Enjoying a beautiful walk tonight
Enjoying a beautiful walk tonight
One month TODAY, I will be landing in Santiago, Chile!! I have enjoyed, for the most part, my time in China but I am SO excited to be heading to the southern hemisphere and a brand new continent!
My South American journey has many places to see, and things to do. I cannot wait to get started on this next chapter of my life!! Here are just a few things I want to see and do!
1. The Atacama desert – I have been doing research about the desert, and this is something I cannot miss while in Chile!! San Pedro de Atacama looks so charming, and there are reasonably priced tours to go and observe the stars, and be mesmerized by the sky. I cannot wait to be there!!
2. Eat empanadas from a street vendor in Santiago – there are many street markets in Santiago, and I want to see everything, and inhale all the delicious smells of Chile, and enjoy a freshly made empanada.
3. Enjoy Chilean wine – I am not a big wine drinker but I do know that Chile has some of the best wine in the world, and I am going to try it while I am there.
4. Valparaiso and Vina del Mar – these ocean cities are a bus ride away from Santiago. I want to be by the ocean, enjoy fresh seafood, and take a walk on the beach.
5. Ride a bike through the countryside of Chile, near the Andes.
There are so many things I want to do and to see in my life. These are just a few that I know I can accomplish this year. Any suggestions of other things I shouldn’t miss?
Forks and knives are not easy commodities to find in China. If you go to a Western restaurant, then they will provide you with them (ex. Pizza Hut).
But usually you are given chopsticks. Wooden ones, disposable ones ~ I have even used metal ones! Only once though ~ they are NOT easy to use!
When I first arrived, I was very self-conscious about using them. Was I holding them right? No I wasn’t haha. Were people staring at my ineptness? Yes and taking pictures too! That doesn’t make one more self-conscious at all! One day I will ask why they insist on taking pictures of foreigners eating. It is very disconcerting!
After a few weeks of eating at the school with only chopsticks available, I became much more comfortable with them.
So now, 10 months after arriving in China, I can say that I can eat everything with chopsticks! Except soup… haha. I can pick up a single piece of rice with my chopsticks! I can pick up a piece of chicken and easily eat it.
One more thing I have succeeded at while in China ~ eating with chopsticks!!
After reading many many MANY blogs and reviews about traveling, and backpacks, and luggage, and looking at all the pros and cons, I have succumbed to living the life of a traveler, and have purchased a backpack. A 55 litre backpack, with padded shoulder pads and a padded waistband, and so many other features it is mind boggling. Some of the features I don’t even know what they are for!
I have fought off buying one. I thought that a suitcase would be more practical, I could carry more things, it has four wheels so its easy to push around. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t need all the stuff I have. I need clothes, my important papers, minimal footwear (boots and runners), and other small incidentals. The bigger the suitcase, the more you are going to bring. It’s all about minimalism.
My life is so very different from 20 years ago, as I am sure most people’s lives are. Back then, I had a house, a husband (haha) and so many things. I was happy with all of that then, but as time went by, my mind shifted and I realized that things don’t make me happy ~ people and experiences make me happy.
I don’t need stuff. I need to travel. So a backpack is the way to go for me. This does NOT mean I will backpack through countries (I still want to be comfortable!), but it does mean no baggage check in, and easier to get around the world with my possessions on my back rather than dragging along beside me.
So a backpacker I have become!! A new era of Louise has begun!!
Awww the sun. It’s a glorious thing. It gives you a bronzed look, necessary Vitamin D, a sunny spirit and an overall great feeling. Sunny days, anytime of the year, always put me in a great mood.
But at 5am?? I am trying to get used to the very early sunrise here in Northeast China. I just need to adjust my evening routine to accommodate my early waking hours.
With the early sunrise also comes sounds like birds chirping and some that are not, what I consider, normal sounds for these hours. Children’s voices outside at 5:30am, people walking and talking (loudly), the cars honking (why???), and the sounds of spitting outside my window. If only I could sleep with my window closed!
Awww yes, the glorious sounds of spring and summer are upon us. Its time for me to start walking early in the morning and take advantage of the early sunshine!
There is only one Grade 4 class at the school. They were my first class to teach each week ~ Mondays at 8:55am. The class never started on time, my time was always short with them, and that was disappointing for us. Despite the time constraints, we always managed to have a fun class.
There is so much potential for the brilliant minds that are in this class. I could have actual conversations with some of the kids and they were able to understand me and communicate with me.
They were a class of chatters but I still was able to connect with them. They were a tough class to teach some days. Tough in that they were the most distracted of all the classes. Their classroom was in a corner away from the others due to renovations in the school. Their interaction was mostly with each other so it was understandable that they chatted.
They were engaging when I had an interesting game or activity to do, they liked asking me questions about Canada and they also liked giving me a hard time about my minimal Chinese. I did manage to surprise them on occasion with some new Chinese words though! They were very intent on teaching me Chinese!
Some of my favourite lessons with them were Scattegories, Scrambled Sentences, and Charades. The charades was a very rambunctious game that came at a price of a broken ruler (not on one of them ~ on a desk~ oops!!)
I enjoyed the time with them and I can sense that there are going to be a lot of very successful students in that class.
As with all the students I have met and taught at Livon, I will miss these kids very much!! It has been such an amazing experience teaching all these kids.
If someone asked me what my favourite grade was to teach in China, this was it. Grade 3 without a doubt. These kids were awesome.
They were fun to teach, they were funny, they understood a lot, I could be silly with them but they also knew when they had to listen. One loud bang of the giant yellow ruler and they knew it was time to stop and listen.
Playing with them at lunch time (what time is it Mr. Wolf!), eating lunch with them every day, bonding with them outside of school at the playground ~ these are the kids that I will miss the most.
There are only two Grade 3 classes, each with 36 students, so it was much easier to get closer to them. These kids ~ oh these kids ~ I will miss their laughter, their questions, their smiles, and their generous nature. The snacks they would feed me, the high fives in the hallway, and lots of hugs.
Albert, Frog, Yoyo, Sun, Sam, Terry, Derek, Nick, Coco, Cici, Angel ~ these are the names that immediately come to my mind but I will remember every single one of them. (I wish I was just making those names up….but I’m not. Those are their English names!)
The Grade 2 students may have made me a better teacher, but the Grade 3 students showed me how much I truly love this career I have.
Shine on kids, be the stars you are all destined for and know that I am going to miss you all so much!!
Grade 2 kids ~ these kids are so smart, they are gaining confidence with their English, and are very inquisitive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how old are you (answer is always older than you), are you okay, where do you live, what’s your phone number, and the list goes on.
They love games ~ Teacher Says is their favourite. Its been challenging to keep them interested and motivated but I have succeeded.
I definitely have favourite students ~ I would be lying if I said I didn’t. Leo, Tom, Hardy, Ang Lee, Lucy and Ella are the ones that I love seeing every day.
Seven grade 2 classes, average of 40 students in a class ~ a lot of inquisitive children who are always excited to see me! They love feeding me their snacks too (usually with their hands right into my mouth ~ no wonder I had so many colds!).
The unabashed hugs, taking my hand and leading me into class, the excited faces when I stand at the front of class and say “Teacher says stand up!” ~ those are the moments I will miss the most.
These kids have made me a better teacher with their questions and their eyes lighting up when they realize they can understand what I am saying. Their quick minds, short attention spans and endless fidgeting made it challenging, but I can say that I came, I saw, I conquered!!
Teaching this past year in China has been an amazing experience for so many reasons, but these children are the main reason.
Grade 1 students ~ they range in age from 6 to 9. Sweet, innocent, beautiful children who embraced me from day one, who weren’t shy to come up and hug me or hold my hand while walking down the halls of Livon. Who would see me and yell out my name, so I would wave back or say hello. Who would walk by a classroom when I was teaching and wave and say hello.
These are the kids who grabbed on to me, showed me their love for me and found their way into my heart forever.
Twelve different grade 1 classes a week, with forty students in each class ~ I may not know all of their English names, but I know all their faces. I will miss seeing them every day once I leave. I hope they will miss me a little bit before their new teacher starts in the next semester. I hope a part of them will remember “Teacher Louisa” or “Teacher Lulu”, because she will forever remember them.
There are many unusual things to eat here in China, some more unusual than others (BBQ scorpion no thanks!). The fun part of traveling is leaving your inhibitions aside and trying new things, if you are brave enough!!
Chicken gizzards ~ no. BBQ scorpions ~ no. Unknown meat ~ well maybe. Unknown seafood fried on a stick ~ yes and it was delicious!! I know I ate chicken feet at one point unbeknownst to me. It was okay but doubtful that I will have it again willingly or knowingly!!
One of the more unusual fruit here is dragonfruit. Its skin is bright pink, it has spikes all over it and doesn’t look like fruit at all!!
Inside it’s white with little black seeds (?). It has a nice light fruity taste. It is not overly sweet, definitely not sour, and is quite refreshing. It has a soft texture similar to a ripe pear. I had tried it back in Calgary and thought it was tasty so I knew what it was like. Of course, being in the country where it’s from, I had to try it!! And it is more delicious here!!
Next thing to try ~ octopus in Chile!!