We are officially in our 5th month in China. Last time we lived here (in 2009-2010) we stayed only 4 months due to some alarming issues with the school. So this is a milestone! I know a few more words of Mandarin, and I am surviving without normal bread and department stores.
I still haven’t figured out how people survive the 2 years (standard teaching contract), or how people stay 5 years or more. I like many things about China, but I can’t imagine closing the door on fresh air, wide open spaces, good coffee and decent bread for that long.
Time has actually flown by here, and I’ve tried to figure it out. Firstly, I am full time in the library. There’s no ‘covering classes’ or filling in for teachers who don’t arrive. The staff at my previous school were all a lot older, and there was a gang of them who knew each other from home. Staff here are nearer my age, and many are single, which makes a huge difference.
Ms M is has a smaller class and has made friends who have already hosted her for sleepovers and birthday parties. This means I am meeting more parents away from school. I am also older and have been out of teaching for a while, so I have finally lost the mad idea that I cannot socialize with parents. There are so few expats in this city you can’t afford to draw those sorts of lines.
The other plus is having someone from ‘home’ visit us. My family are hopeless at this. None of them have ever lived away, so they simply have no idea how significant a visit can be. For a couple months we’ve had Ms M’s dad, and while the apartment has been cramped, we’ve had a third sidekick for our adventures in Chinese food and shopping.