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Marsden Travellers

April 17: It's almost time for Amy, Anna, Annabelle, Bria, Emma, Kate, Sam and Ms Adeane to head to Wellington Airport for the first leg of our all-night flight to Shanghai. It's the first episode in an amazing adventure! We invite you to follow the fun right here on our travel blog.

Diary Entries

Friday, 25 April 2014

Location: China

Today was our last for the girls as a group and our programme finished on a high note. The day was spent on a tour of Zhujiajiao, a quaint and lovely ancient water town in the outskirts of Shanghai. We were blessed with great weather and uncrowded streets which made the whole day vey pleasurable. We visited lovely gardens, temples and ancient buildings and then enjoyed a free hour in the narrow shopping lanes where there was lots of fun to be had bargaining and buying those gifts for the families. There is going to be lots of fun unpacking those suitcases back in Wellington!

The girls were definitely tired today but revived after an enormous lunch, in our own private dining room with purple plush diamanté chairs!

Back in Shanghai we gathered together with the teachers and host sisters for a small farewell party. There were speeches from all the girls on both sides, followed by some lively singing and dancing. The Marsden girls did themselves proud and left a great final impression. They go off now to spend the weekend with their host families and we re-convene at Shanghai airport on Sunday. It's been quite an adventure!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Location: China

The girls enjoyed the intricate art of paper cutting this morning, as well as going to classes with their buddies. At break times they share unusual stories about classroom goings-on. There are the occasional students asleep at their desks, the snack food that gets constantly passed their way under the tables, the English teacher who taught her class that Justin Bieber was 'a dish'. Classes can be anything from completely incomprehensible to odd.
The girls were nervous about the scheduled volleyball game against the school volleyball team, but bravely made an appearance on the volleyball court, in front of lots of onlookers. It was a very one-sided match but good natured and the teams soon mixed themselves up and the girls enjoyed the afternoon. Later in the day they watched the folk band rehearse before heading back to their homestay families. It was the last full school day, with a whole day outing planned for tomorrow. There has been lots of praise from the school for their attitude and I have been told on more than one occasion that the girls are very smart! (Which of course we knew!)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Location: China

A very full-on day with the girls really showing the confidence they have developed, from the trip to school in the morning, to finding their way around the large campus. It was another lovely summer spring day, ideal for the outdoor exercises which started the day and the martial arts that followed shortly after. The girls also enjoyed carving their own seals from rock - an ancient art where people used seals and ink in place of signatures. These two programmes were run especially for the Marsden girls, and in between times, they were in regular classes with their buddies.

In the afternoon the group took a trip into the central city on the Metro to visit the Shanghai Museum. With some artefacts up to 4,000 years old, it was impressive indeed. Just as memorable was the crush on the metro train and the brief interlude at the little market on the way back where Annabelle took out the prize for her champion bargaining skills.

We are now six days into our ten day tour and the girls are proving a lovely group to travel with. They look out for each other, are consistently good natured and friendly and always positive. Such great qualities to possess as travellers.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Location: China

At last the sun came out today - and what a difference! It's been quite chilly up until now with lots of rain, but Shanghai in the sun - with blue sky even - was a real treat. Today we shared food stories to start the day:
For breakfast Amy had 8 bean porridge and Emma had rotten salty duck egg, which she chose not to eat. She is, however, looking forward to making dumplings for dinner tonight. Annabelle has dinner each night with Iris's grandparents and gets taught about Shanghai. Bria is enjoying speaking a lot of Chinese to her new mama (don't worry Leigh!). She had fifteen different bowls of food for dinner last night. Kate had a kind of chicken risotto dumpling for breakfast but porridge for dinner last night. It's an upside down world! Samantha has no idea what she's eating but she's enjoying it anyway! Anna has been to lots of Japanese BBQ restaurants. Her family is amazed by her capacity to eat rice!

This morning the girls painted Chinese opera masks. They might have got them finished if they'd talked a little less and focused on the painting. They're a happy bunch of busy girls making the most of every opportunity.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Location: China

The girls spent a wonderful weekend with their homestay families where they enjoyed a range of new and exciting experiences. One thing they all had in common was much eating and shopping - definitely the favourite pastimes in Shanghai. Even the simplest things have become a cultural experience, such as the head massage Bria received from her homestay Mum after washing her hair. Hopefully the girls will have the opportunity to get online and share some of their individual experiences soon.

This morning they re-convened at school for a 7.30 am assembly. Watching the school jog onto the athletic track in orderly class groups for the start of assembly gave the Marsden girls some new ideas to take back home. I'm sure Mrs Field would love it! After a very formal flag raising ceremony and anthem singing, the Marsden girls were formally welcomed into the school and invited onto the podium to address the school. Kate and Amy's speech went down extremely well, especially their Chinese greetings - even though there were a few giggle from the crowd.

We were taken on a tour of the school and there was much to impress, such as the five storey lab building, although the line up of chemicals out on the benches definitely wouldn't be allowed at Marsden!

The girls went with their buddies to their respective classes of Maths, PE and Chinese and then it was time for our special programme. we met with Principal Li and presented him with a gift from Marsden which is already up on the wall in the library. Ms Han gave us a lesson on the charm of Shanghai and then just before lunch it was time to make dumplings. This was perfect timing as the girls were starving from their long morning. Lunch was enormous - and the dumplings were the perfect centrepiece. In the afternoon it was back to class. Already the girls look so much more relaxed and confident than they did on Friday. A lot can happen in three days!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Location: China

Eight tired travellers arrived at Pudong International around 8am after a twelve and a half hour flight. We were warmly met by Adele, an English teacher from No 3 Girls Middle School and whisked away in a mini bus, through the centre of the city and out to our new school - an elegant campus, in lovely green surroundings. It's quite an oasis on busy Jiangsu Rd.Our host Ms Stacey Han took us off to get China SIM cards but it proved to be such a mission, we decided not to get them. It made applying for a Chinese visa look straightforward! The girls enjoyed some Chinese snacks and bubble tea, before returning to the school to meet their smiling hosts, who were just emerging from a morning exam. There were friendly greetings and nervous faces as they headed off to meet their homestay families.

The weather in Shanghai is not great - wet and overcast and not particularly warm, but it won't dampen our enthusiasm!

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Recent Messages

From The Jessops
For Annabelle. Great to see the photos and hear all your news. The different school and cultural activities sound fun. Hope you are speaking lots of Chinese! Enjoy the rest of your stay. Looking forward to hearing more stories about your adventures once you get home. Love from all of us.
From From the Renais
What an amazing time you are having I'm so impressed with all the news. U will find it so boring at home.
I'm looking forward to hearing all the Chinese.
Love from us all xxxx
From The Featherstone-Wri
Anna, Lyra says she misses you and loves you.
Hope all the travellers are having a wonderful time and enjoying the experience.
Peter, Sam & Lyra.
From The Gardner Family
What an amazing time in Shanghai you Marsden girls are having, a real privilege! Make the most of every learning experience. The Diary entries are very interesting and the pictures superb. Looking forward to more instalments.
Amy's Gran & Grandad
From Juliet and Nick Dobs
Wow - what a funny range of food. I am impressed by the girls' ability to try the different things (although like Emma I would not have been keen on the rotten salty duck!).
So pleased the sun was shining for a change - it has looked a bit cold.
Have a lovely day.
The Dobsons x
From From the Jessops
For Annabelle. Great to hear your news and see the photos from Monday at school. Looks as though you all had fun. Hope you are taking every opportunity to speak Chinese. Enjoy the next few days. We look forward to hearing the next instalment. Love from all of us.
From The renai family
It all sounds very exciting and yet another learning environment. The structure of everything will seem very different I am sure.
We are looking forward to hearing all the news.
Love from pukawa
From Juliet and Nick Dobs
Thank you for your update. Its lovely to hear how you are getting on. And delighted that the dumplings were a success. All the best for your village visit tomorrow.
From Hassell family
Sounds like our girls have had amazing weekends with their host families - especially after some much needed sleep! Looking forward to hearing how school goes and the exciting things they will be doing and visiting
From Emma
Shanghai is extremely different to New Zealand, just trying to cross the road is scary. Cars, busses and scooters honk and drive past almost running you over!! To eat I am given a lot of different flavoured bread like red bean and there is also a pineapple which I had earlier today. Tea is also a commen drink here, I tried green tea is interesing. Not a favourite of Amy and mine. Today I went to a shopping centre with my exchange student, Amy and her exchange student. Emily said it is the smallest shopping centre in shanghi... I don't classify a 9 floor shopping centre as small!!! She said the biggest is 30 floors!!! We had a Japanese lunch wih caviar sushi( it was quite nice ) I am at my apartment now, I have a room to myself, which is quite nice.
From Hassell family
Hi girls!
Waiting patiently here back in little NZ of all the cool and exciting stuff you guys are going to do! Looking forward to all the updates soon!
From Bria and girls
Saw your plane take off and watched u travel the globe over night.
Hope u all had a fab fun flight. Say hi to cissy and the family.
It's 24 degrees and we are in shorts today. True!!!love mum