Hot Dog Delight

Archive for August 2009

Yesterday I finally did what I wanted to do since the first day I got to China:  go to the DVD store.  It was surprisingly a lot harder to find than I had imagined.  But when I got there, I felt like I never wanted to leave.

I had a hard time picking out movies.  I wanted them all, especially since they were so cheap.  All DVD-9 movies (apparently movies you can play back in the States on a DVD player vs. DVDs that might only work on a Chinese DVD player but are cheaper) were 9 RMB.  The exchange rate is roughly 1 RMB = $0.15 USD!

I settled on the DVDs below for my first trip.  But I know I’ll be back there.  Entire seasons of TV shows are also readily available.  My roommate bought the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for 18 RMB.  Some other fun series were The Tudors, True Blood, How I Met Your Mother, and Gossip Girl.  But pretty much any show you can think of, they have.  The only thing that disappointed me about this place is that they don’t have newer movies available.  Their most recent movies were released several months ago, around May.

I have to warn you, while I’m not necessarily ashamed of my selection because although it is a pretty accurate depiction of movies I generally like, I do know that most of them are actually quite awful in terms of taste.  So here goes:

Terminator Salvation

Let the Right One In


Here’s where the list starts faltering:

Land of the Lost


Confessions of a Shopaholic

Bride Wars

And don’t judge me, but:

Hannah Montana: The Movie

That’s right.  That was my first DVD purchase.  And last night I watched Confessions of a Shopaholic and Hannah Montana: The Movie.

I was quite excited to view my purchases.  I rushed back to the hotel so that I could pop in one of my chick flicks, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Except I watched Confessions with a friend and she was definitely not feeling the movie, particularly the cheesey lines and plot.

There was a part during the movie when I had to acutally stop and comment on the dialogue.  I apologized to her.  I told her that while it was usually acceptable for me to watch these movies on my own, that when 1 other person was in the room watching it with me, it made me more aware of the awful dialgoue and cheesey plots (which I whole-heartedly love when I’m by myself).  And for subjecting to her to this, I was really sorry.  She was a good sport.

Later that night, after a nice shower, I curled up in bed and put Hannah Montana on.  It was splendid.

Coming soon…a foot massage and a full body massage too?  Maybe.

I know.  It’s been a while since my last post, but don’t you fret.  I’m back!  And more delightful than ever!  For the next year, my posts will be coming to you from China.  I am teaching English to middle school and high school students in Changsha, the capital city of the Hunan Province.

The teacher in me has included a map of China below.  Hunan is in the southern central part of China.

China Provincial Map - Hunan (1)

The Flight

It took 40 hours of travelling (including a 9 hour layover in LA on the way to Hong Kong and a 9 hour layover in Hong Kong on the way to Changsha), but I finally arrived on Monday August 3rd.  China is 12 hours ahead of NY, and 13 hours ahead during Daylight Savings time since they don’t adjust their clocks during the fall or winter.

The actual flight from LA to Hong Kong was a little over 13 hours.  But it was one of the most comfortable rides I’ve ever been on.  Cathay Pacific really knows their stuff.  Everyone had an individual monitor.  And the in-flight entertainment was incredibly comprehensive.  They had over 50 movies!  Not to mention games too.  It was a tough choice, but I finally decided on:  17 Again (You all know how much I love that Zac Efron), I Love You Man, and The Fast and the Furious (the new one), in that order.  I did take a nap after 17 Again.  Even though I was extremely exhausted, I willed myself to wake up when there was 5 hours left so that I could fit 2 more movies in before we landed.  Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

The City

It’s the end of my second week in Changsha, and I’ve definitely settled into a routine.  My permanent placement will be on the west side of this city.  Volunteers are placed all over the Hunan Province.  Right now, all 67 of us are participating in a 3 week orientation.  We are all staying in a hotel near our orientation site, which is the No. 1 Middle School in Changsha.  Middle School in China includes grades 6-12.  They just use the term middle to mean secondary, since middle school is between primary school, which is the same as elementary school, and college.  I’m anxious to get to my permanent placement so I can really know my neighborhood, my students, my school, and stop living out of my suitcase.

The first week of orientation entailed learning about teaching and strategies that would help us with our lesson planning.  It’s all about goal-oriented lessons, planning for the objectives of each lesson, and figuring out how to assess what the students have learned.   We’ve also been taking Chinese language classes.

There hasn’t been much time to explore the city on our own, since we have meetings every day and have only had 1 day off each week so far.  But here are some photos of the neighborhood.


The outside of the hotel we are staying at during orientation.

The hotel I'm staying at during orientation and my room.

My hotel room.


Look, there's a KFC! No, I haven't been yet.

Crossing the street is extremely dangerous!  The cards don't stop for you.

Crossing the street is extremely dangerous! The cards don't stop for you.



Eggplant!  Mmm.

Eggplant! Mmm.

The park.

The park.

Bike ride by the river!

Bike ride by the river!

My Chinese language class.

My Chinese language class.

Dinner with the Chinese class.  We heart poses.

Dinner with the Chinese class. We heart poses.

The city of Changsha has around 6 million people, maybe more.  It’s definitely much bigger, and more developed than I thought.  But Changsha is still developing.  It’s far from the level of Beijing and Shanghai, but it’s really coming along.  They already have a Walmart (but the Walmart here has no semblance to Walmart back in the States except for the fact that it says “Walmart” on a blue backdrop).  There is a Carrefour too, the French supermarket chain.  Changsha is also in the initial stages of building an underground metro system.


During the second week of orientation, all volunteers have been part of a Teaching Practicum, where we separated into groups and have been teaching our own classes.  Each group has 6 or 7 teachers, and each group gets assigned one junior or senior class (junior refers to kids from grades 6-8, or junior high school students back in the States, and senior refers to kids from grades 9-12, or just plain high school students back in the States).

I’ve been assigned a junior class.  The kids are pretty young.  Some of them might just be entering the 6th grade.  We’ve been teaching them for 6 days.  I’ve already taught 3 independent lessons, and on the days I’m not teaching, I have to teach a group lesson with 2 other teachers in my group.  So every day this week, it’s been quite hectic and stressful lesson planning.  Teaching is hard.  Teaching English is harder than I’d ever imagined!

Coming Soon…Getting a foot rub for the first time!

August 2009
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