Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre and Post Christmas

A few things have been happening around here that weren't christmas. A bit of a hotch-potch but I wanted to share.

Start with the sobering. I went shopping for warm things in town on Thursday. Up around Xinjiekou there are a lot of beggars, most of them disabled. Its so fustrating to be in the worlds largest 'communist' country where there seems to be so little provision for people who can't work. The man on the floor drags himself around on a bit of cardboard as both his legs are twisted around, it was freezing and he still had no shirt. The contrast of him and the Adidas 'Impossible is Nothing' sign was fairly poignant. This is a man who knows impossible.


And a change of gear to my immense pride over my purchases. I'm loving the snood thing and my coat is amazing. Harbin here I come.

Just one of me and Bex ready for going out on Christmas Eve, it was a really good night. I'm loving high heels for a change, I never wear them back home but here they're so standard even I'm coming round to the idea.

Boxing day we went to a Tappanyaki restaurant for a mates birthday. The amount of steak we ate between us was breath taking.

And later in the night me with one of my favorite China objects, a broken Louis Vitton phone. The phone is actually built into the stand, its a bizarre thing, but I love it.


Friday, December 25, 2009

China Christmas

We had a pretty low key Christmas out here, lots of time spent on skype. Started off with lunch at one of my favorite places out here, noodles for 70p

Then lots of skyping, some amazing presents and The Kite Runner later we went for a set Christmas dinner...where I forgot to take any photos, except for this one of our salad starter, it was this between 3 sharing is caring and all that.

After some delicious mushroom soup the main course was steak, a square of tuna lasagne, some BBQ chicken, french fries and a dollop of mashed potato with mediterranean style vegetables. All on one plate naturally.
And apple pie to finish.
I probably couldn't have dreamt up a more fittingly Chinese take on a traditional Christmas Dinner.
It's been an alright day really. I was worried it'd all be terribly sad, being away from home for my first Christmas. As it went we had an amazing night out last night, I had a gigglesome morning, great fun opening my presents via skype and a great dinner and some more giggles. I suppose these things are what you make them. So, just a massive massive thank you to the people who sent me presents/hung out with me all day, it's been really good.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Booooom! Just won 10kuai on a scratchcard, thats about £1 but it's just the beginning. Oh yeah, the Scratchcard Project will come through for me.



It can sometimes be hard to remember that things like dead fish hanging from trees in the middle of busy streets is not actually normal. The photo would have been better but I was bullied out of the way by a lady on a motorbike. There are so many things like this though, dead fish in trees, live crabs on the floor, doves in big nets, chickens in boxes, chicken feet in vacuum packed bags. One of my students asked me today how I was adapting to life in China and at times like this it seems like its been the most normal thing in the world. Its bizarre but you just stop noticing all the things that to any newcomer would seem odd. Well that's not totally true, you still notice and maybe giggle a little to yourself but then you just let it pass by as some more of the crazy China scenery.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Dog

A little dog I found being sold, he did not want his photo taken one bit. I really hope the stripes weren't bleached on.

Proof we have some Christmas cheer even in Nanjing.

Red wine being warmed, Baileys being chilled. More Christmas cheer.

Cheesecake and HIGNFY, perfect hungover saturday


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dual Mocha!

My first mocha of the day, accompanied by a very Chinese take on "toast"

And the second, same place, a lot lot lot later.

Natalya my lovely doctor lady friend helping me finish the day off with my second, and as traumatic as the first, dose of acupuncture. That is basically incense stuck on needles poking out of me. Creaky knees.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things I've fixed

Since coming out here I've decided there is nothing I can't fix with my penknife and a needle and thread, these are just some of my top-fixes:

The back of my slippers.

My lovely India scarf got hemmed.

And my canvas bag got its handles sewn back on.

Its very satisfying fixing your own things.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Freee Parcel

The state of my desk post free parcel emptying, it contained:
1x card
1x letter
1x T2 crossword (unfinished)
1x channel 4 3D specs
1x box of crayons
1x tag off new shoes
1x sample of red bull energy shot
1x movember moustache card
1x max factor foundation sample
1x sample of touch of coffee baileys
1x Kit Kat chunky caramel - divine
1x woolly hat off a innocent smoothie bottle
1x love spoon
1x sample of the new toblerone
1x completed scratchcard to be put back in its place in the scratchcard project
and a mirror, hairclips and necklace off tedd's mum. Lovely.

The love spoon.

Movember! (A little late, but I am in China)


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Maternity Wear

I don't think I've ever wanted any maternity wear before, but this t-shirt just about swings it. Can't be that different a shape, anyways I have a little belly, it'll be a great fit.
Much revision being done so no time for posting.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Scratchcard Project

My time in China can't all be spent deciding what I'd buy if I had loads of money, I've also decided to try and make this money; through scratchcards.

If its up there it means I didn't win, each card is 3 so far my stats are...
78 spent (£7.80 roughly)
Total winnings 32
Total profit -46
Which puts me at a 30.7% win rate. Which ain't bad.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Present?

I love tedd



Net-a-Porter is a very very bad place for me to go, I fall in love with wildly expensive things very easily, but when they're this pretty...

(Left) Christopher Kane is amazing. On this dress naturally its the print I think is divine, its a perfect example of taking something very simple and adding a twist which I think makes fashion so interesting.

That and sculptural shapes like this..which is Roland Mouret. I've always loved the look of material folded, origami-esque. Karen Millen does a good line in the same sort of silhouette, although normally with a more satin party girl spin.

DKNY (Left), One of those excellent ideas for something you could just wear and wear and wear.

And a final dress I just can't make up my mind about,
either Roksanda Ilincic is playing a game of The Emperors New Clothes and this is actually a hideous dress, or I have a worrying suspicion that wearing this I'd feel powerful, very 80's and like I had something no one else could come close to. I'd say for the confident fashion forward only, a dress like this needs a lot of attitude to pull off - which is the reason I probably wouldn't ever go for it..


Thursday, December 3, 2009


And, this

Looks amazing.



I've finally started this as I finally had to try and round up some of my time at Nanda so far. So this is what I've sent off, where this blog will go from here I've no idea.

"Our first semester at Nanjing University has focused solely around improving our Chinese language. Through this first semester the fact that has become most evident is that we will probably leave Manchester with a level of practical Chinese rather lower then many of our contemporaries from other universities, due to the fact that although we learnt plenty of vocabulary and grammar, in our second year especially, we were pretty much never made to use it. The four of us here at the moment, of varying abilities, have all been put in the same sets as students who have completed only one, more practical year of study. So it makes sense we study nothing but Mandarin, at least for this first semester.

Outside of study hours I’ve tried to engage in as many activities as possible to make the most out of being in China. For me this year is about getting out and about and seeing China and Chinese culture, and trying to find the confidence to apply my limited spoken Chinese to real situations, rather then sitting in classes learning yet more vocabulary that I don’t have to confidence to even use outside class. To that end firstly I’ve tried a number of Chinese sports classes. Boxing for most of the first semester was challenging. Mainly because of the difficulty of understanding the activities barked at us in Chinese, and also for putting up with the coach rolling his eyes every time I turned up. I was the only girl in a class full of big strong men, and in my delightful penguin t-shirt and Fame-esque leggings he clearly didn’t think I was taking his class, or him, seriously enough. Unfortunately with the winter came my achy knees and Boxing has had to be replaced with Pilates and Yoga which have been far more knee and girl friendly and have provided far more opportunity for actually talking to the other participants.

Last weekend in another change from routine we participated in a Chinese game show. The whole day was conducted in Chinese, from explaining the games to getting hair and make-up done and was certainly a challenge but also easily the most fun thing I’ve done since coming out here. Talking to the host in Chinese whilst being filmed was also probably the most nerve-wreaking thing I’ve done since being out here and I was certainly not at my most eloquent. However I managed to escape from the day intact and paid for my troubles!

The most successful out of school enterprise I have joined in out here was with a few friends organizing a Halloween party with the owners of a nearby hostel. The preparations for the party took us across Nanjing to various markets and outlets, explaining Halloween to everyone we encountered. On the actual day the party was a massive success with not only a sizeable amount of Nanjing’s international community attending but also all the hostels Chinese guests and friends. It was an interesting introduction to how business is conducted in China with Linda, the lovely Chinese lady who owns the hostel, phoning her alcohol supplier at least five times in an hour to scream and whine at him to get a better deal on our Sangria supplies. The supposedly friend-orientated meet and have fun event also turned out to be embarrassingly profitable, between the six of us on the committee we walked away with 500RMB each.

In general at Nanda we are very much stuck within the international community. To try and break free from this English-speaking sphere next semester a couple of friends and I are moving out. Hopefully moving into a more Chinese neighborhood will give us far more opportunity to practice our spoken Chinese. Working with estate agents was another Chinese surprise. We attempted to get ahead of the game by looking now, early December for a flat to lease from January. We were met with surprise and told to come back a few days before we wanted to move in somewhere, this is apparently how they do things out here.

So far my Chinese has progressed very little, and I do realize this is mainly my fault. In lessons I’m fine and on top of the work, but as the entire of the second year at Manchester proved learning new characters and grammar patterns is absolutely pointless unless you are using them regularly and despite being fine in speaking class my spoken Chinese is still fairly unintelligible. At Nanda we have never been offered a chance to integrate with the Chinese students, most peoples main avenue has been through finding language partners, much like at Manchester, not really much of an improvement as they are looking to practice their English. I have quite a few friends who have ended up paying for Chinese tutors; someone who will not speak English to you. It does feel faintly ridiculous that this is the situation I have found myself in, and I am trying to change it, but I find it hard enough to make new friends in English, Chinese is no easier. It would be very easy to turn this into a massive complaint about the standard of Chinese we reached at Manchester or the general unwillingness of ordinary Chinese to try and understand our efforts at speaking Chinese - buying a dictionary yesterday I listened to and pieced together a salespersons fragmented English only to get as far as ‘我要’ before being interrupted with “I sorry. Don’t understand” a rather common and intensely frustrating reaction. However any tirade like that would evade the fact that it turns out to be very easy to live here and speak very little Chinese, pointing, basic verbs and a big smile get most things sorted.

An apology if this has been over flippant, but in my defense at least all of this is true, with no sycophantic ‘I made an amazing Chinese friend and went over to their house for dinner’ lies."

That last bit I really mean.