Cell Phones & Falling Snow

Yesterday we enjoyed our first day of classroom time. It was observations with a bit of interaction and ranged from 5 year-olds to adults. It was interesting to see the techniques for forcing language down someone’s throat in hopes that it will come back up within moments. The whole day was quite informational and gave Dan and I a good amount to chew on before starting our teaching next week. I finally picked up a cell phone and sim-card and now I can leave the nest without fear of never seeing anyone again. Though it’s quite difficult to return to the standard black and white candy bar phone after using a smart phone for the past year and a half. Especially since it’s in Chinese… at least until I changed the language settings. I’m not really sure what I’m charged for, but if anyone needs to get a hold of me – 150……….. I’ll get it to you later. This morning, bright and early, a rally woke me up. It was refreshing. A peek out the window showed no crowds but lovely falling snow. I guess it’s going to be a cold one today.

A Night For Firsts

Looking for beers after a great meal at ‘the local joint’ and we find ourselves here.

We duck into the only place that doesn’t seem to be Muslim, across from the hotel Becci is staying in, and the first two characters in it’s sign are Tea and Beer.. Not a bad start.

Oddly enough we walk in to find the receptionists desk surrounded by a series of small cubicles with tables and chairs and men and women in them… it becomes clear to me, this isn’t the place to be. I’m third inside and Dan is negotiating with the ‘bartender.’ I follow upstairs as I look about at the gentlemen sitting about the tables within the cubicles. This place is far from social. Up a series of stairs and past a bathroom with a sink full of brown liquid and to our room. No knob, no lock, just a hole with some twisted metal.

Inside the ceiling is covered in holiday paper, there is a set of four chairs around a plain table, a t.v. in the corner and a fan above it pointing downward toward the simple bed in the corner. A glance about the room indicates we’re all on the same page now.

What have we done?


Neighborhood Blasts

Punk ass kids.

Firecrackers are accessible, fun, and LOUD. Our courtyard, four stories down, is a bit of an attractive nuisance for such neighborhood thrills. It seems the name of the game is get all the car alarms in the block to go off, wait, then do it again. Not bad fun if you’re the one lighting the fuse, but someone get me a air rifle, because I’m the guy sleeping with thin windows upstairs.

1st Kitchen Cooked Meal

A collection of brand new spices & oils, a collection of dilapidated cooking equipment, including a wok without a handle and no pots to speak of, and a bundle of fresh ingredients we picked up on the street for about $2 USD, here is the adventure and the risk of cooking at home in a foreign place.

I’d consider it a success.

Welcome to Our Apartment

On our first day ‘home’ we give a quick look at the general layout of our abode. Dan gives the comprehensive tour.

While things didn’t seem too ‘complete’ when we arrived, we’ve slowly begun to fill the house with our own character. Starting in the kitchen, we’re working on floor and wall treatments and will hopefully have some plants and perhaps a turtle in the short future.

Updates will obviously be published.

Next Step

A Letter:

In the last month I have been working to secure a six-month job with Aston Schools teaching English. In the last week I was told my Chinese visa was just about secured, I bought my plane ticket, and I found out that my traveling partner was a 100% “go.” So I concluded there was little more that would change my new direction.

I have taken a job in Hohhot (alternately spelled Huhehaote). The city is the capitol of China’s Inner Mongolia with a population of about 2.5 million and densities ranging between 400-26,000/sq mi. The weather and rain fall is fairly mild and many of the images I’ve seen make it look like the American Southwest. While ‘briskly’ cold (current temp is some -20′ C) during the early winter months, it would seem that it warms up quite quickly as it’s only at 3,500 feet. My friend, Dan Tuttle, whom I’ll be traveling and working with, is a close friend from school and has spent a good deal of time in China studying already and knows a great deal of the language. He assures me I’ll learn something of the language, which is nice to think about. However, while in China I hope to enhance my teaching skills and my language skills, understanding more of the language is a large priority with perhaps learning more about the cultural expectations in business as an unlikely second. Who knows what will really come across my plate. In any case it should be a neat way to explore another corner of the world while being paid (meagerly) to do it.

While I’m in CA now, I’ll head back to Arizona after the new year in order to make sure the house is ready to be without me for six-months and to move out. Then I will return to CA where I leave. The job will start March 1st, so I will be departing LAX February 18th, and will be returning (barring any changes) September 8th about ten days after my contract is over.

I think that’s my plan for now, though after I apply for The Great Race things may change. :) Very Good.
John Mizell

I’ve attached a couple of websites for more information about the program and the area.

Weather Averages for the city:

Wikipedia Article for the city:

Aston Schools Website: