Nanchang Chronicles—Day 1

post date: February 18, 2008
As I write this note, it is early Tuesday morning in Nanchang, China. Marlene looked outside and said, "It’s a beautiful, gray day," and indeed it is.

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When we arrived in Nanchang (a few hours southwest of Shanghai), we were taken to our apartment on the campus of Blue Sky University where Josh and Leah serve as team leaders for a group of English teachers. Nanchang is not a major Chinese city–not like Beijing or Shanghai. Even so, it has a population of 3 million people. You may have read about the deadly snowstorms that hit central China recently. Nanchang got a ton of snow. Fortunately it happened while the students and teachers were on holiday break. The weather right now is typical for February–overcast skies, gray days, a lot of haze, with temps in the 40s. Chilly but not cold like Beijing, which is further north. The students have been on break for Chinese New Year. They will start trickling back to the campus this week in preparation for classes that start next Monday.

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Like any large campus (Blue Sky University has 50,000 students), the surrounding area has a lot of small shops and stalls that cater to the student population. Many of those shop closed for the last few weeks. Last night we ventured down an alley where we found some merchants selling a variety of dried foods. Josh bought some sweet potato chips and something he called "Chinese popcorn," which tasted like caramel corn to me. We walked down a dark alley in search of a favorite hole-in-the-wall eatery. Was it open yet? Yes! So we ventured inside and had a wonderful four-course meal. Total cost: $4. Not $4 per person but $4 total.

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We finished the evening at Josh and Leah’s apartment. It’s surprisingly large and Leah has done a wonderful job of decorating. They have a TV but use it only to watch DVDs. We sat around last night laughing and telling stories, but finally I pooped out and had to go to bed. It was 9:30 PM but with all the travel and time change (China is 14 hours ahead of Chicago so when it’s 3 PM in Chicago, it’s 5 AM the next day in China.), we were beat.
On Tuesday I think we’re going to do some exploring of Nanchang. Our week in China is off to a great start.

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