Monday, November 14, 2011

Open Mic at school

We (Ronnie and I) brought Jet (the doggie) to the camp for a retreat tonight. It was actually at someone's house but it was very unique. The family had a very big yard and pound so the dogs could run around freely. A lot of people sent their dogs there for this family to take care of on the weekends or during holidays when they had to go away for vacations or emergencies. We took Jet to the barn where there was a big living room and a number of individual bedrooms for each dog.

Hi Everybody :)

Snack bar: skittles, pretzels, etc.

The commons.

Then we headed to the school, which was a nearly an hour and half away. We arrived right on time. There were mostly high school students, a few eighth graders and about 12 parents. The Open Mic was held in the commons which is the dinning room. There was free pizza and snacks provided. 

It was basically the same style as the Coffee House we had at Maumee Valley. However, Open Mic was more about the band, or all about bands, accurately. The songs they played included Rock (heavy medal), Blues, country,folk, etc. I was amazed by how talented the kids were. One of the most impressive things was that nearly all students that performed could play more than 2 instruments. During the free play period, kids just walked on to the stage and picked up whatever was available and played along. It was truly amazing to watch!

Highlight of the day

I got off work. I was hungry and thirsty and totally ready to try at more restaurants. Then I realized I left my wallet home, which was half an hour away. Both of my host parents were at work. Desperately, I went through my backpack and all my pockets knowing that there was only 0.1% of the chance that I could find any money. When I reached my pocket on the back of my jeans, I found 11 dollars and 29 cents. This probably wouldn’t allow me to go to any fancy restaurants (because I had to save $6 to buy the tri-fold), but it completely lit up my day. I randomly started laughing on the street and people were all looking at me like I was crazy. I even generously gave 1 dollar to the beggar.

Sometimes, it’s really those little things that make us happy :)

It's Friday! It's Veteran's day!

So today I went to work as usual. However, I left the restaurant in just half an hour because it was insanely busy. It’s Veteran’s day today! There was an assembly at the park that I saw on my way to work. A lot of policemen were on the streets to keep everything in order because there were several little parades going on. Anyways, this holiday is actually a pretty big deal for this town. That’s why the restaurant got filled up within just 10 minutes after its opening. Since I was not qualified to take order or serve the food, I was just getting into everybody’s way. Ali apologized multiple times for asking me to leave. However, that’s actually very understandable.

the band in the park. They looked like they could be college students.

A guest speaker was giving speech. 

My plan for the rest of the day is: explore more restaurants, work on my Fall Exhibition project, meet Ronnie at an art supply store (because I need to buy a tri-fold) and go to the Open Mic at the Academy at Charlemont for the night. Sounds fun, right?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All about food

Yesterday, when I was at the Local Burgers I saw a Japanese restaurant across the street. So I decided to have my lunch there today. It was a small but cozy restaurant. There were two floors: the upper floor had regular tables and the lower floor had a sushi bar and since I was by myself I took a seat at the bar. 

Sushi bar

The have a huge collection on chopsticks. 

They have the steepest stairs I've ever seen.

The second floor.

This was possibly the most amazing Japanese restaurant I've ever been to here in the United States: it had hundreds of different choices for sushi and noodles and tea as well. It was kind of expensive so I only ordered one dish: Dragon Roll.

I got another frozen yogurt today! As a promised. 

It was so tasty! There're no words in the world can describe how delicious they were. 

After I finished my lunch there, I started to head home. It was raining a little at that time. When I walked pass by Urban Outfitter, one of my favorite stores, I went in to check out their sale and I was actually hoping the rain would stop in a little while. 

I took this one couple days ago so that's why it looks sunny.
But, isn't it gorgeous? When I didn't notice the 'urban outfitter' on the top, I almost thought it was an museum or church. 

So I bought some socks and tights. I was actually looking for some dresses that I can wear for this weekend but the ones I liked were all over $100 which I couldn't really afford. (Poor Kalina...)
*We're going away for a big birthday party for Arcadia's cousin this weekend but I didn't bring enough formal dresses with me.

Unfortunately, when I finshed shopping, it rained even harder. So I literally walked in the pouring rain for half an hour to get home. Imagine yourself taking a shower with your clothes on, that's what I looked like after I got home.

Fake it till you Make it

This was the very first thing they taught me at P&E's in order to become a good server or manager. I strongly opposed it at first, however, I found it very practical gradually. I don't have a story about it but just thought I'd like to share it with all of you. (Beth you must have a deep understanding of this, don't you? Haha)

A brief summary of my work today:
I bought a card and a little gift (a large bag of M&M's) for Ali. She was so surprised and happy when I handed them to her. She gave me big hug and said that was very sweet of me. I have to admit, she's one of the most mature and successful young ladies I've ever met. 

We had a new server today, she was still being trained and observed so obviously she wanted to impress everybody in the restaurant especially Ali. However, one of the rules of thumb I learnt so far was that never try to do things that you're not told to do or you're not 100 per cent sure about. So this girl arrived at the restaurant early and tried to do some preparation works that she hadn't been trained to do yet. She put a container full with water on the top of the shelf (at the entrance) where we usually put napkins and straws on. As soon as she left, the container fell off and the water was spilled everywhere. It was 5 minutes till the restaurant open and entrance was in a major disaster. Luckily, we cleaned everything up right before opening time. The floor was still a little slippery and I still constantly found random ice cubes around the front desk. The girl was definitely scared, but fortunately, everybody was being very nice and went to comfort her. That's one of the best things I like about this restaurant: the relationships among all workers. They were the nicest co-workers that anybody could ever ask for. 

So today was less busy than yesterday but it still got full before 12. I talked to Paul today. He's the founder of the restaurant,a very nice and funny gentleman. He came in to check on the restaurant every morning before it's open. I don't have a picture of him but I got one from the restaurant's website. 

General Manager Nate Sustick (center) 
and his parents, Paul and Elizabeth Sustick

I forgot to introduce Nate. He is the general manager as well as the head chef. I saw Nate almost everyday and he's also a very nice and generous guy. 

If you want to know more about the restaurant, here's a link: 

But I'll definitely talk about them more in the next few days. It has been a great experience so far.

They're famous for their whole-wheat rolls.


The front desk.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


After I go off work, I decided to explore some nearby restaurants because I've heard so many good things about them since the very first day. I went to the Frozen Yogurt place first. I've walked pass by that place multiple times and it has always had a long line inside. Luckily, there wasn't one today. So I went in and got a small original frozen yogurt topped with strawberries. It was EXCELLENT! It was very healthy and tasty. I'm probably going to get one everyday since today. I really wished Toledo had this.

the one I had

inside of the yogurt place

I was sitting by the window. The owner of this doggie went in to get a cup of frozen yogurt however no pets were allowed to come into the store. So the poor thing was just sitting there and staring inside the whole time. How cute!

Today was a very beautiful day! It was sunny and about 60. Nice day to explore the town!

Next the the Frozen Yogurt place, there was a candy store called Sweetie. I always have fantasies about candy stores so that's why you're looking at this picture.

Nice Name! It's a Mexican restaurant and it said "If you don't eat here, Karma will come back to you" inside on the blackboard at the bottom.

So finally, I arrived at this Local Burgers restaurant. There were a lot of college girls there and I've always heard a lot about it so I decided to have my lunch there. I was pretty hungry when I got there so I ordered a large fries and chicken wings. However, when the food actually arrived on my table, I was totally shocked. The size of the fries was triple of the size of large fries in McDonald's and there were 10 wings in the basket. No wonder the waiter was so surprised when he knew I was by myself. 

Of course I didn't finish my whole meal. I packed half them home. They were definitely some of the best fries and wings I've ever had. I was fairly stuffed when I walked out of the restaurant. 

Busy Day!

Today is Wednesday=I work at the restaurant=Happy day!

I planned on having a very nice breakfast today since I was supposed to have plenty of time in the morning. However, I woke up a little late so I didn't make it. Instead, I grabbed an apple and ate it on my way walking to the restaurant. 

I got to there at around 10:30 (pretty on time.) I was wearing a plain black dress with leggings and black ankle boots. Everybody has told me that I looked cute today which made me really happy
Note: It was actually not that cute but compare to what I was wearing last week, this dress was so much better. We're all required to wear black. But I didn't bring any formal black clothes with me except a sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants. So you can see why now.

I basically did the same thing I was trained last week. Ali gave me the daily special menu and I wrote down some highlights on the blackboard to attract customers. 

the black board is placed at the entrance.

This is Ali!

This is my work. Haha, not perfect but I'm working on it :D

After this was done, I started to lay out all the silverware on the table. It was an fairly easy job, however, it required a lot of patience and carefulness. They have rules for all kinds of things such as how the napkins should be placed. The hostess told me that details are all that matters to a successful restaurant. 

It was Ali's birthday today. She's turning 25 today! I was actually shocked when I heard that because she seemed to be so experienced and skillful which caused me to assume that she has been doing this for a pretty long time. I wondered if I'm going to be as mature and perfect as her when I'm  25. 

Compare to last week, today was a very busy day. As usual, I welcomed people and arranged their seats according to my very limited observation and experience. However, within 30 min the restaurant was open, the seats were almost full. Ali had to stop me and take over everything because the situation was just getting worse and worse. We kept getting big groups (5 or 6 people) therefore made it even harder for us to arrange. 

I made a lot of mistakes today as I always did. One major mistake was: I brought the guests to their table when it hadn't been cleaned up yet. Ali told me that was the No. 1 Not-To-Do to customers because they would rather wait and chat with you than sit down at a nasty table. 

However, a great way to learn things is by making mistakes. I'm happy that I'm making mistakes now because I'm still young and don't have to face serious consequences. 

*I forgot what her name is when I was writing this post so I used 'hostess'. Sorry if it sounded very odd to you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I showed Arcadia my Blog. She suggested that I should put up a post about Halloween. So that's why you're reading this post right now.

Because of the power breakdown, trick-or-treating was cancelled in Northampton last Monday(10.31) night. I was very disappointed when I heard that because the neighborhood we live in is fairly ideal for this activity. 

Luckily, it was rescheduled to Saturday night. 

Arcadia's friend Patrick, his exchange student Yan, Arcadia and I all hung out together on Saturday. We planned on going bowling, however, the bowling alley had another power breakdown. So we just walked around the downtown area. We had ice-cream and Chinese food for dinner. It was around 4 in the afternoon and there were already a good amount of kids dressed in their costumes asking for candies stores by stores. 

I apologize for not taking enough pictures. The streets were packed. From little kids to young adults, everybody was dressing up in all kinds of costumes. It was truly amazing.

These kids had stayed in these poses for almost two hours. I witnessed it! Wasn't that amazing?

After dinner, we walked to Eddie's (Arcadia's friend) house. We all put on our costumes. Patrick brought two extras for Arcadia and I. Let's see how everybody looked!

From left to right: Eddie, Arcadia, Patrick, Yan

Roxie and Patrick

On our way to trick-or-treat

Weren't they amazing?! Sorry everyone that I forgot to take a picture of myself. I dressed up as an Angel Lady Bug. Sounds a little weird, hun? But it was actually pretty awesome.

It was a little late when we started. We didn't get too many candies because a lot of houses ran out. But it was still a lot of fun! And that's all it matters, right? 

Share a little story with you. When we stopped by at our house to get a break during trick-or-treating, we went to check on Jet (our doggie) upstairs. She was laying on my host parents' bed. As soon as she saw us, she started to bark loudly and fell off the bed and rolled all the way downstairs. Obviously she had no idea who we were. Poor Jet, he got several cut on his face and broke his nails :[

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you wonder what's the numbers in the title mean, they're the size of the student bodies of the four high school I've attended. My first high school in China has approximately 500 kids per grade. During my year being an exchange student, the school has about 400 students. Maumee Valley has nearly 200 kids in the upper school. Finally, the Academy of Charlemont has approximately 90 students in the high school and they combined their middle school and high school together which made the student body a total of 120 kids.

Monday was my first day of school. Without taking a shower (I know you're most likely disgusted but I really wasn't brave enough to take a cold shower with no heat in a 20 degrees morning,) I got dressed and quickly put up some make-ups. Fresh cooked scrambled eggs and coffee were waiting downstairs on the table. Although we had to eat in the dark and cold, a hot breakfast just made the whole morning much better.

Ronnie drove Arcadia and I to the bus stop at around 6:45. We live about one hour and 10 min from the school so that was the the first bus stop in the morning. The bus was much larger than any of the school buses I've ever been on. The seats were much wider. More interestingly, there were almost no rules on the bus. Kids were allowed to eat and drink. Some were sitting on the aisle while some were walking back and forth to talk to their friends. (I remember my bus driver would yell at the kids if their feet are on the aisle or they're talking too loud)

Bus is definitely the best place to hang out with your friends because everybody takes the bus no matter you're a 7th grader or a senior. 

As you may already figured, I napped through the whole way. We finally arrived at school at 7:55. 

In the morning, students gathered together in the dinning room for a morning assembly. Like I've mentioned before, it's a very small school so the assembly was for both high school and middle school. It's basically the same thing as our assembly before lunch in the K-center. Teachers took attendance and students made announcements. One unique thing was, they ended their assembly by a quote provided by a student each day. 

First class started at 8:20. I went to guidance counselor to get my schedule:

Monday: Senior Humanity (Period 1&2), Calculus 2, Lunch, Physics 2, Free, Environmental Science.
Tuesday: Senior Humanity, Studio Block (Period 2&3), Lunch, Art, Latin 1, Free
(As you may notice in my update board, I intern at a restaurant from Wed-Fri)

I'll talk about some unique things about this school in another post.

No power?! Seriously?!

Sunday, Oct. 30th, 2011

Two hours before my departure for Northampton, MA, my host mom Ronnie Rom sent Beth an email from her iPhone saying that they've been out of power since Saturday and wondered if I still decided to go there as planned. Without any hesitation, I said yes. First of all, I didn't want to pay another cancellation fee to change my flight since I've already done that once. Secondly, I've never experienced any real power breakdown in my entire life so I thought it could certainly be an adventure for me. 

My flight was 1:59 pm. Everything went extremely well, I even landed 20 min before it was scheduled. However, from what I saw on the plane, I could already feel the extreme coldness. 

What was I thinking?! I could never ever figure out what made I decided to fly here when Toledo was 67 degrees and sunny.

I forgot to tell you a little story here. When I was waiting in the line for the security check, a security lady in the uniform came to me and pulled me aside and said she needed to ask me some questions. I thought it was just a simple background check which I was very experienced in. She started by asking me my destination, how long would I stay there and what would I do while I'm there. She didn't understand how I could drop off school for three weeks and do all the things that I told her I will be doing. So I explained everything about Winterim to her and how the network program is working. Obviously, it was not anything that she would acknowledge. She asked me to give her my school website and looked everything up herself. It literally took me 45 min to finally prove myself not an aimless person just wandering around the country. 

When I was on the elevator to go downstairs to get my luggage, I heard somebody mumbled the name Kalina. I looked around and recognized my host mom Ronnie with my host sister Arcadia standing on the elevator of the opposite direction. That's basically how we met. 

They already figured out the place where my baggage was going to come out. We talked a lot while we were waiting. I could already tell that this family is very nice and warm. 

We drove through the downtown area and Smith College. The whole town was out of power and all the stores were closed. There were a number of cars driving around the area aimlessly. 

Lots of trees and cables are down. Made it hard for driving and walking.

All the flash lights were turned on and the candles were all lit up when we got home. The house was freezing because there was no heat. The family invited neighbor to come over for dinner since we didn't have any food left and they didn't have any gas to cook. We had a fairly big dinner because we had to get rid of mostly everything in the fridge and freezer. 

We gathered together by the candles in the dinning room. My host dad served us tomato soups, pizzas, steaks, chickens, etc. 

I used the flash light, that's why it looked so bright. But you could probably tell it was freezing because everybody had their coats on.

This picture looked like it was taken in a concentration camp... 

I was very concerned about going to bed. Because usually, I would need to turn on the heated blanket and put 3 layers on it within a house that has heat. However, that night turned out to be just fine. I slept under 8 blankets with two pajamas on.