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

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Enjoying Time With Family

Enjoying Time With Family

I’ve been back in Ireland for just over a week and so far it’s been a mix of peace and quiet…. then all hell breaks loose once the nephews are over, but it’s great to see them and play with them! I can now play more with my nephew, who is 6 years old; having me race him up and down our garden, doing tumbles, playing frisbee and of course hide and seek! I can now have more of a grown up conversation with him compared to the last time I was over.

My youngest nephew is now around 2.5 years old, and although he’s still not speaking, he knows exactly what I’m saying to him! At the moment he’s slow at talking, but he’s trying to make out words; banana is ‘ana’ for example.  So he’s trying at least!

With my fiancé in Mexico, it’s nice to be with the family and be like ‘old times’.  Although I miss him, I’m enjoying my time with the family.

Being back in my own bed means I’ve been having really good night sleeps. In Chengdu I never feel rested after a night’s sleep; maybe it’s our rock hard bed, but here I sleep really well. I forgot how super comfy my bed is!

And the weather has actually been better than Mexico for once! I hear it’s raining, thundery and sometimes cold where my fiancé is, but yesterday the weather in Ireland was fantastic! So so far it’s not too bad! Anyway I don’t mind if it’s not too good; I’m not visiting just for the weather.

So so far I’m having a lovely time. I’ve been so used to having just my fiancé as company, so it’s nice to be able to talk with the family and interact with them. I suppose I just got so used to having only my fiancé about in China, so when I came back here, I realised how much I missed having others company.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

再见

爱玲

What I’ve Hoarded Since Coming To China

What I’ve Hoarded Since Coming To China

With the idea of going home in a few months time, I’ve gradually realised that I have hoarded quite a lot of things since my time here! I look around the apartment thinking ‘I need to bring that back home, need to bring this back….and this…..and this too… oh and this!

And the list goes on and on…

From bringing just a 50L and a carry on bag to China…. I’ve now got those two bags, plus a 30L, a 5L and 3 schoolbags.

From coming to China I’ve now got 3 coats.

2 bikes

About 10/15 Chinese books

3 towels

3 sets of quilts and 4 pillows

An extra 5/6 pairs of shoes

Plus loads of clothes…

I certainly won’t be able to bring all of that home!

There are always foreigners arriving in Chengdu all the time, so hopefully we’ll be able to sell a few bits like the quilts and what not.

But it really has amazed me how much I’ve collected!

We also have one big box and bag full of discarded clothes. They have been lying here for months because we don’t know where we can leave them. We don’t exactly just want to leave them outside our building. I had left some old shoes there once and an hour later they were gone! So I know people will take them, but I feel sort of bad doing it. I’d rather bring them to a donation shop or recycle them…unfortunately most Chinese don’t know what recycling is… so in the end we might just leave them outside.

As for our bikes… I really want to bring them home with me. I love my bike…. but if I only stay a short while in Ireland then I might not even use it. . . and because of the area in Mexico which we plan to go to sometime in the future, it’s full of hills so it’s definitely not an ideal place to have a bicycle.

So we’ll see what the price is to bring them to Ireland and if it’s worth it. My old one which I got when I first came here has been parked at the buildings staircase (gathering dust) for the past 8/9 months, so I’ll try and sell that one at least.

My plan is (hopefully) not buy too many more things before we leave… I know I’ll be in a tizzy when the time comes and I’ll be desperately trying to sort out things that I can just about throw away.

I really hate leaving things behind!

再见

爱玲

My Resolutions For 2017

With 2016 being quite a crappy year; the attacks all over Europe,  lots of celebrity deaths (which unfortunately will become more and more common),  the shock US election, and finally with Brexit… but, the year is nearly over! Hopefully 2017 won’t be as bad!

So I’ve decided to try my hand (again) and write my 2017 Resolutions.

1. Study Chinese

This time however, I’m really going to try and give it my all. Unsure of what we will do for 2018, I’d like to study as much as possible before I leave China. Read more Chinese books for learners, listen to more TV Series/ films. Try and speak more. If I don’t speak more I’d ideally like my listening to improve. Ha so my listening will be fantastic, but I won’t be able to speak a word!

2. Loose weight.

I’m never going to be as slim as all these Chinese girls, but I’d like to loose a little weight and become fitter. I’ll continue the cycling and start going running around our community.

3. Take up a hobby.

I’ve always said ‘studying Chinese is my hobby’… but when I start getting stressed about it, then I realise its not exactly a relaxing hobby. I’m thinking of learning how to make a few dishes, as I think knowing how to cook is important… oh and life saving! I’ll admit it, I don’t like cooking. I just don’t. But it’s a part of life so I really should learn. The thing is in China it’s just much more difficult.

Firstly, we don’t have a working over. Second we don’t have any cooking utensils, say for example a pan for the oven. It’s not like I don’t want to buy these things, its just the fact that we don’t want to buy them and then end up moving and having to sell it all. Plus our apartment is becoming smaller and smaller with each thing we buy. Third, it’s difficult to get the ingredients. There are green vegetables in Walmart here and I have no idea what they are! I’d need to take a photo of each veg and send it to my Mum so she could tell me what they are.Forth, they might not have the ingredient for a certain dish.

I look forward to going back home and being able to know exactly what I’m buying and where to buy it!

(I know… number 3 is just full of excuses!)

4. Save money

I’d like to have saved some money during this year; mainly for when I go back home or go to Mexico.

5. Travel more

During 2016 we travelled in China, so in 2017 I’d like to travel more outside of it and see South East Asia, maybe New Zealand, Japan….I’d like to visit these places before I leave China anyway!

6. Figure out what to do with my life.

This is an important one. Every year that goes by… we say to ourselves ‘ok, we need to figure out what we are doing after Chengdu… are we going to move to a different city/ country? Back to Ireland or go to Mexico?’ But then it’s always ‘We’ll study a year and then decide’. I suppose the reason why I stress about life is because I feel I’m stuck in China trying to learn this language and I’m putting my life on hold just for this language that won’t bloody stick in my head.  I can’t be spending my life learning Chinese because by the time I learn it it’ll be time to settle down and maybe start a family…

Ideally my plan is to go home, do a course related to tourism, gain some work experience, then go to Mexico and learn Spanish. I’ll continue learning Chinese myself. But I’ll miss China a lot. I’ll write a post about what I’ll miss about China when I leave.

So these are my new resolutions. Let’s hope I can manage them so I’ll be happy with myself this time comes around next year!

Happy New Year To All My Followers!

再见

爱玲

Our First Christmas On Our Own

Our First Christmas On Our Own

For the past two Christmas, I’ve been thankful to have had two great ones; one with my boyfriends family, and the other with my own family. This time however, it was only going to consist of myself and my boyfriend.

For my first Christmas away from my family, I arrived in China for my teaching internship. Unfortunately I had to work, so the day wasn’t very Christmassy at all! I remember talking to my family that evening and after I hung up I cried because I missed them so much and just felt disconnected from everything. My first Christmas away from home and I’m stuck working and being by myself. I think 2 of my students gave me presents which was so kind of them, but I made a promise to myself that I would definitely be home for the next Christmas.

However I didn’t keep my promise. After that I happened to meet my boyfriend  and we decided we would go to his country and be with his Mum and Dad. It was quite strange to celebrate Christmas in a hot country such as Mexico, whereas I’m so used to having it during the winter; it being freezing and having the roaring fire in the house.

I had a really great time there, but before long we were back in China!

Last Christmas, I unexpectedly had to go home, so we decided to go during December so that I could be with my family to celebrate. With the arrival of my new nephew, it was the first Christmas with him, so it was a new experience for the whole family!

I enjoyed my Mums dinner, ate pavlova, drank loads of Irish coffee and Baileys, and had a great time with my family and my boyfriend! I enjoyed my time (and food) so much that I also got a good deal fatter!!

So for this Christmas we didn’t travel anywhere to celebrate! It was our first Christmas in China on our own as a couple. There was no festive feeling in Chengdu as no one celebrates it here (although every supermarket sells Christmas stuff which I find weird), but we made the most of it ourselves!

My Mum sent a parcel to us the week before which had lots of presents for us… wrapped of course! Then as a surprise, my boyfriend bought a small tree and lights, and when I arrived home from work one night, he told me to close my eyes and he guided me to the tree. I opened my eyes and saw this cute tree with lights and the presents my family sent us!

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So when Christmas Day came, I turned the lights on, put on some Christmas music, and we opened our presents together.

At noon, and not particularly knowing how to cook a Christmas dinner, we decided to order some food from a restaurant and we watched the film ‘Elf’, as we had not seen that film in years! After our lunch, we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and Ferrero Rochers that my boyfriend got me.

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Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the shop and buy some coca cola and some cheap red wine. We mix them together and they are called Katembas. One of our South African friends told us about this drink! We both love it!

Knowing that my family would be waking up soon, I tried to give them a call, but the connection was terrible! I’m guessing it was because everyone else was trying to ring back home and talk. So I was resigned to wait until there was better connection.

After a while we tried again and thankfully we got through! It was great seeing my nephews playing with their new toys. I got a bit sad at this point; missing out on everything. I would have loved to have seen there faces seeing all their presents. Oh and eating Mums dinner!

But it was great to see them happy and having a good day.

After talking to the family, and for our dinner, we made some quick Quesadillas and we enjoyed eating them while drinking our Katembas. We decided to stick on a film called ‘Krampus’, a scary Christmas film, which we both thought was quite good! It was something different anyway!

At around 8:30, we watched our last film ‘Mean Girls’. I know it’s not a very Christmassy film, but my boyfriend never saw it before so I really wanted him to see it. My Mum surprised us by putting a Christmas pudding that she made into a tin for us. We opened the present and we put it aside, thinking there are chocolates inside. Later my Mum asked me ‘What did you think of the pudding?’

What pudding?? She never sent us a pudding…

She told us to open the tin, and there it was, wrapped up! We decided to have this for our dessert, and it was lovely!  Lastly, we had a little Tequila. My boyfriends Mum and Dad, when they were over, brought some good quality Tequila from Mexico over for us so we had a small drop of that to end our Christmas day.

And do you know what, we both had a great Christmas together. The day before I was thinking ‘Will I miss my family and be sad for the whole day?, What food will we eat? What will we do?’ but thankfully it turned out to be a lovely relaxing day with just the two of us.

Although there wasn’t a very festive feeling outside, but we made it festive in our apartment. We enjoyed each others company, ate loads of food, and had a great day!

So we are now both wondering where or what we will be doing for next Christmas…. Wherever it will be, I’m sure it will be wonderful like my past 3 Christmases!

再见

爱玲

Two Mexicans in China

We have been busy lately, with my boyfriends Mum and Dad coming to visit; bringing with them plenty of Mexican food, nuts and my favourite spicy watermelon lolly pops. Oh and a very good quality Tequila with them!

So far they have really been enjoying their time here; walking around the area of our community, going to Walmart and Carrefour, and having a wander in and around Chengdu.

While we were not working, we brought them to a few famous places… we definitely had to bring them for some Chinese tea in a tea house, so they can experience the relaxed nature of Chengdu people.

High on the list was of course food! So far, they have both really enjoyed everything that Chengdu has to offer; hot pot, rabbit, different varieties of dishes… all they really liked.

This Monday we will take them to Kunming, a city that is south of Sichuan province. Here we will spend 5 days where will we have a look at the city, then we will go to Dali, a supposedly quite attractive ancient town. Although I have heard it is very touristy, but that’s no surprise in China!

They still need to go and see the famous pandas, and there are a few more places where we would like to bring them if we have time. Coming back from Kunming, we will have another few days in Chengdu to go to more places.

Because the weather here is becoming colder and colder, that of course brings more smog. Thankfully there have been 2/3 days where the weather hasn’t been that bad. But I suppose they have been warned about the smog so they knew what they would expect!

There are some things that they have been surprised about; such as people appearing more rude than in Mexico. But they have also been surprised about our life in Chengdu and I think they figured out why we have been living here the past few years and what has kept us here.

So all in all, I think their holiday has been going well so far!

再见!

爱玲

Tackling Spanish

Tackling Spanish

For the past 1.5 years my head has been tortured with learning Chinese… now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy learning it, of course I do… just sometimes you need a break from all those thousands of characters once in a while!

Since meeting my boyfriend and visiting Mexico and his family, I’ve become more and more interested in learning Spanish. In Secondary school and Uni I chose to study French instead of Spanish, so I’ve literally had to start from the basics with Spanish. haha now that my French has completely disappeared, (not that there was much in the first place) I don’t think I’ll have any trouble mixing the two languages up!

I’ve started using an application called Anki, where it makes flashcards and what not for you… I’ve been using it for my Chinese also, but to be honest it’s very hard to use,for me anyway, it’s a bit too technical! I’ve ended up having to delete my whole Spanish deck of words and download it again, as I messed with the cards and didn’t know how to rectify it. So it does take some time to get used to and know how to use it properly.

In comparison to Chinese… I must say I remember the vocab much easier in Spanish. No characters to learn, no tones… just a straight up spanish word and thats it!

My pronunciation needs work on though, as I still pronounce letters like in English.. oh and the ‘r’ sound still annoys me.

And because my head is also in ‘Chinese mode’, whenever I see a Spanish phrase like ‘Does he want a t-shirt?’ and I need to think a second for the answer, instinctively the Chinese translation of it will enter my head.

But I have to say, when comparing the two languages.. I really do appreciate some things about Chinese. The grammar isn’t as tricky as say English or Spanish. There are no conjugations or gender specific words. The language is also a bit more concise.

What I also enjoy about Chinese are how words are literally translated:

fridge = ice box (bing  xiang/冰箱)

computer = electric brain (dian nao/ 电脑)

yogurt = sour milk (suan nai/酸奶)

And don’t get me started on the literal translations of animals!

dolphin = sea piglet (hai tun/海豚)

kangaroo= bag mouse (dai shu/ 袋鼠)

giraffe= long neck deer ( chang jing lu/ 长颈鹿)

These are just a few of the interesting translations!

I think every person studying Chinese gets a laugh when they find out the translation of different things in Chinese!

But anyway, back to Spanish!

As I’ve only been studying for about a week now, I know I’ve only barely touched the surface of this language. When I start to learn the grammar properly and the conjugations is when I might begin to tear my hair out!

Having had a week off from Uni, I’ve been studying more Spanish recently, so I’ll have to try and stick with it when Monday comes.

It’s nice though to be able to switch with the two languages…. I can have a break with Chinese but not feel bad, because I’ll be learning Spanish… I won’t feel lazy because I’m still technically learning!

So I suppose Chinese and Spanish has their own merits and why I like them!

再见

爱玲