Category Archives: Solo traveler

​Grade 4 ~ Monday morning madness


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.

​Grade 2 ~ oh the challenges!!


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!!

From the delicious to the bizarre…

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!!

These faces…

It’s been a busy week with teaching. Extra lessons in the evenings and on weekends keep me busy.

My time here is quickly coming to an end, and as excited as I am to be heading to a new country and new adventures in a couple of months, I can’t begin to explain how much I will miss these kids. 

Yellow Dust

Living in China has been an experience that I don’t regret taking at all. But the past week it’s been an eye opening experience.

Yellow dust.  It’s something more than smog.  A west wind blows the dust in from the desert and all I can say is that I don’t like it. I stay holed up in my apartment with all the windows closed. If I have to venture out, it’s to a store or restaurant about 2 minutes away. 

What is amazing are the people out in it without a face mask on them and their children.  How do they live in this?  My hair is dusty, my place is dusty and my clothes are dusty.  

Thank goodness this is only a phenomenon only in spring (so I’m told!!)

I have lived in cities in Canada that have had, what I thought, bad smog days.  What I wouldn’t give for a smoggy day in Toronto right now!!  We know nothing about smog in North America….

The name of the game

A great Abba song!!  Don’t judge me ~ I love Abba!!
So yes, the name of the game. Or, more precisely, the name is the game. A name can define you and your future. A name can create a show of strength. So what’s up with the Chinese people and their choices for their English name?

I have met Zero, Cinderella (don’t call her Cindy!), Precious Stone ~ and these are adult names!!  Some of the kids are Strawberry (a boy), Frog, Apple, and other names that are a combination of English and some other language!  Strawberry happens to be a very smart young boy but really?  What were his parents thinking??
Name choice is baffling everywhere but the Chinese people have definitely amused me with their choices!!
Remember when naming your beautiful newborn baby that while he/she is a baby now, one day they will be an adult!!
Zero for President!  (No sorry that just doesn’t work haha)

Whatever you are, be a good one

An extraverted protagonist. Sounds interesting right??  I recently did a personality test and my results show that I am an extraverted protagonist. A diplomat People’s Master.  It all sounds very confusing. It was something a close friend thought I would find interesting. And I did!!

It showed me results that definitely resonated with me. All but one section definitely is my personality.  And it also showed me some ways to strengthen my weaknesses. Things I will definitely start to do!
So why am I writing about this here? Really, who cares about someone else’s results of a personality test?  

I am not writing about this to share my results.  No. I am writing about how personality traits can make us stronger or weaker as we grow older and explore our self-worth.  

When I was younger, I was very shy. I did well in school but kept to myself a lot. As I went through many struggles in my adult life, my self-esteem grew stronger, I became more assertive and my personality changed. I became the person I am today – in my eyes, I am a strong, self-assured woman who can do anything she wants and be a success at whatever comes my way.

Traveling has changed me.  Seeing different cultures and dealing with situations I never would have had to in Canada have made me humble. 

We take for granted so many things in life. So many of us want material things (and I am not saying anything against that – it’s just not for me), but living in northern China has made me aware of so many struggles these people have on a daily basis that are beyond their control.  Living in the conditions they do have made them stronger than any other culture I have seen so far.

While my complaints of China are many, the strength and perseverance of these people is truly admirable. 

So like the title says, whatever you are be a good one. If you are a neighbour, be a good one. A mother, a daughter, a teacher, whatever it is you are – strive to be a good one. The people here in Changchun have shown me that, despite the conditions they live in, they take it in stride and they are the best they can be. Their personalities shine through. I will take away from this chapter in my life the strength I have seen of the Chinese people. And I am now, and forever will be, a better person because of it.

Which path will you take?

Every day on my way home from teaching, I come to two paths. One is stone, easy to walk on but uneven. The other is grassy, an uneven surface but muddy.  

A sudden storm came through the city today, lighting up the afternoon sky and rolling thunder, scaring me and the kids in class!  Luckily, when I left for home, the rain had stopped, leaving a freshness in the air but a wet walk.

When I came to the path, I pondered which to take. Do I take the stone path and avoid the mud but possibly slipping on the wet stone?  Or do I take the muddy path and get dirty, but avoid slipping?  

As I made my way home, this thought kept creeping into my mind. Had I taken the safer path in my life, would it have been as exciting as my life is now?

There are times in our life that choosing the safe path is the best thing to do for ourselves.  But then there are other times that its okay to take the riskier path just to see what happens.

The question is ~ what if you decide to turn around and never take either path? What if you decide that you would rather go the long (and safe) way to your destination?

Life is what we make of it.  Choosing the path that is right for you is something only you can figure out. Be a risk taker sometimes ~ take that unknown path and see where it leads you.  The future is yours!!

So are you wondering which path I took??   I took the grass path ~ uneven surface with lots of mud.  I felt like a kid again, getting muddy, and enjoying the walk.  I always try to choose the path that will make me happiest!  

To err is human…

Translating is a tricky business. You want to make sure that when you translate something, whether it’s a quote from someone famous or something like keep off the grass, the meaning is generally the same.
In China, it is very interesting to read some of the translations. Everyone seems to wear shirts or jackets with some misinterpreted saying on it. 
At the school, they have tried very hard to translate some famous quotes with some amusing (and confusing!) results.

Sometimes, it is the spelling that is the interesting thing to see. I still don’t understand how the people who were in charge got this spelling wrong.  It really is baffling!! (And it’s etched into the wall so you cannot even fix this!)

Oh the things I see!! And read!!

Live without regrets


Regrets, I’ve had a few… words from a great and memorable song.  My way ~ the way I choose to live my life.
Do you have regrets in your life? Is there something that you wish you could go back in your life and change?

I have regrets. Less than I used to but I still have regrets.  There are times that I think maybe I would go back in time and change things, but then would I be where I am today? Not likely.

I truly believe that everything in our life happens for a reason, and that we meet certain people who are only in our life for a short time but have the biggest impact on us.  Do I regret that this person is no longer in my life? No because I know the time we had together helped me grow into the woman I am today.

So don’t go through life with too many regrets. Be grateful for everything you have. Life is too short to have too many regrets.

And remember what Frank said ~ I did it my way!!