It’s raining nails!

Christmas is officially over and it’s back to studying, but that doesn’t mean that things are boring, oh no, every day offers something new.

sausage bread

sausage bread

Yesterday me and Liza were walking on the street when someone suddenly opend a window and threw something out all over us and before I had time to ponder what it was, Liza screamed; -It’s nails!!!! Someone had just thrown freshly cut nails all over us. I panicked and started to brush it off, but when we got back home I found leftovers in my hoody and in my pockets. That was not a nice experience, let me tell you that. A lot of stuff has happend this week, for a example; There was a kidnapping at KFC. Apperently a van pulled up, three masked men ran in, grabbed someone and ran out. The newspapers barely acknowledged this, like this is something that happends everyday. I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been there, I probabaly would have been too shocked to do something.

shark attack!

shark attack!

We made another visit to IKEA and when we were eating in the restaurant, suddenly there were people fighting. People fighting in IKEA,  makes you wonder what they were fighting about, maybe someone took someone’s pancakes? Stuff like this just doesn’t happen in Sweden. I wrote before that I thought the chinese hardly ever show emotions, I have been proved wrong, if anything they love put their emotions on display, like fighting in IKEA, arguing over a reciept, arguing with the bus driver, talking loudly over the phone etc. For a Swede this can be quite straining sometimes, we are used to things being a bit more quiet. I must say though, it does provide entertainment and I act just like everyone else here, I stop what I’m doing and whatch with great interest, shame on me.

China and Sweden united

China and Sweden united

Some of my friends are going to the city Haerbin to visit the Ice Festival. In Sweden we have the Ice Hotel in Jokkasjärvi, in Haerbin they have a whole city of ice. Haerbin is quite far up north and it can get quite cold, -30 degrees is not uncommon, but the festival is supposed to be a sight for the eyes. I feel I have to study for the final exams, so I’ll remain in Tianjin, however, once the exams are over it would be fun to go on one final trip.

Bye

 

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

The two American girls in room 8109

Apparently Liza and me are known as the two American girls in room 8109 in our dorm. Huh, guess we don’t exactly come across as European if you judge by the appearance, so I guess our English must be pretty good and have that American touch to it.

Sponge Bob cake!

Sponge Bob cake!

 

 

 

This week I finally handed in the first draft of my essay, now I just have to wait and see what the critics say and see if there is something that needs to be changed. I haven’t started to prepare for the finale exam yet, our teacher will let us know next week, which parts are the most important and give us some advice. The final exam will take place on the 19th of January and after that it’s the end. This week Claire and me went to Beijing to do some climbing a Olé climbing club, in the southern part of Beijing. Whenever you want to go somewhere in Beijing it’s quite a process, the distances are huge and it always takes more time than you expect. We managed to find the right bus and get off at the right stop, after that it was quite easy and before we knew it we had arrived. It was a Wednesday, lunchtime, so it was quite empty, which meant more space for us. It felt great to do some physical activity again and I realized how much I’ve missed it. We both knew how to do security checks, so we headed for the ropes and the really tall wall. It was great! After that we headed to my old neighbourhood Dawanglu 大望路, which was were I stayed my first time ever in China. It’s an area where a lot of foreigners live, a lot of expensive shopping malls and fancy apartments. We found a cozy café and relaxed before heading back to the train station.

 

claire is looking good

claire is looking good

Finding the right pose is hard
Finding the right pose is hard

 

As some of you might know, they don’t celebrate Christmas in China, but you can find some decorations here and there, mostly in shopping areas, but the greatest decoration of all I discovered when I was heading for school this Thursday; Snow! I was prepared to go without snow until I came back to Sweden, so I was quite surprised to see the ground all white when I stepped out in the morning. The Chinese were running around in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other. In the evening everything was gone. At least it lasted for a while.

 

Swedish young Professionals are hosting a Christmas Dinner in Beijing tonight, I’ve gone to it once before and it was quite nice, traditional Christmas food and a lot of interesting people to meet. This year, however, I feel I’d rather stay here and spend time with the people here. Sometimes it can be a bit lonely though to be the only Swede all the time, everyone else has someone from his or her own country to talk to. I feel like my Chinese and English is getting better and better, but my Swedish is getting worse. Hopefully it will come back once I’m home again.

It's getting cold

It’s getting cold

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet popcorn, one of my favorite street snack

Bye!

 

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!

It’s Aude’s birthday!

December is coming up and now it’s really starting to get cold. Luckily I have my newly bought winter jacket and hat, both came with me on my trip to Beijing this week.FullSizeRender

Celebrating Aude's birthday!

Celebrating Aude’s birthday!

This Friday I went to Beijing, it was my friend Aude’s birthday and we were all meeting up to have some dinner. I met up with Miriam outside the Swedish embassy to have some lunch; we managed to find a nice little Indian restaurant with a buffet for 60 Yuan. The food was good and it was a welcome change from the Chinese food I eat everyday. I stayed in a café until they got off work and then we went to a German pub to have some “after work” beer, before we headed for the Belgian restaurant Beermania to meet with Aude and her friends. The pub was called Schillers and was runt by an Irishman with a thick, accent and red hair. Quite the stereotype, but the beer was good and so was the company. We left our stuff at Miriam’s and then headed for Beermania, quite certain that there was going to be more beer drinking tonight.

We arrived a bit late, but quickly ordered some food and started chatting with the people there. It was a cozy place with Tintin playing on a projector in the background. There was a wide selection of beers and music entertainment. It was fun to meet some new people and even though most of them were French, they were kind enough to speak English. Miriam’s and Aude’s flat mate Jaques had arranged a cake and had put us on the VIP-list to this club called V-lounge, so we started the long process of paying the bill and headed over to there. It was girl’s night, so everything was for free. I must say I think it’s a bit unfair that there is never a boy’s night, it’s kind of discriminating, but I guess they know that if you gather a lot of girls in one place, the boys will follow. It was a good night and on the way back to Miriam’s we stopped for the usual late night snack and then headed home.

Yesterday we had planned to visit a German Christmas market that they arrange at the German embassy every year. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only one who had planned to do this and once we got there, the queue was endless. Right, change of plans, let’s go and watch a movie instead. We went to the cinema MEGABOX to watch Interstellar, where we met up with Miriam’s friend. It was a good movie and afterwards we went out to eat some food. I think we were all tired from Fridays dancing, so we went to bed early.

Welcome to Beijing

Welcome to Beijing

Today Miriam and me went to the Russian district; I was on a mission to find a very specific brand of German chocolate for Liza. The Russian embassy was huge; it looked like a palace and had its own church! I managed to find the shop and ended up buying some dark bread and some cheese as well. It’s really hard to find dark bread here; it’s just not that popular here I guess. We then went to a café and had some breakfast, before I headed for the train station back to Tianjin. It’s been REALLY windy today; it felt like a tornado with leaves blowing everywhere and a lot of dust in the air. The government is actually discussing how to build new parts of the city that will make it more accessible to wind. It does help to keep the pollution away and the air has been really good today.

Stay tuned for more news next week!

The mosquitos are back!

Mask on
Mask on
I think this would be a success in Sweden
I think this would be a success in Sweden

I really thought we were passed all this but no, the mosquitos are back and they are as feisty as ever. I wonder how they have managed to stay alive for so long, all I know is that the minute we turn the lights off, I can hear them. Death to all mosquitos!

This week has been really quiet so far, I have been preparing for my presentation on Monday, where I will talk about Sweden and air pollution. It was quite interesting because last time we were discussing the countryside here in China and what sort of problems they are facing with pollution, waste etc. Suddenly my teacher asked about the situation in Sweden and what I thought were China’s biggest challenges. I actually felt a bit ashamed to say that, since there is not that many of us in Sweden, our problems are of a “slightly” smaller scale. I then added that I think the biggest challenge China faces is its ever-growing population; there are just too many people. The teacher smiled and said she would very much like to see Sweden one day and experience what it’s like to breathe some fresh air. I told her she was welcomed. My presentation will be in both English and Chinese since, according to my teacher, my classmates needs to practise their English.

Today I’m in Beijing to celebrate Aude’s birthday, well, technically it’s tomorrow, but we celebrate her today anyway. I met up with Miriam for lunch and we went to an Indian restaurant. I haven’t had Indian food for months, so it was extra delicious this time. I don’t know the plans for tonight, but there is always something to do in Beijing, so I’m not worried.

I played some badminton with my classmates, they were of course all better then me, but I had fun. The most popular sports in China seem to be, table tennis, basketball and badminton. Football is not so big here, the woman’s team is better than the men’s team, but then again, so is Sweden’s;) I play table tennis with my language partner sometimes.

A lot of people ask me what you eat for breakfast here in China and I myself stick to porridge, but since most people have quite a long way to work and commute everyday, most people end up buying something on the street. In the mornings you see people selling warm soymilk with some kind of fried bread or pancake. A boiled egg with some sort of rice porridge is also quite common. It all tastes good, but I prefer porridge, it just feels more like breakfast to me. I love soymilk though, especially with coconut flavour, I could drink it everyday and it’s so cheap compared to coffee. I wish it were more common in Sweden.

I think it time for a visit to IKEA soon, it’s December soon after all and they always have such nice Christmas decorations and of course, the food. I really miss salmon, you can find it here, but it’s usually with sushi and right now I would just like some nice oven baked salmon with mashed potatoes. I think I will stock up on my supply of chocolates as well when we go to IKEA, it is much needed and fortunately you can find Marabou chocolate there. Besides salmon I don’t really miss Swedish food, there is so much interesting food here. The only thing I can get fed up with sometimes is rice. There’s always rice, rice, rice, everyday, twice per day if possible. It’s like, if you don’t eat rice, you cannot possibly feel full. Every time I go to the canteen to buy some food, they always ask me if I want rice or not, and 9 out of 10 times I say no and they always give me a very sceptical look that say; Are you sure you don’t want any, you won’t feel full otherwise. I guess it’s a bit like Swedes and potatoes, but these days I guess we eat more pasta than potatoes. It’s not that they don’t eat potatoes here, it’s just prepared in a different way and it’s never ever boiled. I have seen meatballs here as well, but they’re boiled, not fried. This is also very typical for the food here up north; everything is fried and very oily. I have to say though, I love it and I love the spices they use. I think that’s it for today, I’ll write more on Sunday after this weekend’s events.

Bye!