Friday, September 30, 2011

It's supercalafrajalisticexpialidocious!

Kit, our trainer
Our training group

Monday - training and sleep. 
Tuesday - training, time to relax, and sleep
Wednesday - training, apples & honey for Rosh Hashanah with Sharin, and dinner with Sharin, Reid, and Cindy. L'shana tova!

Rosh Hashanah dinner
Apples, honey, and challah (brioche) with Sharin

 Thursday - the last day of training. I was actually sad for it to end. It was one of the best trainings I have been to. Our trainer, Kit, was super enthusiastic, and was very accessible and patient with us. Some ATs (local staff, Assistant Trainers) cried when we parted. Some went with us (the FTs - Foreign Trainers) to dinner and kareoke to celebrate the end of training. I will miss them. We had a great group. 

Today, a few of us had our "visa interviews" today, which means we went to Pudong to get our picture taken and a piece of paper that enables us to travel without our passports while our visas get processed. Then, since my placement's in Nanjing, I had the rest of the afternoon off (technically "on call"). Amelia and I wandered the local 10 story-tall mall, had lunch, and then headed back to the hotel before going out with everyone for our last weekend in Shanghai. Tomorrow starts the National holiday - a 5 day break from work, and some of the FTs will start moving in to their apartments. At this time next week, I will be in Nanjing...
Cloud 9 - a 10 story tall mall.

Caution sign on a Cloud 9 escalator

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just pictures

Zhongshan Park near my hotel

Underground metro food court (taken in front of McDonald's)

Underground metro shopping
My foot after a day of touring in flip flops

Lunch on the first day of training

Open the gates

In case you weren't sure... I'm in China

Slight head cold (it's going around),
The giant OJ I drank while writing this and the giant water I hope to finish before bed.
but that's not going to stop me! This afternoon I went to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, housed in the former Ohel Moishe synagogue. It has 3 parts: the synagogue/art center, the building depicting the life of Jews in Shanghai during WWII, and the building full of stories of Jewish people who lived in, or were born from people who lived in, Shanghai during WWII. Pretty neat. The 2nd building had a video about how Jews came to Shanghai after Krystallnacht, when other countries wouldn't let them in. It was in English with Hebrew subtitles. I wonder if they have a Chinese version. 
Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum

I couldn't find the other Jewish tourist things to see (I think they're all mostly residential housing now anyway), so I took the train to YuYuan Gardens. Beautiful. I stopped by the City God Temple; people were burning incense and praying for protection and wealth (I think that's what the gods were for). I spent almost 2 hours wandering aimlessly through the gardens, looking at the fish, the pagoda shaped buildings, saw 2 cats, the rock statues, the water. It's funny because right outside the gardens is a huge tourist area, "Yuyuan Classic Street" with tons of shopping. I think there's a shopping festival going on. The contrast of the noise of the shopping area (Dairy Queen next to Ningbo Dumplings) and the quiet of the gardens and temple, not to mention the contrast of the pagoda buildings in the garden and the other sky-scraper buildings of Shanghai, is quite overwhelming and mind-blowing. There's nothing like that, that I can think of, in the States. 

YuYuan Classic Street
Entrance to YuYuan Gardens
Other thoughts: I have clean laundry! And I never thought I'd say it, but I can't wait to go grocery shopping and have a fridge to keep water cold.

Tomorrow is back to training before a week off for the National holiday. My Chinese is coming along incredibly slowly - I am going to live off a phrase book, hand gestures and guessing for the next year. But it's more entertaining that way.  

Lotus on Bridge to Gardens
Tea House

Dragon Wall (lines the gardens)
Big Rockery
A floor design

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A whole new world...

Training is intense. I wake up in the morning, shower, eat, head down to the metro to get to the center. Walking and metroing is about an hour commute. Then 3 hours of training (educational theories, technology, etc), an hour lunch, and 5 more hours of training (curriculum, teaching methods, mock lessons, etc). Yesterday we visited centers and observed classes for the first time, so as a treat we get to go in late on Monday. 

The trainer, Kit, is awesome. She has lots of energy and enthusiasm and tries to make things interesting and comprehensible for us. 
Spending today resting and catching up on sleep. May do some touring later. Exciting news of the week: They need our passports to get our resident visas, but they are figuring out how to get them back to us so we can go touring over the National holiday break (Oct 1-5). Hooray!

Sorry, no pictures. Will have some when I get to my center ( and do more touring.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"It all started with a mouse..." - W. Disney

For me, it all started with a very long plane ride. When I arrived at the airport in Shanghai (which has lots of art, but no a/c - be warned future visitors!), I met fellow Foreign Trainers (FTs) Reid (MN), Andrew (Canada), and Charlotte (Britain). We arrived at the hotel, settled in our rooms, and later went for my first Chinese dinner with Charlotte and Andrew. We shared 3 types of Congee (rice porridge). Then sleep. 

My hotel

My room


The next morning, there was the trip to the bank, buying of a cell phone, paperwork, and orientation (with Japanese curry for lunch) with the other FTs: Matt (Canada), Michelle (LA), Sharin (LA), Amelia (NY), Tarryn (South Africa), Hope (AL), Cynthia (Reid's girlfriend from LA). Siobhan (Britain) did not arrive until Saturday, due to the fact that the person in charge of booking flights neglected to do so for her. Anyway, fun day, lots of information learned, with brief tour of the local area and how to get to the metro.

Saturday was a free day, and I spent it touring the city. I took the subway (which is huge, has multiple entrances/exits and a kind of underground shopping mall at each station) to the Jing'an Temple, then wandered and found my way eventually to the Shanghai Exhibition Center, where there was an expat "cuisine" festival going on. I thought this meant that expats would have booths with foods from their countries, but really, it was mostly booths with information about China travel, Mandarin lessons, dental care, insurance, etc. There was a small food area, and I had a chocolate crepe for lunch. Then I wandered back out into the humidity to find my way to People's Park, the Shanghai Art Museum (pretty neat), and the Grand Theatre (which sadly didn't have anything to do inside). Then I sat down in the park for a bit to read and cool off. Fun fact that I learned later: When I went in to People's Park there was a LARGE group of Chinese people with signs gathered together exchanging information of some kind. Apparently, this is known as a marriage market (pictures to come), where adults bring personal ads about their children to find them spouses! 
Exhibition Center

Grand Theater

Then I met some local Chinese people. We went to a teahouse and saw a tea performance and sampled some teas: Ginseng (good for the heart, blood pressure), Jasmine (aka dragon eyeball for sore throat and eye puffiness), Berry (good for digestion), Green (to lose weight), Lichi (aka black, also for the eyes), and Chrysanthemum (which I forget what it is good for). Then I said good-bye and made my way to the Bund on the Haungpu River, where there are lots of old buildings and views of modern Pudong. 


View of Pudong
I took the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to Pudong and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to get views of Shanghai. It was much cooler than I thought - not only was the observation deck so high that my ears popped, the lower ball had an arcade, space exhibit with a holographic book that you touched and it turned pages, an activity where you stepped on a planet and it flew to get away, and models of the moon, rockets, and ET (blech!). Below that was a roller coaster - which I did ride! AND I kept my eyes open the whole time! The lobby level was the Shanghai History Museum, which had incredible miniatures to model the history and growth of Shanghai. 
Oriental Pearl TV Tower

View of Shanghai

The distance to Nanjing

After the tower, I rushed to get to an acrobatic show. Amazing! There was rope climbing, silk dancing, hoop jumping, people who bent in ways that they shouldn't, balancing, juggling, bicycle tricks, and motorcyclists inside the ball of death! 

I had to shower when I got back to the hotel, then I met up with some of the FTs to go out on the town. Sunday was a lazy day to go to the local park and get some work done. 

Then yesterday was our first official day of training. We learned the history of the Disney Corporation, the perks and expectations of our job, and other stuff. We got our pictures taken for our centers, and measured for our "costumes". They took us to an awesome Sichuan (read: spicy), family style lunch with tons of yummy foods. 

Today started with our medical checks, and we had the afternoon off to do as we pleased. I went to the Shanghai Museum (sculptures, ceramics, statues, paintings, calligraphy, coins, and more!) while the other FTs went apartment hunting since they are all staying local. By the time I finished that, it was too late (and too rainy) to go to other sights, so I went back to the hotel to write to you. 
Shanghai Museum
Other notes: The weather changes very quickly here. Our first 3 days were so humid you started sweating the minute you walked outside. Then it rained Saturday night, so the following few days have been incredibly windy and cool. Also, not many people have been staring at us foreigners as we walk around town - Shanghai has lots of visitors. And red lights are really more of a suggestion than a rule here - you have to be careful when you cross the street!

Sample architectures
It's hard to believe I've been here less than a week. There's so much to see, and we're so busy. Welcome to DisneyEnglish! Miss you all.