Thursday, May 31, 2007

A quote that perfectly describes...

The difference between my travel perspective and that of a certain person going to China with me. Said much more eloquently than anything I could ever come up with...

"There are map people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by. I have listened to accounts by such travelers in which every road number was remembered, every mileage recalled, and every little countryside discovered. Another kind of traveler requires to know in terms of maps exactly where he is pin-pointed every moment.

It is not so with me.

I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found, nor much identification from shapes which symbolize continents and states."

-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

With A Friend at Your Side...

Getting ready for the China trip is proving quite the endeavor! From getting shots... to figuring out the logistics of my travels... to comforting distraught parents- leaving the country for a year is no easy undertaking!

Not to mention my own feelings about leaving the United States for such a long time. I'm so looking forward to the trip and all that I will learn over the next year. Still, I can't help but harbor a bit of apprehension. I've been frenziedly researching everything Chinese, but no amount of reading will reveal what China is actually like- that won't come until I actually step off the plane in Beijing.

When it comes down to it, I know that the upcoming trip will be a great experience. I just get a little nervous sometimes. When I feel this way, I'm quick to remind myself that I'm making the journey with my boyfriend/ best friend - and, most importantly, I remember to keep praying.

Scott's aunt sent me a perfect little travel book and inscribed the following quote, which I thought was surprisingly pertinent: "Go always with a friend at your side and God in your heart." I'll certainly be remembering these words as I spend the next year as a waiguoren (foreigner).

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

There are so many places I want to visit... luckily I will have plenty of time!

Researching places to travel in China has kept me busy during the day at my boring receptionist job in Tallahassee for quite some time now... I thought I would share some of the things I want to do this summer and next year (and kill some more time at work!!)

The Wolong Panda Reserve is a few hours away from Chengdu, in Sichuan province. The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. has three pandas... Wolong is home to 150 of these adorable creatures! About half of the pandas roam free around the 494,000 square acre reserve, while the other half are captive pandas. Visitors can hike through the reserve and enjoy the black and white scenery to their hearts' content!

The Qinghai Railway is one of the Chinese government's most fantastic engineering accomplishments. It's the highest elevated railway in the world: at one point, it climbs up to about 4,900 m above sea level! Travelers can now take the train all the way across China... from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet. We are looking to pick up the train in Chengdu after visiting the panda reserve. This will be about a two-day ride, with prices ranging from about $50-$160 each way.

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet. Foreigners aren't allowed to travel into the rest of the country, but that's fine because there is so much to see in the city itself. The Potala Palace is Lhasa's best-known landmark and the traditional seat of the Dalai Lama (who has been in exile since 1959). There are many other beautiful temples and monasteries... not to mention the breathtaking view from 3,650 m above sea level!

Hong Kong is where our orientation for the teaching program will be, starting August 24. We will be spending about a week in the city. It's one of the most highly developed places in the world... it was governed by the British from 1898 until 1997 and is now Chinese. It will be very exciting to visit this important economic center- I hope we have plenty of time for sight-seeing!

That's it for now... more later!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Finally, I have a job!

So! Great news! Scott and I now have a teaching job in Zhanjiang, China! We're going with Maryknoll, a Catholic mission organization. The program is placing us both in a vocational community college/ high school to teach basic level English conversation, as well as some elementary economics and business courses. We'll be given separate apartments on campus, as well as about $500 per month in salary. Believe it or not, this is MORE than enough to cover living expenses and travel.

Speaking of travel... I'll be doing TONS of it this next year- which is GREAT! I'll be in Tianjin, China (about an hour from Beijing) from June 22- August 5. It's a study abroad program with FSU... during that time, we will also travel to Beijing and Xi'an. I will be taking two Chinese language classes and a Chinese culture class- I'm hoping to learn a lot of Mandarin during that time.

THEN, between the study abroad and teaching assignment, Scott and I have about three free weeks. The plans for that are still in the making. The current plan is to visit Chengdu first, home of the panda reserve. Cute, cute panda bears! Next, we want to take the Qinghai Railway alll the way to Tibet. This is the highest railway in the world, and it passes through Chengdu on the way to Lhasa. We're still working on the rest.

After our few weeks of travel, we'll make our way to Hong Kong for a week-long orientation with Maryknoll. The semester starts shortly after orientation in the first week of September.

I am so excited about this next year, and can't wait for all the FUN to begin!!!