Sunday, June 29, 2014


"Living in the pollution will make you question how so many can live like this, to have days where you can't see the sun because of the smog."

"Experience the pushing, the cutting in lines, the yelling, the honking, the gawking, the thumping in your heart as you play Frogger with your life every time you cross the street. You'll learn patience."

"If you're a foreigner who doesn't look Chinese, experience the fangirl club of being stopped so often to have a picture taken with you that you might be in the cellphones of hundreds of giddy Chinese girls." 

"Exhibit your strength as you fend off men who think they can do or say whatever they want to you; hold your ground when you get passed over for your male counterpart."

"Embrace the nation with two arms, and laugh it off when you get bogged down by so many frustrations that you just want to scream at the nation. Because you will."

"Observe the juxtaposition of towering skyscrapers next to dilapidated apartment complexes, of streets lined with luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton and Fendi when right around the corner are shacks and stands of cheap Chinese goods." 


A friend of mine posted THIS article entitled "Everyone Should Live in China at Least Once" from the Thought Catalogue website. It does a better job than I ever could at explaining the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations that come with living in China. I found myself reading it and nodding and saying "Yes!" and "Exactly!" numerous times. All of the quotes I noted above are from the article. They are only a select couple from a pool of genius that is this article. If I could, I'd just rewrite the whole thing here on my blog for you. But I think you should check it out and get an idea of my day to day life here in Beijing. 

Again, if you didn't get the first link I posted, here is is again. CLICK HERE!

PS - 9 days!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Being Canadian.

In honour of it being TWO WEEKS UNTIL I'M HOME, I thought I'd post a little something that reminds me of why I love where I am from, why I love my home, and why I love being Canadian...

I was browsing around on Buzzfeed yesterday, when I stumbled on a post about the new Canadian beer fridge. Something as simple as a fridge full of Molson Canadian cold ones can bring out the pride and "happy-go-luckiness" of true Canadians - the people of the north. I love this. 

Stay Golden, Canada. See you in 13 days! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Shanghai Memories.

In early May, Amanda and I went to Shanghai for a long weekend. And it was a wonderful weekend getaway with a wonderful friend!

Shanghai is a fantastic city. Clean, scenic, peaceful, and shiny. There were even times when Amanda and I were walking around an area called the French Concession where we stopped and looked at each other and were both thinking the same thing - it sorta felt like we were walking around the streets of Fredericton, or some other Canadian city. Which is a scarce feeling when you are living in China...

We played the role of tourists while we were in Shanghai. We explored the Bund, the French Concession, the Pearl Tower, the Aquarium, Yu Garden, People's Square, and ate some delicious food. We have both agreed that we would love to come back to Shanghai and spend more time relaxing, taking in the Bund (which is the walk along the river that splits two major sides of Shanghai - see second to last picture), and just BEING IN Shanghai. You know what I mean? 

We even had a chance to meet up with some old university friends while we were in Shanghai. My friends Mallory and Andrea, who I went to University with for 5 years, work in another city in China. They were traveling to Shanghai that weekend as well with some of their friends (who also happened to go to STU at the same time) for Mallory's birthday. We ended up getting together for a couple of meals and went to this AMAZING bar called "The Boulevard." Unique, classy, and a perfect throwback to the 20s. 

While Amanda and I had a blast doing things, seeing things, and experiencing things, some of my favourite memories from this trip was just from the little things: 

* laughing about little China-isms

* running and making the train with only 4 minutes to spare

* squealing about the "Love Letters of Great Men" book in a Tiffany's store ("They have ALL OF THE SEX AND THE CITY THINGS!")

*  having pearl tea for the first time

* eating watermelon while people watching in People's Park

* also eating some great Thai food - twice

* and eating some great burgers at wonderful western pubs

* and drinking original brewed beer

* holding up a map at an intersection that made us look like a-typical tourists

* singing songs while in line to go up the Pearl Tower and being laughed at and not caring (but at the same time, we made a new friend who was slightly rude about my figure...)

* attempting to help a lost child, but doing a better job at yelling at the Security Guards for not doing their job (actually...that was mostly Amanda...I just kept following the crying little boy around hoping we'd stumble upon his parents...which we did...eventually). 

* laughing off the poor customer service when all we wanted was an extra towel. ONE EXTRA TOWEL.

The little things...

PS - 17 days!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Melissa, The Runner: Take Two.

I've started running again. While it was tough to get back in to the routine, I'm happy with my decision. (I feel like I'm also obligated to tell you that, less than a month in to the routine, and I've already broken it - but let's not harp on my imperfections). Before I carry on though, I need to thank Erin. She is the biggest reason why I started running again. She wanted to start to be healthier and exercise more, and she told me that she started this 5k trainer app. In 8 weeks, it prepares you to run a 5k through interval training. I looked in to it, read some reviews, and decided to join the bandwagon.

A little background. It was just over a year ago when I decided to become a runner for the first time (see here and here). I had joined Weight Watchers and was having success and wanted to start incorporating some form of exercise. I have lots of friends who are runners, so I thought I'd give it a try. And I LOVED it. Being outdoors, listening to music, and trying to beat my times and distances with each run (I'm extremely competitive...even with myself). However, since moving to Beijing, my running days have become few and far between. I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses (I know...I am), but the air quality here sucks! It's hard enough to breath somedays just walking from my apartment to my classroom, let alone trying to run 5k. And we don't have a decent gym. And the first 5 months of living here we didn't have a treadmill that worked. running options were scarce. And honestly, it just became easier to give up than to find alternatives. Lazy, I know. 

So, thank you Erin for sparking my interest and getting me motivated again. She's the one who made me the sign above. "It may not be easy. It won't always be fun. But it'll always be worth it. So get out there and RUN." Truer words have never been spoken. Oh! I should also mention that I'm running three times a week at 6:20am before work. Me. First thing in the morning. Running. Those of you who know me know how big of a deal this is. Truly. 

So I'm running. For a couple of reasons: to lose some weight, to "tighten things up" if you will, to be active, to kickstart my energy levels, and to be healthier. So far I'm on week three and running at 3 minute intervals. Next week we jump to 5 minutes. And by the end of July I should be back to running 5k's. 

Here's to health, happiness, and achieving goals! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One Dumpling, Two Dumpling, Three Dumpling, Four.

I am on my way to becoming a dumpling master. On May 24th, Christina, Brittany, and I joined a class at Hutong Cuisine to try our hand at dumpling making. 

I love cooking. LOVE. For some people I know it's a stressful, anxiety-inducing activity. For me, it's calming, fun, and is when I am most creative and free. I knew that before coming home this summer, I wanted to learn how to make something very traditional Chinese. Dumplings seemed like the perfect choice. Who doesn't like dumplings?!

I learned a lot about Chinese flavours and gained some useful cooking tips during this class. Before we began cooking, we took a tour of a local market and learned how to pick out the best wines, soy sauces, vinegars, produce, and spices. It was great getting these tips as much of the ingredients we want to buy on a day to day basis at a Chinese supermarket are all written in Chinese. Our guide gave us tips for what symbols to look for, numbers, and colours of labels for the "good brands" of all the ingredients we needed for dumplings and other Chinese cuisine.

Then came the cooking. We kneeded, mixed, chopped, diced, and stirred all morning preparing several different types of dumplings (beef, pork, and vegetable). We learned how to properly make dumpling dough, which was the part I was most nervous for. I'm not a baker (unless it comes out of a box). Measuring and having to be precise isn't my forte when it comes to cooking. I was worried the dough would be easily messed up. Contrary to my belief, it was really quite simple.

We learned how to steam, boil, and fry the dumplings. I think I preferred the steamed ones the most. The dough got chewy while the insides stayed moist and juicy. I've also learned that I prefer dipping my dumplings in a mixture of Chinese vinegar and soy sauce, rather than just the soy sauce like I had been brought up eating.

A couple of days after the class, Britt and I tried our hand at making the dumplings with only the recipes we were provided and the knowledge that we gained from the class. I think we were successful - minus the mess I made of the flour all over my clothes, the table, and the floor. Mom will be happy to know that my cleanliness during cooking remains as it was before leaving Canada.

So now I have dumplings to add to my recipe book along with all the other food I've learned to make this year, including delicious Southeast Asian cuisine I make on a regular basis now. Be prepared, family and friends to be my guinea pigs this summer!

PS - 34 days!