It’s been a whirlwind adventure in the past seven days. I’ve flown across the world, moved into my new apartment, taught and entire week of school, met a bunch of awesome people (many of whose names I’ll probably be asking for over and over again in the coming months), walked and traveled to all sorts of places across the city, and tried some great (not to mention authentic, haha) Asian cuisine!
Some highlights and praises so far:
- Flying from the U.S. to China was WAY easier that I had anticipated! That is not to say that I was not freaking out the whole way, I definitely was! However, I’ve found the Chinese people to be so much more accommodating and kind to foreigners than I had envisioned. It was a very long trip, but one in which I felt confident and comfortable asking for help. Plus, I have to say thank you to China for having so many signs with translations in English!
- The school-provided apartment is so much nicer than I expected! It doesn’t feel small or “apartment-ish” (not at adjective, but I’m making it one) at all. With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, dining room, kitchen (with a tiny hall pantry), living room, and a patio, my roommate and I are at a loss for what to do with so much space!
- The neighborhood is super safe – gated with individual buildings having fobs to get inside. It’s also SO QUIET! I think that is not as common in a big city like this, but I am loving it!
- In addition, the apartment is super close to of lots of little shops and restaurants, it is within a 10-minute walk of the beach, it is right beneath a number beautiful Chinese mountains (we are in the Shandong province – the character “shan” meaning mountain itself), within a 20 minute walk of two giant malls, and it has numerous opportunities for public transport closeby.
- Public transport is hard if you do not know Chinese, but super convenient. So far, I’ve taken a public bus and a taxi, and with the help of coworkers who speak Chinese it’s been really fun. The driving culture in China is VERY different than the states, but similar to what I grew up with in Senegal (ie: feels like chaotic danger, but actually very controlled within the norms country. Oh, and also crowded. VERY CROWDED.).
- I started school! It is hard to jump into classes only two days off the plane, but my coworkers, administration, and students have been so gracious and helpful. I am overwhelmed and feeling very incompetent, but it is such a comfort and blessing to know that I am in a safe place to learn and grow along with my students!
- Speaking of my students, I adore them! I have students from over thirty countries in 6th through 8th grade and they are some of the sweetest, most hardworking kids I have ever met. I am teaching all new courses (6TH, 7TH, and 8TH grade English, & Middle School Photography I), but the English department at the school has been walking with me day by day until I get my rhythm.
- I have had next to no struggles with jet lag. Have I been tired? Definitely. But I haven’t had any trouble falling asleep or getting up early… another great blessing when I have to catch a school-provided bus with other teachers at 6:25AM!
- The food = delicious! The school has a system set up where in your first week or two other staff either provide or invite newbies to supper. It has been so nice not having to worry about what/how we will eat every day! It has also been so helpful in meeting and building relationships within the school community.
There really is so much more to tell, but I am going to leave it at that for the time being!
The hard parts
Thank you for all your love and support. I know so many people were lifting me up to the Father throughout the process of getting to China (finally!). Now that I am here, I covet those continued pra@y3rs with a grateful heart and an overwhelming sense of joy!
Be on the lookout for more blogs and be sure to send me questions as ideas for what to write about in the future!