Made it safely to Jinan after 2 days of travel…check

Set-up blog…check

Started teaching English through our TEFL training…check

Gmail allowed, Facebook blocked…check

Learned how to pronounce Mandarin tones…uh-oh

David and I are calling ourselves the “tone deaf travelers,” because we have a long way to go in understanding the tones of the Mandarin language, as well as many other cultural nuances.  For example, did you know that it’s perfectly normal for young children to relieve themselves on the street here?  In fact, many of their pants have openings in the back just for this purpose.  Saves a few bucks on diapers, right?!

We are staying in a nice hotel here for $25/night including breakfast, and have found that while imported goods are about the same price as in the US (Nike, Clean & Clear, many electronics), food in restaurants is really cheap.  6 of us had a really elaborate dinner for about $20.  Also, no matter how good the service, they are embarrassed/offended if you try to leave a tip.   Our days have mostly consisted of waking up before the alarm due to jet-lag, eating breakfast, walking 20 minutes to Aston English school, spending all day learning about teaching a foreign language and teaching class, going out to dinner with our group of 5, and crashing into bed.  (We are 13 hours ahead, by the way.)  Although the TEFL class has been overall pretty boring, we have picked up some good tips from the the classroom critiques and have really loved meeting all the funny kids.  The one exception to this exciting ritual was Saturday, when we got a day off, and headed out into the city.  The pictures tell the best story, so take a look.

Next up we will be traveling to Tangshan and studying a lot more Chinese!  We have started to pick up on some of the pinyin (romanized Chinese characters, suitable for modern computers) but have little to no idea how to read characters or pronounce tones.  It is amazing how well we have been able to get around using miming and our very pleasant “Nihao” (hello) and “Xiexie” (thank you.)  We have found the Chinese in Jinan to be VERY helpful and friendly, and they love to say Hello in English.

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