Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vastly Different Study Styles

Today's photo is from yesterday's trip to see the Palace-Temple of the Old Mother, Laoma Gong. I just love these little guys!

This is just an initial impression, but it seems that I have a vastly different study style than the Chinese students that are in my class. Admittedly, my study style is also very different than many American students; I have a very strong geek gene - Thanks Dad!

None of the students really take notes in class. They might scribble a few things in their textbooks but that is about it. I also have yet to see any of them take notes from the book, but that could be that I haven't yet talked to the right students. Index cards! They don't seem to be readily available here...I have yet to find any and I am down to my last 10 cards. They are key to my studying.

I was talking to one student about how they study and he just didn't seem to understand how using multiple tools helps you learn material. He told me he just reads the book, comes to class and reviews the PowerPoint slides. He did say that sometimes he reads aloud, but that is it. I can't imagine learning without using all of the tools available to you, listening, writing, reviewing, drawing, practicing, diffusion...

The gentleman that invited me here also said that he wanted his students to learn more abut self-study and critical thinking. There has been little discussion in classes - they have been almost pure lecture.

I am going to continue to look into this, for a culture that has a reputation for being overachievers, this is very perplexing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Palace-Temple of Old Mother

So today I snuck off to the Palace-Temple of Old Mother. Shantou is a seaport and appropriately they have a gorgeous temple to the Goddess Matsu. She was a sea goddess that cared for sailors and fishermen; unlike many of the other sea gods, she was supposed to be compassionate. This temple is dedicated to her. I can't put all of my pictures up here, so I am figuring out how to put them up in an album on Picassa.

I had a little trouble getting there. First, I tried to walk, but I kept getting confused. Then as I was walking back to my start point this little old begger guy started harassing me. He wouldn't leave me alone for about two blocks. I wish I could help them, but I can't help them all, how do I pick?

When I made it back to the downtown campus of Shantou University, I ran into a fifth year gentleman who was very kind and helped me tell a "taxi" driver where I wanted to go. Look at the picture, I rode in a couple of them today. My new friend also wrote out a note for me in Chinese that said "Please drive me to Shantou Univeristy Medical Center" so that I could show it to a taxi driver and get back.

Off I go, it turns out I was heading the right way. I should have trusted myself, but then the taxi driver pulls off at a Christian Church. He took me to the wrong temple! So, I was pointing on my map to where I wanted to go and the driver didn't understand...he flagged down a gentleman on a moped. This gentleman happened to be an English teacher at one of the high schools and a graduate of Shatou University. He gave me a lift to the temple. It was the first time I have ever been on a moped. I exchanged emails with both of the gentlemen that helped me.

The temple was amazing. They used mosaic tile relief to create these pictures of a sea serpent and a tiger. Everywhere was covered in ornate reliefs and carvings depicting different battles and sea creatures. I can't describe it. Each item was covered in this amazing carved and gilded artwork. There were two sides to the temple, much of the artwork was similar. There were also these stone columns with serpents wrapped around them. In amongst the sea serpents coils where different men and women. Look at the pictures.

When I was done, I flagged down another of the "taxis" and went back to the college. The only downside of my day was that I lost my notebook...the zipper on my backpack is breaking and sometime pops open...I must have dropped my notebook when it did that. This means that I lost the emails of my two new friends...I gave them mine, I hope they email me.

If this works, there should be a slideshow of my photos from today...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Boring Posts

I have decided that posts without pictures look quite boring. Therefore, from now on, at least until the site tells me I'm out of room, I am going to put a picture up with each blog. Since I have no decent photo editing software, this may prove interesting.

Today's photo is aimed at my nephew. I saw a whole bunch of Chinese firetrucks on campus so I snapped a photo. The only real difference between US and Chinese trucks seems to be the writing on the side, which you can't really see in this picture. I have no idea why they were here. There was no drama or action around them and I didn't see any event. Perhaps they were just there to give me a photo op?!

Tomorrow I should have an interesting post for everyone. I finally found a map of Shantou that has enough English on it for me to navigate. I am going sight seeing. (No classes tomorrow.) My overall goal is to see Laoma Gong, or the Palace of the Old Mother. I also want to see some of the historic district. Oh, and find a diet Pepsi!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting people

I have had some very strange interactions with people here in China. First, even though it is considered very rude to stare here, people stare at me (and any other alien) all the time. I watched a lady on a bicycle almost ride into the gutter because she was staring at me so hard. Unlike the US, it is pretty unusual to see people of different races here. So I guess novelty rates over rudeness. Most of the time I don't mind. I smile and wave at people. Occasionally, like when I am trying not to make a fool of myself on roller skates, it really bothers me.

Yesterday, I had a strange interaction. A mom and a little girl came up to me. The girl, about 6, was on a scooter. Mom said something to her and she stuck out her hand and said, "Hi, how are you?" I was a bit surprised, but when I shook her hand and said, "Hi, I'm fine. How are you?" She scootered away as fast as she could! I think mom must have been making her practice.

I had another child, a boy probably about 3, take one look at me and start crying. Now, admittedly, a bee could have stung him, or something, at that exact moment; however I suspect he just thought I was terrifying looking. My father might be used to reactions like that, but I'm not.

I also made a new friend yesterday. A girl in the 2008 all English medical class came up to me, introduced herself and told me, "I would like to be your friend." The directness was unique and pleasant. So, I now officially have a Chinese friend. She later emailed me and said that her friends want to be my friend too, so it looks like I will soon have more friends. This is wonderful, since I could really use some help with translations...I cannot tell you how hard it is to find the right cleaning product when you can't read the labels.

Diet Pepsi

I have not seen any diet Pepsi since I arrived here in Shantou! At this point I would do almost anything for one.

The vast majority of Chinese people seem to be very slender, or at least the sample of them that I see around campus. I guess their metabolisms don't mind regular sodas. I have looked in every store near the campus. I have found, Coke, Sprite, ginger ale, 7-Up, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, orange soda, grape soda, juices of a million different diet Pepsi. I did find one bottle of Coke Zero, which I bought (for the equivalent of 50 cents in USD). But it is not the same!!!!

The first person that can tell me where to find a bottle of Diet Pepsi in this town will earn my unending devotion! On Tuesday I am going to go into Shantou proper to do some sight seeing and shopping. The first thing on my list is going to be diet Pepsi.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Some Flower Shots

It's been kind of calm around here, so I haven't had much to type. Those of you who are trying to follow what is happening on this side of the planet should check out the other pages of my blog (links are on the left).

I have been given some options to try and resolve some of the issues that have come up since I arrived. I have promised that I won't make a decision about which option I am taking for a few days, until the school dean returns from a conference.

In the meantime, I have been wandering around campus, roller skating and taking pictures. I was trying to get some shots of birds for my sister and father, but I haven't had any success. Instead here are some flower shots.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

English Program - in Chinese

Yup, that's right, in Chinese.

Today I had Human Anatomy. For that class we have two professors. One is from China and one is also international, but not a native English speaker. For the first 45 min or so the international professor presented some very basic material, in English. I was even feeling pretty impressed with myself because I was able to understand most of what he was saying.

Then, they switched professors. At first I thought maybe it was just my hearing, I couldn't understand a thing, then I realized that the gentleman was speaking Chinese! Having been promised that this was a fully English program, I was very shocked. As the lesson progressed, I could tell that this professor was going into a lot more detail than the first professor because of his gestures and what he was pointing to in the PowerPoint slides. Needless to say, I am very disappointed. The greater part of the class, more than 2 hours was in Chinese.

I did talk to the one professor and he pointed out that these students, although studying in English, have to complete their Chinese exams in order to practice medicine in China. It is a very good point.

I did have the opportunity to meet a student that is in the sixth year of the regular medical program, not the fully English program. (The full English program is only two years old.) She was very good in English. She had just returned from residency overseas. She was very impressive, so they must be doing something right.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Writers block

So, this is what, my third entry, and I have no clue what to write! It is way to early to have writers block.

I have now attended a couple of classes, nothing exciting really. Because of the differences in the American school system and the Chinese school system, I have only two classes. The Chinese students that I am taking classes have 9 classes that include things such as histories, computers and chemistry.

Compared to the average American student, Chinese students have a very full schedule. Each day they spend about 6 hours in classes. After classes are done they have other scheduled study activities. They also have scheduled studies on the weekend. I don't believe that the weekend studies are formal classes, however I have no information about them as of yet. I know that I am a geek and often scheduled heavy course loads for myself, but I always valued my weekends for studying on my own.

At any rate, I'll try to come up with some more interesting topics for future posts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Campus Shots

Shantou University Campus is very beautiful. In the center of the campus is an artistic and peaceful park. Bamboo and trees for which I have no names are abundant. I thought some people might be interested in a few shots of the campus.

The first is the Main Administration Building, it is the first building seen as a person enters the campus.

The second is the Medical Building; this is where I will be spending much of my time over the next few years.

The other shots are of the park.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

View from dorm room

Here are the views from my dorm room. The buildings you see are under construction. I don't know what they will be yet. It was interesting, yesterday I saw several people climbing on the roof, all of them were wearing at least some red. Red happens to be the Chinese color for luck. I wonder if there is a relationship. The other side is a view od the city of Shantou.

I have not yet started attending classes. There is some question about what they will do with me. However, I did join one of the English mentors for her English class this afternoon. All of the students were very nice and very curious. It was very enjoyable. I have been asked if I could help with the class, though I have not yet accepted since I am not certain what my situation will be.

In China

Hi Everyone,

So, I am in China now. I arrived on Tuesday.

Things here are not quite what I expected in some ways and exactly what I expected in other ways.

My room in the dorms is just like any dorm you might find in the US. Though the view from my room is beautiful. I will try to take a picture later.

At any rate, lets see if this works. The other blog I had set up from home isn't, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.