Ok so wow, it has been a long time since I have updated! I am vowing to get better at writing things down, because I know I will want to remember them later!
So, life in China has just been keeping on and I really feel like I have a handle on things here now. First off, Larissa's birthday was last month and it was really fun! 23 whooo old lady ;) Melissa and I got her a cake from Paris Baguette which has a ton of cute things. We surprised her when she and Linda came over to watch a movie, and it was quite the process. The candles were not so great and I had the cheapest lighter in the world, so I burned myself a few times, but we managed to surprise her so it was great! We celebrated in school too which was fun, the kids really seemed to enjoy celebrating a teacher birthday (plus 23 is so different from everyone having a 6 year old birthday, haha it was really cute) I'm excited to celebrate my birthday with the kids, it will be fun sharing it with them!
That weekend we went out to Hot Pot, which was delicious! I had never been before so it was a great first experience. At this restaurant, everyone has their own pot of broth in front of them on a burner so it starts to boil and there are spices, and garlic and things for flavor in the broth and then in the middle of the table are different things that we ordered, like different kinds of meat, vegetables, some meatballs, shrimp paste, tofu, etc. You just pick the different things that you want, put them in your own pot to cook and eat! Its fantastic, and one of my new favorite places to eat! After dinner, some of the teachers went on to KTV, which is the Chinese version of karaoke. It was great though, because here you get your own room to rent with your friends with a giant couch and table and the tv on the wall so you pick your songs and sing loud with all your friends. We passed the mic's around but mostly it was everyone just singing together and laughing, and it is the best way to do karaoke in my opinion! Haha it was great :) To end the night, we all went out dancing in San Latun which was fun. We almost decided to try and stay up until 6 to see the flag raising at Tienanmen but we got too sleepy and didn't make it. I am setting a personal goal, though, to see it before I leave here!
Other than that birthday weekend, things have been fairly normal here. I got my first care package from my parents which was so exciting, I love getting mail but this was the best ever! It had all my favorite things inside, and it was just so fun to open and see! haha I chose that for the picture for this entry so you can see it. It really made me feel loved. And now, I have started to think about Christmas shopping so everyone, quick - tell me what you want for Christmas! I have been taking a bit of a break from heading out to markets every weekend because it can be exhausting arguing over the price of every single thing you buy, so taking a little time off from the bartering was needed. There are still a few places that I want to see though, and there is actually an event at the Canadian International School this weekend where I have heard that you can get great Christmas presents so I think we will check that out tomorrow. Tonight, I think we are heading back out on the town for some dancing, so that should be fun :) It's so fun going out here, because living in an expat district is a great way to meet people from so many different places! Just last weekend we met people from England, Austrailia and Africa all in the same bar, and it is really fun just seeing what everyone is doing here in Beijing! I look forward to weekends out with the girls! Even when we don't go out, Melissa and I will sometimes just have roommate nights, with lots of dancing and listening to music and sometimes the occasional power hour. We wear out sunglasses at night, no big deal ;) haha oh weekends are so much fun! I would really like to get back into doing some of the sightseeing I was doing when I first got here, I just feel like the weeks are going by so fast! There are still a lot of places I want to see like the Great Wall, Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, etc. It's all going to happen I know, I just don't want to be doing it while freezing my butt off!
One other side note, as some of you know .. I am going to be running in the Great Wall Half Marathon in May and I am so excited! I still have to pay for it, (I know, I know I have been putting it off for a while now, I really am paying for it this weekend!) but I have started to get back into shape which feels so good! Since I broke my arm, working out kind of took a back seat, but even just in the last week and a half or so I have felt so much better. Starting to run again and go to some workout classes has been great, I love belonging to the gym here. So wish me luck .. and it should be a fun ride to May!
Don't get me wrong.. Beijing is not all play and no work. Things at school have been going really well. I have started doing some science things with the kids, which has been really fun. We started talking about the concepts of solids, liquids and gasses this week which was cool. Very very basic stuff of course, mostly our goal was to introduce the words to the kids and get them understanding some of the easier differences. We had already talked them to about the earth in terms of land, water and air so it was a good segway into this unit. Larissa is getting ready to start her lead teacher part of her internship, so that should be pretty fun! Being an Assistant Teacher this year has been really valuable so far, because Kindergarten is the oldest age I have ever worked with. I do enjoy it, though I think if I continue on the teaching route, preschool will probably be the route I follow. It has been a lot of fun getting to know my kids though, and I have learned a lot from working with my lead teacher as well as Larissa! Christmas Break is fast approaching though, and the break will be really nice!
Some other new things that have started are my classes that I have been taking. On Mondays, I have been taking an art class with Kate, the Art Teacher at 3e and it has been so much fun! I have never really considered myself good at Art, so I never really gave myself any reason to just draw, or sketch or create anything just to create. Since taking the classes with Kate once a week, I have been really enjoying myself. Even though I am still no Monet, I have been pretty proud of some of the things I have done and there are still more classes left. It has been a well-worth it experience, and I'm happy I took the chance :)
My Chinese lessons have also started as of a couple weeks ago, and I have really enjoyed them so far! I know that I won't be fluent by Christmas or anything, but the few things I have learned so far have been fun to practice and will just be helpful for getting around Beijing! First, we started off by learning Pinyin, which is the "english spelling" of the Chinese characters. Basically, it looks like English so foreigners like me can figure out how to say the things on the signs and I can have some hope of knowing where I am going throughout the city. This past week we started learning about how to ask questions, and the first questions I learned was about nationality. It's actually a question you hear a lot around here, so it will be nice that I will know how to answer! haha I am looking forward to the rest of my lessons, and I will dazzle you all with my Chinese skills when I come home :)
A few weeks ago was Guy Fawkes' night in the UK, which we celebrated at school and it reminded me how much fun it is to be living and working in such an international setting. It was fun to celebrate something that I never have before, and it was also great getting to make some s'mores and just hang out with the other teachers for a while after a busy week. It's a lot of fun working with people that have grown up all over the world. Some of my coworkers have lived in, America, England, The Phillippines, Taiwan, Japan and China and I think it is so interesting! I love the different perspectives and life stories, and I am never bored at work :)
Next week is Thanksgiving, which seems so strange. It just doesn't feel the same at all being over here, and I honestly can't believe that the holidays are so close. It's obviously not a thing people really celebrate over here, but a few teachers are going to be getting together on Thursday for dinner and just to have some time to celebrate with each other. It will be nice to have a Thanksgiving Dinner, because I didn't really know what to expect for that when I came over here. I also have a countdown started on my calendar in my bedroom for the day I head back to the USA and I am sooo excited!! In 32 days, I will be on a plane headed for America and it will be so great! I love living here, but it will be really nice to get home and be able to talk to everyone without the use of a computer screen! Friends and family .. get ready for a jam packed, super fun 12 days with me! We are going to have a blast, and its going to be awesome. It will be sad to head back, but the break is just what I need right now.
Well, those are some of the major updates I have so far. I have really started to settle into my working girl "routine" here and started to feel really at home. I even got my hair cut, which I though was brave! I couldn't really understand what he was saying, but Linda was there to help a little bit and we most communicated through hand gestures and some magazine pictures of hairstyles haha it was quite an experience but I left with a haircut I loved so that was great! My birthday is in a couple of weeks which is crazy .. 23 is coming up, ahh! It should be fun, though I'm not sure what we're going to do to celebrate yet. I'll have to get something figured out :) Thank you to everyone who has been able to skype and/or email me, I love hearing from everyone back in the States - it makes me feel less disconnected from life back home. I will really try and write in here more often, consider it a personal goal. Until then .. I'm sending my love from Beijing ♥