Apple Pie Motivation

Well. I have successfully taught my first two weeks of classes. And by “successfully” I mean no one outwardly defied me, walked out of class, or told me I suck. And by “taught” I mean showed a Power Point presentation that was mostly pictures of California, Malibu beaches, Stauffer chapel, my family, my friends, and my favorite Chinese foods. There have been a few minor glitches, mostly involving computers/projectors that don’t work and result in my either having to write everything on the chalkboard or having to move my entire class to an empty classroom. But I’m just grateful I haven’t been the victim of an unexpected classroom change like some of my fellow foreign teachers have been. Sometimes, for seemingly no reason, the school decides to change where your class meets. They don’t tell you, but rather have you running around campus searching for your class in an ultimate game of sardines. They like to keep us on our toes. Actually, all the school faculty I’ve met and worked with have been extremely kind and helpful. It’s humbling to have (and need) so much help. Where my students are concerned, they’re sweet and sometimes shy, but also willing to participate which I appreciate a lot. I haven’t learned everyone’s names yet, but there are some really great ones including, but not limited to: Ice Cream, Smile, Echo, Era, Extra, Seagull, Apple, Winter, Cherry, River, July, Fabregas, Yoga, Queen, and Beenle. Out of 90 students so far, only 8 are male, so they’re usually quite a giggly bunch :>

I have yet to master the squatty potty. If anyone out there has any tips, they shall be greatly appreciated.

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In other news, China has led to some significant lifestyle changes for me, a big one being my diet. Before I left China I subsisted on a diet of mainly lean meats, veggies, nuts, and fruit. A paleo diet of sorts, if you will. I was very partial to my high-nutrient, low-saturated fat, mostly organic diet, rounded out with a good dose of supplemental vitamins and protein green shakes, just in case I was lacking anywhere.

Well, that all changed after coming to China. Most meals I’ve been eating here largely consist of rice/rice noodles, with tiny bits of meat and/or bok choy mixed in. While I find the fried rice noodles quite tasty, they definitely lack in any health categories. Which is why for the first time in about 2 years I have begun to regularly succumb to the seductive lure of dairy. I’ve been consuming it on a regular basis. Always in the form of nai cha (milk tea). I can’t stay away from it. It’s so freaking delicious. I’ve always considered myself a coffee lover, but that was before I learned the magnificent ways of nai cha. (I’m sorry coffee! I actually still love you. It’s just that you’re such a phantom in this land. Please don’t hate me). Students here love it, and I can’t say I blame them. It’s gotten to the point where I want it after every meal. It satisfies my sweet tooth, but I just tell myself there can’t be that much sugar in it. And there has to be some form of antioxidants in it because it’s tea, right? As for the havoc it wreaks on my digestive system– well.. that’s what Tums and papaya extract are for.

Another major difference to eating here is that we all eat out for almost EVERY meal. It’s (usually) fast, cheap, and delicious. One restaurant in particular we’ve come to love for it’s huge portions of noodles and dumplings for ridiculously cheap prices. We can leave with full bellies and leftovers in hand for under $2 per person. Sometimes even getting a big bowl of peanut noodles for only 4 yuan! Say what! We affectionately refer to this eatery as “The Dirty Noodle.” (Let’s all pretend we call it that for it’s dirt cheap prices and not for any lack of cleanliness in the kitchen.) I tried to convince myself that the savory pork dumplings were wrapped in a rice flour dough, but my intestines made sure to let me know they were probably made with wheat. Drat.

But now, for the BIG news! I bought an oven today!

[photos coming soon…]

She better prove herself worthy for the amount of trouble it was getting her home.

Tammy and I returned to an export store nearby an hour bus ride away, after seeing this larger oven on sale for just under 300 yuan ($45). It was bigger than most of the tiny single-temp toaster oven sized ones you see here, and it had the option of changing the temperature. WIN. (Last week I borrowed Tammy’s tiny toaster oven and made roasted tomato soup. I had to roast all my vegetables in about 6 batches because the oven was so small, and I had to watch it really closely because it only had one temp–furnace.)

We entered the store with the oven in mind and loaded it onto our cart. Then followed it with a circular cake pan, tin foil, a rolling pin, cornmeal flour, all purpose flour, soy milk, and yogurt. (But we decided against the small bag of peanut M&Ms. Too heavy, you know?)

After checking out, we start laughing about how we’re going to get all this back to our living quarters. Determined not to spend 60 yuan on a taxi, we loaded up our purses with as much as they could hold, and headed to the bus stop, each taking one side of the oven box. We were quite a silly sight, I’m sure. Every time it seemed the box was slipping or getting too heavy Tammy would boost our morale with a cheer of, “Apple pie!!!!” Strengthened by the promise of this fall baked delicacy, we somehow managed to get onto a crowded bus, walk from our stop to our apartment, cross 4 lanes of busy traffic and make it to my front door. In the rain. Only to find that I had forgotten my key and was locked out. -_-

Once I’d been let into my room, Tammy and I tore into the oven box like a couple of kids on Christmas. In fact, we weren’t even capable of making full sentences, only shouting “Christmas!” and “Apple pie!” until everything was all set up.

I’m so excited to break it in. By making brownies. Tonight. That I won’t be able to eat, but whatever. My apartment will smell like brownies!

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