lists, historical documentaries, maps, books, and all other things China. It's suddenly feeling very real. While it will be difficult to say good-bye to friends and family we've grown used to seeing frequently, I think we'll both breathe a sigh of relief when the plane door shuts and we're on our way. More once we get to China - we take off August 19 and land August 20.