Countdown: 60 days
The past 20 days have been filled to the brim with end-of-the-year activities at school, final exams, and preparing for China. It feels so weird knowing that this was my last year (of four) to be giving final exams to my freshman. I even found out the academy in Beijing doesn’t do exams, they complete final portfolios. This year, I wrote each of my freshman a final letter of goodbye, because there were quite a few superstars and wonderful kids in this group. Of course, they repay me by going after me on the last day with the dunk tank. Thanks all, love you too!!
As the ‘big day’ gets closer, more and more old friends have been reaching out to see us before we leave. I even had a group of students that graduated in 2017 take my family out to dinner to say goodbye before summer began. It was amazing to see how far these students have come the past few years. Some are moving abroad for a semester, going to join the Peace Corps, graduating with double majors, etc. Bonus, one of these students has visited China to see family several times and helped answer a BUNCH of my family’s questions. I even got to speak a little Mandarin with her mother that managed the restaurant!! 我可以说话中文 ( I can speak Chinese)！
As the countdown continues, I have noticed I am psyching myself out a little bit. For example, my family went up to family camp in Payson, Az. I found myself wondering how long it would be until I saw these forests again. Same thing when I took my son to see the Detective Pikachu movie (definitely recommend, by the way). Would this be the last movie I would go to see in English? I don’t want to say I am getting nervous, but I have never even left North America before. China is going to be a huge transition. But as I have said before, I am trying to prepare as best as possible. I have been reading blogs and watching any youtube videos I can get ahold of.
I am already aware of the few of the biggest examples of culture shock. Example#1, the toilets. Anyone who has been to China (or in my class) knows about the infamous ‘squat toilets’. I had the opportunity to talk about them in great lengths with the student mentioned before. They differ in some areas, but basically your toilet is IN the ground. You must squat to use it. Yeah…this is different. Also, the most crowded public restrooms areas may not have toilet paper or soap. Apparently so many people use them, it is either pointless or already gone. So you have to bring your own supplies. So..there is that. UPDATE: I am told by a school coworker that they aren’t as common in Beijing, but definitely will see them in other provinces. Also, MOVIES ARE IN ENGLISH!! *Happy dance!*
Another example would be the lack of Western appliances. A typical Beijing apartment does not include a dryer or a dishwasher. Clothes are washed in a washer and then hung; there is a sanitizer machine for the dishes. It is similar with the kitchen, as there is no oven. Typically there is a stovetop, rice cooker, etc. Almost all of my signature dishes are cooked with an oven!! Now please keep in mind, I am not worried about this nearly as much as I am about the toilet. I am sure that we will adjust quickly to these minor inconveniences. What we are getting in return for these little sacrifices is going to be amazing. Of course I will share pictures of my future apartment on this blog so you can see for yourself.
Speaking of appliances, we just had our very first yard sale today!! It was a group effort, and my mom and sister came to help me and the family. Love you and thanks! It was tough, hot work in the June sun. But we made some $$, unloaded a lot of stuff we didn’t need, and met some new people. In fact, an elementary teacher bought a ton of my son’s books for his students and he mentioned he had taught abroad in Europe. I told him we were having a yard sale because we were moving to China and he was kind enough to give some helpful tips. Also, there are a lot of hard bargaining grannies. Beware.