Tag Archives: Foreign

​Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!!

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!

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. 

​The many oddities of China

Quirks,  oddities, translations gone askew.  There are so many unique qualities of China, its hard to narrow it all down to one category.

Wearing velour sweat suits in 29 degree weather!!
From the constant spitting, to the use of the sidewalk as a toilet, to the incredible generosity of the Chinese people. It’s interesting to see the many faces of China.

Translations are my favourite. They really want to embrace the Western way yet have no clue that the way they translate does not make sense.  I make a point now to look at the signs, the food labels and the clothes.  

The authentic Chinese food is truly incredible. Some of the best food I have ever had. But I steer away from street food because pigeon isn’t at the top of my list to eat!

They have unique choices to food that is common I am sure worldwide.  While I have had cucumber chips and lime chips, some flavours I won’t try (squid flavour? No thanks!)

There are so many odd things I see here, but some things are rather disturbing.

This is a child (2 year old) size tshirt. Scary!!
It is definitely interesting to see all the unique things here!!

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.

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!!

China quirks

I think quirks is a funny word. It’s a word I like teaching!  But in this instance it’s not a funny word. It’s unusual things that I find slightly disturbing and things I won’t miss when I leave China.

1.  The spitting/horking that everyone does. If it was just spitting and just men doing it, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But everyone horks and its probably the most disgusting sound a person can make.  And when I see fashionably dressed women walking toward me, then hork and spit ~  they suddenly don’t appear so fashionable anymore.

2.  The constant noise. Noise pollution here is almost as bad as the air pollution.  I feel like every store is competing with each other, not for customers but to see who can be the loudest.  Seriously, it’s so annoying that I try to avoid busy areas now.  I am lucky to live in an area where I can get everything and avoid some of the noise!  My area is loud too, just not as loud as other areas.

3.  Children using the streets/sidewalks/wherever as their personal bathroom. It’s disgusting and yet parents seem to be okay with it. And the babies with no diapers and parents letting them go wherever. I just don’t get it.

4.  The smog. How the population is as high as it is baffles me. How they survive without apparently having serious lung problems is beyond me. And smoking in the smog. Double whammy.  These people must have lungs made of steel. 

5. Let’s talk about the smoking. Coming from North America where it’s illegal to smoke anywhere is a blessing. These people smoke in restaurants, bars, shopping centres, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and school bathrooms. The adults are doing this. And they think it’s funny to see kids pretending to smoke.  Frightening.

6.  The squat “toilets”.  Thank goodness almost everywhere I go has either one regular toilet or a handicap toilet.  Oh and having to carry tissue with you everywhere. Because it’s not provided. Add that to my list of things I’ve learned to never forget!

7. Washroom facilities at my school.  I am lucky there is a regular toilet on every floor at school. But there is no hot water. No soap. No paper towels or air dryer. And on the one floor, the regular bathroom does not have running water in the sink. Seriously, isn’t it time to upgrade?

8. One of the most disturbing things is street meat. There is a street vendor that I pass on my way to the shopping center.  I know what he is cooking because they are right there in a cage for all to see. I refuse to eat pigeon. So gross.

Am I going to miss anything about China when I leave? Yes of course ~ there are so many things I will miss but the above things I will not miss at all!!

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!!

Let kids be kids!!

There is a reason why the Chinese are so advanced in education. The children are always in school it seems. Even on days that are holidays, some kids are at special schools for the entire day. And this isn’t just the older kids. These are 8 year olds and up going to school from  7am until sometimes 7pm. And older kids are having to do homework until 11 at night. And by older I mean middle school kids ~ 11 year olds.  So is it too much? Is there too much pressure being put on these kids?

Some people ~ especially the parents ~ say no.  They want their kids to have as much education as possible so that they can be successful later in life. And I do understand that.

But does more education mean more success? In my opinion, no it doesn’t.  I consider myself a very successful woman and have an amazing career that I love, but I am not as educated as others my age are. Does that make me less successful?  No. Hard work makes someone successful. Perseverance and overcoming obstacles makes someone successful. Education can play a part but not the only part.

I wish I could talk to the parents here and explain to them that it’s okay for their children to have some downtime and to just be kids!  I would hate to see these wonderful little minds become resentful because of the pressure put on them.

So I say ~ let them be kids. They are young for such a short time and then adult life happens.  And that is meant for kids all over the world ~ not just in China!!  Let kids be kids ~ real life will happen for them soon enough!!

Bucket list dreams

Growing up in a small Ontario city, one dreams of having the chance to see and maybe even live in exciting cities of the world. But how many of us actually get to do that?  I am sure people would be surprised to hear that many of us do!

I am one of those people. I grew up in Welland, Ontario ~ a small industrial city in Southern Ontario, close to Niagara Falls.  I enjoyed growing up there. I had lots of friends, school was fun for the most part, but then I turned 16 and I started dreaming of moving away. Toronto and New York City were the big cities that I wanted to see and live in! 

I did end up moving to Toronto when I was 19. I stayed a few years, moved to London, Ontario and got married. Yet I still had that itch to see more than Southern Ontario. I just could not see myself being brave enough to get out in the world. 
A few years ( and a divorce) later found me and my daughter heading to New York City. One of my bucket list items came off my list!! 
Single motherhood became my most important job then and so the bucket list had to wait.

A move to Calgary and discovering a new confidence in myself found me looking at European opportunities to work. A trip to Italy in April 2014 took another bucket list item off and added so many more to it!!!  I knew I had the courage to make a move.

In November 2014, after quitting my job, I moved to Prague to start a new life.  Teaching English was never on my bucket list but its enabled me to see London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, and now China. And I have a career now ~ not just a job.

I loved growing up in Welland and I wouldn’t trade my memories of my childhood for anything, but I am so proud of myself to have made it as far in the world as I have.  I can only hope that I inspire my children to live life with all their potential and to see just how far they can go, with hard work and a bucket list!!