Sometime around the beginning of November, Starbucks here in Shanghai released their Christmas drinks and cups. Shopping Centers were adorned with flashy ornaments, gold and sparkly. Christmas trees were put up and decorated throughout the city and reindeers light displays were placed in the small green spaces. Christmas music began to blast through cafes and stores to coordinate the madness. And through it all I just wanted to shake someone and say, Do you even know why we celebrate this holiday? (insert a million more question marks here.) Because in this communist run country, religious freedom is monitored by the government. Even at my church we are not allowed to worship together, Chinese and Expats. Only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend certain services and vice versa. That’s how commercialized Christmas has become, when people who don’t even know the real reason just think it’s simply theme to decorate and buy gifts for people.
Heartbreaking. That our Savior’s birth has been diminished to fake greenery and glittered decor and obscene amounts of money spent on ourselves. Where has the meaning gone? Just think if the real reason were as popular as the lights what a difference we would see in the world. A world changed from jealousy, greed, and anger, to one of thanksgiving, joy, and love. Be a light this Christmas season, a light for Him.
I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning and came across this: Chin up, love. In the waiting, in the quiet, He could chisel away at those old wounds and you might just see that the new thing He is forming is you. Oh, how I needed to hear these words today. He is working in me, to create something new.
Submitted my thesis proposal last night. AHHH! And just submitted my final group project work. A day early. The semester ends TOMORROW! Yay! Another semester down. One to go and a summer of thesis writing. I’ve so got this.
Shanghai got. COLD. And a humid cold. And RAINY. Yuck. But. My apartment has hot water and hear. (Winning!) I also have learned that even when the weather says “sprinkles” or “light showers” to bring an umbrella. So. Another lesson learned… Along with line 3 is actually faster than line 1 even though the subway fast track map says otherwise. It’s because of the line changes and during rush hour the different stops have more/less people. Therefore line 3 is faster than line 1. And I get a seat. (City living at its finest)
Found Cinnamon Rolls. Not the fake ones. But ones like Mom makes for snow days or Christmas Eve. I may or may not have bought 6 the either day. Don’t worry I froze…a couple…for Christmas Eve. So good. Cinnaswirl China you are amazing.
Made a homemade pumpkin spice latte using Lizzy’s All Natural Maple Almond Milk and Pumpkin from Kate and Kimi. So wonderful buying local produce and supporting local business. I am all about that.
I am also All. About. Roasters Cafe. It’s the quaintest cafe on Yuyuan Road and Changde Road. Though it’s “open air,” they have heat lamps and wooden seats, a cozy atmosphere, with all the pop songs you need to hear because you miss America, and the best part? They roast their own beans. So the smell is…amazing!
Last night I was so tired and cold and drained. I put on some lounge music, lit some candles, and did my own yoga. It was magical.
Look at the difference below…sunny day and blue skies to dreary days…. on Fengxian Campus.
Lately I have been contemplating this: I was taught to put forth 110% effort into whatever I was trying to accomplish. Whether it’s something easy or difficult, perhaps I am hard on myself too in wanting to do my best in an almost perfectionistic manner. Sometimes I let other people’s opinions get in the way. However, this time, just being me and ignoring what other people say about my perfectionist work has paid off. My professor read my thesis first and will use it as an example. I also secured a thesis advisor who is willing to work with me throughout the entire process to get the thesis complete this summer and if the results prove noteworthy he wants to help me get it published; which has been my ultimate goal for so long: to get my writing publish, whether fun stuff or scholarly reads. I have learned throughout this entire process that I just have to listen to my gut and do what I know to be best for myself in putting forth my best effort no matter what the task is.
Celebrating our Integrated Thematic Unit project with grilled cheese and beer. Lovely Notes from students. And two new cafes: Yuan Shang on Beijing Rd in Jingan District and Thrink Cafe down a side street, also in Jingan District. (Can you tell where my favorite area is? Just the best. Quaint streets, cafes, shops…I love walking to explore this area!)
December 22nd. 3 days til Christmas.
I received this text from a friend the other day. “I know the struggle it’s real indeed! Try to count your blessings, be nice to the fam, hope for the best… don’t be cynical, you’re only hurting yourself by harboring those negative thoughts. Hope you can spend time with nice people there, focus on your accomplishments and goals, you’re doing you and you wouldn’t be if you were home.”
She is so right. I couldn’t’ve asked for better words or encouragement. Sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical…to be bitter…but in all honesty it’s hard to admit that being home is the very place I’d rather be right now during this time of year. Underneath all the glittery lights and smiles being abroad is the absolute hardest this time of year. So dear friends in the states, treasure the fam jam times and fresh air. (Because the air levels here on a scale of 0-500 creep to the 350s.)
Christmas Eve. Taught 4 classes, sweet greetings and apple gifts from students. So nice! Met a friend for dinner, but we couldn’t find the restaurant after walking around for a half hour or so, so we went to Yang’s Dumplings and had dumplings and soup and milk tea for dinner and Haagan Das Ice-cream for dessert. Cheers to a wonderful evening spent with good company and food!
Christmas Day in Shanghai. Talked to the family. Went to Christmas Church Service at Shanghai Community Fellowship with a friend. Beautiful church, Encouraging words…Christmas Day is the biggest gift exchange…when Grace and Love came to Earth…given to us. After the service we tried to go to a French Cafe for Brunch, but they were closed…for a month, as the interior was entirely demolished. So instead we found ourselves at a dive bar called “Oh My Kebabs”, and had pitas and bubbly wine mimosas…simple and fun~!
Aren’t these reading penguins adorable? I thought so too! 🙂
Even though last year I was on a island beach, nothing compares sharing Christmastime with dear
friends…so here’s to another Christmas on a another continent!
Merry Christmas from China~~~
Found another fabulous Cafe…hand drip coffee from around the globe…and delightful desserts like the marshmallow brownie… quaint outdoor patio and cozy indoors…perfect atmosphere for conversation and coffee! Seesaw Coffee 433 Yuyuan Rd. Jingan District Shanghai.
Yay Wintertime sunshine through pollution skies…yoga zenning…sunlight streaming
And now it’s New Year’s Eve… Last year I was ringing in the New Year on the Lemon House Balcony overlooking the village of Padang Bai on Bali…watching the fireworks display…eating pizza from a local Warong and soaking up the tropical air…2015 was a year full of adventure, academics, and another country. From Indonesia…back to NE…California for grad school summer sesh, and a visit back to Taiwan to see dear friends…and now Shanghai, China to teach and complete my master’s degree…2016 is looking to be another year full of adventure and change…I cannot wait to see what it has in store…So Cheers from my cozy apartment, lounge music, candles, and wine to wherever you are ringing in this New Year!!!