Yes, it killed me a little not to be able to finish the alliteration! 😂 Anyways, the last couple weeks have been pretty relaxed here. No extra days off means spending the weekdays teaching and going into ultimate sloth mode on the weekends. No complaints about that! This past Saturday we did venture out to the market, which occupies the town’s main streets every 5 days. We’ve gone to it before but never for very long, so this time we dedicated all morning to checking out every street it spills onto and trying lots of new food. Hopefully these photos give a little glimpse into the colorful and fast-paced madness of our local street market. All this time at home also gave us a chance to reflect on what we want to do when our contract ends in January, so be sure to get all the way to the bottom to find out what we decided!
Other than the market, the only other noteworthy occurrences with us recently are a brief moped meltdown and our New Year’s decision.
Our electric moped (provided by the school) is really important for our day-to-day activities. It turns a 45 minute walk to school into a 15 minute drive, and a 20 minute grocery-laden schlep back from the supermarket into a breezy 5 minute ride. Lately, it has been turning itself off at random times – such as when we are going through an intersection or turning into a lane of traffic! This has been pretty nerve wracking, but luckily drivers here are used to random stops and are very vigilant. Yesterday, the moped finally gave up and we couldn’t fix it by switching the fuse as we usually do. Thankfully, a random Chinese man saw us stranded on the side of the road, provided a temporary fix with some tools from his truck, and even took us to a nearby repair shop. He explained the problem to the repairman and in 10 minutes we were safely on our way with a new fuse box. In total, the whole experience took under an hour and cost only $2.27. Not to mention, our good Samaritan spoke absolutely no English and did this all through an elaborate series of charades! We are increasingly growing to appreciate China’s emphasis on community and the kindness it fosters.
Our Major Decision
And now, our big news… contrary to what we have been planning and telling people about for the past two months, we have decided to stay in Sinan and continue teaching English! Our contract originally ended in mid-January, and when the placement agency asked us in October if we planned to extend we had said no. At that point, we hadn’t really settled in, weren’t too comfortable teaching, and the prospect of a full year in our small, non-Western town sounded a little like purgatory. We started planning a big trip throughout the rest of Asia starting in January before heading back to the States around May.
Up until this weekend, we had every plan to follow through – I had researched the perfect Workaways to cut our costs and had created an extensive document of sight-seeing information. We told our friends and family our plan with no doubt it would happen.
Then, last week I made the off-hand remark that if the placement agency were to ask us about extending our contract now, I didn’t know if I would have given the same answer. Surprisingly, Tommy agreed. We both have gotten used to our apartment and the town. Lesson planning is no longer an all-day event, and its in-class implementation is much more successful. We’ve seen the other teachers successfully set up online shopping and order Western essentials. Plus, our teaching schedule is minimal and we’re making decent money.
We started thinking about our long term goals as well. What did we want to do after returning home? Were we going to settle down, get “real” jobs, maybe move to another state?
To be completely honest, we’ve gotten a taste of freedom living and working abroad. We just aren’t sure we’re ready to give that up come summer. While our fall plans are far from set in stone, we’ve begun looking into teaching jobs in other countries. We know that we’re unlikely to find another job that has these kind of financial benefits and freedom of time, but we want to keep exploring regardless.
So, keeping this in mind, we decided that a long trip throughout Asia followed by a few months in the States would just be too much time spent without jobs. We decided to stay in Sinan, explore Asia during our month-long vacation in February, and save up some money to allow for some time in the States before moving on to our next adventure.
That about covers the last couple weeks. We don’t have any trips planned between now and February, so I’m planning to do a few culture pieces covering what our day-to-day life is like. Let me know if you have any topics you want covered! 😃 Lots of love to everyone back home.