Saturday, December 24, 2011

Welcome to our blog!

Hi everyone.  This blog will hopefully keep you all updated on what we are doing for our China preparations.  Obviously, nothing too thrilling is happening yet because we are still in the U.S., but we are frantically trying to learn as much as we can about Changsha, China (and China in general) before we go.  Some of the questions that have been asked by myself and my children are: 1) How many people speak English? 2) Will we be able to handle the spicy food? 3) Is it true we need to wear our sandals with socks? 4) Do they have forks?  5) What will we do without Facebook and YouTube? 6) What are the students like there? 8) How much attention will a family with five light-haired blue eyes kids get in China? 9) How will we get around while we are there (buses, taxis, etc.) 10) Where is the nearest Pizza Hut?  11) What are the bathrooms like? 12) How difficult will it be to practice our religion there?  13) What will our apartment look like?

Probably our biggest preparation right now is to try to learn as much Mandarin Chinese as we can before we go over there.  It is clearly one of the most difficult languages in the world with its tonal system, but we are hard at work with our Fluenz program (much better than Rosetta).  The kids are absorbing this stuff like sponges, but I'm doing ok too.  I have signed up for a beginning Mandarin class on campus next semester and it will be taught by a very sweet lady (Professor Xiao) who actually comes from the same university that I will be teaching at over there (Hunan Normal University).  Our feeling is that we will definitely not be fluent for a while, but whatever we can learn will be helpful.  I think it also shows a great deal of respect to the culture by at least attempting to communicate with them instead of just assuming everyone in the world should speak English and that there must be something wrong with them if they don't.  Anyway, we will keep you posted as we learn new things.