My China Experience comes to a close.

Today is my last day in Hohhot. I will be in Beijing tomorrow and Kuala Lempur on Friday. What an amazing year! I can’t belive it’s over. It’s so surreal.

In one of my first blogs, I mentioned that before I came to China I had made a list of personal questions about my experience to answer at the end of my year in China. Super lame, but sweet. Well, my year is up and here are the questions and I am going to answer them as best I can.

Why did you do it?
Many reasons, all of them important! I wanted to see China, learn more about the culture that I am (half) a part of, I didn’t want to go back to school yet and teaching seemed the best option, and I wanted to test out teaching and see if it’s a passion of mine. But I think the biggest reason to come was a personal one. I wanted to challenge myself and grow independantly.

What was the biggest lesson that you got out of this experience?
Make it count. You can’t come to a country like China with the word “No” in your head.

Worst memory?
I don’t think I’ve had any sort of horrible experience this entire year…but I suppose my worst memory is when I got really sick and didn’t know how to buy medicine or had to teach anyway. Not such good times.

Best memory?
Wow.. I don’t know if I have a “best” memory, just so many good ones! The Great Wall, the food, Chengdu pandas,  my students, the grasslands….and so much more.

 If you could do anything differently, what would you do?
I would somehow find a way to make it to Hong Kong. That’s the one city I wanted to go to but never did. I’m sure I’ll come back to China again and it will be #1 on my list of places to visit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Did you find the cultural connection to your Chinese side that you hoped to?
To be honest, not really. I think growing up in Canada pretty much blew away any chance of me actually connecting to the culture. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find Chinese culture incredible, because it is. I just never had the feeling that it was “MY” culture, and that’s not a bad thing.

How has this experience changed you?
I feel more indepedant, confident, cultured and grown up than I ever have before. I’ve accomplished everything that I wanted and it was so much more than what I thought it would be. I would recommend an experience like this to anyone because it has left me feeling incredibly satisfied, like I’ve passed some sort of personal life test with flying colours. I’m so sad to leave, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s far better to leave on a high note than to leave indifferent without really understanding what you’re leaving behind.

So that’s that. I’m going to try and update as much as I can over the next 6 weeks while I’m travelling South East Asia, but I’ve got no idea what the hostels will be like in those countries. Thank you so so so much for following me on my journey! It’s made me feel closer to home, knowing that you’ve been checking up on me now and again.

Thanks for reading.
xoxo
Steph

Tears and Rain

I had my goodbye party at Sushi restuarant last night! It was a combination of bitter sweetness, fun, tears, slurs and laughter. Following dinner we went to Taylor and Davids house for some drinking games, then went to 8Bar and danced until 4am! When we left the bar it was pouring rain and so cold outside, we headed to McDonalds and ate before heading home to bed! The night was so much fun, I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better!  A lot of people came to dinner which I was very humbled by: Tamlyn, Kyle, Casey, Roxy, Tom, Rhiannon, Taylor, David, Matt, Monica, Shella, May, Candy, Amelie, Farr, Max, KC, and Fiona. I went around the table and said something I liked or would miss for every person and a few tears were shed by yours truly. I am really sad to leave because I’ve made so many close friends here and formed bonds that I hope will last the rest of my life! I got particularly teary when I spoke about not knowing when I’ll see some of these people again (particularly the Chinese ones!) and I hope my choked up speech came across better to my guests than it sounded to me! I’m having a final farewell party on Wednsday night (my final night in China!) at bbq and I think even more people will pitch up! Tomorrow I teach my final 2 classes while training the new guy, it’s bound to be a tearful few days!! I hate goodbyes!!

Drawing to a close…

3 days left in China! I can’t believe it!

Random Chinese fact: It’s illegal to drive a motorbike on the highways in China. And in some places, it’s illegal to drive one in the city. This is interesting because over in Vietnam, there’s nothing BUT motorbikes.  Huh.

More goodbyes

Just said goodbye to what I would designate my naughtiest class. This is the class where i can’t go 10 minutes without yelling at someone to sit down, be quiet, or to not speak Chinese! It was very bittersweet. On one hand, I will miss the students because (though they are wild) they are really quite funny and I enjoy teaching them most weeks. On the other hand, I’m glad that the torture is over and perhaps my “Goodbye!” was a tad on the thankful/grateful side.

So long!

Goodbye Parties

So I’m gearing up to leave in less than a week and the majority of this weeks classes are goodbye parties! My students have been bringing me gifts which is so sweet! I have class in an hour and a few students are already here and they are already crying because they’ll not only miss me but my PA Serena, who has been their Chinese-English teacher for atleast 2 or 3 years now. When my students graduate TB2B they’ll go to the next level (Book 6) and that level no longer requires a PA because the students should be competent enough in English at that point so they wont need constant translation. Hopefully they wont cry too much, they might get me to join in!

ps

If you just read the post I published not 30 seconds ago, I just realized that I can add pictures to my blogs! I should have been doing that this whole time, I’m so mad at myself for not exploring my options on here more!! If I have time this week and if I EVER get internet in my apartment again, I may just go back to my older posts and add pictures of my adventures with them, that way it gives a visual as well as the story. What’s a year of blogging to late for a perfectionist? 🙂

Shih Tzu’s

If you know my family, you know that we own 2 shih tzu’s named Mai-Ling and Khan, respectively. The Shih Tzu is a tradional chinese dog and the name means “lion” because they were originally bred to resemble lions painted in traditional Chinese art. However, I had always heard that this breed of dog was created specifically for one of the Chinese Emporers as some sort of protection for his palace, which is very strange because shih tzu’s are so lazy and small. I heard a funny rumour recently that I thought I’d share, and it’s that Shih tzu’s were only bred because the Emporer wanted something to warm his feet at night as he slept, and slippers just wouldn’t do. If this rumour is true, then it was an extremely successful invention because my dogs have been sleeping on my feet their entire lives, whether it’s wanted or not! As for the “security dog” rumour, I assume that it has to do with how yippy the breed can be when someone comes through the front door or enters the room. Their barking can be a pretty good security alarm, particularly in ancient China. Anyway, this rumour made me laugh and I thought I’d share! Things that make you go “hmmm…”

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