Adjusting to Your Surroundings and PANDAS!

It’s quite an experience teaching Chinese children and adults how to speak English. Nobody said it would be easy, and we’re still adjusting to our new surroundings. Everything’s much different here, right down to the basics. For example, the food. Everything’s sooo spicy, not at all like Chinese food back home! Kali likes things a little spicy, but I’m still getting used to it. I don’t always know what I’m eating either. One morning, Lou got us breakfast, and I don’t know what it was, but it was a little white ball, and the inside tasted like coffee.

They definitely keep us busy! On Tuesdays we teach the Y staff whatever they want to learn. First, we covered food, then Halloween and holidays, and next we are teaching them music. Later that night, we lead something called “English Corner.” Anyone can come to this, and we talk with them in English the entire time. Last time, we talked about our favorite artist and song, which took up the entire class because some of us sang ours. Kali sang “Cups,” by Anna Kendrick, and Kali, Joan, and I sang “I Kissed A Girl,” by Katie Perry. I was so nervous, but it was a lot better singing with others than by myself! We teach a lot of other classes as well, for ages ranging from older people, to really young kids. We also work at an orphanage for some of the time, where we help kids with their homework.

It’s definitely not all work, though. (And the work’s not even that bad; some of our best experiences so far have been seeing how happy the children and adults are when we talk with them). We got to see pandas at the Research Center! We saw baby ones, and a lot of bigger ones, and another animal that they called the red panda, which is like the regular panda in that it’s also completely adorable, except smaller and, well, red. Kali and I took tons of pictures with our phones and our cameras.

Two baby pandas

What’s cuter than a regular panda? BABY PANDAS!

We feel a bit like celebrities here. After many of our classes, the children will hang around and ask us questions and ask us to sign autographs. It’s really fun, and made us feel really good about ourselves. The teachers took a lot of pictures of us with the children. Every once in a while, Kali and I see little children, and their parents make them come up to us and talk to us, and they’re literally amazed. We also get adults every once in a while who say hello while we are on the bus, or walking by them. It’s definitely a strange feeling, and it can be kind of hectic, but it’s nice at the same time.

Meeting people here has been great. Everyone tries hard to speak English with us, and the parents are thrilled whenever their kids are able to speak with us. The hardest part about all of this for me is homesickness. It is hard having just Kali here to talk to, but on the other hand I’m happy that I’m not entirely alone and that I have her. Most of all I miss my boyfriend. Still, I’m incredibly grateful that Kali’s here and that I still have that connection to home.

Well, that’s it for this post. Enjoy this final picture of a cuddly panda, and I’ll check up with you all again soon!

A panda lies on its back at the Giant Panda Research Center

A panda, being adorable (as if it could be anything else).

About the author

Kirstie Baldwin

I've always wanted to travel, meet new people, and see new things. My goal in life is to travel the world and become a math professor, because teaching and helping people is what I love to do. I am so excited for this internship in China, and I can't wait to experience everything I can once I get there. Yes, I'll be leaving the ones I love, but I will also be experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When I'm not traveling the world, I love to play volleyball and softball. Other things about me: I'm living with my boyfriend, whom I've been with for over three years. My family and friends mean the world to me, and without them I wouldn't be where I am today.