Well Hello Again (But Soon Goodbye)


After my one month in Mexico, we’ve once again arrived back to China… however this will be the last time having to travelling a long distance to it, as we can happily and most definitely say that during the summer we will be leaving The Middle Kingdom. And that is for certain!

We feel our time is done in Chengdu, and we really want to move closer to our families, either in Mexico or Ireland…they are both much easier to travel to than China. We plan on getting married, hopefully have kids… and we just feel like we can’t do those things here. So we are now counting down the days to leave, and we can’t wait!

Since we left at the end of January, the weather in Chengdu has really warmed up, so much so that we don’t need to wear our coats now. When we left the temperature was around 10 degrees, but since we arrived back it’s been around 20 degrees. I won’t complain about that!

We start work again on Monday (unfortunately) and then we finish the beginning of July, so we will hopefully start booking flights home to Ireland before then and start selling our things.

It’s a nice feeling to know that we are moving on!



Cuernavaca, Mexico

My fiancé is originally from Cancun, where he spent most of his life there. Then he moved to Cuernavaca which is south of Mexico city where he went to University. As much as Cancun is very popular with tourists and having gorgeous beaches and weather, whenever I ask him where is the worst place he has visited in Mexico, he always states Cancun. He says that the place has changed a lot since he left and he just doesn’t want to live there anymore.

His Mum and Dad now live in Cuernavaca and it’s known for it’s good weather and that many people from Mexico city come here to get out of the hustle and bustle for a while. Many have second homes in Cuernavaca to come to during holidays. Here are some pictures I took from the centre of the city; I love the architecture and it’s so colourful!

In the centre there are many stalls and you can buy different types of Mexican food, like corn on the cob with mayonnaise and chili powder on it; I know it sounds weird, and I didn’t really like it when I tried it, but apparently it’s very popular here in Mexico! Also you can buy lot of different fruit drinks, made when you order! We tried a pina colada: pineapple, coconut and cinnamon, and it was so nice! I’ll definitely be getting it again!


Here is one of the little shop like places to buy your fruit juices. You can get a small cup or a big one. The big one is huge and I would struggle to finish one by myself!




The city is also quite popular with foreigners wanting to learn Spanish, so there are quite a few private languages companies here. Although they are VERY expensive I might add!

Cuernavaca is about 1 hour drive from Mexico city, so it’s a good place to live if you want to travel to the capital.

So yes I really like the city and I can’t wait to stay a bit longer once I leave China!


Hola México!

Hola México!

After an unexpected change of plans, we have made the decision to go to Mexico for our holidays, escaping the polluted Chengdu air for a while. The weather is great, the people are friendly, I can proudly say that with regards to body weight, I’m NORMAL, and I don’t have to have Chinese people look at me and think that I’m fat. IT’S GREAT! I’m very self-conscious about my body in China, so it’s nice not having to worry about it now.

It’s going to be a struggle to go back to China, but I know it’s only going to be for a few months. It’s hard to imagine at times! My fiancés aunty told us that we were invited to own of her friends wedding here in Mexico in November, and although it was very nice of her to invite us, in my head I was thinking ‘Thanks, but we won’t be here, we’ll be in China”…. But then later I realised ‘Oh actually we won’t be in China! And we’ll most likely be in Mexico this November after all, so yeah, we could actually go!’

It was strange to realise that we’re coming to the end of our time in China. I left when I was 23, and I’m now going to be 28 soon, so I feel I’ve grown up a lot and became my own person in a way. I feel It was good to leave home and sort of ‘grow up’ in a way. So my Chinese adventure is nearly over, but I’ll be starting a new one soon.

At the moment, I can’t find myself living in Mexico because I’m on ‘holiday mode’. Plus it’s very different to both Ireland and China. I’ve gotten used to China and it’s culture, so I’ll have to learn how to live in Mexico soon!

But I must say that the Mexican people are very friendly, so I know that when I start to learn Spanish and start speaking, it will be much easier to communicate to people here than in China.  Chinese people aren’t as open as Mexican people.

I think my family will love Mexico too. I’ve heard too many times that they would prefer to go to Mexico than China…. so I will actually scream if they don’t visit me here! No one visited me in China!


The Bustling City of Guangzhou

With a week off from Uni, we wanted to get out of the city and head somewhere a little bit warmer! Chengdu in the winter is a horrible place to be, made worse by the fact that it’s 8 degrees outside but there’s not a radiator or heater in any shop, restaurant or school! I literally freeze while I’m teaching!

Anywhere north of Chengdu was too cold to visit, so we decided to visit Guangzhou, a big city near Hong Kong. We really didn’t know what to expect from it. We knew it was big, people spoke Cantonese, and it would definitely be warmer than here! Our friends from Chengdu recently moved to the city so we could also catch up with them there!

Well my I think Guangzhou exceeded my expectations quite a bit! I read online that apparently it had no culture, but I thought the city itself was full of culture! I especially loved the old buildings all around the city. Some were ugly but I just loved how different each were and how they had their own unique characteristics and architecture. I really enjoyed looking at all the different buildings in the city. And from what I saw, pretty much all of them are in use, usually as housing!

I know the weather in summer is absolutely scorching, so we visited when it was much cooler. During the day a light jacket is enough for us during December, but at night it was a little more chilly!

So I was left a good impression of Guangzhou; it’s much greener than Chengdu, the weather is better, and it’s a great place to live if you want to travel as there are lots of nearby places to go to  such as Shanghai, Hong Kong. Also it’s a major city for international flights. Chengdu is more in the west so it’s not as easy to hop on a train and go somewhere in 5 hours…… more like 25 hours!

But of course I did miss Sichuan food! The food is nice in Guangzhou, it just lacks spice and a bit of flavour. Some of the dishes were a little bland for me. I’ve gotten too used to spicy food now! We tried the famous Dim Sum that southern Chinese people eat, and I enjoyed trying all the different types that they offered, when we could understand the Chinese characters of course!


I think If I could move there if I was planning on staying in China longer, but of course the cost of living is more expensive, plus the rent is much higher there than Chengdu! Oh, it’s also MUCH bigger! Chengdu is nice and compact, whereas Guangzhou is a sprawling city! So it’s bigger, meaning more people, so that equals a busy metro!

After 5pm the metro was crazy when we used it! I would say during rush hour, you only need to wait for a train for about 20-30 seconds, and then another comes. But of course there are big queues waiting for every one of them! So I didn’t really like how busy it could get. I can only imagine what it’s like during a major holiday!

But I’m glad I visited the city. It’s nice to see different parts of China. Each and every city is different and has it’s own unique history and culture!

Where we stayed: Lazy Gaga Hostel

Good: It’s literally 5 minutes walk to the nearest metro so it’s very centrally located. It made getting around Guangzhou that much easier. There are places to eat/ shopping centres/ bus stops and famous landmarks all within walking distances.

Bad: You’re really paying for the location. I thought it was too expensive for what it was, and the hostel needed to be refurbished. If I only had 1 night in Guangzhou, I’d stay again, but for anymore I would look for another hostel.


Getting Fit From YouTube

I’ve no doubt in my mind since leaving Ireland 4 years ago that I’ve put on weight. From seeing pictures of myself then and now, and due to the fact that clothes from years ago don’t fit me now, I certainly not naive about it.

So because we live on the first floor of our building and we now have an enormous amount of space, I’ve started to do some exercise to try and get fit and healthy. In my old apartment we simply didn’t have the space, plus every movement we made could be felt in the apartment below us, so it just wasn’t really possibly to be jumping/ dancing about in our place.

So now I have absolutely no excuse not to exercise!

At first I was doing zumba dancing which was ok. But then I felt that I wasn’t pushing myself enough. I knew if I wanted to lose weight/ get fit, I needed to sweat that bit more! So I’ve found some videos on Youtube that have really helped me to get motivated!

The first one that I’ve subscribed to is the YouTube channel ‘BeFit’. They have lots of videos on exercise but I mainly stick to ‘Burn to the Beat’ fitness routines that are in the ‘BeFit’ channel. They are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), so at most these videos are 15-17 minutes long, and they definitely make you sweat!! Check them out if you want a short exercise routine. Plus there are lots of benefits of doing HIIT exercises.


From ‘Burn to the Beat’ I found out that the lady Keira LaShae who does it actually has her own channel; ‘superherofitnesstv’ and she has tonnes of fitness exercises. I really really enjoy her videos; she’s really enthusiastic and she really motivates me while I’m working out.


So atm I try and do two of her videos 4 times a week. Currently I’m doing an abs workout video, then I move on and do a HIIT one. But of course sometimes I’m lazy and don’t do it, but I try and do it at least 3 times a week.

I like doing exercise in the comfort of my home and not having super skinny Chinese girls look at me and think “Oh look at that fat foreigner running” because I know that’s what they are thinking. I know I’m not going to be as skinny as the people here (not that I’d want to, a lot of them are just too skinny) but at least I’m trying to be a bit more healthy.

I just need to make sure I don’t lose my motivation for it!


All The Blank Faces

All The Blank Faces

I’ve been teaching in my current job 4 weeks now, and generally it’s going ok. This can’t be said for some of my students though! I’ve said it once, and I’m going to keep saying it until I finish working here; but sometimes it feels like I’m teaching rocks.

Honestly, it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone with some of these kids. With the exception of two great classes, most of the time when I’m teaching, all I see is a wall of blank, emotionless faces.

It’s pretty hard to get my students motivated to do anything.



No excitement whatsoever occurs. Faces are still blank.

They must really enjoy homework if that’s the case!

So yeah, some students just are very unmotivated to participate in class.

Unlike the rest of the world, Chinese students aren’t encouraged to think creatively and outside the box. They are made to remember large volumes of texts and that’s it. So when I get them to do an activity that needs them to think individually and be creative; a lot of them just can’t do it.

‘wo bu hui….wo bu hui” 我不会。 They keep repeating to me “I can’t do it”. I say to them “You can do it! You just need to think about it more”.

For this particular task, we were studying personality words like timid, hard working….. After learning the words, I asked a few students to come up to the top of the class where i would give them a word and they have to act it out. They cannot speak, so they have to use their bodies to explain their word. Then the other students need to guess what word they have.

Easy peasy. They don’t even have to speak! Wrong. Most of them couldn’t do it. Give them an easy one ‘funny’. In my mind for this one, you simply pretend to laugh. But for them, they are getting nervous just thinking about how to do it. They are thinking and thinking about how to do it, until they ask for another one.

“Another one?? How will you do the others  when you can’t even do funny??”

So that activity was too difficult for them. I explained to them that you need to be more creative in class. In my class, speaking is key, but in order to speak they need to be able to think of things to say.

Then there are students that can’t speak whatsoever. ‘Hello” is the most they can say. It’s difficult trying to teach students with such a different level in each class, so I’m trying to teach basic English, more advanced English, plus for the students to be more creative in class.

But anyway, I don’t really expect to teach the students much English. Their English is just too basic, and a lot of them aren’t interested in learning it. All I care about is them trying in class. I told them “I don’t mind if your English is wrong, just try. That’s all I want. Even if you say one sentence… that’s great. You tried”. Thing is, many don’t want to try.

So when I’m trying my hardest to engage the students and all I see is a wall of emotionless faces, it really demotivates me to try and teach them. I try very hard to get them interested and they just stare up at me. Sometimes I feel I need to be a comedian in order to get anything out of them!

I have two classes and they are great, so I don’t mind teaching those. They are a little older and they generally seem more interested. So those classes are great. But overall, I really don’t think I could stay another year here trying to teach robots.


爱玲 Aisling


Settling Into My New Home & Job

I’ve been back in China for just over a week, but we’ve been so busy packing our things, moving and starting our new jobs, that it really feels like I’ve been here for weeks already! I’m shocked when I think I’m back only 1 week!

From arriving back in Chengdu, both myself and my fiancé were busying packing the remainder of our things, moving them into two vans we booked, moving into our new place, meeting new teachers (all male by the way, so I’m really outnumbered) … and finally work on Monday! So we were quite busy when we arrived back!

With most of our things unpacked, we can finally relax in our new apartment and area where we are living. Our university that we work in has two campuses; one for the 1st and 2nd years, and another for the older students. We live in ‘villa’ sort houses in the campus for the older students. The building where we live only has 3 floors, and they are dedicated solely to the foreign teachers; each building houses 3 teachers… so it’s refreshing not to be surrounded by people below you, above you, and either side of you! We live on the ground floor, so we just have another teacher living above us.

Apartment wise, it’s a BIG improvement to our old apartment…. our new place is absolutely HUGE! I’m pretty sure the whole of our old apartment could fit into our new bedroom. Now if I lose something, I could be looking for 10 minutes for it! Theres actually too much space now! Another good is that we actually have a U shaped sofa!!!! No more do I have to put up with our tiny, crappy, uncomfortable sofa from the old place. Our shower is fantastic (the shower head didn’t work very well in the other place), we now have a big dining table and a proper bed (instead of just a mattress on the floor).

We also have big air conditioning units in both the living area and the bedroom. Our toilet is a huge improvement too! In the old apartment, their was literally no water pressure whatsoever in our toilet, so we always needed a big bucket of water to give everything a helping hand…

The only problem with this apartment is the lack of a cooking area. Now I don’t usually cook anyway, but it’s always nice to have the option. Here we just have a portable electric stove top … and it’s actually broken. Plus we have no electric fan to get rid of the food smell. So that’s one negative thing about the place.

But apartment wise, so far I really like it!

As for my job, I feel this has been a REALLY long week! Every foreign teacher here teaches 1st year students, and whatever lesson plan we do for our first class of the week, then we use that one for the remainder of the week….. so it does become very very monotonous! I have 10 classes, so I have to repeat the exact same lesson plan 10 times. Sure it’s easy, but when it comes to the 6/7th time of doing the exact same thing, it does grate on me a little. That’s why it feels like such a long week.

Most of my students are girls, with only 4/5 boys in each class, and generally they are ok. Some of their English is atrocious though, so I really don’t know how I’m going to teach these kids anything if they can’t even get the basics right. But thankfully the school doesn’t put pressure onto the foreign teachers, so we are free in doing whatever we want in class. It’s up to the students to try and learn!

Location wise, because we are outside the city, I really do feel a bit lonely and isolated here. As I said before, I loved my previous area where I lived. Now… it takes 1 hour by bus to even get to our nearest ATM! By taxi it would take 30 minutes to get to somewhere where there is a decent amount of people…. so yeah, I do feel very isolated from everything. I don’t think I could live here for longer than 1 year.

For food, we’ve only had one dish which we have really enjoyed. Because we are located where students live, the restaurants near us aren’t exactly good quality or flavoursome. Yeah it’s cheap, but the food is very basic and I don’t particularly enjoy some dishes. Also each restaurant basically serves the exact same thing, so it’s hard to find a good meal here!

So there are some positives and negatives of moving. One good thing is that we are guaranteed money each month so we can save for our wedding and what not. We are guaranteed the same holidays as the students, and with the amount of walking and cycling I do… I’m optimistic I’ll lose some weight!

I know I’m going to feel down some days and just wishing I could leave, but I’m glad I didn’t come here by myself… I don’t think I could last!