Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stacie says ni hao y'all

Hello friends and family,
 I do not have a lot of time, I always have water to boil :-D. I am sorry I have not posted yet.
I read Kevin's blog and he covers a lot of what has happened, so I will just add a few things from my perspective.
China is an awesome, welcoming place! I love the friendly people, I love the beauty that is all around us (once you get off the streets), and I love the food! The people say the same things a lot to us... beautiful... 5 children, wow!... look, foreigners... helloo... They are really quite kind. There is a dialect here so sometimes I can't understand words I have learned like "water," "7," "8," and "9" for instance. Our neighbor came over to ask if our water was working and I couldn't understand her at all, so she grabbed her granddaughter who could speak English. I was shocked to learn that she had ever used the word "water!" I know that word and it was not used in our discussion. ha ha
The most frustrating thing is not knowing what is being said. Two adorable older ladies wanted to talk to us at the grocery store today. They went on and on in Chinese and... couldn't understand a thing! This happens everyday. I wish I could respond to these conversations because they are so friendly and interested in meeting us. Being a mom means it is hard to find free time to make studying a new language very effective, but I am trying. The schools here teach the children English, so the younger generation can often say a few things.
This is a beautiful place. I love the plants and trees. I saw a bird that looked a little like a woodpecker in body-type but with bottle-blue, sheeny feathers all over it's back! I love birds so I was thrilled. The waterlilies in the photos are lotus and are sometimes nearly 2 feet in diameter. The top of the lotus flower stem is full of seeds that are sold everywhere here and I tasted one- they taste almost like a pine nut. Since I have never left American before, sometimes I am surprised that the trees are real. Other times I think "so that is where this plant comes from before I see it in a store." Buying two small plants for the apartment was a bright spot for me in this busy first week.
Speaking of nature, there are many small dogs in Chengsha. This attracts Evelynn's attention. There are many miniature poodles, and other small, fluffy dogs but I am unsure of their breed. Evelynn notices them all, "so cute," "so fluffy!" Most often the dogs are not on a leash and just sit next to the owner's chair while they are at work, the littlest ones are carried around, just like my Lucy.
The food is really good. The meat can look very questionable in some places, and there is the local specialty "stinky tofu" sold all over the place that smells like something DIED :-P. Other than this I think everything tastes great. The dumplings, fried rice and noodles, the skewered meat, barbequed eggplant, and breads, all so good! The food is more flavorful than in America, I think. Either that or I am more hungry. The breads always tempt me. They fry it, steam it, barbeque it, boil it. There is plum, sesame, nut, honey, onion, sugar... It really tempts me. Everytime I see bread I feel hungry.
I am excited to teach this Saturday, wish me good luck. I am teaching phonics to 7-9 year olds. (B says "buh" buh-aa-tuh, bat!) I always feel nervous to teach, but I love the challenge of it too. I don't know what will work and all that, I have never taught a foreign language before. Also I can NOT speak their language. So, I feel nervous. A baby boy was crying for his mother while we were walking the other day, and I said to my family, "I can't even understand what HE is saying, and he is a baby! I know less Chinese than a Chinese baby!" It is true too.
I think I have lost a little weight, all my clothes are loose. That means I need more bread, right? Speaking of weight, the people here are all sizes, thin to fat, short to tall. The difference is that the thin ones are thinner than a thin American, the fat ones are more rare than they are in America, and anyone taller than Kevin's 6' 2" height is hard to find. I have seen one, he was about 6' 4". Everyone looks the right height because they are generally close to my 5' 3" size, especially girls. Appearances make me think of my new haircut...
I got my hair re-cut into my favorite pixie, and I love it. Our Chinese translating-helper and friend Sophia took me to a hair salon to get it done. She got her hair done at the same time. I went to the back of the store to get the shampoo first. They had me lie down on a bed-table with the sink at the top to  do the shampoo. The stylist then shampooed my hair for at least 5 minutes. Shampooing and massaging my head with a lot of pounding and rubbbing. I was thinking "are we done yet?" for most of the experience. Then I was led up front for the cut. Most stores like this (and notably a dentist office on our street) have big glass storefronts so everyone can see in while the service is being done. (None of us want to go to the dentist here now.) So I sit down and the stylist says something in Chinese. I figure he wants to know what to do with my hair, but  I just shrug for fear that he might get going and I won't be happy with that result. Sophia is still getting a head massage in the back, a lot of good it did to bring her! Luckily the girl in the next chair is a university student and tells me what he said (how do you want your hair cut, obviously) then I pull out a photo, and tell the student the rest. Sophia comes along about now, and I am pretty sure she adds that I want to look like Anne Hathaway, because she asked me earlier if that was what I meant by really short. It is a great cut. I love it. Had some trouble paying because of the 7 and 9 in Chinese like I mentioned earlier. All the stylist I have seen in these big shop windows so far are men. Just like in America you can tell by the big, colorful, edgy hairdos that they are hair stylists. They were really nice to the clueless American girl with 5 kids and professor husband (I could understand that part of the conversation) that can't understand "70" (he had to write it down.) My haircut was only 19 kuai, 3.5 US dollars, the 70 was about something else.


  1. Sure miss you guys. I have been wondering if all went well with the flights and travel. I love love love your hair-cut Stace. I think my favorite thing I read so far is that Jeanie loves everything and has no culture shock. What a cutie. We miss you all a lot. Don't forget about us back here. We would love to skype sometime.

    1. We won't forget about you. what is a good time to Skype you guys? Tell us your skype address again?

  2. Stacie,

    Thanks for the great update. I am so jealous of the experience you are having. I need to see pictures of all the unique birds and trees. Most of all, I am jealous of the food that you must be eating. I don't understand how you could possibly be losing weight. I miss you. I hope you keep the updates coming. Enjoy!