Monday, May 14, 2012

Last Days in China

It's now the day before I leave the country, and I have to say that I'm excited. I've been so busy recently finishing up my internship and packing up and getting everything ready that I haven't had much time to write, but now I want to sit down and tell you all about my last few days in China.

My last week of work went wonderfully. We were busy getting out the Chinese Government Scholarship acceptance letters on Monday and Tuesday, and I was also busy doing some translation work. The dean of the Institute for International Students gave me a 42 page report on Jiangsu Province and asked me to translate it, so I was busy finishing that up for him. As a reward he offered me the chance to travel for up to 500 USD, unfortunately with my leaving in less than a week I was unable to take advantage. Instead he gave me some nice tea (which was way to large to take back, so I donated it to Flagship) and some silk scarves. I also got some silk pillow cases from my coworkers. My students and I had lunch together on Wednesday and they were sweet enough to get me some jewelery as a leaving gift. Class for the rest of the week went as planned and I was busy running around wrapping things up in the afternoons.

Friday was a friend's birthday, so we went to teppanyaki (essentially all you can eat and drink Bene Hanna) and dancing. It was nice to see everyone and celebrate before going home. Saturday was my last Jiangsu Sainty soccer game, and some students and I headed over to the Olympic Stadium to cheer them on.

Unfortunately they didn't win, which I blame on the referees (in true fan style). It was the first time I've seen them lose, and I now understand why they don't allow water bottles in to the arena (it was rather fun to watch them explode onto the track, some of them even made it onto the field).

Half time was also very interesting. A fan got engaged to his girlfriend (they had a banner and he gave her flowers and brought her up to the front of the fan club area), and there was also a banner going around with propaganda about the Huangyan Island, an island in the South China Sea that both China and the Philippines lay claim to. The banner was passed around during half time, and reads "Huangyan is our land, the criminals must lose, although Huangyan is far, we will not back down".

Sunday was a rather rude awakening as I seem to have gotten food poisoning from a smoothie that I suspect had bad fruit. It was an unfortunate way to spend my second to last day in China, but I was able to keep water and food down by the afternoon so I was still able to attend my going away dinner. We all ate at the Istanbul Turkish restaurant, owned by a friend named Baris, and we had the whole back room reserved so we sat on cushions and ate a great meal (I only had bread, but it was very tasty bread). Glad to say that I am feeling much better now, and I'm glad that I didn't have to take a trip to the hospital.

Monday was all about packing up and tying up loose ends. I packed everything up and it all fits, although barely. I also took all of the things that I am not bringing home to the Flagship office for future Flagshippers or to the local community center for donation. It only took about 5 trips to get everything over there, and now my room looks as it did when I arrived. My landlady came by and we figured out all of the water/electricity/gas bills, and I even got about 100 USD back! Woot woot! I now have a lot of RMB on hand, so I guess whatever I don't spend before I go home I'll have to save for my next trip! I'm sure it'll appreciate in value, so I'll look at it as an investment!

I leave tomorrow at noon, first flying from Nanjing to Beijing, then from Beijing to Seattle (10.5 hours on a plane, I'm lucky it's a new one!). In Seattle I'll have about 20 hours with Amy before catching the next morning 7 am flight back home to Minneapolis. I'm so excited to go home and see my friends and family. Over all I've had a great time here, and I know I'll look back fondly on the memories that Nanjing has given me. I'll be writing more soon, but until then, I'll see you all back in the US!! Love,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maggie's Trip to the Antique Market

So months ago I found out that around 朝天宫 a palace in Nanjing, there is an outdoor antique market every weekend. So this weekend I decided to try and find it and see if it was a real antique market or a tourist trap.
Kevin and I had been to  朝天宫 before, so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to find again. Half an hour later as I was wandering around the streets, lost, a nice old woman pointed me in the direction through some alley ways and I ended up wandering right into the market!
It was a really neat place. There is a permanent antique market inside a building, and then on the weekends peddlers come from all over to sell outside of it. I had brought 50 bucks with me, and by the end had spent every last penny on gifts and other neat trinkets.

I was so psyched when I found 大汉字 posters, posters from the Cultural Revolution, outside the market. What's more, they gave me 3 of these for 10 dollars. I have one that's a traditional Socialism-is-good poster, and then two others that are old comic-style posters, depicting propaganda for the Communist party. Unfortunately the guy did an excellent job wrapping them up for travel, and I can't post pictures for fear of ripping them/not being able to wrap them again. But I did take pictures of the other things I found!

This is a piece of old commie propaganda, depicting Chairman Mao with a headliner of Wishing Chairman Mao a Long Life Without Limits. And on the back there's a stamp saying it was produced in 1969. Who's super psyched? I'm super psyched.
This is a snuff box made of jade that's carved. On the top is carved a pair of dragons, and on the bottom is 福 Fortune.
This was the first thing that I bought, right as I walked down the row. They're a pair of boar tusks (or some sort of pig tusks). They have a link on the top so I can make them into a necklace and give one to someone else or make them into a pair of earrings (I haven't decided yet).
This is something that I never expected to find and am so happy that I did. They're a pair of shoes from the Qing dynasty, made for women with bound feet (the roll of tape is used to show just how tiny they are). One of my professors who helped me get to Nanjing researches this topic, and I'm so excited to give them to her as a thank you!!

Last but not least I found a coin from the Warring States Period. It's made of copper and has calcified but you can still see the shapes in it :)
Once I found my way to a bus stop and onto the right bus I noticed: guy with a bird on the bus! Go China! I had a super morning and I'm so excited to go again next weekend! I may end up getting the majority of my gifts for people from here, because it's nice to get to tell them the story behind what they're getting and for them to know that what they have actually has culture to it. Yay. Love,

Maggie's Experiment with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Take 2

Yesterday I tried one of the other methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), 拔火罐 or fire cupping. The practice dates back thousands of years, and can be traced back to 1,000 BC in China.

You take these glass cups, heat the air inside (usually using a match) and then stick the rim to meridians (TCM term, where the qi flows), forming an air tight seal. You can also use a pump that suck the air out, forming suction. The practice is to dispel stagnation along the meridian lines of the body. It is used to treat many conditions such as arthritis, blood disorders, skin problems, fertility and gynecological disorders, and as a general way to promote well being.

When you go to get it the dispensers begin with a massage to get the blood flowing. After that they place the cups on specific points on your back- two down by the base of the spine on either side, two near your shoulder blades, one in the middle of your back, one the in middle of your neck, and two on either sides of the base of your skull. After they place the cups, you stay there for 10-15 minutes, relaxing, and after that they take them off and you're good to go!

I thought it was a fun experience. It didn't hurt much at all and aside from the bruising I feel fine. I haven't noticed any specific changes in my body, but had a good time and might try it again before I head home. Yay Chinese Medicine! Love,