NJ 6 Chongqing Trip
May
20
10:00 AM10:00

NJ 6 Chongqing Trip

Excited to be going on a trip to another city in China, I asked some local staff what was the best thing to do in Chongqing. Their answer: eat lots of spicy food! This city, and even the province, is known for its deliciously spicy food.

We left Nanjing early Monday morning after I nearly missed the flight, and our Central Manager (CM) having actually done so. We arrived in Chongqing before lunch, even our CM who hopped on the next flight. We had a bus pick us up from the airport to take us to our hotel so we could get settled in and the exploring could begin. Our first plan of action was to head for lunch. Luckily we had a few restaurants across from our hotel, and of course we had to first try what this city is most known for: hotpot. Hotpot in Chongqing is great; super spicy but a tasty kind of spicy. For the folks who don’t handle spice so well, don’t worry, there are non-spicy options too.

Late afternoon, we ventured via walking and Chongqing’s beautiful metro system to an area of Chongqing called Ciqikou: a bustling area with many little trinket and food shops all along the streets. The best thing to compare it to is Nanjing’s Fuzimiao area. There were so many things to see and try here. A few new things tried were pig brain and rabbit. Pretty good actually! After an afternoon of exploring the streets of Ciqikou, we made our way back to the hotel. We needed rest as the next day would be an early start.

Tuesday morning, we had to be up and ready to leave by 7am. A mini bus picked us up in front of the hotel to take us for a tour to Wulong Tiankeng & Difeng mountain area to see the beautiful mountains. Admittedly after hearing it would be a 3 hour ride there and a 3 hour ride back at the end of the day, a few of us wondered if it would be worth it. It definitely was! 

The mountains were absolutely beautiful, a literal breath of fresh air due to all the trees and beautiful vegetation around us. We spent the day walking in a sort of valley between the mountains—such a picturesque place. I was excited to find out that apparently some of the Transformer 4 movie filming was done here, as well as many Chinese movies and TV shows. After a long hot day of walking and, of course, talking many photos, we headed back to the city. The tour bus dropped us all off at Hongyadong for a beautiful night view of the city. We walked around and through the building. It was filled with so many interesting little shops selling food or souvenir-type things, as well as many fruit and ice cream stores. There were also what I thought of as a little odd, little shops with massage-type chairs, where people can go and sit to relax and have someone clean out your ears. I was told that it was a very comfortable and somewhat satisfying experience.

The next day, Wednesday, was our last day. We all had the morning free and could explore or relax as we wanted. After sleeping in, myself and a few others went to find some ‘street food’. We had many snacks and some of the Chinese staff graced us with rabbit heads as a snack. I had to say no thanks; they look super freaky with their teeth and all sticking out. We all met up at hotel to wait for the bus to take us to the airport. We bid the hot and beautiful Chongqing farewell.

By Robyn — NJ6

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NJ 1 Xi'an Trip
Mar
31
to Apr 4

NJ 1 Xi'an Trip

On the bucket list you have when you come to China, the terracotta warriors are definitely at the top. So I don’t need to say that when I was told we were going to Xi’an to visit them, I was pretty happy. We left for the trip on Monday morning, and arrived in Xi’an in the early afternoon, going straight to the world famous site. The terracotta warriors were amazing to see, the detail and magnitude of the site is genuinely impressive. Each warrior with its own face and story, with the backdrop of the emperor who began the project made for an amazing story to be taken through. Thousands upon thousands of stone men, each weighing up to 400 kilos all created to protect an emperor in the afterlife? What’s not to like.

 Shortly after the museum we returned to the city to enjoy the traditional food streets where you would see food you’ve never imagined. Mash potato rice? Check. Strange tofu machinations? Check. And on top of that we went to see the Muslim quarter of the city, famous for its vibrant and unique food culture and spirit. Amazing lamb and sesame snacks everywhere, we had a great time.

The next day, we visited Huashan, a mountain famous for it’s beauty and history. Steep cliffs on every side as well as ancient temples, it truly is a site to see. Though the cable car on the way up is not for the faint hearted, I saw a few pale faces on the way up! After a long day of hiking in one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, we sat down to enjoy the famous regional noodle, bang bang mien. Long and pounded flat like lasagna strips and laden with flavor, it was a good feed.  Finally, we went for a good night of EF on the town before getting ready to fly the next day.

Great trip with great people, definitely a part of the EF calendar to be excited for.

By Ben — NJ 1

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NJ 5 Games and Fajita Night
Mar
4
9:00 AM09:00

NJ 5 Games and Fajita Night

Games and Fajita Night!

For our first team building of 2019 we wanted to do something that would bring the whole school together and would keep us under budget for future events. One of our teachers, Alieya, offered to host a party at her house and make food for all the guests. She made yummy chicken and vegetarian fajitas, chicken wings, and popcorn. Other guests brought drinks and other snacks. CCs, PAs, and teachers all came!

We played a game affectionately known as, “fish bowl”. Players are divided into teams and given paper to write nouns and adjectives on. Then all the words are put into a bowl. This game has three rounds. In the first round, players from each team pull words from the bowl and talk around that word without saying the word. In the second round, players from each team act out the word. In the final round, players can only say one word to get their team to guess. They are not allowed to use any body language in the final round. During each individual’s turn, they have one minute to get their team to guess as many words as they can. One word guessed equals one point. The team with the most points at the end of the three rounds wins.

By Charlie and Rita - NJ 5

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Mar
4
8:00 AM08:00

NJ 3 Spa Day

Our first teambuilding event in the year of the Pig. Spaaaa Daaay!!!!

As scheduled, Jay planned an amazing evening of food, fun and relaxation. After the complementary subway ticket that I received from my student for forgetting my subway card, we headed to the Spa, where we were relieved of our shoes and separated into different dressing rooms. 

Much to our surprise, as we were still adjusting to the idea of our soon to be awkward experience of bringing co-workers closer together. Ahem. The first thing we saw upon walking in was to find our lockers, much like the band, were several Bare Naked Ladies. I have been in a Chinese Spa before so it was no surprise, but for Macy it was a shock. As we averted our eyes, the stares had already begun, Aurora* had already disappeared, leaving the rest of us, a quick agreement to avoid any awkwardness we disrobed as a team.

Much to our disdain of being ‘The Naked Foreigners’, we inquired about robes but the employees informed us that there weren’t any and that we have to be completely naked and bathe in a communal shower before entering the baths. A quick hot shower while being stared at through unstained glass. We proceeded to the drying area where we were given ‘Relaxation Rompers’ some plain, others flowery, mine red and blue (Hawaiian) print like I was on a beach in Honolulu.

After waiting for the guys to finish their half scrub, the rest of us walked into the restaurant area squealing at the chocolate fountain. The rest of the group arrived late but we proceeded to devour almost everything in the buffet area up until they closed. Some eating with different things in both hands. There was a mix of sweet, spicy, savoury, western, as well Chinese dishes. There was also Ice-cream much to everyone’s delight. A quick snap of a selfie and the night continued.

A little side story, Macy excused herself for a little nap in one of the resting caves, while we were still eating. But she soon returned and complained of a specific cave smelled like constant fart.

The group separated to massage tables, steaming rooms, a cold room and some massage chairs. As each person had their fill and were relaxed to a point of missing their bed. People slowly dripped away and went home. The boiling hot springs bath after my nap in a cave is what did me in. After a relaxing evening I, and probably everyone else had delightful sleep feeling like a marshmallow floating on a cloud. All around a fun night, looking forward to the team building next month!

By Jay - NJ 3

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Mar
3
6:00 PM18:00

NJ 7 Bowling

Tired and bust up from a long week of teaching in Jiangning, we made for the bowling alley at Sunny Plaza near Baijiahu Station of a Sunday evening. Arms were flexed, tonnage selected and we wound up heavy salvos to clatter, veer and careen at pins, which leered at us with a clown's toothy smile. The boss-man arrived just in time to give us much needed tips - keep a flat-hand, find your special dot of entry. Sometimes we were even on target. Bowling shoes squeaked, some of us shrieked, others cussed. Barriers were requested, and the wooden floors gleamed. Another round, we called. And then another. A spent bunch of teachers finding great release in the alleys, enjoying a laugh and the camaraderie. Thanks Timmo! These alley cats will be back for more.

By Nicolette — NJ 7

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EF Nanjing Annual Party
Jan
15
9:00 AM09:00

EF Nanjing Annual Party

EF Nanjing Annual Party

When I was invited to be one the hosts of the Nanjing EF annual party 2018, I was thrilled, but I also felt pressure since I had only been with EF for 10 months, and center managers of each school and the EF president all attended this party.

Before the annual party, another three hosts and I discussed what we should wear to fit the party theme---imagining the year 2065, which was not easy. We thought about dressing and acting like the old, but we decided to be formal in the end. The girls were in glitter, and sparkly, long dresses, and the boys were wearing suits. Of course, we looked amazing. Some teachers made their own accessories, some of them dressed like aliens, and others looked like they were characters from Star Wars. Thinking about what you should wear for the party is kind of exciting for everyone. We believe that you look like how you actually feel no matter how old you are. Attitude is everything.

The annual party was held in the fanciest hotel in Nanjing, and that was more than everyone’s expectation. There are eight EF schools in Nanjing, and over 200 employees work for EF. It was interesting to chat with someone you had never seen before who worked behind the scenes, such as ITs, HR staff, etc. Besides, the annual party not only brought all EF colleagues together, but also gave teachers a chance to show their hidden talents. You might know EF teachers are good at teaching, but you don’t know they are professional at dancing, singing, even acting. When you work around those talented and hilarious people, your life won’t be dry.

It was not an annual party without rewards and red envelopes when the Chinese new year was approaching. At the beginning of the party, center managers sang a Chinese song to thank all EF colleagues’ hard work in the past year. They threw the red envelopes in the sky, filling them with some money, which caused a small chaos. The rewards included, iPads, iWatches, Macs, Beats headphones, EF suitcases, and wine; EF was so so generous to the 2018 annual party budget. Whenever the host announced the honoured colleagues, they all jumped off their chairs and rushed to the stage. Some excellent staff won more than one award, which is a big encouragement for their future career at EF.

The most fun part was after the party, the EF crowed went to our bases, Poets and Secco. After a fantastic annual party and delicious food, all we needed was a bit more drinking!

By Nora - NJ 1

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NJ 2 South Korea Trip
Jan
7
to Jan 11

NJ 2 South Korea Trip

Mystical mountain top temples. Muraling mimes. Sex museums.

Before EF Nanjing flew us internationally, these were not the preconceptions I had of South Korea. Now, my mind forever associates these multifarious elements to the land of kimchi, skin care, and K-pop. Of course, South Korea was not without these features. Half of our trip was mainly characterized by shopping. Together, in a big charter bus, our office was taken from mall to mall in a sort of shopping tour that was almost as endless as the duty-free discounts. With both local and foreign staff spending these days together, it revealed to me a big aspect of Chinese culture: a love of shopping as big as a proclivity of informed traveling. Throughout the tour, we were educated on the customs of Korean culture, taken to key sights like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Namsan Seoul Tower, and were spoken to about everything South Korea that we didn’t even know we had questions about.

The next day we tasted over 20 flavors of crispy seaweed at a mini factory, which also held a dress-up museum upstairs where we tried on traditional Hanbok clothing. With the evening came a tour highlight: the Painters HERO Group. It was a Charlie Chaplin like comedic performance with no dialogue and mimes that aimlessly drew on wall-sized canvases. They gradually came together like puzzle pieces with the end result leaving us jaw-dropped.

In the second half of the trip we had free reign.

With a love of the outdoors, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that South Korea’s mountainous terrain took up 70% of the country. In order to have an authentic Korean experience, some of us took the subway to the end of the northern line to hike Suraksan Mountain.  Following the Seoul Trail path to the top in the dead of winter, the creeks were frozen in a serene stillness as a preface of what was to come later in the hike. At the top of the mountain was Yongguram temple – a previous sanctuary for a past queen during a time for war. The temple hung off of the cliff side overlooking the city of Seoul. Walking around, we discovered that there were more paths to take and soon discovered that Suraksan wasn’t just mountain, but a ridge of mountains with a trail that we were inclined to follow. The way down was quite thrilling as the path was completely overtaken by an icy creek overflown with layer upon layer of frozen rivulets. We were forced to ice skate with our shoes and cautiously treat every pile of leaves as an enemy hiding the slippery threat of concussion. After every precarious step and slip, we eventually made it down the mountain with our lives. At the bottom, we were greeted with a pack of curious puppies and a dinner of kimchi, tofu, seafood pancake and a beer – a quintessential Korean dinner to wrap up our day.

On our last day of freedom, a few of us headed up towards the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Walking through the 3rd Infiltration tunnel, viewing North Korea from Dora observatory and visiting the Dorasan Station were a few special parts of the tour. Flying back to Nanjing from Seoul we all slept, knowing on arrival it was back to teaching classes for the evening. We all knew we would enjoy Seoul, but going together created stronger bonds between our departments and teams in our school with laughs and memories that will remain with us until our next international voyage.

By Paige and Diane - NJ 2

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Jan
7
to Jan 11

NJ 5 Yunnan Trip

What made Yunnan such a memorable province? For one, coming there in the middle of January was such a welcome reprieve from Nanjing’s winter. Yunnan presented us with mountainous landscapes and weather 20 degrees warmer than Nanjing’s. Once we got to the bus to go to the hotel, our tour guide wasted no time explaining the history and customs of the province. Two surprising facts I learned is that Yunnan is made up of more than 10 indigenous tribes and that you cannot comb your hair in a moving vehicle. Who knew?

Our days in Yunnan always started at 8 am as we embarked on many trips to our many destinations. One of the most memorable destination was our horse ride up a mountain to see a waterfall. It was my first riding a horse. The horses were short but what they lack in stature, they made up for with stamina. I named mine Marse and he was such a good horse. Another memorable moment was our trek up to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Prior to arriving at the foot of the mountain, we stopped at a place that sold canisters of oxygen. I thought our tour guide was just exaggerating about the thin air up the mountain but boy, was I wrong. The mountain was scaffold with stairs which made the climb straightforward, but the thin air made it so difficult. With sheer determination, however, I powered through and made it all the way up!

By Michael - NJ 5

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