Wow. I’ve spent a year in China
I’ve spent a year in China?!
Where has the time gone? I was only meant to stay for 6 months, but now I’ve ended up doing a year in China, I hope I can show people that I’m the living proof of flexibility, especially in a deteriorating job market. I threw complete caution to the wind before coming out here and yes, I think it is definitely the second best decision I’ve ever made in my life. The first? Choosing Newcastle as my university.
This is my 100th post on my blog, of which 98 posts have been from my year in China so I’ve been reading back some of my old posts from this time last year, when I had just arrived in China and all the wonderful new experiences I felt, so I’m going to revisit some of my comments here. Why don’t you go and check them out too? I’ve provided links for each one to see it in the bigger context.
- 31st August 2011 – “We had some lunch (by this time it was nearing 3pm!) which consisted of a plate of cabbage and potato with some pork (very nice) and a bowl of rice (not a big fan of the whole plain rice thing!)” – I made this comment on my first full day in China . Now, eating rice like this seems second nature, especially when drinking with a meal.
- 10th September 2011 – “On a side note, I’m getting more adept at using the buggers (chopsticks), though noodles are still completely out of my league!” I would class myself as much more proficient now, however noodles can still be tricky sometimes. I’ve also found that wooden chopsticks are much more useful than plastic ones as their surface isn’t as smooth.
- Also 10th September 2011 – “Baijiu is a very strong Chinese spirit, something like sake, but not and a similar strength to vodka, and sometimes more. Everyone thought it would be a good idea to celebrate with a bottle, and a couple of shots later, I wasn’t regretting it surprisingly.” How wrong I was. Baijiu is the devil. I no longer touch the stuff. I am older and wiser to its experiences…
- 14th September 2011 – Kang Bashi. I know a lot more about this city now. The BBC regularly runs an article on it now and I feel privileged to have lived near there!
- 23rd September 2011 – “However, I am beginning to learn and recognise some symbols and their Pinyin. This is mostly of food based stuffs, i.e. lamb, chicken, pork and beef. Obviously handy in restaurants with no pictures of the food, but we’ve been lucky so far and have eaten at restaurants with picture menus.” My Chinese has certainly improved. Yes, food was always high on the agenda, but I’m beginning to recognise many more characters now, which surprised Rachel the other day. I will begin having Chinese lessons again in the new term, I really want to make a good go of it.
- 11th October 2011 – I still have this dragon picture; it’s hanging in my room right now!
- 20th October 2011 – It really is the little things that matter sometimes. I’ve lost count of all the tiniest experiences I’ve had that have made me smile. If anything makes you smile, whatever you are doing, then it is noteworthy.
- 4th November 2011 – My first visit to Beijing. Just wow. Having lived in sleepy Ordos for 2 months up until this point, this was a great experience. Especially as it started my new hobby in China, collecting interestingly translated English signs.
- 19th November 2011 – “[…]we ended up receiving some severe positive discrimination with free gym membership to a fairly posh gym.” Yes, I cannot lie. There have definitely been times that I have been treated differently because I’m a foreigner out here. We are seen as exotic, a luxury and are sometimes treated as such. This was probably the most extravagant gift I’ve had since being here, but I’ve also had other things happen, like free taxi rides and free beer which are just as insane. Also, this post mentions Swindon’s 4-1 win over Huddersfield in the FA Cup last season. As we’ve just beaten Premiership team Stoke City in the League Cup, it’s kind of crazy to think how well Swindon have done since I’ve been in China. Hell, the last game I saw properly live was on 21st August 2011 when we lost to Oxford, the only game we lost at home that season!!!
- 26th November 2011 – The now unbeatably funny exam mistake “What is it?” “It’s a banana.”
- 30th November 2011 – My 3 month anniversary. “I ended up meowing like a cat in one of the shops to try and get directions [to a pet shop].” One of those funny little experiences again, plus a lowdown of everything I loved in 3 months of living in China.
- 27th December 2011 – A Christmas abroad and news of my move to Zhangzhou.
- 19th January 2012 – I didn’t update my blog for almost 3 weeks because of my heavy schedule of eat, teach, sleep and repeat, however I managed to go to the Kang Bashi ice festival with some of the CTs, which was really fun!
- 21st January 2012 – Painting TieXi school, round 1.
- 1st February 2012 – Visiting a friend’s hometown. It’s not just the big cities I have been able to visit; I have been fortunate to have been invited to friend’s family homes, which has been an honour and a privilege.
- 24th February 2012 – Moving to Zhangzhou.
- 25th/26th February 2012 – My posts from my visit to Xi’an and my second visit to Beijing. Very long, and a lot of photos but I think some of my best work to date.
- 12th March 2012 – Discovering just how big China really is.
- 18th March 2012 – Pictures of my first students in Zhangzhou, and the paintings I did in school.
- 4th April 2012 – My first proper visit to Xiamen.
- 14th April 2012 – The infamous “bull’s penis” post: “I did however, not back down and managed to find the most meaty looking bit I could to have a taste (this sentence sounds so wrong but I’m going to leave it in)[…] If the dish had still retained the penis-like shape, then I would have probably and very politely declined.” Also my list of gripes in China.
- 30th April 2012 – I cannot miss out my post where Swindon won the League Two as Champions.
- 7th May 2012 – Visiting another friend’s hometown and sampling tea. Lots of it: “I got more and more excited about the tea, maybe ridiculously so but I want to enjoy every minute of being out here and not be cynical or bored. I revel in anything that I get shown, and the hospitality that I have experienced from any family that I meet is second to none.”
- 16th May 2012 – There’s always time to comment on my hopefully thought provoking post about what a “millionaire’s life” means to you: “I feel rich in many more ways than any related to money, I can tell you.”
- 2nd June 2012 – Branching out into the world of Photoshop.
- 5th July 2012 – My blog relaunched, plus funny consequences and a sign about a prostitute: “Her husband is a rich man from Hong Kong, but after an unfortunate accident he is left without his penis…” click the link to read more!
- 6th July 2012 – One of my posts that randomly gets a lot of hits because of the Sunderland FC logo.
- 15th July 2012 – My homage to David Nicholls’ book, One Day: “I’m curious about the world around me. Not a know-it-all, as some may perceive me. Though let them. They’ll always be the ones missing opportunities, missing out on beautiful details that make my time here even more special.”
- 27th July 2012 – My love letter to Newcastle upon Tyne: “It was magical to see the Tyne and the bridges again and a little tear definitely welled up in my eyes. I […] had my photo taken with an Olympic torch […] it felt amazing. I’ve watched these torches for weeks and now I’ve held one!”
- 12th August 2012 – The account of my trip home to the UK and the Olympics.