Fall Xiananigans

As the semester finally winds down, and there is little for me to do in regards to lesson planning, I am finally able to update about recent events.

Because of the demanding nature of this semester, I had little time for Xiananigans. Jason and I went downtown at least once a week for noodles, DQ, or drinks. Other than that, I was holed up in the apartment or at SIT or Village Cafe on Shida Lu (the street opposite the old campus’s main gate) working on lesson plans, grading, and editing. 
I’ve completely stagnated in terms of trips to the gym. I had joined another gym, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, was refunded my money and decided my schedule didn’t really allow me to join the old gym. Therefore, I had little time to see colleagues. I could have easily made time, but plainly stated, it seems that the XISU foreign teacher community has taken a high school clique-inspired path. I don’t want to dwell on this. 
So, I ended up embracing my work and doing the best possible job imaginable in both entertaining and engaging my students.I am going to devote a separate post to a work-related wrap-up. 
Aperture Club 
A student both informed and invited me to attend a Singles’ Day concert held at the Aperture Club. Singles’ Day began as a holiday to combat both Western Valentines’ and Chinese Valentines’ Day. Chinese college students have a group of Nanjing The Aperture Club isn’t really a club per say, or even a concert venue for that matter. It is very oddly, strategically placed inside a sound-proofed room of a photo studio in a residential area not far from the South Gate. The concert included Big D and the Kids Table, a ska-punk band from Boston. Coincidentally, after talking to a few of the band members after the concert (I was the only foreigner there), I realized that it’s quite possible I’ve seen these guys play at some local venues. One of the members was also a Jersey native. Small world! Although my days of embracing ska are long over, it was definitely nice to go to a live concert. During the opening band’s set, a local Chinese punk band who sang songs in both English and Chinese, a security guard (not to be confused with the actual police) stormed in. It seems that the surrounding residential area didn’t appreciate being kept up from their peaceful slumber. 

The opening band. 
Big D and the Kids’ Table

Movie Nights 
I hosted two movie nights in September and October. We watched Hunger Games and The Exotic Marigold Hotel. A new French teacher arrived at the beginning of this month so next semester there will be at least one French Movie Night. I’m open to recommendations. 
Linda’s visit
Linda visited Xi’an with a childhood classmate of hers named Sebastian. They visited numerous other cities and their last stop before flying to Beijing and then onwards to Germany was Xi’an. We had a chance to catch up over several meals including biangbiang noodles and peking duck. Dan and Mike happened to host a bagel party while Linda and Sebastian were here so we spent Saturday morning chowing down on bagels and shmear. Linda, Sebastian, Jason, and I went to dinner on the saturday they were here. We unsuccessfully went for drinks at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, discovering that the bars are in fact the poorest excuse for said establishment. Although the time seemed really short, it really was nice to see Linda. All photos in this vignette are courtesy of Linda.
Linda and I wandering near the City Wall. 
This man’s poor dog became the subject of most of his phone photography.  That’s a garbage can, by the way. 
Picture of the ducks before they are roasted. 
Saturday brunch. 
More of the spread from brunch. 
The brunch crowd.  
Biangbiang noodles. The bowl on the right is noodle broth.  
Tanghulu, an old Beijing snack. It consists of rowan berry or hawthorn berry as it’s often called here. The berry is then doused in sugar. A nice combination of sweetness meets tartness. 
The gang. 
I didn’t feel up to attempting to cook my way through Thanksgiving, so I organized a group of us to dine at Village Cafe. I had tried their turkey dinner my first year here, and although it’s not comparable to the amazing meal my mother puts together, it’s definitely worthy of its 90RMB price tag. The group consisted of Sara, Sandro, Huili, Jason, Michelle, her counterpart at Shida Jim, and Gail. We all pitched in and shared a bottle of wine. It turned out to be a nice meal with good company. I already posted pictures on FB. 
Michelle’s going-away party
As no one seemed to step up, I organized a going-away party for Michelle. Without Michelle, I wouldn’t be teaching in the translation school. John ended up very kindly offering his apartment up for the festivities. The Hanukkah party in fact ended up being the following night, so that ended up working out quite well. Another teacher had prepared a painting that Michelle had her eyes on, and all the guests left a little note for Michelle on the back. It was a nice evening of conversation, drinks, and of course, food. No XISU gathering is complete without a multitude of snacks. I hunkered down on more than I would like to divulge.
Hanukkah Party
This year’s Hanukkah party followed a similar trend from the previous two years: a potluck. The offerings included everything from latkes and challah to Sara’s pasta to all various kinds of snacks. In addition to XISU foreign teachers, I invited Huili, her niece Tangshan (I had been tutoring her for TOEFL and editing her essays), and two of my news writing students Jane and Irina (we’ve been having lunch on Fridays). I played Pandora’s Hanukkah station to elicit the proper ambience. Unfortunately, there was no dreidel playing, but earlier in the evening, prior to the arrival of guests, I set up a mock-Menorah, using tea candles. I had a really nice time playing hostess. I have to give a big shout out to my mother (and father) for setting a proper example. I was also rather grateful for Jason’s assistance. He and I took turns preparing latkes. The challah (Mom’s recipe) was all me (I’ve made it on several occasions in addition to baguette). I had prepared homemade applesauce weeks before, using apples from Jason’s home. I still have various leftover snacks…
Guests enjoying the dinner offerings. That’s Adrian, the new Frech teacher in front. 
Meg, Tania, & Michelle. 
Candid Marissa moment. 
One of my students Jane conversing with new Dan or CNN Dan. He’s the Fulbright scholar. 
Sandro & Sara. 
Some snacks. The bowl just behind the cups is filled with my attempt at making Maple Roasted Chickpeas. I had purchased canned chickpeas at Metro and stumbled upon a recipe that created a unique snack. 
Apricot kernels. You’ll find almonds inside. They have a bit of a peculiar taste. 
Pasta, apple bake, latkes, deviled eggs, applesauce, and a Portuguese hummus-like dish. 
Sandy, Suzanne, & Rosemary. 
One of the four challahs I baked. The best of the bunch!
Sunday outings
Jason’s only day off is Sunday. Therefore, we’ve started to make a tradition of doing grocery shopping early in the day, brunch (either I cook or we go out), shopping, or walking around downtown. I’ve promised him that next semester we will make a habit of going out on a photo safari of sorts so that he has more opportunities to use his camera and I have more topics to cover in the blog. A win-win. This past Sunday, we enjoyed brunch at SIT. I tried their newest offering: waffles. The Sunday prior we ventured to Vivo Mall, which houses both an H&M and Decathlon (a French sporting goods store meets North Face). We went there over the summer, prior to traveling to Thailand & Laos. I didn’t have any luck this time, so I’ll be doing a little bit of shopping when I come home. Most weekday evenings we binge on How I Met Your Mother (we’ve since finished all seven seasons) or a film.  

My Hanukkah present from Jason. The earrings have CZs surrounded by an open heart with a silver heart on top. 
Walking downtown adjacent to the City Wall. 
At Gelin, a new bar and restaurant downtown.  
Baked salmon with a potato hash. Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce. 
My first attempt at poached eggs.

Not a Sunday outing, but an outing nonetheless. Jason, using a Groupon-like site, discovered a Western cafe not far from the old campus. It included a set meal for two. While waiting for our food to arrive, I scoured the book shelves and stumbled upon this gem. I don’t know if Danielle even looks at this blog, but this picture is for her. The Chinese says “How the FBI taught me to read people.”

Christmas Dinner

The BYU teachers had recently discovered a reasonably priced Western restaurant near Xiaozhai. 50RMB for a T-bone steak. They invited everyone to join them for a Christmas dinner of sorts on the 17th. The group consisted of the BYU teachers, both Dans, Sara, Sandro, Jason, and myself. To be honest, the steak wasn’t really good. I thought the one time I had a Village Cafe steak was much better. Additionally, when my employer at Green Molly treated me to a meal there, the filet I had as exceptional, nearly as good as Mignon, a steakhouse we used to haunt. The evening ended with eating tanghulu, and the company itself was also nice. We discussed the recent events in Connecticut and our student’s reaction in addition to a paralleled event that happened in China on the same day. 

Christmas decorations are everywhere in Xi’an. 
Santa’s elves. Nightly exercises from KTV employees. You will se this every day whether you pass a restaurant, convenience store etc. 

Jewish Christmas
I held my last news writing classes in the morning, reminding my students that they could wish me happy holidays, as I don’t celebrate Christmas. The reaction I normally get is “Why?” They seem to think America is as homogenous as China. Luckily, I’ll be correcting that notion next term in my Intercultural Communication class. The remainder of my day consisted of waiting on Jason so that we could go enjoy a meal of Peking duck. I discovered a new place on my way to my Green Molly job. I am quite pleased with the fact that I can read the restaurant’s name in its entirety and adequately translate it to English. It ended up being a better Peking duck restaurant than the one near the Pagoda. After dinner, we took a leisurely stroll back to campus. The night ended with watching the first half of Vicky Christina Barcelona. 

Jewish Christmas fruit plate.

I sometimes have to sit through watching basketball games because of Jason’s love of the sport. The game ended and the announcers were doing their wrap-up when suddenly this absurd hologram appeared. It’s Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets wearing a Santa hat. The Chinese people’s obsession with Jeremy Lin is unfounded. 

Peking duck, eggplant, and sliced potato.  
Jason and I. This picture was the best of the bunch. The waitresses seemed to have no idea how to take a picture. 
New Year’s Reception 
Last night, I attended the annual reception the Foreign Affairs Department holds for all international faculty. Due to the very deep factions that now exist, I was torn about going to this. Jason reminded me that I should. I ended up sitting with all the BYU teachers, chowing down on a nice array of dishes. My former supervisor and current supervisor, coincidentally whose English names are both Jonathan, were both present. I had a nice time catching up with former Jonathan. I always felt a nice sense of camaraderie in the Tourism department. I don’t feel that same sense in the school of translation this year. Perhaps it’s the days I work or that the department is very segregated. Regardless, the evening was nice and included various performances by international faculty. The Cuban teachers performed a Christmas/ New Year’s dance; the Japanese teachers performed a New Year’s children’s song complete with an erhu accompaniment, and a few of the BYU teachers performed two holiday carols.

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