Oddities around campus, etc.

Trip Start Aug 21, 2011
Trip End Aug 21, 2012

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Where I stayed
Dalian Medical University

Flag of China  , Liaoning,
Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sorry for the delay in an update. I have been a busy bee. I teach all week and then on the weekends found a part time job in downtown Dalian which is very lucrative - I think I am going to be able to save some serious cash. My new boss's name is Nicole (Chinese) and she is a great lady. She and her husband Jake (Korean) own a business in a vibrant part of downtown and let me stay in their highrise apartment on Saturday nights. I haven't taken true advantage of this yet in going out to local bars or whatnot - I have time though. Curtis is one of the full timers there and he is from Saskatchewan (sp??) He's a nice man.

Here are some highlights of the past month:

1. Went to a Hot Springs on Golden Pebble Beach with the teaching crew, Nicole, Jake and Hong Bo. Nicole brought the food for a barbeque. I ate some interesting things - like these long stringy mushrooms wrapped in thin tofu and fresh shrimp not deveined with their little heads still on - poor suckers.

2. Was asked to teach a boxing class at the gym I joined. Hilarious. I can't even jump rope for two minutes straight I am so out of shape. If it takes off, I am going to name it Nonantum Boxing Club after my boys in Newton who taught me all I know (haha).

3. Found a fabo supermarket in Dalian with foreign goods - bought real KETCHUP, 80% chocolate (most chinese chocolate is made with cocoa butter alternative and is an abomination), real spaghetti sauce and other sundries. Thank heavens.

4. Bought 4 fish, three of which promptly died from the noxious effects of the remaining fish - The Shitter as I like to call him. He literally produces more crap than the food I give him. He is absolutely disgusting and I am convinced his foulness contributed to the demise of the other 3 fish, one of which was a sucker fish, bottom dweller who couldn't handle The Shitter's copious output. Though initially disgusted, he's sort of growing on me in one of those strange ways.

5. Got the massage of a lifetime. Literally. I walked into this place on a Sunday morning and this little Thai man named No 123 brought me to the area where he proceeded to toss me around like a rag doll. I literally had 8 inches on him and easily 40 lbs. I am sure he was thinking "oh my god - big american woman." At the end of it, I sat there out of breath, saying "oh my god, oh my god". It was literally the best non-sexual physical release I have ever had. I tipped him 100 rmb. Dearest No. 123...

6. In my 11th year of teaching college students, I officially lost my shit in front of class and walked out. Yup. Completely unprofessional. Went back to my couch, cried for the first time in ages and kept saying over and over "I am going to die alone. I will never have a baby. No body loves me blah blah blah".  Horrors. I knew I was PMSing but couldn't help myself - haven't had a hormonal attack that bad in years. That was two weeks ago. I now have a face full of scabby stress acne, have been on vacation all week and trying to regroup. The class that set me off is Managerial juniors who have no classroom etiquette. Everybody cheats, everybody mumbles to each other while others are talking - complete disrespect for me, each other and the educational process. I have them for the next 10 weeks and have to figure out how to get the class back on track...

7. I have just about had it with the other teachers - they maybe the most irritating people I have met in my life and I have been forced into an almost roommate situation with them. They are incredibly negative and bitchy. I have not found my people yet - though Nicole and Jake are very cool. During the coming months, I plan to spend a lot more time on my own exploring and trying to meet Dalian expats outside of the school.

8. I miss the Pats. I can get all the rhythmic gymnastics I could ask for but no Football. I was able to listen to Gil Santos for the second half via the internet for the MNF opener but that is it :(

Enough about me - strange things around campus.

1. The 10,000 students have only sinks in their rooms. Community toilets. They must have pre-scheduled times to leave the dorms and take their showers in the student center. Yup - they have to leave their dorm buildings to shower.  They take their caddies full of shampoo and other toiletries and walk across campus. That sucks. (see pics)

2. They are all woken up to exercise at 6am and their electricity is shut off in the dorms at 10:30 pm. Some of them exercise in the evening. Everyone has to wear their uniform during exercise period (I thought it was ROTC but its just the school uniform). They do have what appears to be military trainers (men in officer's uniforms) overseeing the exercise. That sucks.

3. The trash cans are in the ground - you open them with your foot (see pics).

4. Generally speaking, the food here is TERRIBLE. I have committed to cooking 90% of what I eat in my kitchen. Everything is slathered in oil, MSG and sugar. Like, all of their packaged dried fruit is covered in granulated sugar. There is an entire row in the general store devoted to prepackaged hot dog-esque meat unrefrigerated and individually wrapped for consumption. Poor Kyle ate one of them during an adventure (Turkey and corn) and was SICK SICK SICK. I was in the market today and watched some woman buy like 20 packages of these little hotdogs and chicken feet processed in some sort of hot chile looking seasonings shrinkwrapped in plastic. A lot of the street food consists of a choice of fake meats, dumplings with fake meat, etc on kabobs and heated over a fire or boiled in water. Restaurant food is no better. I have eaten in a restaurant maybe four times and every single time it has made me sick. I am convinced it is the sugar and the MSG that my body rejects. It's bad bad bad. I miss Thailand.

I miss fresh greens too though I did buy some broccoli today at the market and my body and taste buds should rejoice from the variation in food. I have been subsisting on nuts, eggs, garlic, onions, tomatos and peppers. Wonderfully, the sweet potato is in season and I can get a big fresh roasted one for a snack or sometimes dinner. I can't read chinese (obviously) so I bought the lightest colored cooking oil they had. Ends up, it was some sort of mustard oil that when heated turns into mustard gas that I think was banned at the Geneva Convention. For a week, I nearly passed out at my induction heater trying to make my omelettes. It did wonders for Kyle stuffed up nose.

I am still afraid of the seafood. It couldn't be fresher (see pics) but I have never prepared an unfilleted fish before and I fear I will choke on the bones. Death by fishbone is not how I want to go out.

Ok - this is long enough. Again, sorry for the delay. It just hasn't been all that exciting here. I am doing reasonably well. Need to make some adjustments as I stated. I am trying to stay as positive as possible but it's difficult when the only people you can actually communicate with are incredibly negative about everything. They're trying to break my spirit!  Better have tried and failed - I won't let them but I do need to make some changes. Hopefully, my next entry will be full of fun pics of fun people having fun times!
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evalou on

Rachel hang in there you are the most positive person I have ever met, so I am assuming anyday now these negative people around you will change a little. If anyone can do it you can, if not just accept and don't let them change you. Love you and miss you so much!!!


Erica on

Boy did you crack me up with Number 123 and your lone pet fish :) :)

Jayne Ham,ilton on

Rach - Sorry to hear you are having this "challenge" with the student and teachers. Stay strong - if they see your upbeat and positive attitude, maybe theirs will change. Don't them bring you down! Sounds like some interesting times and great pics.... I know things will get better for you! We miss you. And, the Pats are doing great.....Can you get mail? If so, email me your address to jayneham@aol.com. Well, keep us posted... Wish I was there visiting!!!

Linda on

Thanks for taking me places I will never see. Hang in there! I'm keeping the O'Brien family updated. They love reading every entry. Everyone says hello.

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