Kategoriarkiv: Tianjin

Christmas in China 2014

When I woke this Christmas day I first didn’t realize that it was actually Christmas, it felt like any other day, but then I looked at the date and saw it was the 24th and then it dawned on me. Merry Christmas.

Our very own Christmas tree

Our very own Christmas tree

Christmas isn’t really celebrated here, well, some families do celebrate and private schools usually arrange Christmas dinner for parents and children. The things is, the families who do celebrate, do it mostly because they like giving each other presents, they don’t actually know why we celebrate. I asked one of my kids if they had a Christmas tree at home and he said; -No, mother says that is too exepensive and difficult to get hold of. When I told him that we usually have a real Christmas tree and decorate it, he looked chocked and couldn’t believe we had a real tree and not a plastic tree.

salmon

salmon

Me and Liza did some Christmas shopping, then we took the train to Beijing. I managed to Skype with my family for a few minutes at Starbucks, they confirmed my worst fears; No snow in Sweden either. Hello global warming. When we arrived at Aude’s place the preparations were still going on and everyone was running around like crazy. They had decorated and prepared food all day and it looked fantastic. When it was finally time to eat I think we all choked back a few tears when we saw all the food; salmon, cheese, potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, you name it. I savoured each bite, it was so good. One of the French guys Simon, ran his own wine cellar and had brought with him some wine that we all got to try and it tasted devine. After the dessert (tiramisu) we handed out gifts to each other and played some games. It was the perfect end to a wonderful evening. The morning after we helped cleaning and got a few lunch boxes to take with us, the turkey had weighed over 6 kilos. The weather here feels a bit like spring at the moment and not like winter at all, which is kind of nice.

cutting the turkey

cutting the turkey

I recieved some chocolate from Sweden, we finished that one pretty quick. Liza says that she would come to Sweden purely for the chocolate, I said I would go to Kiev purely for the coffee. We are planning to move out of the dorm soon to another apartment owned by Liza’s boss, mainly because we don’t have to pay rent there. I feel that the rent here is quite exepensive, giving that we share a room, so I’m looking forward to move out.

Robert and Simon are enjoying the wine

Robert and Simon are enjoying the wine

Yummy

Yummy

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas dancing in the living room

Christmas dancing in the living room

the whole "gang"

the whole ”gang”

That’s it for now

Can you please name my baby?

When you have good internet conection you have to make the most of it, so I thought I might as well write one more while I’m at it. The thing about China is that you never run out of things to write about.

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Korean posing

The mother to the 3-year old boy that I’m teaching asked me to come up with name for her baby, preferably a french name. I was a bit stunned, but gave her some suggestions of the few franch names I know, in the end she settled for Marion. It feels very strange to hand out names here and there, after all, your name usually stays with you for the rest of your life, so I definitley felt the pressure.

Soyamilk

Soyamilk

Ever since I got here i’ve heard about this place called Indiebar, a bar where they have live music and popquizes. This week I finally found it, but it sure wasn’t easy, it was located on a small, dark side street that gave no indication that there was a bar there at all. It was a nice little place though and the music was good. I try to find new places every now and then, it makes you see new parts of the city and meet new people. When I passed the tv-tower today I could see people playing hockey on the ice and some of them were fishing. It looked really peaceful in the sun. It feels kind of nice not having to go through the annual stress that comes around Christmas, you have to buy presents, send Christmas cards etc. A part of me wants to ignore Christmas completely while I’m here, another part wants me to do whatever I can do get into the Christmas spirit. Luckily I’m not the only one feeling like this, a lot of foreigners here miss home right now, but most of them are staying here over Christmas. Some Chinese do celebrate Christmas, but I think it’s more because they like the way it looks, not so much because of Jesus Christ. New Years is still the biggest holiday here, without a doubt.

Ivy in Sanlitun

Ivy in Sanlitun

I think that’s it for today, no more news, but the day is young so you never know what might happen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread cookies and some cousins on the side

This week my aunt and her family came for a visit and Beijing showed its best side with excellent weather and good air.

In order to earn some extra money I have started doing some private tutoring, I now teach a three-year old boy and a five-year old girl. The fee is good and China is one of the few countries where being an english teacher actually pays good money, but only if you are a foreigner. It’s a good way to make some extra money and it doesn’t take to much time away from my studies. After the semester is finished I will stay a bit longer and earn some extra cash before I go home.

With Miriam, Aude and Meiling

With Miriam, Aude and Meiling

This week my aunt and her family came for a visit and they came with gifts; gingerbread cookies and Christmas presents! They had a few days in Beijing , before leaving for Xi’an and then Thailand. When I met up with them, they had already been to some of the sights, but now they wanted to see the Olympic Stadium; The bird’s nest. We took the subway and if I thought that people stared at me bfore, they were pretty much gloating now. Six foreigners, blonde and tall, we tended to stand out and I heard people say more than once; -Wow, they are so tall! I asked them what they thought of China so far, and they said that the thing that struck them most was the amount of people. How can so many people live in one place? They had some problems with the chopsticks, so I ended up asking for knife and fork at every restaurant we went to. Most places do have cuttlery, but some places don’t, so you just have to make the best of it. We also went to the big clothing market in Sanlitun and did some shopping, the sales people actually know a lot of Swedish there, so you have to be careful about what you say. The standard phrase is; -It’s cheaper than Ullared. I ended up with a pare of Vans, 50yuan, not bad eh?

The Bird's nest

The Bird’s nest

Trying some Yunnan food

Trying some Yunnan food

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we went to visit the Lama temple and the Hutongs, it’s amazing to walk around in the tight alleys and see how people live and have lived for the past 100 years. In the evening we went to have some Beijing duck and shop some more Chinese candy. It felt great to speak some Swedish again, I feel like my English is better than me Swedish at the moment. I now have a functioning VPN as well, so I can access facebook, google and youtube. You can pretty much find chinese versions of everything, instead of facebook there’s QQ, instead of youtube there’s youku, but I still like to be able to access whatever I want, however, the Chinese government doesn’t agree with that. IMG_0522

Not very crowded

Not very crowded

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That’s it for today, until next time.

A quick stop at IKEA, then Korea town

After 3 months of Chinese food, Liza and me felt it was time for some change and decided to pay a visit to IKEA, the only place in Tianjin that serves Swedish food.

Liza is this happy to see IKEA, which they do not have in Ukraine by the way.

Liza is this happy to see IKEA, which they do not have in Ukraine by the way.

 

What most IKEA’s in China have in common is that they’re all situated quite far from the city centre. The one in Tianjin was no different. We took the subway and 22 (!) stops later, we arrived. On the way there you realize how big Tianjin is, the city just goes on and on. This area is one of the newer ones, it’s the beginning of a new city centre. I expected to see foreigners on the train, but as per usual we were the only ones. I know what you’re thinking, IKEA, nothing special about that, but when you’ve been away from home for a while, the sight of an IKEA stores fills you with joy. We weren’t really interested in buying any things, we just headed straight for the restaurant. Like I¨ve mentioned earlier, salmon is one of the things I miss the most here, so I went for a salmon platter and a nice omelett. It was a weekday, so it wasn’t crowded, mostly housewifes with their babies.There were Christmas decorations everywhere and I finally got some christmas spirit. We went to the shop where they sold traditional Swedish food, bought some mulled wine, candy, cheese and gingerbread cookies. We left feeling full and satisfied.

Before we went back to the dorm, we paid a visit to the Korea town, and area in Tianjin where they have a lot of Korean shops and restaurants. I feel like I’ve discovered a lot of new areas in Tianjin lately and that feels good, I want to know more about Tianjin. We found a shop were they sold imported products and I managed to find Marabou chocolate from Sweden! in the end I bought some Russian chocolate instead, but hey, now I know if I ever have cravings for some Marabou. There was a lot o

Finally some salmon

Finally some salmon

f cozy cafes and bars, just a really nice area. When I’m writing this I’m sitting at Alice’s cafe, looking out at the nice weather outside. This area is close to one of the olympic stadiums as well, which is pretty cool. I think I’m going here agin tonight to have some Korean barbeque, yum! Tomorrow I just want to relax and do nothing, because I know I will have to start studying next week for my final exam, no point in prosponing it.

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

 

bye!

nice hot smoked salmon

nice hot smoked salmon

Chocolate and candy

Chocolate and candy

The minibus on campus, 1 yuan and it takes you where you want to go.

The minibus on campus, 1 yuan and it takes you where you want to go.

The olympic stadium

The olympic stadium

Grading kids

It’s actually starting to feel a little bit like Christmas here, the big shopping malls has started to decorated their windows and the cathedral at Bingjiangdao looks beautiful with the Christmas trees outside. Today a light the second candle according to Swedish traditions. We were planning to go to IKEA this week Liza and me, but I’m afraid the sickness has struck again and this time it was Liza’s turn.

Now is the season for strawberries!

Now is the season for strawberries!

This weekend it was time for the monthly speaking tests at one of Liza’s schools, the children are tested every month to make sure they are keeping up with their homework. One of the teachers was sick, so I filled in. This school is a private school where the children come after their “real” school is finished. Again, Chinese children really study hard and pretty much never has days off. It was me, Liza, another girl from Ukraine and a professor in English. I felt that perhaps it was a bit over the top to have an English professor judging 7-10 year olds and their level of English, but apparently he was mostly there for show, it looked good to have a professor there. The children entered one by one and they had to do 4 parts, starting with introducing themselves, retelling a story, we then asked them some questions on the story and finally they had to read something from a book. This school is apparently quite expensive; the parents pay a lot of money to have their children taking classes there. Liza told me that some children were special, which meant that even if they did poorly, we were not to give them any lower grades, since their parents were high-ranked members of the communist party and you really don’t want to mess with that.

Nice and quiet

Nice and quiet

 

Some children were sweating because they were so nervous, some were crying and some were really confident. I don’t really know how I felt about it, I really enjoyed meeting with the kids and they were all super cute, however, I could tell they had a lot of pressure on them from home to do well, and it doesn’t help to see your mum and dad standing on the other side of the window glaring at you. I’m sorry to say the majority of them were quite spoiled; they would simply start crying if they did not get their way and the parents would then blame the teachers. It is hard to grade 7 year-olds that barely knows what they’re talking about. I have to say though, overall it was quite fun, some of them were really shy and struggling and it was our job to make them feel more comfortable and encourage them. The teachers were really nice and you could tell they really cared about their students. Chinese parents though, I don’t think I ever met more demanding parents in my life.

Garden of Sun Yat sen or Sun Zhong Shan as he is called in China

Garden of Sun Yat sen or Sun Zhong Shan as he is called in China

Anyhow, at the end of the day it was all worth it, I got paid, got to meet some really nice kids and it was an interesting experience. Today I’m trying to finish the first version of my essay to send to the institute, I feel like I want to get it finished a bit earlier if it’s possible, since the exams are coming up soon and I’m going to be pretty busy with that. It’s crazy to think that it’s almost over, already December and in January I’m going home. I have been invited to celebrate Christmas in Beijing and it feels good to already have that arranged, New Year’s will probably be in Beijing as well, but you never know. My aunt and my cousins are coming soon, can’t wait to see them and show them around in Beijing, too bad the weather is so cold right now.

Thank you for all the well wishes on my presentation, it means a lot:)

Laters!

Next we’ll do a Christmas theme

Studying Environmental Law and Management here and China I have learned a few things; The Chinese make really high-tech PPPts (Power Point Presentations), you are expected to criticize your classmates on every tiny detail, you should have a lot of text on each slide and read every word on every slide in a monotone voice, finally, if you are a foreigner, you really just need to show up for class and that’s it. Did I do well on my presentation? You bet.

New nails, next time we do a Christmas theme

New nails, next time we do a Christmas theme

I wasn’t that nervous to be honest, I was more concerned that they wouldn’t understand me, since the teacher had requested that I spoke English for my presentation. My Power Point was in Chinese though, so they could take a peek if they didn’t quite understand me. I took the opportunity to talk 0a little bit about Sweden in general and point it out on the map, just to make sure they knew I wasn’t talking about Switzerland. I did my thing, they asked me a few question and then it was over. The other groups took a bit more serious than me and had prepared 60 pages long presentations, so the 20min time limit went out the window pretty quickly. I noticed that the teacher was a lot tougher towards the Chinese students, but I felt that she gave them really good advice and not just critique. Glad to have done my first presentation here at Nankai!

New favorite snack: peanut bars!

New favorite snack: peanut bars!

On Tuesday I had my first manicure ever, being that I climb and do a lot of horseback riding in Sweden, it seemed quite pointless to do one, but here I don’t do a lot of “manual work” so I thought, why not? Claire and me found a place in a shopping mall and I decided to go for a greenish colour, I wanted something that popped. It was quite relaxing just sitting there, having a chat with the girls helping us. One of them was from Haerbin, a city far up north. She thought the weather was still warm, compared to the weather in Haerbin where they have a famous ice festival everywhere. It’s kind of like the ice hotel in Jokkasjärvi, Sweden, but an entire city. After that we went to drink some nice, warm hot chocolate, much needed in this windy weather.

Here we eat chestnuts as snacks, yum!

Here we eat chestnuts as snacks, yum!

One of radiators has been broken for a while and today they came and fixed, very much appreciated! Right now it’s about -1 to -2 during the day, but in the evening it’s really cold. Tomorrow we are off to IKEA, finally! I really miss Salmon, other than that, I don’t really have any other cravings for typical Swedish food. It’s always nicely decorated in IKEA as well, it helps you get into the christmas spirit!

Laters!

Visitors from Beijing

This Friday we experienced the worst level of air pollution since I arrived here in China. 500 being the worst, the levels in Tianjin reached 475, meaning it was in fact dangerous to go out. I was wearing my mask during the day, but decided, just out of curiosity, to leave it off when I went to buy some water. After a few minutes I had to cover my mouth, it felt like I was breathing smoke. The TV-tower was invisible in the smog and even the majority of the Chinese were wearing masks, meaning things were really bad. I do hope they came to some sort of agreement at the APEC meeting; things can’t go on like this.

In the evening I went with my friend Lisa from Australia and her boyfriend Steve to a bar called Helen’s. One of Steve’s classmates had a birthday and they had decided to meet up at this bar. Helen’s is kind of a western influenced bar, they have hamburgers and pizza, a lot of foreigners go there went they get tired of eating Chinese food. The mood was good and it was nice to meet some new people. I decided to head home a bit earlier, since Miriam, Robert and Aude were coming to visit in the morning from Beijing. I took  a taxi and it was a woman driving, I’ve seen that a lot more here than in Beijing and usually they are more talkative than the male drivers. She asked me the usual questions; where are you from, how old are you, are you married etc. They always say that really, you should be married by now and have children; once you reach 30 it’s too late. I usually just ignore this and change the subject.

没有为什么 is what you say when something just is and you can't explain it

没有为什么 is what you say when something just is and you can’t explain it

On Saturday morning I went to meet with Miriam, Robert and Aude, they were actually supposed to come last week, but Miriam had left her passport at home and you can’t go anywhere in China without a passport. We met up at the train station and started walking along the river. The weather was really good and the air, thank god, was much, much better than the day before. Tianjin was showing its best side. What struck them most, and me as well when I got here, is that it’s all modern buildings in Tianjin. Perhaps there are hutong areas still in some other districts, but compared to Beijing, there is hardly anything old left. Yes, there are some protected areas with western buildings left in some parts of the city, but in general, it’s all skyscrapers. They liked the view over the river, the culture street, the drum tower, the Korean town and I think they were surprised that Tianjin is such a big city. We walked a lot and then headed back to my campus where we had some coffee and just relaxed for a while. It was our friend Ivy’s birthday, so we decided to go and by some Macarons for her, as we knew it was her favourite kind of cookie. Aude, being French, was a critical judge, but in the end we managed to find a shop that met her standards. After that they were off to the train station and back to Beijing again. After that I met up with Claire and had some dinner at our favourite Korean place. I really wish that Korean food was more popular in Sweden, I would eat it every week.

The Italian Consession

The Italian Consession

Today I met up with language partner Stella and we went to the market to buy some fruits and vegetables. It’s so cheap here and you it tastes so much more. I even found strawberries! I don’t usually here Chinese people swear that much, but I’m guessing it’s because I live in a very protected environment here at campus, but today we saw two girls arguing and one of them shouted one obscene word after the other. This of course attracted a lot of attention, not only because they were shouting at each other, but also because it’s not very often you see a Chinese “loose their face”, you’re supposed to keep your emotions to your

One of many bridges in Tianjin

One of many bridges in Tianjin

self. For example, let’s say you lend your friend some money; you can never ask the friend to pay it back, no, no, your friend must simply remember to give it back to you and if he/she doesn’t, well that’s it. You can never ask for it yourself, that’s just not something that you do here. Hopefully your friend is a decent enough person and remembers to pay you back. Me and Liza later went to have some Malatang麻辣汤, some spicy soup where you can choose your own ingredients, exactly what you need as the weather gets colder. After that we went to Holiland or ”Holyland” as we call it and bought some cheesecake and coffee to take wit us. Tonight we just stay in our room, order some dumplings and have it delivered to our dorm and watch movies, it’s a Sunday after all. Next week I have to start preparing for my presentation, I have to talk 20min about the air pollution in Sweden and how we tackle the problem.

A wide selection to choose from

A wide selection to choose from

Nice and spicy Malatang

Nice and spicy Malatang

Yummy!

Yummy!

Never a dull moment in China

It really is true that you never have a dull moment here in China and I use the expression “This is China” daily, because some things that happen here you just can’t explain.

New week, new cold, this must be my fifth one since I got here and the only reason I can come up with is the bad air quality. As a response to last week’s APEC meeting, the Chinese government decided to close the App where you can check the air quality, all it says now is; Data from this source was censored on the orders from government. I guess problem solved right? This reminds you again that China isn’t actually a democracy and sometimes the government simply does as it pleases.IMG_0332

Everyday I work on my essay and next week I will visit the Institute again for a check-up and see if they are happy with my work so far. I have asked them if I can write my final thesis for them as well, and it seems like that would be possible, yay! There is so much interesting research going on here and I’m very happy to be able to be a part of it.

Today when I was sitting at Gloria’s studying a group of Chinese students came up to me and wanted to interview me for the celebration of Tianjin University’s 120th birthday. There was a TV-camera and there I was, sitting with my runny nose surrounded by paper tissues and cough medicine, not actually a student at Tianjin University, but hey, there was no one else around so I guess I was good enough. They wanted me to say something Swedish, so I did; they thanked me and hurried off to find their next target. This is China, what can I say?IMG_0333

My roommate Liza came home yesterday and told me that her boss had asked her if she would teach her youngest daughter English and when Liza asked her how old she was, her boss replied 8 months. 8 months…I’m not an expert on babies, but I’m pretty sure they don’t know how to speak at that age, let alone take extra lessons in English. There is an increasing demand for English teachers in China, if you read the job adds in the newspaper, 90% is for English teachers. There is one obstacle though; you have to look like a foreigner. It doesn’t matter if your mother tongue is English if you don’t look like a foreigner, you will find it a lot more difficult to find a job and they won’t pay you as much. Parents pay a lot of money for their children to be taught by a foreigner, they want their money’s worth. Liza is from Ukraine, but when she’s at work she is officially from “Canada”, it just sounds better. It is becoming more and more common for parents to send their children abroad for boarding schools in order to learn English at an early age. If you have the money, everything is possible.IMG_0334

China is such a big country, so much to see and so much to do; you hardly know where to start. I know that what I have seen can hardly count as the real China; I mean I ‘ve only been to the bigger cities along the coast. I have wanted to go to Tibet for quite some time, but yesterday I found out that it might not be possible for me to go there at all. Apparently foreigners are not allowed to visit Tibet anymore and if you try to buy a ticket, they simply won’t sell it to you. I was wondering why I haven’t heard anything about the current situation there for a while and now I guess I know why. Since Tibet is out of the question, I was thinking I would go south, down to Yunnan and Gulin. Some of the landscape in Guilin was used as a background for Avatar and if you go now, there won’t be as much tourists. Xinjiang province also sounds really interesting, quite different from the rest of China. There are a lot of minority people living there and they seem to be more related to neighbouring countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or IMG_0341Mongolia. Their culture is different and so is their food, it just seems like another country. But then again, that’s what the majority of China’s provinces feel like. Time is always a problem; it’s difficult to o away for a longer period when you have classes every week. I’m sure I can work it out somehow.

Bye for now

Finally I have seen ”the Eye”

After 2 months in Tianjin I have finally managed to see some of the tourist attractions here, namely ”The Eye”, the Italian area, and the Old Culture Street. Here’s what happened:

Since I usually don’t have class on Tuesdays, this is the day when I usually take the opportunity to head out and see things. I met up with what I now call my “travel-buddy”, Claire, and we started the day at the big shopping street; Bingjiangdao 兵江道, with the purpose of trying to find a nice winter jacket for the ever growing cold weather. I managed to find one, 200 yuan, done, next stop; the river. It was really windy, but it was nice to see some new areas of Tianjin. I love it when you finally realize how areas are connected and it becomes one whole picture, it really felt like that today. We walked by the river and passed what is known as the Italian area, which is basically an area with colonial buildings and Italian restaurants. The restaurants weren’t really suitable for our wallets, so we continued along the river until we stumbled upon a film set.

We had to stop of course and see if there was any actors/actresses we recognized. They were shooting a scene where the main actor was running down the street, clearly in a hurry; trying to get to the women he loved in time. Between the takes a thick jacket was offered the actor, some massage and of course some cell phone time. It didn’t really look that exhausting running down the street a few times but hey, I guess that’s one of the many perks of playing the lead character. We left the film set and finally ended up with a nice view over “the Eye”, the famous Ferris wheel by the river and pretty much a copy of the London Eye in London. I felt like my mission was accomplished, there, I’ve seen it, let’s keep moving.DSC_0027

The Old Culture Street was really close, so we decided to go there and try out some local specialties. There wasn’t that much people there, which was nice, so we could walk in slow pace and look at all the nice old buildings. It was sort of squeezed in between all the skyscrapers and looked quite out of place. There was all kinds of food, most of it I had never heard about, but that’s why it’s so much fun to try it. Claire tried something that was called chatang meaning something like ”tea soup”, the texture was quite similar to some sort of pudding and on top you had raisins, cinnamon, sunflower seeds etc. It was quite tasty. I tried mibing米饼, meaning ”rice cake”, with a sweet sauce on top. It was ok, nothing special. DSC_0036The rest of day was spent inside, next to an aircondition where it was nice and warm.

On Friday evening I met up with my friend Aurora from Italy and we went out for some beers at La Bamba. We had only planned to stay for a while, but in the end we ended up at Sitang anyway. I was quite tired on Saturday, so I spent most of the day studying, eating chocolate and watching movies, you know, the usual weekend stuff. Next weekend I have some friends from Beijing coming for a visit and I have been invited to a crepes party of all things, really looking forward to that. Today Lisa and me were on our way back to campus when we saw that there was a big traffic jam further up on the road. Turned out there were two couples having an argument in the middle of the road and before we knew there was a catfight going on between the two women and the guys were trying to punch each other. There was a big crowd surrounding them and I guess it was like a Sunday entertainment, really interesting when you have nothing better to do, so we also stayed and watched for a few minutes before we continued on our way.

La Bamba and Mayflower

The weather is getting colder and colder and in just a few days the central heating will be turned on and trust me, it’s not a day too late. Right now I’m managing fine with my thin jacket, a scarf and a hat, but that’s outside, inside however, it’s starting to feel really cold. 

Last week it was Jess’s birthday, so we all headed to one of the most popular bars in Tianjin: La Bamba. The only thing that is Spanish about that place is the name, the rest looks pretty much like any old bar, but it’s situated in the University area, hence a lot of students go there for “after work”. The drinks are cheap and it’s a good place to go if you want to meet new people. We then headed for Mayflower, a popular club not too far from the University. It was ladies night and when it’s ladies night, it usually tends to be crowded. Gee, I wonder why?FullSizeRender

On Friday Liza and me found a tiny little shop that sold imported products and most importantly; Macarons! You can find Macarons in a lot of places, but they are usually not that good and expensive, these ones were 5 yuan each and really tasty. Weekends here usually consist of us trying to find new restaurants or cafes to go to. The Chinese sure have a sweet tooth, every bakery is packed and people are loading up with lots of desserts, cakes and bread. It seems like they are always eating something and I have to say, they have a lot of tasty snacks here. When it comes to desserts though, I’m afraid they still have a lot to learn. The bread is pretty much like a white sponge and dark bread is hard to come by. I’ve tried a few cookies and desserts here, but a lot of them has sausages in them or some sort of red bean paste, which is a little bit of a let down when you were expecting chocolate. I can imagine it’s not easy being gluten-intolerant or having any sort of allergy here, it’s just not very common for some reason. When you walk into 7-eleven here you can find the usual products like Snickers, Fanta and Coke, but you can also find interesting things like; peeled chestnuts, fruit chips, fried beans, fried peas, caramelized ginger, dried seaweed or dried tofu snacks. I love it! I think I will have to send a package home with all my clothes and save the suitcase for all the food I want to bring with me back home.

Yesterday I went with Liza to buy a bike, since hers got stolen a few days earlier. She suspected it was actually her bike in the ad and wanted me to accompany her in case some trouble would occur. Turned out it wasn’t her bike, but it wasn’t the bike from the ad either. She ended up buying the bike anyway, so now I have someone to drive me around again, excellent!

Today I had class as usual and we ended up discussing the APEC meeting that had taken place in Beijing last week. What was interesting was how good the air-quality had been the past few days during the meeting and how it today was back to being normal after the meeting was over. IMG_0299IMG_0287Coincidence? I don’t think so. People in Europe seem to think that the Chinese are completely oblivious to the fact that the air is very polluted, that the environment has suffered and that no one cares. That is not true; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The problem is that there are 1,3 billion people living in this country, 1,3 billion people to satisfy without having to lower the living standard. China invests billions in trying to find new renewable energy sources; the problem is that people don’t realize that actions have consequences, the information provided by the government about waste, polluted water or the Greenhouse effect is pretty much non existent, so how can you expect people to do better, if they don’t realize they are doing something wrong in the first place? I really feel that China is on the move forward when I see all the research that goes on here and hear the teachers discuss with their students on how they can make things better. China has a long way to go still, but I think that once China sets its mind to something, things will happen in a rapid pace and before we know it, the rest of us are the ones that have fallen behind.