Beijing Expat: September 2020

This month’s update will be a little shorter than previous months, mostly because it has been our first full month that we have been in school. I have been busy getting back to my old routine and helping the new teachers get accustomed to Kaiwen. We made some time for some fun, but mostly we have been too busy for anything but work.

Fun at the grottoes!

This year has been so different than any other year of teaching I have experienced. With so many teachers still not in the country, many of our staff members are covering for their classes. I say staff because not just teachers are covering, but office staff too. I have 2 teachers in my own department locked out of the country and they had been working hard to get into China for months! They have been teaching their classes online via Classin and have finally been able to make final preparations to get into the country. One of our teachers finally was able to get into China and now is waiting for his 2-week mandatory quarantine to end. We are so excited for all of our teachers to get here, but obviously it has made the schedule a bit more full. We are hoping to get them all here soon, but some teachers are in the United States and is substantially more difficult to get here. Thankfully, the foreigner restrictions are lifted, but flights are expensive and few. We hope to get them here soon! I even plan on interviewing a few of the teachers that have been through the process to help others that will be going through the same thing.

Calvin has been enjoying the 7th grade quite a bit! I am happy to see him running around in his handsome school uniform again. The students are all happy to be back, actually. It was a really lonely year for most of these kids who are the only child in their family. A lot of potential memories were missed and they are all making up for that. Our school has more clubs and after school activities offered this year than ever before. I am offering book club this year, where we will be reading the most popular English books in the Western world. I am thinking major ones like Harry Potter or Frankenstein. Anyways, Calvin got into USAP, or the United States Academic Pentathlon. This is a really great opportunity because only 24 people out of 51 applicants got in and Calvin was one of them! This academic competition involves many months of study on a particular subject, this year is the Cold War. He will be spending many of his future weekends at school studying about the Cold War in a variety of subjects like math, science, history, literature, art, etc. I am happy for him and I am excited to see how his team does in the first round. The teachers are also happy to be back and we have already had Teacher Appreciation Week! We got flowers and gifts from the students, it is so great to be back!

Because we have been so busy with school, we have been eating out a LOT more frequently than we used to. It isn’t something I am proud of, but it is true nonetheless. There is this great hotpot restaurant across the street that we have been frequenting quite a bit. They have little individual hotspots in a bar-like setting, so I can have a garlic hotpot while the boys have the spicy one. Our weekends are also full with boys/girls nights and family outings with friends. Not even just work friends either, we have even been out to dinner with a few Chinese neighbors that Korey has grown close with. Things are almost completely back to normal here and people are going out! Most businesses and malls aren’t even asking for our health kits or temperatures anymore. Beijing has gone over 50 days without a local case of Covid (not counting reactivated cases) and it seems that people are relaxing quite a bit. You still have to wear masks on the subway and the like, but it really has calmed down quite a bit. That is why it is even more sad when I look at the US news and see that things are getting worse all over again.

My family and I have also been planning a lot of trips around China, since we know that there is no way that we will be leaving in the near future. We went on a trip to Shaolin Temple and the Longmen Grottoes this month and had a great time! I wrote a separate blog post about that because it is far too long to add here. We have also planned a trip to Inner Mongolia in October to go to the desert and grasslands. I really hope to go home to the states in December for Christmas still, but with flights being so expensive and with the mandatory 2-week quarantine, it seems more and more unlikely. We went to Thailand last Christmas and that was amazing, so this Christmas will be hard to beat. Until we do know, we are going to try to travel as much as possible within China. In the case we do get to go home to the states, we will be spending more and more of our longer holidays going back there. Until then, we will be traveling more and more around China to soak up as much as possible!

That is it for this month, I hope to give you more details about the Inner Mongolia trip in the next month’s Beijing Expat blog. I will also be working on a few interview blogs and release those too! I hope you enjoy!

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