珍珠奶茶 Milk Tea...

I have a new addiction! It goes by many names; 奶茶, Nai Cha, Bubble Tea, Milk Tea, Pearl Milk Tea. But, to me they all mean warm tasty goodness that I must have! Original bubble tea consists of black tea, large pearl tapioca, condensed milk, and honey. It is served hot in the winter and cool in the summer. While the original is my favorite, they also come in many fruit flavors. I have consumed one nearly every day this week and I plan to drink more. I even bought three packaged mixes, which come with their own disposable cup, so I can make them at my apartment. They cost about 3.5Y at my local store.

When you go out to buy them the prices vary considerably, from 7Y to 2.5Y. Happily, the place that sells the cheapest milk tea (as pictured above) is the closest to my apartment. It has a wonderful taste and the family who runs the store is very nice! I visit often! But, if you pay the higher prices you can get the tapioca balls stuffed with a filling. I’ve had this once and it is fun. They fillings come in chocolate (巧克力), red bean paste (紅豆), mung bean paste (綠豆), and peanut butter (花生) flavors. When you chew on the tapioca pearl you can taste the filling.


圣诞节和星巴克 Christmas and Starbucks...

Today I did not do much. Sort of hung out at the apartment, washed dishes, watched some Chinese dramas and some game shows. Then headed over to Roberts, our computer room at the Foreign Student Dorms, and checked my email. Plus, as an extra surprise I received my second package from my Mom!!!! In the first package she had actually included a tree and other gifts so I was excited to see what was in this package. This one was just as fun as the last and had 2 sets of thick sock, 2 books, Snickers(!!!) more Christmas gifts, and lots of Good Earth Tea! I'm really excited to use the socks since it is cold here and my apartment only has the one space heater I bought and the one air conditioning unit in my bedroom. It is really expensive to heat my room with the AC so I generally only heat it up before I want to go to bed and then turn it off once I’m under the covers. Anyway, I ate 3 Snickers right away (snack size, mind you) . They have Snickers here but they are lacking in peanuts! So, the ones my Mom sent are AMAZING!!!

Then I called Daniel to see what he was up to and he invited me to go downtown, Cheng Qi Lu. We went and he took me to a super expensive grocery store in the basement of a department store called Setan. Daniel thinks the name sounds like Satan so he thinks it’s funny we were is “Satan’s Basement”. They have a good selection of pastries; I bought 2 doughnuts. Plus, I also got a REALLY good ham and cheese sandwich for 8Y ($1.15). (Which I later realized they did not charge me for). Plus, they had some other good imports like cheap butter. Funny thing though, the salted butter was more expensive than the unsalted. Isn’t the opposite true in the States? Anyway, it was fun and I also got some fruit tea and ground pepper.

Then we headed over to one of the 4 Starbucks in the area (there are like 16 in Chengdu) and we played dominos and I had my first coffee in China. I got a Nut Toffee Latte. It was very good although a bit pricy at 32Y ($4.6) for their medium size. If you’re planning to set in the store with your coffee, it is served in a porcelain mug. Very fun! This was not my first visit to a Starbuck here or even my first purchase in one. However, I hadn’t bought coffee in China until then. We got comfy chairs because I forced us to move when a woman using 3 sofa seats left… they were nicer than the hard wooden seats ^_^
Also talked to Eddie and he said we could set up my internet tomorrow (Saturday) after I return from going to a garden with a Sichuan Grad student, Zhao Nan, who I’m working with on my research project.


宜家家居 IKEA ...

IKEA Buys!
Originally uploaded by Alexandra Lord
So my morning was pretty routine and rather boring. I went to class and then sat in Roberts and added to blog. Then I headed home to be lazy and watched some Korean dramas dubbed into Chinese. This is one of my new favorite passions. Every night I sit and do my homework while I watch these dramas in Chinese.
Finally, I did something productive and headed to to IKEA (Yi Jia Jia Ju) by taxi. The taxi driver was funny because he was chatting on his radio to all the other taxi drivers telling them where he was going and that a had a “Mei Mei Lao Wai”. This essentially means that he has a young foreign girl in the car. Funny things is that at first I mixed up the meaning of Mei Mei and thought he was calling me old. I was kind of offended (Mei Mei actually means younger sister but can be used to describe people’s ages.)

Anyway, I spent more than expected in both time and money at IKEA but, I think it is well worth the amount. I got a ton of items: Set of3 pots, 2 lids, cast iron frying pan, 5 piece spatula set, pitcher, 40 piece tuber ware set, squeegee, 2 pot brushes, 2 hot mitts, 3 large scented candles (2 apple cinnamon and 1 vanilla), 8 spice containers, 2 fleece blankets, dish drying rack, 2 shower curtains, shower curtain holders, duvet cover with 2 pillow cases. I’m most excited about my cast iron fry pan!!! It was only 70Y ($10).

On way home I had to take the free metro bus because no taxis were available. Apparently, you can take one there but they seldom come to IKEA to pick people up. But, this turned out great because I made the coolest new friend. Her name is Qian Wei (钱玮) and her English name is Claire. She is a ChuanDa student on the same campus as me in the school of Economics. We talked for a long time on the bus while we were waiting for it to leave (they only leave every hour) and then she invited me to dinner. We ended up having something similar to jiao zi (pot stickers) but boiled. Then she took me out for warm milk tea (the type with tapioca pearls). AMAZING!!! I don’t like it in the States where it is always served cold and in a variety of weird fruity flavors. Here, in the winter, it is served hot and in a standard original black tea flavor. (But of course there are other flavors available.)

We exchanged info and I’m excited to meet her again. I headed home, watched 3 ½ hours of Korean dramas dubbed into Chinese and then went to bed!


家乐福 Carrefour and more...

I went to Carrefour today with Daniel and SiYu!!! I ended up spending 600Y (about $100) but in my defense I bought a space heater (fan style), some more dishes, some western food, shower rod, silverware and more. Buying the space heater was complicated. Not only had I never bought one before, or for that matter, really used one before, but I was also, of course, dealing with the language barrier. But, with the help of about 4 store clerks, I eventually found heater I was happy with for about 120Y. In China buying appliances is made a little easier buy the fact that you can always try them out. Stores always have a test model available to experience. The first week I arrived in Chengdu, I bought my blow-dryer and I was able to try out like 6 different models. It’s very useful!

(All the new food from Carrefour)

After paying for all my items, of which I had a crap-load, we attempted to get a taxi…. Not the easiest thing in the world. All of the ones that went by were already occupied. Plus, we were competing against well seasoned and very experienced Chinese taxi goers. But, eventually Daniel got it done by sneaking in front of a Chinese lady and flagging down a rare empty taxi. That is how the game is played in China!!! We rock! Anyway, we all piled in and I tried not to poke anyone with my new mop or shower rod. ^_^

Chengdu, Bookworm Cafe!
Originally uploaded by Alexandra Lord

After dropping all my new goodies off at my apartment I went to the foreign student’s class building to pick up my bike. Then I plunked around on the computes at Robert’s r for a little bit. Since I don’t have internet yet in my new apartment it was a rare chance. I watched two episodes of Terminator and then sped off into the night!!! No just kidding, at around 7:30 I stopped by at the little store near my apartment and got mayo, oyster sauce, jam, and cornstarch plus a bag of Lays. Nice combination, right??? Then, I had to rush over to West Gate to meet the girls for “Girl’s Night” at the Bookworm.

Chengdu, Bookworm Cafe!
Originally uploaded by Alexandra Lord
The Bookworm is an expat oriented café/library. They have AMAZING CHEESECAKE and, for a fee, you can check out books from their English language library!!! I had not yet eaten dinner so I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich ,which came with a salad, and I also got a slice of cheesecake. It was a little expensive (by my Chinese dinner standards) but fun. It was actually the first salad I’ve had since coming to China! Later, I rode my bike home, put all the things I bought at Carrefour away in their temporary homes. Then, I went to Bed!!!


Crazy ATMs in China...

So, I’m finally done with the kitchen but I don’t have any food in the apartment and only 22Y to my name. So, I was desperate and needed to find money fast. By this point it was nearly 7:30 but I figured that HaoYouDou didn’t close until 10pm so everything would be fine. HaHa!!! Yeah right! I ended up needing to go to 9 different ATMs to find money!!!! YES 9!!! ATMs in China run out of money because there are so money people using them, but still, it is completely crazy to need to go to 9 different AMTs just to find one with money. As I had finished visiting my 6th ATM, I ran into Eddie. He could hardly believe my story. Finally, the Bank of Communications had money and I was able to take out the maximum 2000Y.

It was near 9pm when I finally crawled into HaoYouDou and struggled to buy all that I wanted…I spent 300Y. But, then on top of all the crap I had just been through, I realized, as I’m riding my bike home with 2 huge grocery bags hanging from the handlebars and 1 in the basket, that my bike is broken! Somehow, whatever holds the metal mud guard above the front wheel had broken!!! Eventually, I made it home and climbed the 7 flights of stairs with 4 bags! I ended up having a dinner of yogurt and 2 slices of bread with peanut butter. Then showered and immediately went to sleep!

白色的 White = the new color of my kitchen...

So today went relatively smoothly until later but I’ll save that story for later. As I told you before, my kitchen, although a great set up, was going to need some work. Today, after class, I stopped by at the local store. It is something between a 7-11 and a full blown grocery store. It has rice, the basic staples for flavoring food, cleaning supplies, drinks, snacks, some dishes, etc. I picked up a pair of gloves (which I bought at the last moment and they ended up being a lifesaver, of in this case, finger saver), stainless steel scrubber, dish soap, window cleaner and a heavy duty cleaner called Mr. Muscle. (I did not need a sponge since I’d found a new one left behind by the owners.) Now, let me tell you, Mr. Muscle is something amazing and yet at the same time you know that this is one of those chemicals that is definitely banned in the States. I personally think it could be the leading cause of China’s water pollution problems but I used it anyway. You can’t argue with results, at least not in China. (Just kidding^_^)

Anyway, after climbing my seven flights of stairs and eventually entering my apartment I looked at the kitchen and realized it was going to take much more than some elbow grease to get rid of the mess. (Which, ironically, was mostly grease (old, old grease)) Thank goodness for Mr. Muscle!!! You have to realize that this grease had been allowed to accumulate for years, collect dust and other grime and solidify. There were layers! To say that it was grows would be an understatement. In fact, I think to truly understand how disgusting grease like this is you have to experience cleaning it up.

So I got to work, at first bypassing the most difficult job, and headed straight to the sink and the surrounding walls. I put Mr. Muscle to the work and soon had the walls, sink, and rack/knife holder above the sink spick and span. After completing this task I glanced over at the stove top, contemplated starting that challenge and instead decided to start work on the spice rack and counter tops. I finished the spice rack and the underside of the above-sink-shelves. Then, I realized as I was working on the counters that even the countertop near the stovetop had a buildup of grime… not cool. At this point I figured out that my sponge just aint doing it so I finally pulled out the stainless steel scrubber and got to work. It worked like magic and with a little elbow grease and cut through the filth. Unfortunately, the countertops are some sort of black stone and it was difficult to see the grime so the going was slow.

Eventually, I finished and I had no other place to go and must start of the stovetop and nearby area… the next part of this story is not pretty so if you are a young impressionable child or like clean kitchens or maybe your just American; read at your own discretion! To this point had not taken a close look at this area so it came as a surprise when I realize that not only was there grease of the countertops but also the “backsplash” (piece of wood), the surrounding tiles (the worse was on the windowsill where the grease had accumulated so it looked like the tile was black), the window screen, the actual stovetop (movable), and even the countertop below the stovetop. I decided to start with small steps and just sprayed the area with a bunch of Mr. Muscle and then went to work on the wooden back splash. After I was done with that I figured it was time to really start and began to scrub the area with my stainless steel sponge… it did not really work. It the end I had to resort to using an old knife to scrape away huge chunks of fat from all the surfaces… it took awhile… Then I was able to begin using the metal sponge again.

After finally cleaning the surrounding are and the stovetop (which had grease on all sides but the bottom) and began work on the stove’s hood. The inside was also covered in grease but I got it done. To accomplish this job, though, I had to pull out my handy-dandy crank charging flashlight. It worked great and I was able to see what I was cleaning plus, I used it to look at the kitchen countertops and see any grease I had previously missed. Finally, I only had two chores left; cleaning the cabinet doors and scrubbing the floors. I started with the cabinets and, like my mother thought me, cleaned all sides till they shined or at least looked better. I had to continue to use the stainless steel scrubber because the sponge had gotten so bad at this point that I’d needed to through it out. Then I cleaned the floors. The center of the floor was relatively clean but the sides near the counters were actually black… not good so I sat down on a little stool and slowly worked my way around the floor scrubbing with a little scrub brush. It did not take too long and then I wiped it dry without bothering to remove the soap… that way I can use the same soap next time (^_^)

THEN, I WAS FINALLY DONE!!! Wait, actually no… … … While I had been cleaning the sink had accumulated a ton of grime… a ton! So I had to clean it and then I put a kettle of boiling water through the pipes. Should be good. In all, cleaning the kitchen took about 4 ½ hours. Now I just have to get to the bathroom, clean the fridge, do some laundry at some point, and wash the walls… just a little more…

Too bad I did not take pictures of the process but here is 1 before and a couple after photos!


我的洗澡是很舒服! My Shower is so comfortable!...

Bathroom = Heaven!
Originally uploaded by Alexandra Lord
I’m currently stretched out on my bed at my new apartment. My air conditioner’s heat is on high and I’m toasty. It feels amazing as my muscles slowly relax after my hot shower and I begin to get drowsy. That is one huge plus that I can add to the list of positive qualities my apartment possesses; a great shower. I can forgive the difficulties of getting the hot water running and having to cope with standing over a squat toilet while de-tangling my hair in view of the fact that, it was fucking incredible not to have to hold the damn shower head while I was trying to wash or deal with drainage problems. (Haha, my drain is actually my toilet) Mind-Blowing Amazing!!!

I spent the afternoon cleaning my apartment, which had already been “cleaned” the day before. In China, you find out pretty fast that “clean” does not have the same meaning as in the US. While I’m generally fine with that, it doesn’t fly in my apartment. So, I re-cleaned what had been cleaned and cleaned things which were overlooked. This includes that top of the microwave which was covered in a layer of grows slime and dust as well as behind both beds which, while appear new, had probably never been move after arriving in their current domicile. I have not bought cleaning supplies so I have not yet tackled the immense challenge of the kitchen but the owners were nice enough to leave behind a rag mop and broom (sans dust pan).

Actually, my landlords left behind a lot. Not only were the obvious like beds, couches, and tables furnished but they also left a few pots, pans, dishes, bedside table lamps and even extension plugs. It was really a wonderful surprise. Of course, some of the things left behind are useless including a pair of shower slippers, two toy assault guns, tons of old chop sticks, and a bunch of bottles of ink, plus more.

Anyway, after cleaning for a few hours SiYu was great and helped me move most of my things into my apartment. For the past week I have actually been staying in SiYu and Daniel’s guestroom. They live in the same complex as my old apartment and are also part of the University of Washington program. My new apartment is on the 7th floor in a building without an elevator so it was a big task to ask of him. But, like always, SiYu was more than willing to help out. We only had to make two trips (we walked it over) and on the 2nd trip my TA, Eddie, called and volunteered to help. After moving everything I took them both out to dinner. Dinner was only 35Y ($5) so I definitely still owe SiYu and Daniel for being such amazing sports about the whole situation


I've updated my photos -------------------->>>


颐和园 Literally "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony": Summer Palace...

On Thursday the 21, my second day in China, we headed off to Beijing to see the Summer Palace. Allen jokingly complained that I had chosen one of the largest things to see in a rather distant area. So, that morning we got an early start and headed over to a restaurant about 1 block away. It is an interesting restaurant, one group of people serves breakfast and then another group serves lunch and then a 3rd group serves dinner. This way they split the rent and all have income. The morning group serves a healthy fare of baozi (little dumplings like humboa), fried filled pancakes, and a plethora of soups including a soy bean (like soy milk), red bean, and tomato and egg soup.

After breakfast Allen and I hopped on a bus and went to the HauiRou bus yard. Then we got on a large bus labeled kuai, “fast”, and headed into the city. This bus ride takes about 1 ½ hours and dropped us off at Dongzhimen bus station in Beijing City. We were lucky and had seats so I fell asleep. Because it is labled “fast” it only makes 6 stops along the way but it is really rather slow. After arriving in at Dongzhimen Allen asked for directions and we hoped on a bus that took us to the National Zoo, where we again transferred to a bus that finally dropped us off at the Summer Palace. In all, it took about 2 ½ hours, maybe longer, to arrive at our destination but it was sooooo worth it. Just check out the pictures below. It poured for the first 1/3 of our time in the Palace but it cleared up eventually. Then, I made the mistake of wanting to walk to the other side of the lake, when for 10Y we could have taken a boat across. It was a loonnngggg walk. But, in about 1 hour we did eventually make it to the island on the other side of the lake.

At about 3:30pm we hopped on another bus to head over to Tiananmen and arrived at about 5pm. Beijing, even with only ½ the cars on the roads due to the Olympics, still has traffic and the buses stop often. Anyway, we ended up running out of time and skipped Tiananmen and headed for the subway right by our bus drop off. It was so crowded that they were closing the subway entrance and only letting people enter in time dispersed bunches. We eventually manage to take the subway back to Dongzhimen. Before heading home we went down the street about 4-5 blocks and had dinner at Pizza Hut. Then we headed off on our bus back to HuaiRou. We fell asleep again and when we finally arrived it was raining very hard. After getting off the bus we walked home in the dark and heavy rain. I was cold and couldn’t stop shaking plus I had no idea where we were but we DID make it home. After drying out a bit, watching a little Olympic Volleyball, and trying to learn a new card game I was pooped and went to bed.


怀柔区 Hauirou...

All is well in the land of the Middle Kingdom. There have not been any updates recently because I’ve been so busy. We wake up, go eat breakfast, and then head off to wherever we are going that day. When we finally do return home I’m exhausted and often fall asleep sitting on the couch.

Anyway, I arrived safely into the Beijing Airport and managed to get both of my bags here with me. The flight, although 11 hours long, seemed to pass fairly quickly. This is probably due to the sleeping pill I took that knocked me out for about 6 hours plus the amazing in-flight entertainment. Once at the airport and with my 2 bags on a cart I managed to find Allen, Allen’s Dad, and the driver. They actually live in Huairou, about 1 hour outside of Beijing. Huairou was incorporated into Beijing in 1995 so I am still in Beijing and everything is just a bus ride away. Allen’s father is charge of the natural gas distribution in this district and therefore has workers under him. I think his driver is also a staff member at the company and not only a driver. He seems t work 7 days a week, but his freedom to do as he pleases seems to be greater than in the US.

After arriving in Huairou we stopped by the office and dropped the driver off. Then, continued on to the apartment. The family actually owns the apartment, as well as two others, so they are really more like condos. After dropping off my bag, which I’m now realizing contain more than I need, we went in search for house slippers for me. Along the way I was able to snatch up my favorite Chinese drink, which is really made by Coca Cola and taste like Tang, as well as a nice blister on my left foot from my flats…. sigh.

That night we went out for dinner at a local restaurant. In typical Chinese fashion they ordered far too much but it was all delicious.

In CHINA Now!!!

So I'm in Beijing! This was one of the longest days of my life but did I slept through more than half of the flight from Vancouver to Beijin. Plus the in-flight entertainment was GREAT! Allen, his father, and the the driver picked me up after I made it throught coustoms and baggage. Then, this afternoon we have been busy just doing random things like eating dinner, shopping for house slippers, going to a near by park and then visiting a lake which is actually the water which serves most of Beijing. Anyway, it is late and I'm exhausted, it is only 8pm, so i'll head to bed soon. Tomorrow I think we are going to see the Summer Palace. I think it will rain but that will be fine.

PS: the weather today was great, just on the warm side of perfect


Going to China!!!

So I leave for the airport in about 1 hour! I'm not entirely packed yet. I still have some carry-on I have to figure out but otherwise I'm doing to good. My ipod is being a pain but thats normal, right? Anyway, when I arrive I'll update this as soon as I can get to a computer with internet!



I received the Chinese Government Scholarship!!!!!

"It was established by MOEC in accordance with educational exchange agreements or understandings reached between Chinese government and governments of other countries, education organs, institutions and relevant international organizations to provide both full scholarships and partial scholarships to international students and scholars. The scheme supports students who come to study in China as undergraduates, postgraduates, Chinese language students, general scholars and senior scholars."

Details of the Full Scholarship

Exempt from registration fee, tuition fee, fee for laboratory experiment, fee for internship, fee for basic learning materials and intramural accommodation

Living allowance and a one-off settlement subsidy

Fee for outpatient medical service, Comprehensive Medical Insurance and Benefit Plan for International Students in China

Fee for a one-off inter-city travel

Fee for basic learning materials covers the necessary learning materials prescribed by the host institution, and other materials shall be self afforded.

Monthly living allowance is paid to the students by the host institution at the following rates (CNY yuan per month): Chinese language students: CNY 1400 yuan

Scholarship students shall get their monthly living allowance from the date of registration. Those who register before 15th (15th included) of the registration month will get the living allowance of a full month, and those who register after 15th will get that of a half month. Scholarship of the graduates will be paid half month after their graduation date. Scholarship of those who suspend or quit their studies will be stopped from the following month. Monthly living allowance will be paid during Chinese national holidays. Scholarship students who do not get the monthly living allowance during holidays can get reimbursed on return. Monthly living allowance of the scholarship students who do not register on time or stay away from university up to one month because of non-health reasons will be stopped.

Scholarship students who have to suspend their education for reason of illness should return to their home country for further treatment and rest. The international travel expenses of return and coming back should be shouldered by the students themselves, the scholarship status will be reserved for at most one year, the monthly living allowance will be stopped during the suspension of education and the scholarship of the students who suspend their education for reasons other than illness will be terminated.

A one-off settlement subsidy after registration
CNY 1500 yuan for new students whose period of studies in China lasts one academic year or more

Fee for outpatient medical service refers to the outpatient expense generated in the institution’s hospital or the hospitals appointed by the institution. The students should afford a certain percentage of expense in accordance with the institution’s relevant regulations.

Comprehensive Medical Insurance and Benefit Plan for International Students in China is insured by MOEC for the scholarship students in China against diseases and accidents. The institution is entitled to ask for compensation on the payment receipts from the insurance company for the expenses generated from hospitalizing for serious diseases or from accidental injury according to the stipulated insurance articles.


How to Help with Sichuan Earthquake Relief...

An email written by University of Washington Professor of Anthropology and the Director of UWWW Sichuan Exchange, Steve Harrell. UWWW Sichuan Exchange is the program I am a part of.

Dear Friends:

As the massive earthquake fades from the US media, the needs of the survivors continue. We are proud that a team from the University of Washington, including the students and site manager of our Sichuan Exchange program, the people at the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students, and the UW Combined Fund Drive, have united to find a way that the UW and other university communities can make a difference in the massive relief effort now going on and the even more massive reconstruction effort that will have to begin soon.

People and organizations in Sichuan need money and supplies. We have arranged with the Combined Fund Drive and FIUTS to be able to transmit money quickly to our people on the ground in Chengdu, who will in turn provide money and supplies to local branches of large international organizations who cannot necessarily get funds quickly from their own central offices (such as a joint project of Conservation International and Oxfam) and to purchase supplies for local Chinese organizations that cannot receive foreign funds directly, such as the Chengdu Urban Rivers Network, which is working in the devastated city of Dujiangyan, as well as student organizations at Sichuan University.

You can contribute now through CEA or with FIUTS, where you will find a fuller description of what we are doing as well as a way to contribute on-line. You can also contribute in other ways specified on the websites.

Tonight at 8:30pm, the Chinese Student Association and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association will be holding a candlelight vigil in the Quad on the University of Washington Seattle campus. They will take donations on site.

Finally, on Thursday at 7:00pm in Kane Hall 220, there will be a panel about the earthquake, co-sponsored by the Jackson School of International Studies, the China Studies Program, and the Northwest Seismic Network. It will include descriptions of what it was like by people who were there and are now here, an analysis of the geology, and more about our relief efforts.

Thank you very much for considering us.

Stevan Harrell
Department of Anthropology
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

UW students in Chengdu start earthquake relief organization...

Article from the University f Washington Daily:

UW students in China start earthquake relief organization

By Halley Griffin
May 20, 2008

Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Morgan

A small group of University of Washington undergraduates studying at Sichuan University are in the process of founding their own organization to help earthquake victims in Sichuan province, China. The organization, which they plan to register as a nonprofit, is called China Earthquake Aid (CEA).

The students want to provide immediate disaster relief and aid in rural reconstruction, said Stevan Harrell, a professor of anthropology at the UW and the program director of the UW Worldwide Sichuan University Exchange.

The effort has been spearheaded by Steve Margitan, a junior international studies major, Geoffrey Morgan, a third-year student in civil and environmental engineering and international studies, and David Johnsrud, a junior geography major, Harrell said. The involvement of two other students in the organization remains unclear.

Ten UW students were studying at Sichuan University in Chengdu, a city approximately 55 miles from the epicenter of last Monday’s quake. The students are all safe, secure and doing well, said Cameron Frisch, the interim director of the UW’s International Programs and Exchanges.

UW officials decided last Tuesday to give the students the option to evacuate while still receiving full credit for the academic year, Frisch said.

“It’s important to stress that remaining was voluntary,” Harrell said. “This was a courageous thing for them to do because the UW was very willing to facilitate leaving.”

Five students did evacuate and are expected to return to Chengdu within two weeks after staying in Shanghai, Harrell said.

Margitan and Morgan were studying in Starbucks with another student when the earthquake hit, Margitan wrote in an e-mail Saturday.

“On my way home was when I started to see the true extent of the damage and what had really happened,” Morgan wrote to family and friends shortly after the quake.

“Everywhere I went people were milling about the streets afraid to go back into their buildings, crying out to try and find friends and loved ones, cursing their cell phones for not being able to call anyone.”

The goal of CEA is to act as a middleman between potential donors and domestic non-governmental organizations, Johnsrud wrote in his blog. Donations will be made through a Web site, and CEA will purchase supplies based on requests from domestic groups.

Getting direct foreign financial aid to China can be complicated, Harrell said, so CEA will be able to donate material aid to organizations already working in China.

The donation Web site, chinaearthquakeaid.org, was expected to be up and running by 5 p.m. yesterday, Harrell said. As of press time, the Web site is not yet live. The UW Combined Fund Drive will also accept donations designated to CEA through checks or payroll deductions.

Money donated through the fund drive will not be released until July, but Harrell said there will still be a lot to do in July.

The students plan to contact other universities in Washington state to get them involved with the project. They are also working with Joe Parker, an engineer and grad student at Portland State University, to involve Oregon universities.

Meanwhile, the UW students in Chengdu have resumed their regular studies in addition to working on earthquake relief. They are working with Eddie Schmitt, a UW site manager who has lived in Chengdu for three years.

Chengdu was not affected in the same way as many other communities in Sichuan province, Frisch said.

“I think that actually this is a fantastic learning experience,” he said. “Obviously it’s under difficult circumstances, but they’ve really been inspired to start this relief effort.”


学生四川大学说 - Current UW-SU Students say...

This comes from a current University of Washington student studying in Chengdu. This is only a section of his email but I think it might help explain to you what life in Chengdu is like right now. Also, I have no reason to believe that my trip will be postponed or delayed due to this crisis. However, I am certain that my stay in Chengdu will be personally effected by it.

"...Although numbers range greatly, some have said 200 people in Chengdu died. The epicenter of the quake was located fifty miles from Chengdu and much of the talk revolves around Wenquan where the number of casualties was highest. Structural damage here appears to be limited but people are still shaken up. Many people did not sleep in their homes last night—instead opting for their cars parked on the street, tents in parks, etc.

There seemed to be very few problems following the quake with communities banding together, watching one-another's kid, providing food, and most importantly emotional comfort. There was a couple riot police downtown today to ensure safety. Chengdu has had very few earthquakes in its history and for most people this was the first one they had experienced. Although the major earthquake came at about 2:30 PM yesterday, aftershocks have been rather regular continuing all through last night and we just had one as I write this a whole day later. Almost every store and restaurant is closed in the city today and it is likely school will be cancelled again tomorrow.

Thank you for expressing concern over the situation. Again, my friends and I are fine, however the extent of the damage here is great. Please extend your thoughts to those who have suffered here..."
- S. M.


四川大地震- Sichuan Quake...

As most of you now know, Sichuan experienced a magnitude 7.9 earthquake today. It reportedly killed more than 8,500 people, including as many as 5,000 people in a single county. The tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, contrary to what you might expect, Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, seems to be relatively intact and all of the current UW students studying there are reported to be fine. Instead, it appears that the peripheral cities and townships were hit the hardest. Sichuan is a growing industrial and economic power in China but it is also home to some of the more impoverished villages in China and is teaming with ethnic minorities. (China is home to 55 minority groups, non Han, who make up about 10% of the total population.) These areas have poor infrastructure, old buildings, and many homes are made of mud or clay. It is not a surprise they managed poorly.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao(温家) described the situation as a “severe disaster” and called for “calm, confidence, courage and efficient organization.” President Hu Jintao(胡)ordered an “all out” effort to aid people in the region and soldiers were dispatched for disaster relief efforts. China has not asked for international relief aid but unlike Burma, who was ripped apart by Cyclone Nargis 10 days ago, China has a chance of success.


地图我的新家 - Map of my new home

Here is a map of where I will be living for the next year: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. I will be attending Sichuan University from late August 2008 to early July 2009 - 10 months.

Distance between Beijing and Chengdu = 1518 km (943 miles)
Beijing to Chengdu by train = 24 hrs
Beijing to Chengdu by plane = 2 hrs
Hong Kong to Chengdu by train = 30 hrs
Hong Kong to Chengdu by plane = 2 1/2 hrs


一 二 三 四 五 - Numbers & time in Chinese...

So, I know that many of you cannot read the date or time on my blog. That’s fine because it is only there to look cool. In order to assist you all, I’ve provided this handy chart:

These are the numbers 1-10:
1 ______
2 ______ èr
3___ ___ sān
4___ ___
5 ___ ___wǔ
6 ___ ___liù
7 ______
8 ___ ___
9 ___ ___jiǔ
10 __ ___shí

These are the days of the week:
Sunday____星期 日
Monday ___星期 一
Tuesday___星期 二
Wednesday_星期 三
Thursday __星期 四
Friday____ 星期 五
Saturday __星期 六

The character for month is this: 月.
When this character has a number in front of it (i.e. 三月) this shows the number of the month. So, the month 三月 is March. (November and December are written as 十一月, and 十二月 respectively).

For the time of day:
下午 is pm.
上午 is am.


吃的点心 - Eating dim sum as bribery...

So now that my ticket is booked you'd think I'd be set. Ha! Unfortunately there is still so much to do to prepare for my trip and I still have more than a month of school remaining. This weekend I bought my first backpacking backpack. To say that I am a little proud would be an understatement. I was very nervous to do this without my dad, a guru in all things hiking related (at least to me), so I drug along my roommate with the promise (bribed really) that we would have dim sum before I ventured into REI.

The store was packed due the anniversary sale going on, which was one of the reasons I chose to go that weekend. Never the less, the guys in the pack department were very helpful after I explained what I planned. I tried on a few and even got to have some weight put in them. ^_^ In the end I chose the Women's REI Ridgeline 65. It is an internal frame pack that holds approximately 3,966 cubic inches. Plus, it is a totally adorable blue color! With a rain cover it should be perfect to haul my crap through Southeast Asia. I’m totally obsessing over this trip.

Now, I just need to hope that my brother saves his money so he can come... pray for me (and my trip). I’ve also asked my Dad to take me on a few short hikes this summer. Not only will it be a good way to test my bag out a little but I’m excited to spend some time with him and my step-mom before I head off for more than a year away. I’m sooo out of shape he is going to need to drag me up the hills. ^_^


A little sense of dread...

"Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is an experience of our essential loneliness; for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone." - Wendell Berry


我买了机票 - Buying my plane ticket...

I was under the misconception that the most difficult step was the first one you take - the decision to make this trip - so not true. Today I purchased my one way ticket to Beijing, China. Pushing that button to finalize my ticket was probably one of the most difficult things I've done recently. It made my decision so final and added the weight of fiscal responsibility... man I'm getting old ^_^ I have a feeling that walking alone onto an airplane for the first time is going to be even more difficult... But lets jump that hurtle when we reach it.

Tuesday 19-Aug-08
Air Canada. Flight: AC8090.
Aircraft: De Havilland Dash 8 Turboprop
Depart: Seattle-Tacoma Intl Apt at 9:00AM
Arrive: Vancouver International Apt 9:50AM

Tuesday 19-Aug-08
Air Canada. Flight: AC29.
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Depart: Vancouver International Apt at 12:30PM
Arrive: Beijing Capital Apt 20-Aug-08 at 2:50PM


On the road again...

“When you’re wandering, you bump into experiences and people. Nothing is routine. Nothing is taken for granted. Everything is standing out on its own, because everything is a possibility, everything is a clue, everything is talking to you.” – Joseph Campbell


When it is just one of those days...

An important snippet of wisdom to brighten the most dreary day;
Just smile and there is nothing you can't overcome!


His Holiness...

Visited the University of Washington; talked, joked, and laughed.


The Numbers...

3 quarters of Mandarin language

10 weeks of class preparation

4 ish draft research proposals

1 summer of anticipation

$6,000 in UW tuition

1 People’s Republic of China Visa

1 one-way economy class plane ticket

16+ hours of international flights later

Chengdu, Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China will be the new home of 14 of the University of Washington’s brightest, and perhaps most foolish, for the next 10 months. Will we triumph over the Sichuan chili pepper and successfully manage our way through China’s 5th largest city? Or will we end up in precarious and embarrassing situations? I’m betting on the later but I guess we will just have to find out.

The travel begins in August but the journey and awkwardness begin now.



Originally uploaded by Alexandra Lord
It is those beginning steps that are the hardest. You have a dream, maybe a plan but it is taking those first steps to start you on your way that are like moving through water. For a while I’ve been dreaming and hoping to be able to do more traveling. I thought it would come sooner than it did but also later than it has. I’ve had dreams, plans and ideas for years now. Always wanting but never doing. Often imagining but never creating.

Finally, I have taken that next step on life’s road. I have an inkling that it is bound to feel like getting into a cold swimming pool and tentatively walking down each step only to find that the next step is not where you thought and you slip hard and fast into the chill. It is surprising but also refreshing. Plus, after your whole body is immersed, you stop noticing how cold one part of you is and, instead, begin to focus on moving to warm up.

In less than five months I won’t be here, I’ll be there. Chengdu, Sichuan, China.