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 Wuxi in a Visitor's Eyes - Alicia's Story . . .

 
In August of 2000, 45 students from mostly Brigham Young University or Utah Valley State College left on a plane to live and teach English for one semester in a small city called Wuxi.  Personally for me it had been the first time I had ever left the United States and I was extremely excited and nervous at the same time.  We left the Salt Lake International Airport around 7 or 8 in the morning of August 19, 2000 and flew for about 13 hours to the other side of the world, China. We arrived in Shanghai sometime around 8:30 to 9:00 p.m.  Finally we got all of our stuff and got on a bus that took around three hours to get to Wuxi.  We were staying at the school, Wuxi Guanghua, in a building dedicated to us foreign teachers.  They were a series of apartments with two to six persons in each one.  We got to the school around midnight and starting getting situated into rooms.  For the next week the school was so kind and took us around to different cities located near us.  This first week was a little hard to get use to the food, the smells, the people, and not too mention the major jet lag.  After that week of traveling we started teaching.  I taught 3-6 year old children who came from wealthier families and lived at the school seeing there parents only every other week for a few days.  We taught from 7 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and when we finished we would go explore Wuxi. 
It took us about fifteen minutes to walk to the bus stop and then about another thirty minutes to drive to the city.  Drivers in Wuxi are pretty crazy, weaving in and out of traffic, stopping rarely for pedestrians, and its not only bus drivers it is everyone, including the taxi driver.  If you get into a taxi you better know how to say the destination right or a lot of the times we would have someone write it in Chinese on a piece of paper for us.  Wuxi is a very small city in China and the people there do not see a lot of Americans and it was kind of overwhelming at first when walking down the street and people would stop whatever they were doing and stare at you, sometimes point, a lot of people want to take pictures with you (especially if you are blond,) we even had some kids ask us to sign our names in a book.
On our way to the bus stop every day we would pass this property where this couple was always taking care of their crops.
While trying to get use the smells you also have to get use to the food, this was a major issue for me.  In Wuxi they eat a lot of seafood especially because Taihu lake is the major lake there.  The lake is filled with fisher men and tons of fishing nets all over, the school we lived at was around ten to fifteen minutes away from us if walking.  We had a cook at the school who had probably one of the hardest jobs, serving us picky Americans food!  He tried to make the food somewhat western but it never really turned out that way.  We ate rice with every meal, and for breakfast it usually was either rice mixed with water, instant nutritious which is a really sugary warm serial, steamed rolls, and some kind of fruit.  After a little while of being there they gave us milk but they rarely drink milk so we didn't get it too often, and some of us definitely suffered from it.  For lunch and dinner we ate rice, maybe fried chicken, eel, some sort of fish, bird, and vegetables soaked in grease, once in awhile noodles, and maybe some tofu.  The meals usually seem the same, but we tended to eat out a lot.  There are a ton of KFC's all over and there is one McDonalds that I am aware of, they also had just built a Pizza Hut when we were there.  The food tastes just a little different but is cheaper then in the U.S.  Beware, if you are staying in China for more than a few weeks you will gain weight.  They use a lot of oil there and I personally gained weight, but came home and lost it pretty fast, so its nothing to really worry about, but just know that it happens.  Buying food on the streets is not always a good idea but it never hurt us, just be careful of what you are buying.
Never drink the water!!!  That's pretty common sense but the water there is not clean and can make you extremely sick so I personally would stay away from it.  Also when you buy bottled water on the streets be careful that the bottle is sealed, sometimes people collect old bottles and fill it up with the tap water. The safest thing to drink is soda.
Wuxi is a beautiful city, there are so many things to see.  Turtle Head Island is one of the most incredible things I saw.  We took a boat over to the island and it is so green and so much history there.  There are temples to see, markets to visit, and also the "Big Buddha".  Big Buddha is this huge statue of Buddha in the mountains, there are shops all around.  This is a really famous site there and it is incredible.  There are also many parks to visit and there is a river that goes through the city.  Around October there was the lantern festival and they had a carnival going on for a few weeks.  It was beautiful with all the lights, the rides were fun but not really too impressive, it was just a small thing.  There is also a place where they make movies that we were able to go visit.  It is this huge set of statues and hills where some famous movies were made.  They also have a place there where you can get dressed up in these beautiful dresses or warrior suits. 
Wuxi is a beautiful city, there are so many things to see.  Turtle Head Island is one of the most incredible things I saw.  We took a boat over to the island and it is so green and so much history there.  There are temples to see, markets to visit, and also the "Big Buddha".  Big Buddha is this huge statue of Buddha in the mountains, there are shops all around.  This is a really famous site there and it is incredible.  There are also many parks to visit and there is a river that goes through the city.  Around October there was the lantern festival and they had a carnival going on for a few weeks.  It was beautiful with all the lights, the rides were fun but not really too impressive, it was just a small thing.  There is also a place where they make movies that we were able to go visit.  It is this huge set of statues and hills where some famous movies were made.  They also have a place there where you can get dressed up in these beautiful dresses or warrior suits. 


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