“All of us, every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” ~Steven Spielberg

So things have been hectic as usual, but I do finally get a break this week for Chinese New Year. It’s been nice actually; most Chinese people go back to their hometowns for the holiday, or out of town. Beijing is much less crowded than normal. I finished up my classes Friday, the winter camp I was teaching for some kids, and an adult class. I had fun with them all! The kids had lessons on teamwork and we did a bunch of science experiments and games.

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After my last class Friday I met Jess and went to Wangfujing Street, where she attempted to eat bugs, just because. It was highly entertaining; if you haven’t yet, go check out the YouTube video I made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8tpacvAkxY

Finally got to put my skills from my video editing class to good use. There’s a huge mall (actually, more than one) in Wangfujing and we walked around. Everything was decked out for Chinese New Year; it’s the Year of the Monkey, if you couldn’t tell:

IMG_0712Firecrackers and monkeys are everywhere, and oranges are traditional gifts for the holiday.

Saturday was about 20 straight hours of homework but I wanted to get everything out of the way so I could have fun Sunday, for New Year’s Eve, which I did. I got up early and Skyped family, ran to the grocery store, and then cleaned, cleaned, cleaned because my apartment was a mess and I didn’t want to clean it today because it’s very unlucky. (If you take out the trash, sweep the floors, or even wash your hair on New Year’s Day Chinese superstition says you’re sweeping away good fortune for the year. So I went along with it because I need all the luck I can get!) Then I decorated my apartment. LiLin brought me a bunch of New Year’s decorations and told me how to hang them up right. There’s a poem on three pieces that goes around the door, and a sign for fu that has to be hung upside down on New Year’s eve.

IMG_0717Last night I met up with Jess near Shichahai. People were setting off chains of firecrackers on the sidewalk as we went by and I stopped for this video. I also temporarily lost my hearing…turn the volume down if you watch it! I love fireworks in China. People buy them by the case and set them off wherever and whenever they feel like it. No rules, no regulations, no timed 20-minute events, and no warning whatsoever. Crowded street? Who cares? They just light the fuse and run. Hopefully bystanders notice and get out of the way before the mayhem starts.

We got dinner at a new place we stumbled across and now it’s one of my favorites. Delicious food!

IMG_0715Then we wandered around being our silly selves. We found a giant ball of cotton candy for dessert, which we subsequently turned into Olaf from Frozen, and a wig for Jess. Also found a giant fish, which is very lucky here.

IMG_0716At eight, we met up with some more friends at a quiet bar on Houhai lake and played dice games. They had live music and big windows upstairs so we could see the fireworks going off all night. Later we went to Temple Bar to hear the Beijing Beetles, who were actually pretty good, then to the lake to see the fireworks at midnight. Well, the big display was at midnight but really they were going off as soon as it was dark. They were going nonstop all night, even when I got back to my apartment. And I could still hear firecrackers when I got up this morning (very late) and all day long. This is the biggest holiday in China and they know how to celebrate!

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I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could. ~Evel Knievel

I was planning to write something next week but I’m afraid I will forget everything that’s happened so far this week. It has been absolutely crazy, but in a good way. I’m insanely busy but much happier than before. I can’t believe I’ve only been back in Beijing a week.

Saturday: homework, all day, cleaned apartment, unpacked

Sunday: worked all day at recording studio

Monday: I had to go to the police station to register (foreigners have to register their address with the police within 24 hours of arrival, every time they enter the country. It’s a pain in the ah-neck). The woman who was filling out the paperwork fussed because I arrived Friday (too late to register) and didn’t register until Monday (in Chinese). I tried to explain they were closed. She told me again “24 hours”. I pulled out my phone calendar and pointed to Saturday and Sunday. “Kaifang?” (open?). “No, no, no!” she said. So they were not open Saturday but I should have registered within 24 hours. We hit an impasse, finally both shrugged our shoulders, and she let me go with what I think was a warning but it’s hard to tell. China (shaking my head as I write this).

Then I went to sign my new contract for my part time job. I’m teaching M-F afternoons 2-4 for a company that trains caregivers who want to work abroad. They’re affiliated with Robertson College in Canada and once they finish the program they help the women find jobs as live-in caretakers/nannies.

Tuesday: I spent the morning at the studio, then headed across (waaay across) town to my new job; 1 1/2 hour commute, ugh. It’s much closer to my apartment but the studio is not convenient to anything. My first day teaching went well, albeit a bit dull. Mostly I’m making powerpoints out of these books, then lecturing, then we do practice interview questions. But not like a mock interview. They have a book of interview questions and and answers and I read them one by one, then each student (about 8) read each answer individually so I can correct their pronunciation. I thought I could change things up a little to make it more interesting but Lee (my co-teacher) said “No, no, no, this is what they like!” And the girls all said it was helpful to them, thanking me for correcting them. Just an example of Chinese teaching methods, really, rote memorization. But most of the students are older and grew up being taught this way so it’s what they’re comfortable with. They are all really sweet though. The company has an office but the lessons are held in an apartment across the street. It’s set up like a small dorm. Some of the women live in Beijing but some came from far away so they live there for the training. The living room is set up like a classroom, then there’s a little kitchen and bedrooms to share.

After class, I went to meet LiLin. She’s one of the girls I met on the tutoring website but we decided I wouldn’t really be giving her lessons. We have a lot of the same interests so we’re just going to find events and things to do and I’ll help her with English and she can help me with Chinese. We had a lot of fun. She’s so funny when she gets stuck on a word.We had her iPad open on the table to translate when we got stuck. We got dinner near Yonghegong Lama Temple. I let LiLin do the ordering just to have a really traditional Chinese meal. It was…interesting. Cabbage and cucumber soup is really good, just a light broth, and I liked the leek and scrambled egg rolls. Not so sure about the beef tendons. First of all, yes, they are exactly what they sound like. Not tough and stringy like I thought though, more like soft and slimy actually. The flavor was good with the sauce they used but I just could not get over the texture. Same with the duck, I usually like duck and the mustard sauce was good but it was some very gristly part of a duck. I’m very much afraid it may have been feet so I decided not to ask questions and move on to the next dish, grilled mutton. It was spiced with cumin and actually really delicious.

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After dinner we found a coffee shop to hang out in and she showed me her calligraphy and showed me how to do some characters. I’m trying to add a video as well but it’s incredibly slow to upload, I’ll try to add it later:

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IMG_0249The top one is fu, the character for blessing, good luck, and happiness. You see it a lot for New Year’s decorations right now. I forgot the second one though. 

Wednesday: Spent all morning doing homework, then headed to work, then straight to an interview for tutoring at a small school. It went well and they will have some hours open after the New Year holiday if I want them. I think I might end up with more work than I can handle though.

Thursday: Spent all morning doing homework again. I tried to stay up Wednesday night but was nodding off the whole time. I’m still fighting a bit of jet lag I think. I cannot sleep past 5:00am and I have so much energy I just get up and start working but then by the time I get home I’m just exhausted. I did make progress on my projects though. Then off to work again, then to yet another interview. I really loved this place though. I thought it was just a mom looking for a tutor for two kids (I don’t get much detail from the tutoring website) but it was actually a small school. Not really a training school though. They focus on character building and lots of fun activities, just with English as the language of instruction. They keep classes really small, 3-4 kids, and personalize everything. Everyone was super friendly and the interview went well. They just need some part time help for now so I’ll be working there in the mornings. It’s close to my afternoon job though, which will be really nice. They’re both in the northeast part of the city, where I hadn’t really been before this week. Beautiful area though. I’m really excited about getting to explore all these different places. And much less stressed about money. I feel like jobs have just been falling into my lap lately, and I’ve gotten to meet tons of interesting new people. The air has even been cooperating lately. Freezing cold, but clear blue skies. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next year!

Jess came over after work, which we were both super excited about. Normally this would not be out of the ordinary but I haven’t seen her since the day I got back to Beijing. That was a WHOLE WEEK ago. Also not out of the ordinary for most people, but considering we’ve been together practically 24/7 since the day we met a week feels like forever. I mean, we text every single day but we still had some serious catching up to do. So we ordered too much takeout, stayed up way too late, ate way too much sugar (one of the drawbacks of this new school is that our favorite German bakery is right on my route home…uh-oh), and just had a blast. Then I got to finally sleep in this morning for the first time all week so I’m super rested now; ready for next week!

November 10, 2015

Teeny tiny post-let with belated Halloween photos-

I just wanted to post a few pictures of Halloween since it’s now halfway into November. Time is flying by this year. I had taken a few weeks off from my studies but now I’m back to going to school full time, working at school full time, and working the studio part time. So spare time? Not so much. I planned to do some stuff this week but it just didn’t happen. Friday was the first snowfall here in Beijing and it was a beautiful walk to school with big fat flakes fluttering around. Of course they were completely gone by noon but it was nice while it lasted. Sadly, however, the rapid changes in smog levels and temperatures this week has left me sick, yet again, and I have barely any voice. It’s now 12:23 am and I’ve been up doing homework and planning lessons for the weeks so I’m going to keep this short and sweet so I can take some NyQuil and crash before all the crazy starts up again tomorrow-

Just goofing around with PK1 kids on break time. These guys are crazy (and a big part of the reason I am losing my voice)! Left: William, August, Sky. Right: Freddy and DuoDuo.IMG_9327

Pipe cleaner “goggles” and straw “snorkels” for my PK2-we went “under the sea” to learn about sea creatures this week. 🙂 Clockwise: Charlie and Stella, Rachel, Kitty, Harry.IMG_9328

Left: me with Cyrene, Charlie, and Stella. Right: Mike as a magician and Rachel as a fairy princess. Hands down my favorite kids are in this class.IMG_9331

Halloween with my other PK1 kids, clockwise: Tony as a wizard, Tracy, Jason as Spiderman, and Yancy.IMG_9329 T

Tiffany and I on her last day. I’m going to miss her. We had fun teaching together; she’s such a goofball!

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First snowfall! And the last of the roses. It was a beautiful morning-

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