Hello, friends! Long time, no see! 👀 Tommy and I are still alive, and we are still teaching online while traveling with VIPKID. It is very different from teaching at a physical school in another country, but we have been enjoying the experience and plan to continue it for at least another year. We have a lot of photos and stories to catch up on, so I recently made a birthday resolution (why does New Year’s have the monopoly on fresh starts?) to write a blog post at least every 10 days for the next year. This first post will be a brief(ish) summary of our many adventures in the past 8 months, and future posts will randomly dive into further details on the individual trips! If you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun, subscribe to our email notifications! 👇
Last week I wrote 10 things I’ll miss about living in China, so to keep it balanced I figured I should also talk about things I WON’T miss about living in China. This post could easily be renamed, “Things in China that drive Emily Absolutely Crazy,” but that’s mostly because it’s nearing the end of the school year and I’m ready to go home! Overall, Tommy and I agree that moving to China was 100% the right decision for us, and we’ve had an absolutely incredible year. So please, don’t take this post as me being a Negative Nigel (I really do enjoy China) – but do keep these less-than-awesome factors in mind in case you’re considering taking the leap yourself or are simply getting a little jealous after hearing about our 13-hour workweeks!
(P.S. As I mentioned in last week’s post, if day-to-day life in China posts are of interest to you, check out these older posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China.)
1. Missing out on things back home.
Thanks to the magical powers of the internet, we can video chat, call, or text our friends as often as we want! We’re so thankful to have communication (literally) at our fingertips, but as awesome as this is, it just isn’t the same as physically being with family and friends. Being a 16+ hour plane ride away for the past 9 months means that we’ve missed out on lots of family events and hang-outs with friends. We love hearing about them and looking at photos, but we can’t wait to see everyone and make some memories in person this summer!
With about 5 weeks left in China, I’ll be doing a little more reflecting on day-to-day life in our little mountain town. If everyday topics like this interest you, check out these earlier posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China. We’re still not sure what we’re doing next semester (sorry to those anxiously awaiting news!) but will be sure to post here as soon as we decide.
1. FREE TIME!!!
This is, without a doubt, the number one thing that I will miss about living in China. To get just a vague idea of how much time we have off, check out Where We’ve Been – this has all been without asking for ANY vacation time. It simply comes from a lot of national holidays and school testing days. Even when we have a normal workweek, we aren’t actually working very many hours and have tons of free time. I am scheduled to teach seventeen 45-minute classes per week (a total of about 13 contact hours), but these are cancelled quite frequently. Thomas’s school is more demanding and he teaches twenty 45-minutes classes per week (about 15 contact hours) with very few cancellations. Of course, our classes are not consecutive, so we do spend a decent bit of time sitting around the office. Still, when you consider America’s 40-hour work weeks and lack of lengthy holidays, we are living the dream, my friends!
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!
AKA, Teaching English in China. (The title is the standard response to “How are you?” that we hear multiple times a day, every day, shouted in chorus by roomfuls of Chinese students. We are trying to teach them good, okay, and so-so, but they seem really stuck on this ingrained answer!)
Between random class cancellations and our visa trip to Hong Kong, we’ve had a pretty light workload these first couple weeks. I didn’t really want to give an opinion until we’d settled into it a little more, but with another holiday coming up now seems as good a time as any. So, how is teaching? In general, we like it! The kids are adorable, the teachers are friendly, and we’re working less than half the hours we would at home.