Friday, November 14, 2014


“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”  
 --Anthony Bourdain

     I had originally written this post as a story, with plenty of descriptions and poetic phrases. When I had finished, however, I found that it was much too overdone. Instead of being pleased, as I have admittedly become accustomed to, I was intensely dissatisfied. After a few revisions, I finally did what every writer--any craftsman--hates to do. I deleted the file.
     So here, in all its simple glory, a new post. 

     There is an street near my dorm which is lined with food vendors and fruit stands. Needless to say, this street abounds with students during mealtimes. Off this main street, like capillaries, are small alleys with yet more food stands. The first time I ventured down one of these alleys it was raining and I was not in the best of moods.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

There Be Learnin' Here

     Since this is a study abroad, one can safely assume that I am, in fact, attending classes—for, sadly, it’s not all baozi and bijiu here. As previously alluded to, I’m taking Buddhism, in which we becoming enlightened about the nuances of the aforementioned religion. My other classes consist of Chinese Language, Contemporary China, Western China, Calligraphy, and Kung-Fu. As part of the Pacific Lutheran University program, I teach English to high-school students once a week. Since I didn’t have enough to do, I also help teach the on-campus English class with my Chinese Language teacher, Karo. 
     Every day, I have Chinese class from 8:30 to 12. The first hour and a half is the comprehensive class, which is not taught by Karo, but by Deng Laoshi—for future reference, laoshi is “teacher” in Chinese, and Deng is her family name. She’s barely two inches taller than I, which puts her at about 5’1”. Her shiny black hair brushes her shoulders, and she wears thin-framed glasses. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher—her patience with our incessant questions and occasional brain malfunctions is infinite. I have yet to see her lose her calm and cheerful attitude. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Is Halloween

     Halloween is my favorite holiday. I get to indulge in my childhood fantasies—I become another person, a favorite character from a book, or another creature entirely. The fact that I’m currently living in another country, one that doesn’t celebrate Halloween as rabidly as America, didn’t prevent me from celebrating my favorite holiday.
     To tell everything about our Halloween experience is both boring and time consuming. So, for your enjoyment, here is a snippet of our Halloween—pumpkin carving in China.

     Two weeks before Halloween:
     “Chloe!” Courtney called to me over the heaped fruit. Her voice bubbled with excitement. I leaned around the pyramid of apples to see what had caused her exclamation. One hand on the cart, she stood in front of one of the many wooden barrels which held cabbages. This barrel, however, did not cradle heads of cabbage, but rather the beautiful orange spheres of pumpkins.
I almost dropped the bag of apples. Knowing that it was thoroughly odd, I let out a squeal and danced over to the treasure trove. Our fellow shoppers glanced at us curiously, then looked away with a shrug. Foreigners.
     “I sent a photo to Hammerstrom,” my roommate said, “We can carve them for Halloween!”
“We can come back next week, so they stay fresh.” I finally acknowledged the strange looks from the customers, and my happy dance petered out.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Homeward Buddha

     Professor Hammerstrom’s apartment is located off campus, just outside of West Gate. In terms of distance, it’s about a mile from our dorm to his front door—it took us about two weeks to realize that most things, such as grocery and clothing stores, would all be about the same distance away.
We have Buddhism class at Professor’s home. It makes sense, given that the only students are those from Pacific Lutheran University and Lewis and Clark—and we have a grand total of six students. We got to decide where we would like to have our class, and our choice was basically this: we could use the classroom on the sixth floor—walking all six flights, as the elevator is broken—of the red brick building next to our dorm. Where we would sit in metal chairs that make our backsides sweat and that fill the cavernous room with rusty screams when someone so much as twitches. On the other hand, we could sit on comfy couches—complete with floral seat coverings—sipping tea and coffee, while we discuss the essence of Buddhism.
     It was a hard decision.
     So, every Monday, we take the trek to the apartment, loaded with laptops and Buddhist commentaries. Our conversations during class are abstract, to say the least, but it’s the conversations during break that really capture the core of our little group.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How Not to Haggle

Haggle: to talk or argue with someone especially in order to agree on a price  

     Like most Americans, I don't haggle on a regular basis. Culturally, it's not a norm, and that's fine--except when I'm studying away in a culture in which haggling is very much an everyday experience. If you can't tell, this is one of those stories in which I did not get it right.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

First Post!

     Intentions are beautiful things--when they are fulfilled. I had intended to write this post about a month ago, but I got caught up in the whirlwind of traveling through China. I had also intended this blog to be a bi-weekly affair. The problem with that is that this blog would become more of a diary, and no one wants to read that.
     So, what am I intending to put into this blog? As the title of this blog suggests, I'm a very fallible human being who makes mistakes, and I'm one of those people who find themselves in peculiar situations with alarming regularity. The results? Hilarious--and sometimes cringe-worthy--stories, which I intend to share with you. These stories won't be in chronological order--where's the fun in organization?--but rather I'll post whatever story has been percolating in my mind.
     This particular blog will revolve around my experiences in Chengdu, China, where I'm studying at SiChuan University. I attend classes, go visit tourist and religious destinations, and hang out with the amazing people of this school.
     The stories will arrive, that's one intention I will fulfill, but for now, enjoy some photos of China!