Monday, September 2, 2013

The Adventure Begins.

I can't believe I've been living in China for eleven days! It's certainly been a busy week filled with it's fair share of frustrations, happiness, learning curves, laughter, and moments to remember. As I sit here in my apartment reflecting on the last week and a half I remember many moments when I had honestly forgotten that I was living in China. I'm in a new country. I'm on the other side of the world from my home. And I'm doing okay. 

I am living in Tuan Li (pronounced Tu-ar Lee). Tuar Li is a village in eastern Beijing. It is small, but has the staples one needs to get by day to day. It reminds me of living in small town rural New Brunswick. Small, quaint, friendly. Tuar Li is about an hour from downtown Beijing. Talk about big! Much bigger than any city I've ever been to. I'm really enjoying living outside the city. It's very cheap to live in Tuan Li and it is definitely quieter than the city hub in Beijing.

So far, life in China has been very good to me. I'm meeting lots of wonderful people and making some great friends. I've been telling the people I'm living with here that I feel comfortable already. I'm so amazed at how quickly I'm adjusting to living in a new country, a new city, a new culture. Especially in Tuar Li - life here isn't as "westernized" as it is in the city centre of Beijing. You are thrown into the language, the lifestyle, and the culture from the get-go. I've learned how to say my numbers, order food, and other singular words or commands in mandarin.

Today (Monday) was my first day of teaching. My first day as a real life teacher, guys! My own students, my own lesson plans, my own style! The way the school works is that the students stay stationary in the same classroom all day and the teachers rotate throughout. I am teaching grade 10 AP1 and AP2  English Language, Literature, and Listening & Speaking. Today I taught my AP1 classes. They are great students. Being AP (advanced placement) students, they have a fairly good basis of knowledge for the english language. I can talk to the whole class and the majority understand what I am saying. They will ask what words mean and are curious about everything. I already feel connected with them, and I am so excited to see where the school year takes us. I can tell already that I've made the right decision for me at this point in my life and career.

On the weekends, I've been spending my time in Sanlitun (pronounced San-le-tur). I've heard it referred to as the "expat" area. It's quite westernized and has A LOT of shopping opportunities...much more than little ol' Tuar Li. The thing with going in to the city though is us "small town" folks get sticker shock. Everything is so cheap out in Sanlitun (like dinner tonight: food for 14 people plus beverages for under $5 a person. Yup. Cheap.) So, when you go out for supper at a western restaurant in Sanlitun and spend 80-120¥ on a meal, it's a bit of a blow to the wallet. Sometimes, though, you just need a big ol' burger and some french fries! 

I've really enjoyed checking out Yashow Market. It's floors and floors of shopping. Clothes, electronics, jewelry, purses, souvenirs, gadgets, gadgets, and more gadgets! This is the area where you start to learn how to barter. My first weekend here I bought a new Gucci watch, a hair dryer, a paper fan, chopsticks, and some DVD's for next to nothing. The weekend after I even got a manicure! Me. The girl who has been biting her nails my whole life - 24 years! It's been 9 days and I am nail biting free! I'm coming home to Canada a changed woman! 

So, life is good! I'm going to try and update more often - especially when I see and do some new and amazing things. In the near future I plan to check out Tienanmen Square, the Great Wall, and maybe a little vacation in the works. Stay tuned! 

PS - Thank you to EVERYONE (family, friends, loved ones, neighbours, etc.) who have been sending their love and support through cards, emails, Facebook messages, texts, etc. You have no idea how much it means and I have never in my life ever felt so loved and cared about! It is a testament to how lucky and blessed I am to know such amazing and wonderful people. Thank you!

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