Monthly Archives: July 2017

The wonderful world of blogging!

I started blogging, seriously, after I had arrived here in China.  I am sorry I didn’t do more blogging when I lived in Prague, but it is what it is!!  Blogging has become my newest addiction!!  It’s a healthy one at least.  My food addiction – well not so healthy sometimes haha.  My book addiction has been seriously curtailed due to me leaving in less than two weeks – I have had to reduce the number of notebooks I have to about 5 – and that was hard to do!

 

Back to blogging – I started blogging because I love writing.  I wanted my family and friends back in Canada to read about what I was experiencing.  I never really thought much about what kind of impact blogging would have on me.  I am trying to keep up a schedule with my blogs, but some days I have “blogger’s block” (is that a thing?), and other days I want to write about so many different things!

 

I am happy to say that it has had a very positive impact on me.  My writing skills have improved, as have my photography skills (at least in my mind they have!).  But more importantly, I have discovered a whole new world – a fantastic world.  The world of bloggers.

 

I have spent this afternoon reading blogs about people giving up their careers for a year or two and traveling around the world.  I enjoy the traveling blogs.  I have been reading food blogs, inspirational blogs, and so many more.  The world is a crazy, and a bit scary, place these days, and it is so nice to read so many happy stories.

 

Blogging is such a great way to connect with people from all around the world, and read about what other people are talking about or seeing.  It has opened my eyes and has inspired me to pursue more dreams.  I have also added more places to see and visit on my ever-changing bucket list!

 

I am so grateful for all of my fellow bloggers who have started following my blog, and wanting to read about my life and my thoughts.

 

So this blog is to my fellow bloggers – thank you so much for becoming a part of my blogging life, and thank you for sharing with me your life.  I appreciate all of you!!

 

Exercising – it hurts!

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t hurt.  Just when I haven’t done it in a long time!  Exercising and losing weight.  Both have been a never ending battle for me all my life.  I walk a lot!  And I eat a lot – which is why I walk a lot haha!!

Walking machine?  Like a treadmill – I think!!  It’s a great workout for the legs and cardio too!

 

Here in China, they take exercising to a whole new level, and I have hopped on that bandwagon!  They get up very early every day, and they get out to walk and do exercises at these machines.  They do Tai Chi (I think…) in the parks, and they dance in the evenings.  I don’t do the dancing, although before I leave I want to see if they will let me join in !  But I have been exercising!!

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I don’t quite understand what this machine does, but I use it once a week.

 

There are exercise areas all over the city – and I am very lucky to have several spots near my home so that I really have no excuse not to be exercising.  I do still come up with excuses (it’s human nature to do that isn’t it?), but since the weather has cooled down lately, I have been getting out every day and using these machines.  Plus I walk at least 30 minutes every day around the area, usually in the evening.   And it has been working, because I have lost weight – my clothes are definitely looser and I feel better.

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The twisting machine – my favourite!!!

 

 

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For the arms – and yes it works!!  My arms feel much stronger!

The halls of Livon

The United Experimental School of Ahsju and Livon is the name of the school I have taught at this year.

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This school was amazing for so many reasons (the students, the teachers) but the sheer size of this school was incredible.  It looks like a shopping centre.

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From the cafeteria that can seat at least 800 people to the auditorium that seats over 1,000 people, to the size of the classrooms ~ I have never seen an elementary school this size before.

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There are 5 floors, the first being the library, the offices, the cafeteria, auditorium, and the special classrooms. The remaining floors are all classrooms for grade 1 up to grade 9.
It is only two years old so it mostly comes with modern amenities (except modern toilets ~ thank goodness they have handicap toilets for those of us who don’t like squatting).

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It really is a sight to see!!  I am so proud to have been part of this school!

 

Saying so long to new friends

I am an outgoing person.  I will strike up a conversation with anyone, pretty much wherever I am.  If I see someone who looks like they probably speak English, I always say hello!  And that in turn has the person saying hello back, and we start a conversation – where are you from?  What are you doing here?  Almost always it is another teacher!  I have met people here in Changchun from South Africa, Australia, Morocco, USA, Canada and of course China. 

 

Chinese people can be very friendly once they get over their nervousness of trying to speak English.  About a year ago (end of August 2016), I had decided to explore Changchun and got on a bus not knowing where it was heading to.  I stayed on until the end, and discovered a beautiful park.  I wandered through it, and hoped my GPS on my phone would help me find my way back.  No such luck.  I did find a street that I recognized, but I had myself so turned around that I had no idea what way to go.

 

 Instead of panicking, I decided to wing it and just wander around until I found someone who might be able to help me.  I knew where I wanted to go and I knew the Chinese name for it. So off I went.  I remembered in the Czech Republic, my instincts always said ask a younger person because they will in all likelihood be studying or have studied English – and they will understand.  Well, I approached a young man at a bus stop, and asked him which bus I should take.  He understood me enough to be able to point me in a direction that would get me there.  I said thank you, and crossed the street to the other bus stop.  About two minutes later, he was there tapping me on my shoulder.  He had found an easier way for me to get to my destination, and walked me to the right bus stop.  We exchanged numbers and off I went.haha

Well, this very nice young man has become a very good friend of mine.  Zero is his English name (I cannot pronounce his Chinese name).  He introduced me to Cinderella and Nancy, and the three of them have all become very good friends.

 

Tonight we all got together and had a nice dinner together and then went to KTV, to say so long (I never say good bye!), and enjoy each other’s company one more time as a group.  They are all wonderful young Chinese people.  The two ladies are Chinese English teachers, and Zero works with computer software for schools (that’s what I understand anyway!).  The generosity (and I use that word a lot here in China but it’s so appropriate) of these people is overwhelming.  I am going to miss the three of them very much.  Zero wants me to come back next May for his wedding (sorry but I don’t think that is in my plan!). 

 

It’s amazing how getting lost in a foreign country can help you find lovely people that become close friends! I am very grateful for becoming friends with these three people.  It has made me enjoy my time here very much!

Community gardens

After a very rainy day yesterday, with temperatures dropping to the mid-teens finally, (and a decent sleep last night), the sun shone brightly this morning, and I decided to head out for a coffee and then a walk. 

 

The area of Changchun that I live in is very nice.  It’s a new community, with new buildings going up, and new shops opening.  The school I taught in is only two years old, and they are already improving it.  The population is exploding.  I enjoy walking in this area and feel safe at night walking too.

 

Today, I was on a mission.  I had seen the community garden back in May and it was starting to grow.  Some small unknown plants (a gardener I am NOT!) were sprouting at that time, and I had kept telling myself I needed to go back to see it.  Well I was not disappointed this morning!!

 

The growth in just two months is incredible. The sunflowers are tall and beautiful.  The corn stalks are up and there is corn for picking.  Eggplants are still small but they are coming along nicely.  And the tomatoes!!   They are all still green but my goodness there are hundreds of tomato plants!!!  I hope to get back to pick some fresh tomatoes before I leave, but I am not sure if they will be ripe enough for picking by then.

 

This community garden is a fantastic idea!  Anyone can come and pick produce from there.  You don’t need to pay for anything.  It is there for everyone.  And while I can recognize corn, eggplants and tomatoes – I have no idea what else is growing but there is a lot growing there and in abundance. 

 

This is a project that should be undertaken in all cities around the world in my opinion.  It is a great community project, everyone gets involved.  I saw at least four families there today weeding, and cleaning up the area.  Some were picking the eggplants – although I don’t think they were quite ready to be picked.  But who am I to say that – like I said I am not a gardener.

 

It is a fantastic idea to make the community stronger, and healthier, and to get the children participating in something that is good for them, their neighbours, and the environment!!   The children love telling me about it when they see me – they tell me what they have picked or planted and that they spend their time there with their grandparents and parents.  It really is an incredible thing to see. 

And this is another thing that I will miss about the area that I live in – the community and family feel.  The generosity and kindness that I see in these people to each other. 

In search of myself

When I first started traveling three years ago (which seems more like a lifetime ago!), I never really thought that I was in search of myself.  I just knew I needed a change in my life, that my job was making me feel stagnant, and that I was ready to discover more about the world.  I thought I was a well-grounded person then, who knew what she wanted and what she was going to do with the rest of her life.  What has happened in the past three years has definitely changed all of that thinking.

 

A friend asked me recently if I felt I had been “living a lie” before I started out on this new life.  If I had noticed a change in myself after a few short weeks of my new life.  I answered pretty quickly and said that while I didn’t think I had been living a lie, I think what I had been doing was living a life that everyone else was living.  A predictable, safe life.  Working 9-5, paying my bills, hanging out with friends.  Don’t get me wrong – I had a fun life in Calgary!  I worked at a great company, I had the best friends (and still have them!), and lived in a nice area in a nice house.  It was safe.  It was what everyone expected someone of my age to be doing.  And I really loved my life in Calgary.  So what made me want to leave such a great life?   I wanted to travel.  I wanted to live in another country. 

 

I never considered my life BP (before Prague) as an unhappy life.  Was it an unfulfilled life?  Yes, I believe that now.  My job, while it was a really good job, was just that.  A job.  Not a career.  Not something I could see myself doing for years (even though I had done it for almost 30 years).  I knew in my heart that there was something more that I wanted to do, and that I just needed to find out what it was.

 

One month after arriving in Prague, I graduated from my TEFL program, and was officially a TEFL certified teacher.  I knew right then that my life had changed.  I knew I would never go back to my old life.  I knew that Europe was where I was going to be for a while.  Prague was amazing.  I found my self-confidence grew while I was there.  I found out that I loved teaching – that teaching was not a job but a career.  My self-esteem improved.  I no longer felt awkward.  I no longer felt like I was in the shadows of someone else, trying to show that I was just as good as they were.  I no longer felt that I needed to be in a relationship to be truly happy. 

 

So, almost three years later, I can answer that question my friend asked me honestly.  No, I wasn’t living a lie.  I was living my BP life.  I was living the life I needed to then.  I am now living the life I dreamt of, and am happier than I have ever been!  I don’t regret a moment of my BP life, nor do I regret any moment I have had since leaving Canada.  I am happy.  I am content.  And I am strong.  That is the biggest thing I have learned about myself.  The strength I have inside.  And I am now ready for my SA life!!  (South American life haha).