Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Last of China

   Hello again everyone!! This will be my last entry for the China blog as I am currently on a flight back to the USA! After I get home and rejoin Stella and Charlie the blog will return to its original “Three’s a Crowd” format. I hope you all enjoyed following me around Asia these last 8ish months and will keep reading because the adventure of life never stops!! I hope to talk to and see you all very soon! Xoxo
Ok so here’s the scoop: Mid November I gave notice that although I enjoyed my work I had had enough of China and would be returning to the USA as soon as I could do so. My company was very kind and understanding and immediately put in a request for a replacement teacher from Shanghai. I spent my Christmas working and training the new guy at work (who is a far better teacher than I, and I am confidant he will do fabulously with my/now his kiddos...you go Reggie!). No festivities were had but I didn’t mind because on December 27th my dear friend Jessica arrived. We were joyfully reunited at the Beijing airport after being apart for more than a year.  Jessica and I lived together in college and every once in awhile she pops back into my life to remind me just how wonderful it truly is. It was good to see you girl!
            We started our adventures off as we always do: laughing and catching up. We then spent 5 days in Beijing, playing, shopping, getting lost, walking, and just being tourists in general. We visited all the usual sights and had an excellent time together. We got messages, ate many superb meals, took many photos and explored countless parks and interesting places. Yahoo!
After the hustle and bustle of Beijing began to wear us down, we hopped a train back to Tianjin, where we rang in the New Year with my roommate Alina and our friend Nerrisa.  Let me tell you, the four of us did New Years Eve how it ought to be done…in China at least…We started with a dinner buffet at a Chinese barbeque, and on the way home Alina stopped to buy some treats…and by some, I mean enough sweets to feed an army…for a month… We then sat around and shared what we wanted out of this year, what we did last year and what new years traditions took place in our home countries (Alina is Russian and Nerissa is Indonesian). At midnight we had some wine, some cheers and some wishes and called it a night. Perfect.
            January 1st started the year off in the best possible way as Jessica and I went sledding on Tianjin’s frozen river.  We rented an ice sled (aka a piece of plywood with blades on the bottom and wooden chairs bolted on top…) and went zooming around the frozen river. In a span of about 30 minutes we skidded, crashed, ran, pushed each other, and generally tore it up until we were both laughing so hard I could scarcely breathe! Afterward we walked aimlessly around the city until our legs were tired enough to fall off, before heading home for a dinner of dumpling and a movie. The next few days I finished up at work while Jessica explored China on her own including a trip all the way to the Great Wall. You’re the bomb girl!! Way to go without even getting lost ;)
My exceptional coworkers held a farewell dinner for me on my last day where we said our good byes and Reggie was officially knighted Beicheng’s new full time English teacher.  Good luck sir!!
The last 24 hours in town I walked around all my favorite places and had dinner with my roommate before heading to the airport with Jess. It was very fitting for us to leave China together and although I was relieved to go I still had a few sweet moments of reminiscing on the way.
I hear fellow foreigners say China is a dirty and backwards place, and maybe from a Western prospective it seems to be so, however it is this immense culture gap witch makes it such an interesting place. It also makes it incredibly hard, in my opinion, to straddle such length. I met people who were able to make the transition with apparent ease and enjoyed life there very much, but I am not one of them. I felt I could not find my place and constantly struggled with being “on the outside”. Maybe that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s the best way I can describe it at this time. 
Maybe I left too soon. Maybe I didn’t really give it a chance. Maybe I was too judge mental. All these things are possible, but I as I fly away from the country of stuffed buns and cheap goods, I find I don’t much care. I have decided not to return, probably ever to China. This world is far too vast and too rich for my body and soul to waste away under the polluted skies and oppressive city horizon of Tianjin. I will find my way another place. For now I will go home to this. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Latest

             After Mom and Neil left, it was quite quiet around here.  I moved out of my apartment and into the student dorms at the university where I take Chinese class. I now live on the 9th floor with a lovely Russian room mate and am surrounded by other foreign students my age. I really enjoy it. My Chinese classes are on the floor just below my room and the neighborhood is quite, and convenient for just about everything.
 Also last week I took a small trip to Shanghai to visit my friend Margret for a few days.  Some of you may remember her from my first blog in China. We trained together, and when I left for Tianjin, she stayed in Shanghai.  She lives in a nice flat with a wonderful Chinese girl named Tansy (who hung out with me while Margret was at work) and a nice Belgium guy named Ludo. During my visit us girls got massages, maincures, pedicures, and even did a bit of shopping! It was quite a girly vacation I must admit, but more than anything I enjoyed catching up with her after so much time apart. I love you very dearly Mags!!! Hang in there girl!!
Also something very important has come up here. I have decided to leave China. It has taken me quite awhile, but I am now 100% positive this is not, and will never be the place for me. In order to avoid seeming bitter and racist, I will only say China deserves its share of praise for its innovation and uniqueness, but it will not be given by me, at least not at this time. I will be returning to the USA the second week of January to be with my Charlie Brown and decide what life holds for me next . Thanks for your support.
I wanted include some newer photos of my school and my kids and such, so here they are. This was their first time writing their ABC's. Hope everyone is doing well. xoxo

Mom and Neil come to Town

            Before I get into all the fun I had with my family here I have been prodded by many people to post the link of the movie I appeared in (very very briefly!), so here it is.  My part is about three quarters the way through and only lasts about 10 seconds, so don’t get too excited.

            Ok so as many of you know this entry is delayed about a month! Mom and Neil were here for about 10 days in the beginning of November. We filled out time with all kinds of exciting travels and sightseeing. We we to go see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an and I made my 3rd trip to the great wall and Forbidden City. Instead of describing it all in detail, I will just let the photos speak for themselves this time. It was so wonderful to see them again after nearly 8 months of being apart! There is no replacement for family, that is for sure.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mid Autumn Festival and More

This past week, the lovely country of China celebrated Mid Autumn Festival, which means the whole city was abuzz with Moon Cakes and fun all around. It was an especially exciting time for me because a dear friend Meghan, from my Cambodian adventures happened to be spending some time here in China and thought she’d make a side trip to see me!
We spend the holiday with my Chinese family making more dumplings and chatting. We had a great time being girls and gossiping for three days before she departed. Thanks for you visit Meghan!! You are welcome back at any time!! Also in celebration of the festival, we had a cake-making day at my school!  It was basically a sugar buffet, including frosting in various colors, dried fruit, marsh mellows, candy, pretzels, cookies, and everything else sweet you can imagine for the kids to decorate their individual slices of cake. It was really a hoot!!!! Of course by the end of the afternoon everyone and everything (including Teacher Madi) was sticky and covered in frosting.
Also on the exciting news front….I was in a movie!!! Haha it sounds more impressive than it actually was but was still my first (and probably last) professional acting gig! They paid me and everything! J I stumbled upon the part because a friend of a friend of a friend was working on the set and heard they needed a foreigner for a small part, so they put the word out.  Low and behold, I am indeed a foreigner. My role in the movie was the girlfriend of a Chinese boy who breaks up with me! I even had one line…I’m so proud.  It was quite a bit of waiting around to get the scene right, and made for a 14-hour workday but I met some incredible people and made some new friends.  The movie will air in CCTV-6 (I think that is like the Chinese version of HBO) sometime at the end of October, so we will see if the camera really does add 10lbs….I hope not! Thank you Shu Ke and Leslie for taking such wonderful pictures and bringing me cookies when my tummy rumbled on set!! 
Also just on the random, this is my coworker Kelly with a cricket she found outside. She brought it to work to have as a pet and accidently pulled its leg off….poor thing! Also this is a snail I found in my lettuce when making a salad…you know your veggies are fresh when someone is still making their home there.  Sadly I am a terrible person and I didn’t know what to do with him so I threw him down the garbage shoot with the rest of my trash….31 floors…ooops!!
            Side Note: Is it strange that I identify myself more as an American outside of American than I do at home? At home I am an Idahoan, and more than that, I am a country bumpkin, a daughter, a sister, a sportsmen, a craftsmen, a bad driver, a good cook, a woman of many hobbies, and a zillion other things that I use to label myself to help identify with different groups. Here in China I am simply an American.  I constantly use my nationality to introduce myself and it is always the first inquiry, “Where are you from?” “I’m American.” That simple. I am American; as if those three words can sum it all up, and for many people they do.  No need to say more. People here have seen the movies, watched the music videos, heard the news; America? Oh yeah I know that place. That’s where P-Diddy Paris Hilton are from right? America? I think my favorite chocolate bar comes from there. America? Yeah, yeah, that place that Obama runs.
It makes an individual like me seem so simple, so neat and contained and on most days I find myself abiding by these rules. I look American. I act American. My accent is American. I have even been told that I smell American (however that smells, good I hope…). Back home I identify less as an American because it is already understood. It’s a given and nobody needs any clarification on the subject which allows me the time and energy to be all the things I mentioned at the beginning of this thought train.  The plain truth is, some days I want to be more than just American. Sometimes I want to be from a more specific place than a country of countless acres and 311 million people, somewhere personal. I want to identify with a more specific group of people, to take part in more specific activities. I want to actually do, do more that just be American.  And so I am searching. I am looking for my place here in this new home of mine and when I find it, you will be the first to know. J