I’m Going to Miss That!!!

And here it is, part two of my little series on my time in China. Below you will find a listing of the fabulous things that I will miss about China. Enjoy!!!

  • A complete meal cooked right before my eyes for an unbelievably reasonable 5 RMB

  • Complete strangers requesting pictures with me – I mean, I’m kind of a big deal at home, but it’s not the same

  • The metro – You can go anywhere you want in Shanghai at rapid speed for 4 RMB

  • The interesting walks – because there’s always something exciting waiting just around the corner!!!

  • Random DVD vendors – from suspense to drama to a host of television series, if you want it, they’ve got it!

  • Haibo – Ah, the famed mascot of the World Expo. This blue guy is everywhere, and he’s dressed up in all kinds of random costumes!

  • Mango smoothies for 5 RMB

  • The vibrant colored lights that are always popping at night – I feel like a little kid being taunted by a shiny object!

  • Some of the best freshly popped kettle corn I have ever put in my mouth!

  • Fireworks – Why? Because they are always being set off by older men in their pajamas for absolutely no reason other than good times!

  • The fruit stands – AMAZING!!!

  • The fresh vegetables that are used in everything that you eat

  • Body scrubs and massages - Enough said!

  • Mani/pedi’s – I have never had someone pay such close attention to my cuticles! LOVE IT!!!

  • Remote-controlled air conditioners – We should definitely look into manufacturing these in the U.S.!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
This one’s going to be short and sweet because it’s almost time for me to get ready to head to the airport. I just want to say that I have learned so much this summer about everything from business to marriage to my personal strengths and weaknesses, but there is one thing that sticks out the most. I have learned that while it is very true that every action causes a reaction, we have the power to control our actions and/or reactions. For most of us, we typically have great control over our actions because we want to do what’s right and treat people fairly. However, I think it’s safe to say that all of us are guilty of reacting negatively when we are prompted by the negative actions of others. Now usually we feel justified in our reactions because we tell ourselves that “they started it!” Well, here’s my lesson for the summer: I must always take responsibility for my reactions, no matter the situation or circumstance. It might seem simple enough, but it’s one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in a very long time.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Oh China!!!

As I begin my countdown for my return home, I can’t help but reflect over the summer. I have really enjoyed my time in China, and I don’t think I could have chosen a better location for my IPSP. With that being said, I thought it appropriate to devote my next few posts to sharing what I’ve learned about myself, what I will miss about China, and what I won’t miss. This post is the first of the series, and the list that follows is a snapshot of things that I found to be less than desirable during my time here. Enjoy!

I won’t miss…

  • The random smells that could hit you at anytime – I mean, our skunks and paper mills have nothing on these smells…NOTHING!!!
  • The massive number of people – When they say there are 20 million people in Shanghai, they mean it!!!
  • The sluggish walkers on the streets, sidewalks and everywhere else that have decided that you have nothing to do – move it people, MOVE IT!!!
  • The public toilets – Again, our smells cannot compare
  • The concrete jungle – I need some trees and grass!!!
  • The Great Firewall of China and the attitudinal internet – I must give kudos to Google for its translation services…AMAZING!!!
  • Long lines – They’re everywhere! I wouldn’t have such an issue with these lines if it wasn’t for the inevitable: the random people that will come up and jump in front of everyone else in line. I’ve had at least two stern conversations with “line jumpers”. It wasn’t pretty!
  • Smoking – I am not joking...people smoke all the time, everywhere! This includes the gym, hospital, office buildings, bathrooms, etc. It’s a bit over the top.
  • “Crack pants” – This phenomenon is a little unsettling for me. Placing a large slit in the pants of infants/toddlers to provide easy access for bathroom purposes just doesn’t seem right. Then again, I don’t have kids so maybe my views are skewed. But I won’t miss it, and I have that right!
  • The non-chivalrous attitude that exists here – Surprisingly, you are more likely to be pushed by an old lady or middle-aged man than you are a twenty-something!
  • China Mobile’s failure to utilize call waiting – Sweet, sweet call waiting-how I’ve missed you!!!
  • The thick milk-like substance they call yogurt – Yogurt was made to be eaten with a spoon, not slurped out of a straw…enough said!

Trenia’s Finale:
If you’ve been paying attention to my blog, I was given a book by my classmate David Monteith, and I promised that we would revisit the book for a little laughter. As I pride myself in being a woman of my word, it’s that time again. Today’s chapter: How to Avoid Being Struck By Lightning. Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but I started giggling when I read the title of the chapter. I thought it was a joke at first, but nope, they actually try to tell you how to avoid lightning. Now while I believe they do a wonderful job of providing common sense tips on objects that one should steer clear of in a lightning storm such as bodies of water, flag poles, metal fences, etc., I have just one thought that I would like to share that I believe should have been the opening to this chapter. Lean in close to the screen, because this may very well be one of the greatest thoughts I’ve ever uttered:


That is all I have to say about that. I know it might seem a bit gloomy, but the good news is that it gives all of us one less thing to worry about. No need to thank me.

Stay tuned for the next episode…

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Thanks Todd!!!

This post is dedicated to Todd Moore (Class 4). I think I’ve mentioned him before in my blog, but maybe not with as much gratitude as I will here. This weekend we went on a rafting trip to Hongzhou. This trip was made possible by the connections that Todd made when he was in Shanghai last summer. Now those of you who are familiar with my blog are probably saying, “she’s already been to Hongzhou so what’s the big deal?” While the last trip to Hongzhou was pretty amazing, this one topped the charts for several reasons. First, it was free! That’s right, two nights in a hotel, six meals, a rafting excursion, a hiking adventure, and transportation was provided at no charge to us. Next, we were able to see the countryside of Hongzhou, complete with beautiful mountains, lakes, hiking trails and wide open spaces. It was truly incredible, and we owe it all to Todd!

Now for the third benefit of this trip. After loading the bus and making our way out of the city we did introductions, stating our names and where we were from. We quickly learned that there were people from all over the world on the bus. To be more specific, Columbia, India, Peru, Latvia, Kenya, China, U.S., Brazil, Ecuador were all represented (and I left off a few). What a mix! We were then told to pick teams because we would be participating in a “Drifting Competition.” Little did we know that not only would we be rivaling our bus (the red group) but we would also be competing againt two other groups (the yellow and blue groups) in bamboo and rubber raft races. Becca and I joined three Latvians and a Kenyan to form “The Dominators.” I am pleased to report that we held up to our name and dominated the entire competition, taking the number 1 spot over all groups! We were given some pretty awesome all-weather jackets to mark our victory.

Trenia’s Finale
I’ve mentioned before that Shanghai is a “concrete jungle”, and one must take on a bit of a concrete exterior in order to survive various aspects of this fast-paced city. I do love living in the city because there is always something going on, but this trip to Hongzhou made me realize how much I missed nature. As a southerner, I’ve taken trees and fresh air for granted because they’ve always been a part of my life. After this summer, I don’t think that will ever happen again!

Despite the mosquito attacks, I really appreciated being in the great outdoors. For two days, my life stood still and I was able to enjoy God’s creation. No to do lists or computers, just birds chirping, butterflies fluttering, water flowing, and trees swaying to the command of the wind. Connecting with nature is such a relaxing experience and tends to create an inner peace that can be difficult to find in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My point is that we should all take the time to appreciate nature. Go for a walk, do some fishing, take a weekend hike, golf, or even sign up for a rafting adventure. Whatever you do, your body, mind, and soul will thank you.

Thanks again Todd!!!

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Did You Know...

I know I’m a bit behind with my posts, but please just bear with me. I hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July. I have to admit that this year’s celebrations, although entertaining, just weren’t the same as being at home. I digress. This post is going to be pretty random, as I’m going to use it to throw out random facts that I’ve learned since arriving in China. Here goes!

Did you know…

  • That there are over forty car manufacturers in China?
  • That cars cost twice as much in China as they do in the U.S.? (Those car manufacturers are sticking together!)
  • That the majority of Chinese households are made up of at least three generations?
  • That it is usually the husband that moves in with his in-laws?
  • That there is a one-child-per-family rule in China?
  • That if a family is “caught” with more than one child they will be fined?
  • That Shanghai has a different rule? It goes something like this: if you and your spouse were only children, you can have two children. If either of you had siblings, you can only have one child.
  • That toddlers here wear what are called “crack pants”? These are regular pants that have been split open at the crotch. Why? So the little ones can use the restroom anytime, anyplace.
  • That this year’s World Expo site here in Shanghai is home to the highest number of eco-friendly structures in one place ever?
  • That just about all of these structures will be destroyed in October? So, so sad.
  • That you have to pay to go to high school in China?
  • That generally you can only rent (not own) property in China?
  • That you can get up to a 99 year lease on your home?

Trenia’s Finale:
Since I’ve been in China, I’ve grown accustomed to stares and requests for photos. It really doesn’t bother me. Overall, people have been fairly nice to me (save the older lady who tried to push me through the exit gate at the metro station). But the other day I experienced something that I’m pretty sure might be one of the most amazing acts of kindness I’ve ever experienced. Let me explain.

The metro is a pretty popular mode of transportation here in Shanghai, and there seems to be a general consensus that you enter the stations at your own risk. You have to fend for yourself when entering or exiting the train, finding a seat, and protecting your belongings. I have seen it all from little old ladies push and be pushed to middle aged men struggling to get through the doors of the train. I’ll put it this way: remember how intense the game musical chairs was when there was just one chair left? That’s what it’s like on the train. If someone gets up out of a seat on the train, people literally move like the wind to secure their seat and only the strong survive. Needless to say, it can be a very unpleasant experience.

So back to me (that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?). I entered the train and because there were no seats, I found some standing room and braced myself for what seemed like a normal ride on the train. Then it happened. The train stopped, a few people got off and a seat near where I was standing opened. There was a middle-aged Chinese man sitting next to the open seat and he literally shooed (and by shooed I mean took his hand and swatted at them) two other people away from the open seat and motioned for me to come sit next to him. I paused for a second to soak it all in and then sat next to the man who was wearing a genuinely warm smile that had spilled over into his eyes. After thanking him as I sat down, I couldn’t help but reflect on the kindness of this one man, one day on the train. Wow! Who knew that this small gesture would mean so much to me? Living in this “concrete jungle” for almost three months can cause you to lose some of your warmth in an attempt to survive (get it? jungle, survival of the fittest). This gentleman left me with the desire to “pay-it-forward” with at least one small act of kindness and reminded me that I have the power to create a wave of positive interactions that can ultimately lead to positive change. I challenge each of you to do the same.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

Noodles Anyone?

Let me begin by saying that I love noodles. They have always had a special place in my heart-along with potatoes (I'm a true Southerner, and proud of it!). I felt this way before coming to China. I mean, I’ve had Ramen for dinner and it’s not because I’m too poor for anything else. It’s because I like to drain the water off of the cooked noodles and add my own seasoning and enjoy. Don’t judge me! Anyway, it was fitting for me that China has a wealth of noodles. Long, short, thick, thin, flat or round, you want’em…you got’em. And what’s even better is that they’re always close by and cheap!!!

I cannot tell you how many times I have uttered "mein" (noodle in Chinese) to a waiter or waitress or the guy that Becca and I have lovingly named “Noodle Guy” that’s just around the corner from our apartment. Why is this important? Because I have stopped saying “mein.” (Insert sad face here). I have grown weary of noodles, and so I made a decision: I am officially off noodles for a while. The noodles and I have come to the end of our road for now. I know some of you may be asking, “what is she going to eat now?” Don’t fret! I’m on rice full-time now, hence the great picture!!!

Trenia’s Finale:
Love. That is his first name. My cousin, who we all call by his middle name Terrell, is an officer in the Navy. He is currently stationed in Japan, at the Yokosuka Naval Base. He’s an amazing person, and I thought I would share something he said to me the other day when I was chatting with him. Let me explain that I don’t always get to talk to him because he has a wife and kids, he’s busy protecting our country, and I’m in school (big deal Trenia-I know). So after missing him for the last year (they just moved to Japan), he caught me on Yahoo! and we resumed conversation as usual. In the midst of our chat, he said something that has stuck with me, “You are perfect with your imperfections.” Back off ladies, he’s married!

Although I would love to say that this is true because I’m so great, that’s not the case. It’s true because it just is. So if you find yourself secretly hating your nose because it’s a little crooked or hating the fact that you’re not over six feet tall or wishing that you had Martha Stewart’s homemaking abilities, just let it go and remember: your “imperfections” make you perfect.

Welcome to my world…expo-sure!!!

It's Really Not That Bad...

I was walking down the street and this guy passed me. I couldn't help but take a picture because on top of the heavy load he is carrying, it's sticky humid here in Shanghai.

I have only one thing to say: The next time you're complaining about your job or think you're having a bad day, remember this guy. Enough said!

Trenia's Finale:
This finale is pretty random and clearly for our amusement, but just go with it. I want everyone (including Dean Rutherford) who reads this to comment and respond to this question: If you could have any power (as in superhero kind of power), what would it be and why? If you cannot comment on the blog, please send me an email and I will post your comment for you. Now on your mark, get set, GO!!!

Welcome to my world...expo-sure!!!

So You Think You Can Dance?

Picture it: I'm walking down the street, feeling a little blue because my day didn't end on as positive of a note as I would have liked. What do I stumble upon? A group of ladies from the neighborhood participating in a line dance. And I don't mean a half-hearted, random line dance...I mean a full-on, synchronized routine encouraged by a CD player blasting a jam that would be the equivalent of our Electric or Cha-Cha Slide. As I approached the women I was on the phone with Becca describing the scene and I put her on hold so that I could locate my camera. In the meantime, the ladies (who at this point can see the enormous grin on my face) are smiling and waving at me which made the scene even more of a treat. I took my camera out and snapped a few pictures and then stood and watched for a moment. It was then that I realized that the women were older and from their hand motions and level of focus it became clear that they were exercising! How amazing is that?

Fast forward to our weekend trip to Hangzhou. We've had a great day complete with boat rides, a visit to an island, a museum tour, and lunch with some river snails (ask me about it later). Our day ends with a leisurely stroll (leisurely because we were enjoying iced mocha's) and what do see as we are trying to figure out who is in control of a kite that could easily be mistaken for a UFO (I mean this thing had lights that not only changed colors but also faded in and out like a slide on a PowerPoint presentation...yes I said it, and don't act like you don't think that's cool)? Another dance line! Only this time, there were at least 45 women, and they had their own mound that was devoted to their routine. Now ask yourself, what would Trenia do in this situation? If you said join in and try to learn the routine, pat yourself on the back until I can get there! Becca joined me, and we had such a good time trying to learn the steps to what I have named the Chinese Stomp!

Trenia's Finale:
I leave you with excerpts from a song by Lee Ann Womack that captures exactly what I want to say:

"I Hope You Dance"

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted

I hope you still feel small
When you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking

When you get close to selling out

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

No matter what your "dance" may be, I do hope you take the time to dance.

Welcome to my world...expo-sure!!!