Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is doing well! As you can see I have decided to make a blog so you all can read about my time in China and see pictures and all the great stuff!! My goal is to try to post once a week, but we will see if that actually happens. I haven't really had a chance to rest since I have got here. Between sighseeing registration, and four hour long card games, by the time I get to my room all I want to do is sleep. And school hasn't even started yet! That comes tomorrow..... I was placed in a level 3, however I have talked to some of the other people in that class and they are pratically fluent.... so I must admit I am pretty worried! We will see!

I have had so many experiences so far during this trip, that it is hard to believe it has only been a week! I met the rest of my group on Wednesday the fifth due to all the delays of flights and the long drive from Shanghai to Suzhou we arrived at our dorms at midnight, exhausted and excited. Now, I had no idea what to expect, I know what dorms in the US look like and I must say that I was terrified of what the dorms and China were going to be like.... However, they are pretty much amazing. I have my own bathroom, including shower, in fact the bathroom is about the same as two of my bathrooms at home. The room is the size of a normal dorm room, and I have a fridge and a fairly large tv (also bigger than mine at home). Now I got all of this plus utilites and bedding for $200 a month. Pretty amazing right?

But back to more important things... China is SO different to the US. Every aspect of life comes as a culture shock. From driving to eating, life is completely different... this combined with not really knowing how to speak the language, being overwhelmed by the constant flow of people (there are 6 million people in Suzhou) and being started at constantly makes life hard to get used too. This is not to say, its not awesome, just stressful at times. Everytime you walk across the street you see your life flash in front of your eyes. Driving, is insanse. cars dont have seat belts and everyone just goes wherever they want whenever they want. All you have to do is honk and flash your lights and then go. Somehow the other drivers seem to know what you are doing and nobody gets hit. You can pass in the other lane, on the right side, turn from the farthest lane out and drive pretty much any speed. The speed limit signs say 60-100 km on them... I cant say its not exciting. However the craziest experience yet was probably visiting Aushan.

I think the best way to describe Aushan is Walmart on crack. Its this gigantic store with EVERYTHING and pretty much every person in Suzhou in its compound. We walked over to Aushan at probably 8:00 thinking you know it cant be THAT busy. Yeah, we were wrong. You can barely walk and everyone just hits each other to get through. Oh and the Chinese dont have a word for "excuse me" so it really is just push through until you get where you want. Then finding things is near impossible. Of course all the signs are in Chinese, and then if you find the aisle you need there are so many people in front of the item you can't really grab anything. Its pure insanity. We each had a long list of shopping items and decided that it wasnt worth our lives. So we grabbed so mattress pads and ran.

Well thats probably enough for now!!!!! I miss everyone and hope everything is well!!
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