Sunday, August 29, 2010

New School, New Year

Well, I'm back in China, settled in, and ready to get the school year started. Summer was great, and one week too short. If I'd had another week in Utah to see everyone I needed, that would have been perfect. But as it is, my trip was pretty close to it. America is awesome. Just in case all you natives who are living there with English speaking, non-smoking, non-spitting people take it for granted. You blend in. People don't stare and ask to take your picture. No joke, this has happened to me in China. You can buy anything you want and you have a variety of food. Okay, that's all for my America pedestal putting.
China is good too; I like the food here, even though I miss Mexican food like nothing else. I live really well, make a good salary, and have a good circle of expat friends. I've learned to speak some Chinese, and can now function fairly competently on my own, which was not the case early last year. I needed a lot of help.
I've changed schools this year; I'm now going to be teaching grade six in the Bilingual (as opposed to International) section at Clifford School. Clifford is an enclosed community that is in Panyu, a suburb of Guangzhou. It has a lot more shops, stuff to do, and well... polish, is a good way to put it, I suppose.
I've been at school for over a week now, but no kids until this past Thursday. I thought that five and a half days for prep was a little excessive, but as the whole sixth grade was moved and we had to unpack the office as well, by the end I was feeling the pinch of dwindling time. I really like the other teachers I work with; I share my office with the other two sixth grade teachers and out TAs. It feels like a comedy show in there. Really good environment. School started on Thursday, and while I thought it kind of weird to start it that late in the week, by Friday I was grateful for the more gradual transition. I'll be working a lot harder here than I did at Country Garden School, and it made me tired already. My kids speak really good English -- better than I was expecting, so I'll be able to teach really good, in depth lessons. I'm kind of surprised how diverse my classrooms are for China; I have four kids from Taiwan, two from Hong Kong, one from Korea, South Africa, and Australia - all in one class. I haven't even asked my other class yet.
Earlier this week Andrew and Kimi and I bought electric bikes. I wasn't sure I really needed one, but I'm sold on it now. It's really nice to be able to just zip off and not have to wait for the bus. I just ride along, with my hair flying behind me and my purse hanging on one of the handlebars. Awesome.
I've also been crocheting a lot this week; I recently finished a project for which I waaaaay overbought yarn, so I've been trying to get rid of it all. I've made a scarf, a shawl, started a blanket, and done four hats (with limited success - they're harder than I thought; easy in theory, difficult in practice). I swept up my bedroom today, and the majority of it was fuzz from all the yarn. Stuart made fun of me for having such an "old maid" hobby, but I like doing it, and I can make things. What else should I be doing? Playing video games?
It's been a long weekend, and not quite as laid back as I'd been hoping. I did get a pedicure yesterday though, which is something. Now it's 9:40 and I'm ready for bed. I feel like such a boring grown up. But when the sun wakes you up at six in the morning, you gotta go to bed early.
Good night!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ahhhhh, Vacation

So, America is awesome. That's what I've concluded in my five weeks back in the States. Being in China made me realize and appreciate how great America really is. No spitting, staring, scary driving, or bones in my meat unless I ask for it. And people understand me when I talk to them. Which has been such a nice break from my new reality of sign language and broken apologies in Chinese for my massacre of their language. I've had a great time here; spent three weeks in Maryland with the family and shopped like a madwoman, and now two weeks in Utah, also shopping like a madwoman. I have to stock up on everything that I can't get or is difficult to get in China. I bought more clothes than I anticipated... oh well. I'm really enjoying being out in Utah; I really wish I had another week. I have too much to do, too many people I want to see, and not having a car sucks. I hate being dependent on everyone else for transportation; I feel like such a burden, and it makes me feel bad for putting anyone to any trouble. I'm staying at Rita's house for home base, with satellite visits up to Sandy for family time, and to Provo for friends-from-college time. Utah has been really fun to visit; I'd forgotten how pretty it is, and how much I enjoy it.
I spent some time up with Jen, Colin, and the boys, and it was awesome. Evan calls me "AnKatie," with no spaces. I think he thinks that is my real name. He's probably too young to know that "Aunt" isn't part of my name, but my relationship to him. So it's really cute; he wanders around and comes to me "AnKatie, I wanna watch Mickey Mouse," or something else, always preceded by "AnKatie." And he's a snuggler. Which is so nice. Ryan wasn't much of a snuggler, so I'm enjoying having a nephew to snuggle. Ryan is very much his father's son--interested in xbox games and not a whole lot else :) It's really cute to see him play Harry Potter Legos on the xbox. He gets really absorbed in it, and ends up standing six inches away from the tv until reminded to back up a bit. It's been really nice to hang out with Jen and catch up; we've done some shopping together, and she introduced me to In-N-Out, which is a burger chain from California that recently came to Utah.
I've also been hanging out with Ashley and Steven a lot, which has been great. They're thinking that they might come visit me in China next summer, so keep your fingers crossed, cause I would love to have them! It's been really nice to see everyone and play.
Yesterday I went to Walmart and Costco to load up on supplies for China this next year. Oh my gosh. Money money money. Oh well, I'll be grateful for it later :)
So that's all for now, I think. Nothing else really to report.