That one student

That one student

There’s always that one student. The one that you find yourself going home and thinking about. How do I get him to get it? How do I get her to understand? Why won’t she follow directions? Why doesn’t he listen? How do you not show how much they get on your very last nerve!?

What do you do?

Remember that they are children. Sometimes they really don’t know any better. You may not know what’s going on at home or after school. Remember that they are children. Sometimes they are only mimicking behavior. Sometimes school is the only place where there are rules and guidelines for their life. Remember that they are children. Sometimes they just won’t get it. Sometimes they are way more interested in the bug making its way across the classroom floor. Remember that they are children.

Tuesday – It’s only day 2 and I’m tired

Tuesday – It’s only day 2 and I’m tired

It’s only Tuesday and I’m already tired. Wow!

Every day that I go home after a day in the classroom I reminded of a moment with my sister. My sister has been teaching for over 25 years. I recall a day, walking into her home and her sitting at the dining room table. As she sat there she expressed how tired she was as she summoned one of her grandchildren to get her bag off the shelf for her. I remember distinctly asking, not without sarcasm, why was she tired, she was “just a teacher”. How tired could she really be? So tired that she couldn’t get up to get a bag that was less than 5 feet away from her? I had no understanding.

And then I started teaching.

Yes, she was so tired that she couldn’t even get out of her seat. I marvel at teachers who have the energy at the end of the day to hang bulletin boards, grade papers, talk to parents and all the rest. I’m done. Catch me at 7:30am when I’m fresh. For now, I’ll be sitting here cause I’m “just a teacher” and I’m just that tired.

Sundays at home

Sundays at home

Some Sundays there is nothing better than spending the day at home.

A list of Sunday:

  • Awake
  • Read – Breath, Eyes Memory – Edwidge Danticat
  • Meditate
  • Mindless Internet searches
  • Write
  • Paint
  • Doodle
  • 2048 Game
  • Mop
  • Eat – grapes, cherries, bold eggs, grapefruit
  • Drink – water, water, water
  • Laundry
  • Read – travel blogs, education blogs, random stuff
  • Nap

Sundays at home.

Market Street and Tai chi

Market Street and Tai chi

I wake up at 5:00am to meditate and then I go for a jog. My jog takes me down market street, across a 4 lane highway, over a bridge and to a park. I love my morning jog because it’s a time when most of Beilun is asleep, or if they are up they haven’t gotten in their cars and on their motorbikes yet. This means there’s no worries about crossing streets or the sounds of horns honking continuously.

The other joy is getting a quick glimpse of the fruit, vegetable and fish vendors set up their wares on market street. I take this path because I like to check out what’s fresh. So far I buy all of my fruit and veggies on market street. I haven’t graduated to meat yet because, well to be honest, meat sitting out in 29 degree (celsisus) heat doesn’t make me think yum burgers for dinner. It’s already a stretch to squat down and pick out my onions, bok choy, long beans and eggplant next to someone who just spat on the ground or the guy who’s puffing on a cigarette directly over the greens. Hey, I was everything so I’m good, sort of, well honestly I buy from the lady with the stall and the goods that don’t sit on the ground but you get my drift.

That’s the last part of my jog, as I walk home from the park. The park is where you get to see everyday China. Like any other park there are young people and old people there but here’s the major difference. EVERYONE is exercising. In groups, pairs, and solo, women and men are practicing Tai Chi, playing badminton, jogging, speed walking, and dancing. Yep, dancing. Today I saw a couple practicing a waltz or tango or something. I don’t know, ballroom type is all I know. Right there in the midst of couples playing badminton and two older women doing Tai Chi. I haven’t worked up the nerve to ask or to jump right in to a Tai Chi lesson but I’m working on it.

Morning jogs, always a pleasure and a way to see a new city differently.



As I walk down the street and look at signs filled with Chinese characters

As I go in and out of grocery stores and corner stores without being able to read a single label

As I stand in line waiting my turn to get a sim card for my phone and then leave because I don’t speak Chinese and no one on staff speaks English

As I walk across the street and an older Chinese woman smiles, I smile back and she starts speaking in Chinese and all I can do is smile and nod

As I do all of these things and more I am filled with appreciation.

I appreciate that I can travel.

I appreciate that not knowing the language doesn’t frighten me.

I appreciate that I can smile and nod.

I appreciate that despite all the little inconveniences and the big ones too, I know that I can and will make it through each day.

Even if making it through means getting a Tsingtao at the end of a long day, because I at least I can understand beer.

Jet Lag Crash

Jet Lag Crash

If you’ve ever flown across time zones then you know what this is:

My head aches

It pounds

My eyelids flutter, desparately trying to stay open

Legs like lead

Jaws involuntarily clenching

Shoulders somehow tight and drooping

Brain swimming in a fog

I have no memory of what was said 5 minutes ago

I am fighting like a 3 year old to stay up just a little longer

It’s time to say goodnight

But wait, it’s only 1:00 in the afternoon

8 more hours to go I say to my body and mind

We can do this!

Medical Check

Medical Check

On the second day of my return to international teaching I got to experience the Chinese medical check. This is something that all foreigners must do in order to complete their visa. Here are the steps:

  1. Arrive to the dedicated hospital specifically for the purposes of doing medical checks.
  2. Get a medical questionnaire from the front desk. Yes, the receptionist speaks English.
  3. Fill out the medical questionnaire and return it to the receptionist. Be sure to attach a copy of your passport photo as well as paste one onto the form. In case you forgot to bring one there’s a photo place next door.
  4. Take your form to the registration line. Although this is China because it’s the hospital that is used to working with foreigners you shouldn’t have to worry about anyone skipping you in line. Just in case, stand real close to the person ahead of you so no one can jump ahead.
  5. Turn your forms in and have your info typed into the computer, check your name (unless you read Chinese you won’t be able to confirm that anything else is correct). Have your picture taken and begin.
  6. You’ll be given your form back and at the very bottom will be the list of rooms that you need to go to for each check:
    1. Blood and urine sample
    2. Blood pressure and weight
    3. Chest x-ray
    4. ECG
    5. Eye, Ears and Nose
    6. Surgery (she feels your throat and then has you bend over with your knees bent, oh and she listens to your chest with her stethoscope
    7. Ultrasound
  7. As you move through each room you’ll either have to wait in line or walk right in. Most of the staff doesn’t speak much English and their manner is a bit brusque. “Shirt up. Bra off.” “Okay, go!” “Lay down!”
  8. Once you’ve gone through all the rooms and have everything signed off, take your form back to the registration line. Turn them in and you’re done.

Take everything in stride. Yes, the Chinese who come after you will be put before you if there is no line. Sometimes while standing in line someone will try to step in front of you. Point behind you and step ahead. You may be there for an hour or two and remember that you haven’t eaten anything from since 9pm the night before. Try to maintain a sense of humor and treat yourself to something delicious when you’re done. You’re in China