Another year has ended and a new year has begun! I still can’t believe it’s 2013. Why do we not have flying cars or hoverboards yet? I feel like all those things were promised to me as a child from Back to the Future II. What’s up with that Marty McFly? :)
We ended the year here in China with a Christmas party for our students. Since they don’t really celebrate Christmas in China (they don’t even really know or understand who Santa Claus is, you guys), we thought we’d bring it here for them to see. We told our students we’d be having hot drinks and maybe some treats if they wanted to stop by our apartment for our party. I guess last year about 20 or so students stopped by. This year…it felt like the WHOLE STUDENT POPULATION was in our apartment. Craziness does not even begin to describe it. I got so excited to see my students who came and to take photos with them, when I finally was able to squeeze out of our apartment to step into the hallway it was then I noticed that there was a line of kids still waiting to get in…up three flights of stairs and out the building. It was madness. But I still had a great time, and got some fun photos.
After all was said and done, we walked away from Christmas with a ton of gifts from our students. It was really sweet. I have to say though my favorite thing was getting hand written notes like these!
New Years came and went without much excitement. It’s been so cold we stayed inside and had a movie marathon since we got few days off at the beginning of the year. Honestly, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open past midnight, and was in bed by 12:30am. Oh to be in small town Yidu, China. We watched some great movies though. This is 40 was HILARIOUS. I don’t care what anyone says. Also, Sinister scared the bejesus out of me, and it takes a lot for me to be scared in a movie these days. Rachel and I stole an idea off of Pinterest to make a “2013 Jar.” When something cool happens during the year, you write down the date and what happened and put it in the jar. At the end of the year you open the jar and read everything. We decided to put funny quotes that were said or heard in it too.
This last week the kids had finals. Grade 9 had oral finals so we listened to all of them give speeches on different topics. Some were boring, some were awesome. All I know is, if I ever have another student tell me that Paris is their “Dream Vacation,” I’m going to pull out a map and show them 25 other cool options. Grade 7 and 8 had written tests. We had over 400 to grade. Between my own school, and work school, I was exhausted. If this school had ever heard of scantrons, it would have made my life MUCH easier!
Because we are the only foreign teachers around for at least an hour, we were invited by a friend of ours to visit another school down the road that teaches younger children. The owners of the school asked if we would meet with their kids for a field trip to KFC (it just opened and is the biggest thing to happen to Yidu since getting internet, I’m guessing). They wanted the kids to have exposure to native English speakers. The kids were so cute, and shy! Once we got to KFC some of them opened up a little bit.
When I sat next to one of the girls in class I quickly discovered she was the younger, chinese version of me when she ordered ice cream and coffee for breakfast. A girl after my own heart.
Last, but certainly not least, we leave for Thailand in 3 DAYS!! I’m so excited! Even better, as soon as we get back I turn around and leave again 2 days later for the U.S.!! I can’t wait to see my family and friends. It’s going to be so great to be home. Between Thailand and the U.S. we counted that I have twelve flights…..TWELVE. Knowing how much I don’t like to fly, the other girls are taking bets on when I will crack. My best guess is 3 flights in. Julie sent me this photo. I told her, if this happened I would enjoy flying so much more!
I guess I’ll be somewhat off the grid for the next 2 weeks or so. Cross your fingers for me I survive all these flights!
Current Music I’m Listening To: Frank Ocean, Sky Ferreira, Kendrick Lamar, The 1975.
Until next time…
Nihao, from China! How are all of you back home? With the holidays upon us, I am definitely missing friends and family. The weather has cooled off BIG TIME here. For my friends that live outside of California, I know this is nothing new for them. But I am SO COLD! Part of me really enjoys it. I’ve enjoyed having ACTUAL seasons here that I don’t get back home. But every now and then I have to come back to the apartment and take the hottest shower ever just to get warm. Luckily, my mom is sending me some of my warmer clothes from back home. I really miss having decent coffee to drink to keep me warm. The kids here look at us like we are crazy when we they come by to visit us at home because I am usually wearing my sweatshirt and PJ pants or jeans. They always say “you should wear MORE clothes!” It makes me feel like they think I’m wearing a swimsuit or something. I guess the Chinese still layer up when they are at home relaxing.
Speaking of students, it has recently come to my attention that the Chinese LOVE, love. They love, love, love it. It’s written on everything here. Even the mention of, or drawing of a heart sends them into a tizzy. I get asked at least once a week “Amy, do you have a boyfriend?” even when I’ve told them 10 times already that I don’t. They are determined to find me a boyfriend. The kids aren’t “allowed” to have boyfriends or girlfriends all the way through high school. Adults think it will deter them from their studies. I honestly think that rule makes them even MORE love crazy, and they have boyfriends/girlfriends anyways because it’s “forbidden.” Students have been ratting out their classmates left and right to me about who has a boyfriend/girlfriend or who likes each other. They ALL KNOW each other’s business and they will tell you all about it the minute you ask them. When asking kids what they wanted to major in at University the other day, I had a boy tell me “I want to major in finding a girlfriend.” I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in awhile. One student of Rachel’s students even confessed to dating another student in her class in this note. It’s TOO cute!!
I really am having a great time teaching. As many times as there can be frustrating moments, there are even more hilarious and fun ones to replace it. For example, recently in one of my classes I noticed one of the boys (Steven) would NOT STOP playing with a hair bow the girl next to him had. This kid is super chatty in class, and it drives me crazy, but if he isn’t the most charming kid on the planet I don’t know who is…he reminds me of my brother. He’s always coming up to say hi to me outside of class. Anyways, he won’t stop playing with this damn bow and I keep telling him to stop. Finally, I grabbed the bow out of his hands and stuck it in his hair and told him he had to wear it the rest of the class period (another 30 minutes at that point). The whole class erupted into SHRIEKS of laughter. Steven was soaking it up. He tried to act embarrassed but I could tell he loved it. DISCIPLINE FAIL. lol.
Thanksgiving has come and gone. I was able to Skype with my family back home while they had dinner, which was really awesome! It was so nice to see everyone in the same place and was almost like being there. We made our own Thanksgiving, China Style. It was actually quite delicious. Or, as the kids say here “deeeleeeshous.” The only thing missing was Turkey since they don’t really have it here, so we settled on chicken.
Rachel and I recently set up our Christmas tree as well, and decorated the apartment with lights. I think our tree rivals that of Charlie Brown.
Our Mandarin lessons are going well! I’m really enjoying learning and Mira keeps telling me I have great pronunciation, but I S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E with writing Chinese characters. For real. Anyone that knows how competitive I am surely knows that this is ticking me off to the max. Hopefully with practice, I will get better.
My roommate Rachel and I have officially decided we are going to THAILAND over Spring Festival break. I’m SO excited! We will be traveling to Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. We have a few excursions planned like temple tour and a speed boat ride. The activity I am most excited about is that we get work with and train elephants..I repeat…ELEPHANTS!! It makes me feel like I might have to run away with the circus afterwards. As a Chrismukkah gift, Rachel got me this bracelet with an elephant on it to prepare for our Thailand adventure.
For the last two weeks, each of the Foreign Teachers has been cursed with what I will henceforth refer to as “The Yidu Plague.” Each of us took turns being sick for a few days, and it was AWFUL. I was completely congested, coughing, and overall feverish. I felt like death. It was probably the closest I’ve felt to the Swine Flu Incident of 2009, so that’s saying something. Eventually we all got over it, but we all still have a lingering cough. I definitely accumulated quite the tissue pile while stuck in bed.
Last, and certainly not least, my BFF Karie had her baby!! I had been talking to her over Voxer frequently in the past week and based on her comments I thought it would be soon. Then yesterday afternoon she messaged me that her water broke. I was so excited it made me completely distracted from everything. I even left my dinner in the microwave for too long because my mind was elsewhere with Karie. I left my phone on before I went to bed so I could get any messages from her, which I got a couple of throughout the night. Naturally, I barely slept. I’m pretty sure Karie slept a LOT less ;) I checked my phone in between every class today then eventually got word that Jeremy Ryan Chamberlain was born! She sent me this photo of him all wrapped up, and beautiful. Naturally, I cried like a baby. Isn’t he gorgeous?!
Christmas is coming! Sadly, I won’t be home for it this year and I am really bummed about it. I am looking forward to coming home for a visit in February!
Current Music I’m Listening To: Amy’s Pop Music Christmas Mix Spectacular, Nashville Cast Soundtrack, and the Breaking Dawn 2 Soundtrack.
Until Next Time…