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Fire!!!!

Okay before anyone panics, no there was no fire. But I did have the pleasure (?) of witnessing a very different fire drill !

Last week at school, I arrived one day and noticed that all of the kids had damp towels on their desks. One to question everything, I immediately asked my assistant what they were for. She said they are for the fire drill at 9am. I thought weird but okay.

I finished my lesson and decided to go and wait outside so I could watch. Well – it is very different here!

The school sets off smoke bombs(?) inside the school, and the kids RUN outside. No orderly exit – they run. Smoke is billowing out of the school while the kids all wait on the football field.

Once the firemen “put out the fire”, the kids all gather around with their classmates and are taught how to properly use fireextinguishers. The firemen have barrels with wood inside, they pour liberal amounts of gasoline and set it on fire. The extinguishers are given to the kids to show them how to use it.

It was fascinating and at the same time a bit terrifying. All I could think of was that someone would fall while running out of the school and would get trampled. Don’t get me started on the gasoline part!!

Once I went back into the school, smoke was still in there. The kids came back and at least 3 of them in my next class coughed the entire time. Perhaps an asthma issue because of the smoke??

While I was fascinated with it all, I still appreciate the way I was taught to deal with fire drills. Another very interesting thing to witness in China!!

I hope there is never a fire….

Reflections

It was two years ago today that I gave my son the biggest hug good bye, took my bags, and headed to the Calgary airport to start on a journey that has taken me so much further than I ever could have expected!

What started as a 6 month leave of absence from a job I loved, has turned into the best career choice I’ve ever made.

Transitioning from a legal assistant to a teacher of English as a foreign language was a difficult one, but definitely the most enriching. I’ve looked for that perfect job my entire adult life, and while I did love my last job, it never felt like it was the career I wanted. Something was missing but I didn’t know what it was. Until November 2014.

Moving to Prague and becoming a teacher was the career change I’d been looking for and dreaming about it for a long time. I knew after two months of being there that I was not going back to what I had before.

I no longer look at my job as a way to make money – its a career that makes me proud of what I do and want to grow into a better teacher every day.

Living in Europe was life-changing. My attitude, my way of thinking – everything. I’ve grown into a new person, and that person is strong and can do anything she puts her mind to.

Europe, Asia – this career is nothing short of amazing and I cannot wait to see where it will take me in the future.

Canada will always be my home, and I’m proud to tell people I’m Canadian, but this Canadian girl wants to see as much of the world as she can – and nothing is going to stop her!

Anyone can have this journey – you just have to want it enough to do it. I’m so glad I had the courage to do it!!

Rock star life in China!!

I live about a 10 minute walk away from my school that I teach at, and in my area live most, if not all, of the kids I’m teaching. It makes it interesting to go out for walks.

At school, I’m either called Lulu or Louisa (or Lupizza – my own fault – the first week of teaching I taught grade 2 classes that my name Louisa rhymed with pizza..). I feel like a rock star – I walk down the halls and they all want to come and touch me, or try to talk with their limited English. Its fun but tiring some days.

Lunch time is usually at a table with a lot of kids – the younger ones just wave, but the grade 4 students are actually in my face while I’m eating. I’ve found a quiet table to eat at now!

The most fun is when I see them outside of school. They are quite shy and their parents want them to say hi to me. I will say hi first to make them more at ease. But it’s so much fun when they run up to me outside and yell Louisa Louisa!!  The parents now recognize me too, so I always have people saying hello – I am no longer stared at in my area and I feel so welcome!

I seriously feel like a rock star, and all my “fans” adore me!! ❤

Always the odd one, no matter where I am!!

When I moved to Europe in 2014, I knew that I would not be the same size as I was in Canada. The women in the Czech Republic are tall, slim and have skinny legs and small feet. I am none of those. I have always been a plus size woman and had accepted that in Canada. In Europe, I felt even bigger because the sizes are so different. My size 10 feet became size 42.

So I am now in China, and had to shop this week for winter attire. They do not even carry women’s shoes or boots in my size.  Good thing I like black hiking style boots for winters!! And winter coats – well in Canada I’m extra large – here I’m 3xL. Yeah thanks for the confidence booster China.

On the plus side this week – my students guessed my age as 33 – hahaha thanks guys!!

Living in foreign countries is already challenging – it became more challenging this week!!

 

Cold winds are blowin’ !!

Well, I had been warned that the cold weather comes quickly here – and they weren’t kidding!! Thank goodness for hoodies and warm pants!!

Winter is my favourite season so I look forward to experiencing winters here in northern China. In January there is an ice festival in Harbin, which is not far from here. I am excited to go!!

My challenge now is to find a suitable winter coat and boots – I am having to get men’s boots since Chinese women don’t have giant feet – one sales lady looked horrified when she saw my foot size.  Aw well, its just another challenge to overcome in this very interesting country I am in!!

Remember to smile every day 🙂

The lonely sound of a train whistle…

I love my life. I love traveling and teaching English. I’ve met some amazing people. I’ve been able to travel and see some extraordinary places. And every time I hear a train whistle, I try to imagine where its headed, and whose on it.

 

There are times, like the train whistle, I feel lonely. Everyone does at some point. You can be in a crowd of people and feel lonely. And in fact, that’s when I feel the loneliest.

 

Its not a sadness that I feel, its just a lonely feeling. I miss my family every single day (I have pictures everywhere in my place to see them every day), and I miss my friends.

So how do I cope with those feelings? If I’m at home, I write.  I write about whatever I’m thinking about, memories (good and bad), old loves, places I’ve been.

 

If I’m out, I try to find a place to sit down. I soak up the sounds and smells, close my eyes (but hold tightly to my bag!), and meditate for a few minutes. People have the misconception that meditation is something that has to be done in a quiet place. Not true, at least not for me. It brings me peace, and makes me feel better. It only takes about 5 minutes and I feel much better.

 

Walking always helps too.  But feeling lonely isn’t a bad thing. It makes me appreciate everything I have in my life.
So next time you hear a train whistle – close your eyes and maybe dream a little that its you are on that train heading somewhere fascinating – and smile at those thoughts.

Noodles for breakfast?

Awww yes, the food in China. Oatmeal restaurants, dumplings stuffed with veggies, and noodles for breakfast? Okay I’ve tried the first two things but I don’t know about noodles for breakfast. Maybe I will but that just seems odd to me.

I have learned that Chinese people like to drink hot/warm water (never cold) and at first I thought no way. But I have now developed a taste for hot water. Things I never knew I’d like!!

Autumn has arrived in Changchun, and I am waiting anxiously to see some beautiful fall colours here! I spotted a bit but I’ve been told that they have all 4 seasons here so fingers crossed! Perhaps one day soon I will discover the way to show pictures here and I can share some!!

Here’s wishing everyone everywhere a happy and glorious day!