This Time Last Year

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The University where I worked at

It’s strange to think that this is the first September that I’ve been in Ireland for 5 years. Every September I’ve been in China. It’s not very significant but it means a lot to me. It’s change, and that’s good.

This time last year I started teaching University students. I was making PPT’s for them and getting used to waking up at 6:30am, work at 8am. I was trying to learn all the students names and where my classes were for teaching every class. Little did I know that in a years time I would be at home enjoying time with my family and getting ready to go to Mexico. It’s a nice feeling to know that my life has changed (in a good way) from 12 months ago.

As for teaching and after my crappy students from last semester, I’ve gone off teaching altogether. I really want to try something new. I’m really fed up of teaching now. The students did a good job with that!

I think private teaching would be ok in the future. When I worked in a private company I had some great students and I really enjoyed their classes. But first I’ll try and do something that I want do, and then maybe for extra income I could work teaching privately. It’s good to know that I can fall back into teaching if everything else fails. (which I’m sure they won’t)

But yeah, it’s just a great feeling to know that things are moving now. I’m not stuck in China teaching yet again, for another year. I can start to learn Spanish, I can start looking at jobs I want to do, I can start doing things that I just couldn’t do in China.

Even making friends, I hope I can make new lifelong Mexican friends in Mexico. In China, we made friends and then lost them…. as everyone moves away eventually. So it’s hard to meet and keep in contact with people, especially in China.

I have to think, what will I be doing this time next year? I’ll most likely be in Mexico. Will my Spanish be good? I hope I’ll have new friends. I hope I’ll be living in an apartment. Ha I’ll push the boat out and hope I’ll win the lotto and be rich.

Who knows!

Aisling

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While I’ve Been Back

While I’ve been home in Ireland, there are more and more things that I notice every time I come back. Here are a few since I came home.

Roche Castle

Roche Castle

There really are 4 seasons in 1 day

In China, it’s either sunny or cloudy/smoggy and there is little change during the day. In Ireland, in the morning it could be sunny, at noon it could be cloudy, in the evening it could be sunny and then all of a sudden rain would appear, and then maybe it will be cloudy again. It really does fluctuate here, and I’ve never realised how much it does until I came back here. So you really do have to have an umbrella and coat with you!

Ireland is dirty

Having lived in Chengdu which is very very clean, and then travelling around Japan, which is also spotless, I arrive in Ireland and there’s rubbish everywhere. A bottle here, a crisp packet there….. It’s only now that I realise how dirty it is. While we were in Dublin, I saw two dead rats on the pavement (plus loads of rubbish). I admit I feel quite ashamed of the state of my own country. Why do people think it’s ok to throw rubbish instead of just putting it in the bin? I’ll never understand it. But yeah, unfortunately Ireland is very dirty in comparison to Chengdu and Japan.

More variety in ethnicities.

Having moved from Ireland 5 years ago, I’ve noticed many more different ethnicities here. Even in my small town of 40,000 I’ve seen many more. (I really don’t understand why they would come to where I live, there’s nothing to do here!) I don’t see a problem with them coming here once they contribute to society and not just arrive to receive social benefits. Also in Dublin I’ve seen a lot more tourists about! It’s good to see but I can see in the future that the city won’t be able to handle the big influx. Dublin isn’t a very big city at all, so I feel there may be problems in the future.

More expensive

I was looking at the prices of sweets in shops, and a lot of small bars are like €1! Just for a chocolate bar! I don’t know whether I’ve just never noticed when I lived here before, but I really don’t remember having to pay €1 for a bar. Maybe 70cent. But yeah, I do notice things are expensive here. (Cry)

People are fat

Again, I’ve noticed that there are many bigger people here. Maybe it didn’t register when I lived here before, but I feel there are more people that would border on being obese than before.

Needing a car

My house is literally 5-10 minutes away by car from the town centre. It’s really close but yet I need a car to get there. There are no pavements on my road until closer to the town, and I wouldn’t feel safe walking on the road (it’s quite busy), so the only way to get there is by car. There are also no buses.

It’s actually quite annoying. My fiancés parents also said that they wouldn’t like to live here because you need a car. So it’s nice to live in the countryside but that means you will need your own transport to get around. The transport system here is crap, and unless you live in a big city like Dublin then you need a car to go pretty much anywhere.

I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of right now. It’s nice being with the family though. I love going to bed in my own bedroom and sticking something on to watch while I’m surrounded by all my own things. I couldn’t do that in China.

Aisling

Back Home: My Thoughts

I’ve been home for nearly 1 month now, and it’s the first time in a long time that I didn’t have to think about going back to China. Being home this time round has made me realise some things…

The first is that I don’t actually miss China as much as I thought. Of course I miss my independent lifestyle, my apartment and the transport, but I thought I would miss it much more! Since arriving home, I’m enjoying the colder weather and that I don’t sweat at all now, I’m enjoying my Mum’s food. I like being with my Mum and Dad at home, and I feel I’ve a better relationship with them now than when I left for China 5 years ago. I suppose I’ve matured more.

The second is that I would like to live closer to the family. I’ve been missing my nephews grow up and I know that the next time I see them they’ll be completely different. They won’t be the nephews that I have in my mind 1 year ago. They’ll be brand new boys to me. Also Mum and Dad aren’t getting any younger so that’s another reason.

I know one thing though…. I wouldn’t be able to settle down in my hometown. It’s too quiet, too small, and absolutely nothing happens here. So that’s one thing that I know.

We are moving to Mexico soon so I can learn Spanish, and I kind of have mixed feelings about. I really want to go and learn Spanish, but then at the same time I feel like we are back to square one, and that we’ll always be feeling in limbo. I have no idea where we are going to settle down, and it stresses me out. We can’t buy this or buy that because we’ll have to bring it with us when we move.

We would love a dog but we just can’t at the moment as we have no idea where we are going to be living.

So it’s nice to be home, but at the same time, I’m in limbo!

Aisling

Sending A Box Home

Sending A Box Home

After living in China for 5 years, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of things! We are leaving many things here after we leave, as there will be 3 teachers still working at the University, so I’m sure they will make use of them, such as cutlery, glasses and what not. We wanted to send our clothes, shoes and some other personal things back to Ireland though. My Mum has sent about 3 boxes to me; full of sweets, crisps and even some presents! It was such a treat to open to open the boxes.

But we’ve never sent anything from China! Due to the fact that we don’t speak Chinese very well, we would have no idea where to start, and also because exporting things from China is such a hassle, we decided to just leave it. But we had quite a few things that we didn’t want to leave, so we searched around the we found we could send a box with a company called ‘SendMyBag‘.

Everything sounded pretty legit with it, so we decided to try and send our box with them. And from China, the box MADE IT TO IRELAND! Such a relief! But….. we had some hurdles along the way!

First, we met the man who would collect the box. All was good until he asked us what were ‘magnets’ that was on the list. We explained that they go on the fridge.

“Not allowed” he told us in Chinese. We looked at each other… We didn’t know what we could do. So he told us we could take them out of the box. Phew! At least we can take them out, that was ok. (We wrapped about 1 roll of cellotape around the box though, so all that hard work gone because we had to open it again)

Then he asked for my passport…. What? The website didn’t say we needed a passport. So I quickly ran back to the apartment and got it for him.

Unfortunately we didn’t realise he meant A COPY of the passport. (The communication barrier is so annoying sometimes), so my fiancé runs back to find a copy…… and comes out empty handed.

So, I run down the road and quickly get a copy of it from a shop, coming back to the van hot, sticky and out of breath, while he opens the box and finds the magnets.

But eventually the man got going in his van, box with him. Time to relax now!

So later that night while we are watching a film, we get a message ‘Due to makeup in the box we cannot send it to Ireland’.

WHAT????!!!! Oh my god!! What are we going to do! I was really about to start crying. All I put in it was some makeup brushes and some powder makeup, they are allowed. I’m thinking like crazy why they couldn’t send it!

Oh….. now I remember, I forgot there were 2 eye pencils in the bag….. 2 measly eye pencils are the reason why we’re going to get the box back and lose our money we spent!! I couldn’t believe it.

But then, another message ‘I can take the prohibited items out of the box, is that ok?’.

YES, YES!! TAKE IT, I DON’T CARE! I really didn’t want to see that box again until I’m in Ireland!

So they did that, and I was just so grateful to them. So FINALLY the box was on it’s way.

We sent it on Friday morning and it actually got to Ireland on Monday! It was really fast! Also I was able to track it on the website which was also good too.

So I found out that it made it to Dublin! Great I thought! It’s nearly home!

I was keeping my Mum up to date on the whereabouts of it so she would know when it would arrive.

So on Monday night I was getting ready for bed and my Mum texts me saying that she got a phonecall from the courier and that she had to pay €89 for something.

Oh god, not more money. We had already spent €189 to send it, why did we need to pay more??!! Maybe it was for customs? But that is ridiculously high for second hand things. There’s not much value in the box at all!

So there I am trying to contact the courier AND SendMyBag about this extra money that I have no idea what it’s for, while looking at the time as it gets later and later.  Thankfully both companies contact me and say they will investigate what the money is for.

I’m in bed trying to sleep but also stressing about this money when my phone goes off and it’s a message from SendMyBag. They said it was a fee for something (which I still don’t understand, something about a double entry) and they will cover the cost of it.

PHEW! I contact my Mum and tell her they are going to cover the cost. I can finally sleep!

It was our first time sending anything out of China, and as you have read, wasn’t plain sailing. But in the end it made it, that’s the most important thing.

So, would I recommend SendMyBag to send stuff home. Yes I would! We didn’t have to prepare too many things for it, everything is stated on the website, they are very prompt at replying if you have a question, and even with the money my Mum had to pay, they were extremely quick at sorting it out. That was great.

My only criticism would be that they didn’t tell us magnets weren’t allowed in the box and we needed a copy of my passport for the driver. Although I’m thinking that every country is different and maybe only China won’t allow magnets to be send out and they needed a passport copy.

Also what we didn’t know was that the price depends on the size of the box. We were initially only going to send a box with a maximum weight of 15kg. We bought a big box though, and when we inputted the dimensions into the website, it came to €189 with a weight of up to 30kg. We were a bit annoyed at this but in the end all our stuff came to the weight of 24kg…. so we definitely overestimated the amount of things we had.

So be aware if wanting to send a box through SendMyBag. The size of the box influences the price.

I also realised another thing…. China is so strict with exporting things!!! We literally were limited to clothes, books and shoes. No pastes, no gels, no food… nothing like that. Not even a watch. (Or makeup as we’ve learned)

So I would certainly recommend using this company, but make sure you know EXACTLY what you can’t send it the box…. or you might be getting a lovely message like we did.

Aisling

Soon To Leave

With only 1 full day left in Ireland, I’ll soon be heading back to China again. Having been home for 2 months, I’ve sort of gotten into a routine here, and I’m finding it really hard to get my head around the fact that I’m leaving again. I’ve come to the realisation that this will be my last year in China. Theres a number of reasons why. I just sort of feel done with China now. I’ve been there 4 years and I just miss my family, Ireland, the people, and of course my Mums food.

I enjoyed my time in China a lot, it’s just now, I really really don’t want to go back. This is the first time that I’ve been like this. Being home for the summer didn’t help either, but I just don’t want to go back now. I want to be close to my family, learn Spanish, maybe live in Mexico for a while, plan on getting married… and I feel I can’t do any of that while there.

For the past two months I’ve been organising on getting a work visa, and thankfully I finally got it! There was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to get it, but I received it in the nick of time. Me and my fiancé will be teaching 1st year students in a University for a year.

I suppose the reason why we wanted the job was because we needed the money, it’s much easier to teach older students, and because we will get winter and summer holidays (whilst being paid). So there are some good benefits to the job.

However we will literally be in the middle of nowhere! The nearest metro station will be a 40 minute bus ride away. There are no real high rise buildings near the uni, and when you can drive down a road without passing any other cars, you definitely know you’re not in the city! So I’m very apprehensive about moving there.

As I said before, I love living where we live at the moment ; it’s close to everything and it’s very easy to move about. Our neighbours drive us mad, but apart from that I really love it. I think that was a big part of why I was living in China so long; the convenience of it. So now I feel like I’m leaving the one thing I stayed in China for. . . so that’s why I don’t want to return.

I’m trying to be positive but I’m afraid in case I will be stuck for a year hating it. But at least I won’t be going on my own…. I think I’d be pretty lonely!

Aisling

Tayto Park: The Crisp Themed Amusement Park

Tayto Park: The Crisp Themed Amusement Park

In Ireland, the most beloved Irish crisp that everybody loves are Tayto crisps. Founded in 1954, you would be hard pressed to find an Irish person who doesn’t like a bag of Tayto! So of course, with people here loving everything got to do potatoes, it was just natural for the owner to set up an amusement park!

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The Famous Crisps!

The park opened in 2010 and they are continuously expanding it with new amusements and zoo animals! It was in the summer of 2015 when I first visited it, and I remember thinking that it wasn’t too big. Yeah it was nice, but there wasn’t really much in it.This time around however, it has gotten much bigger! This is Irelands first major theme park, so of course it’s extremely popular, especially for families.

We decided to go as a family and we had a great day! Although I feel it is a bit expensive as you need to pay extra if you want to go on the majority of the amusements there, (you can buy tokens at the entrance or inside the park)  but it’s a nice day out even if you don’t decide to splurge on the amusements. You can go and visit the many animals in the zoo, and the kids can even get their faces painted!

It really is catered for families, so I wouldn’t recommend going just as a couple, it’s not the most romantic (or quiet) of places!

The park is located 30 minutes from Dublin, so it would be an ideal day trip if you are coming from the capital.

Parking is free and you will receive a packet of Tayto when leaving!

If you’re curious and want to find out more, you can check out their website here: Tayto Park

 

Aisling

Japanese Food In My Hometown

If I ever moved to Japan, I know I would definitely struggle with the food! As they love everything got to do with fish flavour, I honestly wouldn’t really know what I could eat if I ever went there!

So anyway, in my hometown a new Japanese restaurant has opened up. Apparently it has rave reviews, and being the only Japanese restaurant (that I know of) in the area, I wanted to try it out and see what it offered!

Of course they had sushi, but they had other dishes like ramen and teriyaki, so I thought one of those may do me! I met my long time friend and we headed there for lunch, and I must say the chicken teriyaki was lovely!

Haha I did notice that throughout our meal I did hear 1 or 2 Chinese songs being played in it! The opposite would absolutely NEVER happen in a Chinese restaurant in China!

They gave us chopsticks and although I’m now good at using the Chinese style ones, the Japanese chopsticks are a little more difficult!

The Japanese style ones are shorter and taper to a fine point , so it’s harder to pick up the food, whereas Chinese ones are thicker and they have a blunt tip. They are also longer. The Korean chopsticks are the same as the Japanese, but I think (but not sure) they usually use chopsticks that are made of silver… so obviously even harder to use!

chopsticks

So I was a little slower than usual eating my food! But it was delicious and I would definitely come back again!

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While we were there, two Japanese girls came in to eat and then a single man came in, most likely on his work break. So it really does cater for the every kind of person. In my hometown, most Chinese restaurants cater only for takeaways or as a posh restaurant, but I feel this Japanese place can be for people wanting a casual lunch or even dining out with friends.

I think another reason why this place is successful is because it’s the only Japanese restaurant around; we have plenty of Chinese/ Indian places, but I must say my small town is lacking in places to try more international food. I suppose the older generation are just used to eating the same stuff over and over again, so trying new food might be a bit daunting for them!

This definitely applies to my Dad… he doesn’t even like spaghetti!

But I hope the next time I come back there will be many more restaurants offering more ‘exotic’ dishes!

But anyway, it was a nice experience trying out some Japanese food…. my first time trying sushi ( and forever hating it) was a different story!

再见

爱玲