End of Semester and Welcoming Chinese New Year!

(Gave all my students red packets full of chocolate)

The semester is drawing to an end before we welcome and the whole country goes on holiday for Chinese New Year. There is something so special about “firsts” and my first semester of teaching in China is something I foresee as always being incredibly meaningful in my life. My students, ages 4-11, have put in so much hard work this semester between the rolling of the eyes and “teacher no homework” complaints. My littles have learned to write the alphabet, blend sounds and read while my older students have learned to crank out five page essays like it’s nothing. I have been told dolphins look like me, pictures have been drawn of me dying by shark attack or explosion and I have gotten all the little squishy hugs. I have learned the art of bribing by stickers, taught them various high-five games to keep them focused and can shut their “bad behavior” with my famous glare. I have assured all the parents that their kids are wonderful and making progress (except that one kid who never does his homework….just kidding. He’s a doll). And most of all I have absolutely LOVED this first semester. I decided to write reflect and write a note to all my students.

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First Few Days of 2019: Shanghai Edition

Ni Hao 2019! 2019 is here and the holidays have had me in a state of sentimental reflection thinking about the past year and immensely looking forward to this one! There are so many moments in life, and even more now, that I pause and think “is this real life.” So many funny moments that are absurd, magical, wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking. I spent New Years Eve with my favorite British gals, Stacey and Fran eating delicious food, watching Taylor Swift on Netflix and popping some Proseco to ring in 2019. I was also introduced to the show the Inbetweeners, had a proper cup of British tea and danced around in a circle singing some old English song.

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I’ve Got (Holiday) Spirit, How About You?

Happy Holidays! Did Thanksgiving even happen? The Christmas spirit is here and thriving in Shanghai through excessively decorated malls, bright lights and consumerism. The holidays can often be a tough time for everyone no matter who they are or where they are in the world. Ive been doing lots of fun things to celebrate including going to a German Christmas market with the girls, decorating gingerbread houses with coworkers at my apartment and happily accepting the chocolate presents my students are giving me. Shanghai is very festive this time of the year and I am loving it!

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December

On the eve of the beginning of December, I am reflecting on the past few months of this chapter of my life. The middle of December marks fourth months of living in Shanghai! I was talking to a friend yesterday over Facetime and trying to describe how “right” my life feels at the moment. I feel to the core of me that I am exactly where I am meant to be and doing what I am meant to do in this chapter of my life. To me, Shanghai is pretty magical. My friends have always nicely teased me when I use words like “magical.” How I feel right now is as close to real life magic that I have ever left. I feel so settled in myself, passionate and excited about teaching, curious about everyday happenings and have consciously surrounded myself with some really phenomenal human beings.

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Golden Week and Hangzhou

I come to you writing this entry from under my IKEA covers with a 4 liter bottle of water next to me, a pile of kleenex on the other side and half a dozen riccola cough drops tossed around on my bed. Yes, I am sick. I can’t remember the last time I was this sick! I am not a sickly person but this horrendous cough, congestion, fatigue and fever has really done me in these past few days!

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Connections and Connecting in Shanghai

“The quality of our lives depend on the quality of our relationships.” -Esther Perel

Lately I have been focusing on the different relationships in my lives including with myself, friends, family, colleagues, students and the new people I meet everyday in Shanghai. Esther Perel is a psychotherapist who is most known for writing about intimate relationships in her best selling novels, TED talk and podcast that I have started listening to. She is so in-tune with relationship dynamics and I continue to listen to her podcast which is groundbreaking in its approach and look into different relationships and the complex elements that life brings.

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Falling in Love with Shanghai

I’ve only truly fallen in love once before. Love is the most inexplicable emotion that doesn’t quite make sense but is like nothing else and perhaps the purest of all the emotions. When it is real and lasting, there is nothing better. There are so many variations and types of love. I fell in love with school from a young age, have a true love for food and love traveling. I have also received the most pure and unwavering love from my family that as I get older continue to be so grateful for. I know how fortunate I have to have a lot of love in my life from my family and friends. There is a great quote from the movie The Fault in Our Stars that perfectly summarizes love for me.

“Falling in love is like falling asleep, it happens slowly then all at once.” 

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What Happened to August?

During my commute on the metro back home this afternoon, it dawned on me that it is September. I arrived in Shanghai the evening of August 15th and the last few weeks have been somewhat of a blur between surviving the heat, welcoming afternoon rain showers, moving out of my hotel, training for work and exploring Shanghai. I recently received my schedule for work and was informed that I have the first week of October entirely off for the autumn festival. I can only imagine that this week is hectic with celebrations and busy assuming that most of the country has the week off.

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Make Green Tea

I was pondering about how to start this post last night while I was madly pedaling away at my spin class. This spin class was my first chinese exercise class where my instructor looked straight out of a lululemon catalog and had the overly peppy personality to match. Chinese techno and pop music was being blasted in the background while I tried not to fall off of my bike and heard the Chinese versions of “YMCA” and “Ice, Ice Baby.” At one point the instructor had us doing body rolls while pedaling. I was very confused. Story of my life right now. I am mostly confused.

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Kids These Days

The other day I taught two impromptu classes to a student one-on-one to catch him up from prior missed classes. I had met him as he was in one of the classes that I observed and knew that he was an energetic and smart little boy! I taught him one block of reading and another of writing with a 10 minute break in-between. He already understood the words and phonetic sounds from the chapter, so we played a lot of games to review including word tic-tac-toe, hangman and some games I easily made with blank paper and markers.

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