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.