Shanghai: Take 2

Last days in the USA and the first week back in Shanghai… read on.

An American luxury is a dryer- a timed dryer in which you can press an indicated time and right before you go to bed you can have awesomely comfy warm sheets.

An American luxury is also sitting at a small town bar, listening to country music, eating tacos and drinking super strong margaritas with your parents.

An American luxury is the bluest skies and greenest grass, and open skies speckled with fluffy white clouds and a running path with sunflowers.

An American luxury is also homemade cookies right out of the oven. Heavenly.

And one more thing…evening walks, game nights and coffee chats with friends are just the best. I am so blessed to have spent time with dear friends this summer.








small Nebraska town cafe.
delicious caramel latte.

My friend wrote a book. You should buy it and read it. Your life will be changed. Being apart of the launch team and seeing the interworking of words coming together has been so inspiring! (I can’t wait to write mine now… #unfrozen) much love! So excited for you dear friend! Unfrozen by Andrea Joy Wenburg.

Basically I still have this goal that one day I will make the NYT Bestseller List. Actually I really hope one person would read my book. Making the list…now that would call for a step up for my $3.96 bottle of wine. though that wine is really good and I would pry drink that and the expensive stuff. because wine and books. done and done.

Did I tell you I graduated? Yes. Master’s program of International Studies with a concentration in International Education is complete. I made the deadline. to the day. YAY!

My cousin just had her second baby. In LOVE. She is precious and adorable and the sweetest thing you will ever see. Scarlett Kimberly, love you. And Life is good and timing is everything. My ticket out leaves the 5th and she arrived with time to spare. Like I get to meet this baby before she’s six months old.

Learning to chill is this year abroad life’s motto. Chill about people, circumstances, opportunities, timing. Zen out and just breath.

That moment you get the English version of your schedule (instead of the Chinese one that you google translated) to find out that you are not only teaching high school levels, but also primary and middle school as well…anyone? 

My best friend in Taiwan just had her baby girl. I’m going to call her Huan Huan (歡歡) which means cheerful and lots of joy in Taiwanese. PRECIOUS. I’m also obsessed. My friends make the most beautiful babies ever.. and I love being Aunt Megan. So many hearts. Ugh. Yay.

And just like that I was sitting at the airport in Chicago after a 4 am drop off by my brother and parents at good ole Epply Airport (it’s seriously the best airport ever, hello 5 minute lines and super happy people at the crack of dawn) and an hour and a half first flight. One last thing before leaving the USA, a pumpkin spice latte. I really could not have timed this any better. Now to brace myself after receiving not so nice emails from my director for not arriving until the 7th of September due to visa paperwork and flight prices.

magical sunrise.
got my PSL
it’s all about timing.
and FALL.

I arrived in Shanghai about 2 pm. Easy customs line. And I felt like a local when I could turn on my phone and use it without wifi to let people know I had landed. So weird. A whole lotta déjà vu going on…airport signs, directions, speaking Chinese to my taxi driver, and knowing the route he was driving to my friend’s house. Spent a few days at a friends before securing an apartment; she seriously is a huge life saver!!!

adult grilled cheeses are the best.
because it’s the first Friday.
so rare to see clouds.
thank you G20 summit aftermath
because bubble teas…mango smoothies…and whatever else.


Before arriving back to Shanghai I was looking for places to potentially rent online. I had found some really cute places so I scheduled an appointment with a realtor. (The first appointment schedule she actually forgot, so we arranged to meet the day after). As I was heading out of school the second day of class I checked my wechat as a second realtor was always posting listings. I found one that caught my eye. So many windows, white and airy, kitchen space, and room to move. I had to take a look! I messaged her right away and it looked like this:

Yep. This is how I secured a viewing at this apartment.

The first viewing with the first realtor went well, but it wasn’t what I thought. The room was bright, but claustrophobic, a tiny space and one window, no kitchen space, and barely any room to breath. However, it wasn’t the room that was the deciding factor, the whole building reeked  of chemicals and smoke and by the time I left, my head was pounding and I felt ill. I couldn’t do it, no matter if the second place worked or not.

I walked into the second apartment and knew right away I had to have it. It’s simple, but clean and so many windows. It’s perfect for one person. It’s in a very “China” area of town and in perfect location. 10 minutes walk to the metro, 5 minutes walk to a gym, noodle and dumpling restaurant, and cafes. And it’s in walking distance to tutoring and yoga. My school is a bit of a metro ride away, but having only one easy transfer makes it totally doable and morning rush hour is really not that bad because I am going the opposite way of most.

I spent the weekend moving and unpacking and cleaning. I also killed a baby cockroach. I figured out how to turn the light of on my AC unit and how to turn on the hot water. Because everything is in Chinese and I use google translate and context clues.

The first meal I ate in my apartment was beef noodles and a vanilla cashew latte. Because there’s a cafe called Lizzy’s All Natural. A place where bulletproof coffee, almond milk, smoothies, and bowls exist. It’s the best.  It’s a good and bad thing that it’s so close.

peanut butter bowls.
cleaning supplies!
I’ve missed my chicken and rice.
first meal.
beef noodles and a cashew vanilla latte
moon cakes.
are not very good.
but it’s a mid-Autumn festival
more Shanghai sky.
evening snack


Teaching is going well considering it’s my first week back. I didn’t have books the first couple days. Literally winged all my classes because I was in a meeting and getting a tour of the school right up until my first class started. There’s nothing like teaching not even 24 hours after landing after 19 hours of travel. By the time my 5th class had ended for the day, I had been in Shanghai for a full 24 hours and I was beat. But I made it. I did summer holiday and getting to know you activities, introduced myself, and had the students make name cards. I have 35 students in each class for 1st grade, 6th and 7th grade, about 25 for each class in 8th grade, and 20 students in my high school class. I do not have a curriculum to follow for any of my classes, but luckily I have a book for my high schoolers and first graders and sample lesson idea for my middle schoolers.

I made it my first week and now it’s Mid-Autumn Festival, which means eating mooncakes and watching a full moon tonight. A tradition for Chinese is to also eat duck soup. Mostly I’m just excited because we get Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off. However, because it’s China, we must make up one holiday day so I will be teaching on Sunday thru Friday next week.

blue sky before the downpour
gotta love an empty metro
at the end of line 12!
the best dumplings down the street
back to tutoring.
more delicious food from the Muslim restaurant around the corner
rainy day burgers and shakes
after the crazy plumbers fixed my toilet!
jammin’ to Nicki Minaj and drinking my latte
afternoon Cajun food and wine
much needed conversation with a dear friend
typhoon clouds


I am back to tutoring my business people and they were so excited about my return! Yay! Yoga is rough since I mostly did cardio activity over the summer, but it’ll get there. Church is amazing and I still get teary-eyed during worship. God is present and alive and real. It’s really the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced. I found a community group, and will hopefully be able to continue attending the weekly meetings. It will be fun to continue exploring my new area of town and meet new people from school (my colleagues seem nice) and church.

Here’s to another year in Shanghai! Stay tune for more adventures and happenings.

what an absolutely gorgeous Saturday!
palm trees.
now I just need a beach…
blue skies and sunshine mean laundry day
my neighborhood view
more typhoon clouds rolling in.
Teacher’s Day texts from last year’s students…so sweet! 🙂

June 2016: Beijing, French Concession fun, and closing student notes

Sometimes I become distant when I know changes are about to happen. I also become super nostalgic and scatterbrained. So I should apologize for the lack of organization of this post ahead of time.

The past couple weeks have brought interesting events in my classroom. Headphones on. During presentations and debates. Rude. Appalling. and most of all Disappointing. And then after further reflection with other classroom behavioral issues with colleagues it occurred to me… they don’t think it’s rude. they don’t realize the effect of their actions. Which causes a frightening picture of the future of politeness, respect, and face-to-face communication and personal interaction. I received written apologies and student responses in their learning journals…it’s comforting to know there are a few students who recognize the impact and fault of their actions.

Shanghai is rainy. I miss desert living these days…or maybe I really just need to buy rain boots…wait I have them. Teal ones. At home. Note to self: bring these back. One of the most discomforting things is sloshing around the city for 12 hours in wet feet. Gross. I hate wet feet.

I have decided it takes great effort to leave the house on rainy days. But if I must leave the house then leaving involves lattes, laughs, and friends, and coffee house chats and melodies. Thank you Seesaw coffee for your city coziness and good wifi.

Need some good rainy evening tunes? Listen to Ed Sheeran and Passenger. Done and done. Light candles and pour wine. Except my candles are burned down and I forgot to pick up wine. Fail. Another note to self: Yankee candles are better than IKEA candles. Bring some back to Shanghai in the fall.

I am really excited that I can finally sleep in on a Saturday. No more Saturday class. Even though I can basically sleep in every other day, there’s something about sleeping in on a Saturday. And it will probably still be raining. The other morning it wasn’t raining and I woke up at 4:30 because it WAS LIGHT OUT??!!! The longer days shine brighter without the rain and it is glorious. Except 4:30 is so early. Maybe I should be productive at that time. Or I could just lounge in bed and watch the sunrise through my window. That’s the more likely outcome.

I have 25 days of Shanghai Round 1. 25 days left to pack. 25 left to gather thoughts and memories and sort through all.the.emotions and events. of the past.ten.months. I mean really just this evening my Uber driver ran a red light, braked super fast, and missed two exits because he was trying to look at me and practice his English and teach me Chinese in the 30 minute car ride home. He also showed me a video of his kid as he tried to enter the on-ramp. Once safely parked at the university he asked to take a selfie with me. #china #storyofmylife

The other day I didn’t know what to do for my lesson. I call it “lazy teacher day” and make up a game or some activity and disregard their requests for thought-provoking conversations. Little do they realize they enjoy these days more than anything. *see learning journal photos* If you are looking for a 90 minute lesson and you.just.can’t.think.of anything…do this: step 1-6= 45 minutes
1. have the students take out a piece of paper, divide/tear into 5 small pieces
2. write 1 word on each piece of paper – ANY WORD (verb, noun, adjective…etc!)/then fold paper
3. collect paper, put into a pile (on a chair in the front of the room)
4. students form a line and QUICKLY pick 5 pieces of paper
5. divide class into groups of 3-4
6. using the 15-20 words (depending on group size) have the students devise a story or skit (needs to be about 10 minutes long)
7. after the 10 minute break, have the students present their skit/story (45 minutes, about 10 minutes per group for a class of 16-20)
8. AUDIENCE INVOLVEMENT FOR LISTENING: after the group presents the audience must guess the 15-20 key words the groups used. I made it into a contest and the group to guess the most words right got bonus points.
Done and done. and the feedback was awesome! I think my students are finally understanding the concept of conversation and how to develop and continue English speaking conversation by asking questions and inquiring details… 🙂
In prior weeks I played Taboo and Alibi. They loved it. They love opportunities to express their creativity.

At the end of May I gave my students a project: find a foreigner, take a video, write a reflection. The most amazing feedback. Their reflections: mission accomplished, horizons broaden, and they THANKED ME?! for the assignment, for presenting the opportunity and giving them a challenge to find someone to speak English to outside the classroom. Have any other teachers been thanked for a project?? I was stunned. And so very proud. Impressed. You name it. All the teacher love in the world for these brilliant students who have been great progress in their English speaking skills over this past year. Just wonderful. And their teacher still can’t count off properly to put them into groups. I really can’t do Math. Today (June 16th) was the last day of full class with my Oral English group. I have had them for a full year. The other classes it was just a semester long course. But these students I’ve had since day 1…which makes saying good-bye that.much.harder. Because I’m that teacher who has to get all sappy and write notes of encouragement in their last Learning Journal. I am my mother’s daughter.

4 years of ESL teaching down. and 5 countries of the most brilliant inspirational students I could ever have the privilege to teach…not to mention the most amazing co-teachers. I am so blessed. Over and over again. South Korea…Chile…Taiwan…Indonesia…China.

12 days til I’m stateside, an agenda of front porch swinging, breathing Nebraska air, culture whiplash, adjusting, family and friends, and Oh and thesis writing…did I mention it?

Last weekend (June 9-12th) was Dragon Boat Festival. I went to Beijing. Hired a driver who drove us 2 hours outside of Beijing to Hebei Province to Jinshanling…an uncrowded less touristy part of the GREAT WALL. Talk about a million stairs, sore abs, calves, legs, and well everything the next morning. But the view of the mountains and the fact that we were walking on a World Wonder was pretty flippin’ sweet. The next day we walked around the Summer Palace Gardens, and saw the Forbidden City view at sunset. Tiananmen Square was barricaded off at dusk. It was quite eerie against the vibrant sunset colors. We ate Peking duck (so good) and local food. Epic fail postcard attempt so we wrote over drinks about the ridiculousness. Don’t mind us. I thought it was hysterical as we passed a dozen or more people selling “cool” postcards on the Great Wall. Did we buy? Nope. Thank you Family Mart for supplying us postcards at 11 pm. Thank you wine for making the night even more entertaining.

































On the way home…went to the airport at 4 to share a cab. Flight left on time. Then. about 10a.m the announcer came on in Chinese. It was delayed in translating. (Imagine not knowing what was going on 1000s of feet up). Finally it was relayed to me that because of thunderstorms in SH we would be landing in a completely different city- Hangzhou. Umm….ok? Plane lands. More Chinese. What is going on? No clue, but then people start getting off the plane. I asked super sweet Chinese travelers what was going on and they said we could get off the train to find a shuttle to take us to the High Speed Train station to get to Shanghai. Omg. Thank you rain for making the situation even more dramatic, but I was so deliriously tired that I started laughing to myself at the ticket counter as I asked for my ticket in Chinese. Boarded shuttle. Arrived at train station. Bought ticket. Boarded train at 12:45, arrived in Shanghai Hongqiao station at 1:45. Minutes before the explosion at Pudong happened. (I didn’t find out about this news until I was safely at my apartment.) I was really done with travel that day. Taxi, Plane, Shuttle, Bus, Train, Metro, Motorbike. Done. I ordered pizza and wine and called it a day at 3 pm.

Cheers June. You’ve been wonderful for city exploring, artisan ice-cream, free Rakia samples, rain, occasional blue skies, Beijing trip, and enjoying the last of this term in Shanghai.


June 19, 2016. 9 days til Stateside.

And sometimes I blog after 2 glasses of summertime white wine (with ice because it has to be so cold and a million tears because life is tough. The stress of visa paperwork…only those who have worked abroad would understand the logistics and uncertainties. and how the most random backup (freak out) plans are devised, family happenings, packing, and future adjustments, not to mention updating Statsplus a million times and your data still would cooperate for your data analysis section of your thesis, but why not do a voice recording for a super cool company’s documentary your last day in Shanghai? but that’s not the reason for the tears. I don’t even know the real reason for the million water droplets pouring down my face, but somehow it’s therapy with Usher’s new song, “Crash,” on repeat for the hundredth time. And I don’t care. Because 1. He is sexy. and 2. because I need to get all the tears out that have been building for the past however many days…weeks…or months. It feels better somehow. It’s really at this time that I decide to do yoga in really short shorts for a few poses and then realize that blogging is my best coping mechanism. Life problems just got a whole lot less complicated.
A day of visiting with a good friend from high school, overhearing an entertaining conversation at brunch while eating an avocado salad and mango, passion fruit juice, and the most amazing worship time at church. I know the Holy Spirit moves when I can’t help but dance and clap and cry. God is good. So good. Clinging to Him is the only constant in my life. For dear life. For the struggles and fears and weaknesses and challenges I face are temporary. and He will get me through. Some way somehow. And His way has proved time and time again to be the way I’m following. Because everything has worked out no matter how anxious I get, no matter the amount of stress, doubt, and worry I mentally put myself through. He proves His consistency time and time again. But I cannot put on a face that everything is easy all the time. Because it’s not. Life’s a mess and God smoothes every anxiety out. At the last minute. So why can’t I trust? Why can’t I calmly go through the rocky ocean waves? Because deep down I know my life is in His hands. Truth be told..I’m a planner and a idealist. I must have things go my way. and They don’t. Not in my perfect vision. So I fret. I get let down. And He is there to pick me back up. and Say it will all be ok. It will be ok according to my will. (Even when it’s not MY way). And it’s hard to accept His Grace. Because I don’t deserve it. I’m not worth it, in my head. But to Him, I am worth every drop of suffering. Love.

sometimes life is better upside down.

July 31st. I really don’t have an excuse on why this blog hasn’t been posted, other than the fact that I’ve hit some sort of a writer’s block and being back in the USA is this surreal experience like I’m not quite all there or here or wherever. I spend a lot of time stunnin’ (coined in Korea by some friends to mean “just sitting and soaking up the fresh air, the sea waves, the cool breeze, and not really thinking about anything in particular. But just being.”) 

Don’t worry, I’m in the process of writing a super cool Western New York and Maine itinerary. Because every one should explore the corners of this beautiful country. It means rural area, quiet towns…trust me life slows way down and it’s wonderful. 🙂 I’ll be back to regular blogging soon, stay tuned.

But first… a few photos of a Day in Shanghai with @sammyeats. Exploring the French Concession. Eating at a new cafe, and artisan ice cream at WIYF. Yum! Shaded streets and great photo ops, lots of laughs, and good eats. What a fabulous day in Shanghai!























Another side to Shanghai: graffiti and artsy things

And…the abroad life continues…

I recently accepted a contract to teach at a bilingual school. Hello Shanghai for another year of teaching. I am looking forward to this opportunity! I will be teaching Oral English at the high school level in the international department and helping the students prepare to go abroad for further study. Another challenge, as I have little experience teaching this grade level. The hours are “normal” teaching hours which is something “new and different” for me! I’m excited to see what the city has in store for me a second year.


another picture of Grandma and me


Bre can read Chinese…
We found a Starbucks!


traditional Qipao for a Chinese wedding



blue skies can exist

For my Oral English final project I am having the students find and interview a foreigner…best idea ever. I can’t wait to read their final reflections! *Note: this project entailed the students writing an interview questionaire of ten questions, videoing 5 minutes of the interview, and a 200-300 words reflection. They will have to share their videos and reflections of their experience in small groups.




May 25th. Wednesday wishing of Bali beach days…However, green looks good on you, Shanghai…



Another side to Shanghai. Graffiti, pancakes, and art stuff. Took a stroll through the M50 art district and saw some cool works, ate pancakes at a diner, and went to the Magnum ice-cream shop!










blueberry pancakes with
ricotta cheese… yum


Magnum ice-cream shop



Sunny days were frequent this past week…



I deciphered this breakfast promotional poster; now I can get coconut cake and a small coffee for 14Y


mango and sticky rice is my favorite Thai dessert
it’s what happens when you stay inside all day and
need something tropical…

How do you feel about the question "what do you do?"

March 2016
some say life isn’t all about rainbows and butterflies…life isn’t all about the cafes and cherry blossoms, but these things make life a bit easier to appreciate the good and tough stuff. tough stuff is not being physically there when changes happen at home. tough stuff is struggling with exploring the mystery of exotic countries and swinging on my parent’s porch swing with equal want. tough stuff is not even knowing what you would do if you were to move back to the USA. tough stuff is knowing you were made for something more, but you’re not sure what that “something more” is. is it going to outback lands or staying in my familiar backyard? tough stuff is not knowing how to explain any of these crazy rollercoaster emotions to people who haven’t lived abroad, but wanting them to so badly to “get it.” tough stuff is not talking to people from home every day like i did when i started living abroad. tough stuff is change. even though travel makes a person flexible, more adaptable, i’m probably the most resistant person when it comes to change. i hate change. everything needs to stay the same in my little life bubble that i’ve created. and heaven forbid i’m the one actually changing too. just no. just stop. but inevitable life happens. i change. people change. even if the change sneaks up on you one day, it doesn’t happen overnight, but over months, and then one day you wake up and realize all the differences, and what exactly has changed. and in reflection you realize this moment had been building for months and you were ok with it as it built. but on that specific day it was just.too.much.
life events occur back home without waiting for me to come. and it’s tough, ok!? one cannot shove those “everything is ok” “life is fabulous” all the time feelings. because it’s so i reevaluated. prayed. bought some self-help books courtesy of a friend’s awesome suggestions. and everyone should read them because seriously self-talks are the best. not the beating yourself up, “why did i do that?” or “i’m such an idiot,” but the talks that encourage yourself and build yourself up. the ones that you talk to yourself as you do to your friends. maybe from the blog you see smiling faces, beautiful flowers, cute cafes, delectable desserts,  inspirational songs/quotes/student journal entries…but i hope you also see that those things, the simplicity of enjoying the choice of happiness is what makes life worth living doesn’t mean that tough stuff isn’t less impacting. those things are what make the tough stuff bearable, the goals achievable, and motivates me to keep living the best life I can.
I would not define these thoughts as jealousy, it’s merely just accepting the changes and being happy for the other person, and perhaps sharing my opinion is just my way of showing how I care in the best way I can thousands of miles away.

March came and went and now it’s April. Celebrated my First Passover Meal with a group of new friends…and sat on a patio on Easter Sunday.. This past weekend I flew to Yunnan province and spent the weekend with friends in Kunming and Qujing. What a cultured weekend…apparently it’s “Real” China. It was definitely not Shanghai. It was a much needed refresher away from the city. Blue skies and sunshine every day. And fresh air and warm weather. Local foods and walking around…went to a cafe in Kunming called A Slice of Heaven and then on to the Minority Village. There are 25 minorities that live in Yunnan province alone. We toured around the various houses and saw a couple traditional dance shows.
30 days left of the Spring semester of grad school classes and the first draft of my thesis will be written…I’ve so got this…! Just hope I can shake this cold and the sun comes out in Shanghai…the gray skies have been covering the city for over a month now. Dear Nebraska, please send your open skies, sunshine, and fresh spring air to Shanghai! 😉























Turkish brunch







Passover dinner











Yunnan Province















Happy Birthday Sam!

In a friend’s blog post she posed this question: How do you feel about the question “what do you do?”
In an attempt to answer this questions I stumble over…I teach English to students whose first language is not English…also know as ESL. Somedays my students speak to me in English, sometimes they don’t, like today: “Ni hao, lao shi” (hello, teacher!) “Fantastic teaching,” I think to myself. I also navigate on a daily basis through another culture and try to integrate into their way of life…and usually fail miserably or go about the day with a lot of nods and smiles and “ting bu dong” I don’t understand. But really. I don’t understand why I choose what I do…Somedays I really just would rather sit on the couch and stun. But then I would want to DO SOMETHING. So I leave the comforts of the USA and find job in other countries and cultures. and I learn. That is also what I do. I learn so much. Maybe more than I teach my students. And that’s the beautiful reality of living abroad. Is learning. Every day. 


April 27th..I’ve been slacking I know…but days are full of writing grad school papers and lesson plans so fun writing has taken a back burner for a hot minute. As I welcome June 28th at 23:05 with glad travel bags (not packed yet) I will be relieved to step back on home soil for the summer, (this time last year I was still in Indonesia…so much has happened then…what a FULL 2016 already!) but I am on the search for a new job…perhaps in Shanghai, perhaps somewhere new! I have finally finished the spring term for grad school…now all I have left of my Master’s program is writing…my thesis!

May 4th. Drinking yogi sweet tangerine positive energy tea, eating Dove dark chocolate with almonds (because these are my favorite and grandma bought them for me), windows open, country music on, curled up on my chair. It’s a beautiful morning and I am so blessed. Reflecting on the past few days…Sunday Turkish brunch at Pasha’s on a terrace with a friend, inspirational church service on Rest, and dinner  and conversation with another friend. Girl’s day on Monday complete with a wine happy hour and good talks. and

Tuesday. Grandma and Grandpa arrived to Shanghai the night before and we spent the day touring the city, seeing my University and the spots I like to go, as well as The Bund both in daylight and night time. Perfect blue sky sunny clear day in the city! It was so wonderful having them here in the city before they take off on their cruise tour of China highlights. Love that I got to show them a piece of my Shanghai life, I am one lucky woman they came to visit me. The best feeling in the world…showing people a glimpse of my abroad life…seeing their faces, sharing the day, taking so many pictures, speaking Chinese, and eating delicious food and just talking and commenting on the sights around.  

This spring has flown by…but here’s a glimpse in pictures…

Stay tuned for more May happenings… 🙂

more days in my Shanghai life= street food, metro rides, cafes, and teaching!

I give to you my soul’s ambition, you have become my life’s obsession. The praise song echoes in my head weeks later…And I think…on the days I try and be in control I feel trapped and unsatisfied with the life I’m living, but the days I surrender and don’t try to justify my feelings or situations I feel at peace. For faith is believing in something that you cannot see, having faith that He is in full control of my life gives me a calm heart and mind and confidence to keep living for Him, knowing He will take care of me.

The second semester of teaching started February 24th. 18 weeks of class. Stay tuned for updates and stories. My new class is Debate and I will continue with my same Oral English students. I also have Saturday classes back, thank goodness! The class? Public Speaking, meaning my lessons are basically planned from last semester’s class. Before these classes were confirmed, I traipsed around the city going to various part-time interviews… thus discovering various metro stops, street foods, and cafes! Even though those days were seemingly unproductive and tiring, I was able to see different areas of Shanghai, so that’s a plus.



Lately, I’ve spent hours in cafes lesson planning and reviewing my thesis work… I found my favorite…the lady is so sweet and the coffee and pies are delicious! Please note, these cafes are not in my neighborhood and I travel between an hour and an hour and a half around and across the city to find these cozy places. That’s city living. That’s also living at Shanghai South Railway Station. As you can see on the subway map above from SSRS to Jing’an (where yoga is) is a good 30 minutes…however, from my apartment on campus it’s a 30 minute walk to the metro station. Bundle up and go explore…and no excuses to go to yoga, right? What I do to pass the time…subscribe to Spotify for offline listening and think about life and randomly text people metro happenings!

Sunday February 28th. This morning I called my best friend back in Nebraska to wish her daughter a Happy 8th Birthday! Emma and I have a special bond…I’ve known her mom since we were in high school and have stayed close friends over the years. I used to visit her in Omaha while she was on bed rest and ever since Emma was born, I knew she was gonna be a special kid. During FaceTime today, she says “Megan, I miss you. When are you coming home so we can hang out?” and…”Megan, I wish you were here today, but actually I wish I was visiting you in China. One day I’m gonna come see you in China!” Love this girl.

Spent the day catching up on schoolwork and meeting with my advisor with Jazmine. We have the same one and feel so lucky to have such a personable and helpful advisor! Got some things clarified for this upcoming semester, so hopefully the writing goes well this summer.

As I left the metro this evening… I felt like a local after saying 你好 (hello) to the driver, climbing on the back of a motorcycle without telling him my destination, and getting dropped off at my apartment entrance. ‪I’m becoming …ahhh!!!

Reflecting the week: Fiqah and I found another stellar cafe! And it has a patio for when it becomes warmer. Yay! Paras Coffee. 55 South Shaanxi Lu by Xinle Lu. So great! Check them out for an amazing Rum Cocoa Crepe Cake, Cheesecake, Eggs Benedict, or a Beef Burger with Pineapple…and Lattes of course!







Great first days back to teaching…Debate, Oral English, and Saturday Public Speaking to English Minors. One of my students (who translated my survey) treated ME to coffee on Saturday so she could speak in English…I brought her back something cute from Thailand. I’m so grateful for her and 4 other students’ help! One lucky teacher right here.

New songs this week: lots of latin beats and workout jams.

Another great brunch place. Apparently brunch is a must-do activity in Shanghai. So many great places! 16 weeks=16 new places. Ready, Go!


It’s called Green and Safe. The first floor is more of a bakery and organic grocery store with a few places to sit. The second floor has an abundance of seating and windows to let the afternoon sunshine in! A great place to sit and chat for a few hours. They offer a variety of pastas, sandwiches, salads, and snacks. Take Line 7, Changshu Road, Exit 7,  Turn Right, walk down Baoqing Lu until you reach Daoping Lu. Turn Left. Address: French Concession.



Friday, March 4th. It’s been a emotionally draining day. After submitting about 5 assignments plus thesis revisions, I’m exhausted. My vocabulary consists of reiterated, commented, stated, mentioned, and I think…I can’t find any other acronyms right now.

March 6th. Sunday yoga. 3.5 hours. Aiyaya. But a good workout before indulging in brunch at O’Delice. Seriously though. This cute brunch place is so French and quaint it’s ridiculous. And the menu. Crepes galore. And coffee and croissants. I couldn’t ask for more! Did I mention they have a patio? Beautiful church service to end the day. Oh yeah…and I made Pad Thai. Like with a sauce packet. But it’s still an upgrade from spaghetti and meatballs, right? The rice noodles could have been softer. I’ll improve that for next round.

Cherry Blossoms on Campus=



Wednesday jams and dropped off disposable cameras…cannot wait for vacation pictures to be developed…!!!



one of those rainy lazy days… view from the couch.

Today, March 10th was a long day…caught a 6:45 a.m. bus to the campus I teach at (Fengxian), taught 2- 90 minute classes of Oral English then co-taught a debate training with my Chinese colleague and friend over lunch, then continued with 2 more 90 minute classes of Oral English. After classes, my friend and I had dinner and walked out to a gorgeous springtime after the pouring rain and a dark clouds. We judged impromptu speeches and a debate this evening then caught the 9p.m. bus back to Xu Hui! What an eventful day! Inspirational and days like today remind me of the reasons why I teach.

Today’s lesson was on diversity and I presented the Humans of New York project and had a “A Day in the Life..” activity. They loved it…quotes from the day consisted of “how do they make their hair like that (in regards to dreadlocks, they’d never seen them before!)” “stranger’s stories inspire me” “learning about others’ lives helps us be tolerant of other cultures” “ordinary people’s lives are much more interesting than celebrities” “I can relate to these people more even though they don’t look like me” “I would participate, but I fear I would have nothing interesting to say unless he asked me a good question, oh and I don’t want my picture taken, but I really think this is a positive thing!” “looking at these pictures broadens my thoughts about the world” “we only look in our circles so hearing other’s stories helps the circle become bigger” Woah.
Plus everyone always loves a little “micro fashion” to go awww… 

And 2016 begins!

I hate telling people how long my winter vacation is…because it isn’t fair…and I feel slightly guilty. But the truth is…it’s exactly what I need…to re-energize and re-juvenate my creative thinking for my students…and to complete a ton of grad school work before the semester begins!

So far this winter vacation, Laura came to visit and I vacationed in Thailand (and did some thesis work, don’t worry!) with Jajaida and Kassi. I also got ahead in grad school work and lesson planned for part of next semester…I’m keeping busy…and Now it’s FEBRUARY 11th! Oh my dear goodness. My brother turned 21 a few days ago. Oh how I wish I was there to cheers~! Love ya Jake, can’t wait for this summer!!!!

But seriously. I am looking forward to a Nebraska summer indeed, fresh air, country music, blue skies, and patio sitting drinking wine, beer, or margaritas with the ‘rents…and most importantly… writing my thesis. I simply cannot wait…This past year has been a blur…this time last year I was in Makassar, Indonesia, then in Nebraska, and off to California for intensive summer of grad school courses before heading to the largest city in the world. My world will come to a dead halt (except for porch swinging) this summer…before “the next thing” happens. You’ll find out soon enough…have to do some things this spring to “figure it out.”

A few weeks ago (I must admit I probably started this blog post a month ago…) …this week is one of those weeks that I question if I do anything right. Like I’ve never designed a survey or evaluated and gave students grades… but according to my advisor I’m doing a great job, and the Dean suggested I be a part of a panel to present and *hopefully* publicize my work; my errors in grading were fixed and my students still love me (per their wechat posts and detailed emails *heart melt*). This week also brought more pollution issues and lack of hot water in my apartment. OH the *glamours* of abroad living…also keep in mind to voice the water problem to my Ayi, I communicated via charades. Oh the first week of 2016 has been an interesting one indeed!!! (reiterating the fact I started this over a month ago…)

New Year’s Resolution? I’m usually over the top with a detailed explanation of goals and how to achieve them, but this year my brain is fried and all I can come up with is survive grad school and write thesis by August. Is that good enough? Maybe I can make up more resolutions for the last half of the year…is that allowed? I hope so.

I read somewhere in my internet skimmings that I should smile in public more for a New Year’s Resolution. Now that would be a challenge here in Shanghai, as half the time people are hacking and spitting and glaring and pushing and shoving and I go through the metro half the time gagging and pushing right back. Probably not the best of me. So I wish you could experience the Shanghai Metro so you could see what I mean… I really do wish that. Because I know my explanation does not give the insanity justice. There’s really no possible way to describe. Like the other day I wanted baozi (meat steamed bun) and the lady serving it to be hacked up a good one and spit on the ground right before she served it to me. I almost lost it. I promise that besides all those actions I just named, Shanghai is a fabulous city with pretty sparkly lights and other great things, but in the everyday nitty gritty it’s kinda appalling. A phenomenon that this small town girl is still shocked by every single day.

The same article also said I should go somewhere I haven’t been. Maybe that’s more appealing than smiling in public. I could probably manage to go somewhere I haven’t been…Thailand (check). New Year’s Resolution accomplished in the first month. Score.

It went on to say just explore your own backyard. OK I think I can manage to get off on a different metro stop or see a different neighborhood in Shanghai…when it gets warmer? I’ve become such a cold weather pansy from tropical living. There is, however, so much of this city still to see!

More to come…but for now, have a fabulous day!!!! Xoxo from the ‘Hai (or so it’s called.)

Vacation blues…time to get outside and start track workouts in this spring-like weather…Beach to the Bund in 24 hours…Happy Chinese New Year!!! It’s the year of The Monkey!!!!


If I handstand everyday…
I will get stronger…



blue skies
with a line of pollution



I really need to get back to running


Laura and Megan See Asia Part 3: Shanghai, China

It’s that fabulous thing of having one of your bestest friends in the whole wide world come visit you abroad. Any expat knows the extent of the appreciation, gratitude, and all the happiness in showing someone a place so foreign to them and familiar to you. It’s really one of the most special events as a traveler…to show someone the craziness, behind the scenes of your life abroad. So they “get you” even better.

In 2014, Laura and Lori visited me in Taiwan, then in May of 2015 Laura traveled to Bali after my contract finished in Makassar. Though Shanghai is the opposite of surfing, sun, and beaches, she made the trek to experience this bustling city, lights, and craziness!

And so our Shanghai Adventure began…

I arrived on the Maglev (you all should experience this 301-400 plus speed rail!) from the Longyang Road metro station to PVG (Pudong International Airport) right when she walked out of customs. Perfect timing…her flight was a rare 45 minutes early! Took a taxi to Jing’an District as it was about 7 p.m. We splurged and stayed a night at the Shangri-La. (Seriously the best hotel and service ever, I mean; 50 floors up and heated floors, and a bed like fluffy clouds…one day, we thought, we will have money to stay here all week!) I took her to Cheese and Co to start her “eating through Shanghai” tour. A Canadian owned, hole in the wall, best take on the grilled cheese and beer combo ever.

Day 1: We ate Cinnswirl Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, packed up and checked out. We went to Dragonfly Spa and got massages- hers to treat from the plane ride, and mine to unwind after China life, grad school, and all that jazz. After an hour of bliss, we ate at the Taiwan based restaurant famous for their dumplings called Din Tai Feng for brunch. The Shangri-La held our luggage for the day (9 hours..) while we toured the French Concession area. We discovered a walking tour courtesy of Timeout Shanghai, but ended up taking our own tour through the quietest streets of Shanghai… my new city-escape route. We picked out Panama coffee at 1984 Cafe, the quaintest place, and chatted for a while. On our tour we also explored the Propaganda Poster museum, an underground museum of Cultural Revolution posters and advertisements. Ended up at a bar in a red brick building for happy hour. We then went back to Jing’an so we could eat at the Hainanese Chicken and Rice restaurant on Jaizhou Lu. A great first day in the city!

Day 2: Day trip to Hangzhou (One of NYT top 52 Places to Visit in 2016, pretty cool, huh?!) Took the bullet train from Hangqiao Station to Hangzhou East Station. About 54 minutes. From the station we took a taxi to Westlake. There we walked around, enjoying the beautiful scenery and rare winter sunshine amidst the smog and clouds. A perfect day for lake enjoyment. We met a MAIS friend of mine and he took us around reconstructed palace ruins and artifacts. At Westlake, we also stopped at Costa Coffee patio for a latte and the free Westlake Gallery Museum. After touring the lakeside, we headed back to his campus and stopped for street food tastings along the way. For dinner, we met up with a couple more MAIS friends and ate at Grandma’s House, a famous restaurant in Hangzhou with traditional Chinese dishes. Great dinner and chatting! Took a taxi back to the train station and boarded the train with a minute to spare because we had to wait in line to pick up our reserved tickets and it was long…and was moving slow, plus a lady tried to cut the line, but the ticket counter receptionist wasn’t having it.







Day 3: Saturday. Laura was able to experience Jazmine and I’s typical Saturday coffee/baozi, yoga, market, and dinner routine. Had our morning coffee at Yuan Sheng cafe with typical street food steamed buns called “baozi”. Then Ann taught our yoga flow class. Lovely relaxation before touring Yuyuan Gardens and eating Shanghai’s famous XiaolongBao (soup dumplings). After lunch we headed to Science and Technology for underground market shopping. We bargained hard for great deals and she picked out some fun trinkets and souvenirs for home. I got a pretty orange (KNOCK OFF) Jimmy Choo bag. It’s so pretty! After shopping, we had Spanish Tapas and Sangria to end the night! What a fun friend day!




Day 4: We slept in late and met up with Kassi at Liquid Laundry for a delicious Western-style brunch of delicacies. Scones, blood-orange mimosas, a flight of multi-flavored bacon, green eggs and ham (avocado was involved), french toast, and other delightful goodness! After brunch, we went to church. Beautiful singing and service. So blessed to share this day with these two lovely ladies! We ordered in Sherpas (I already had wine) so Laura could experience a chill night in, in Shanghai and what I do if I’m “lazy” or “tired.” Basically I wanted her to experience the city conveniences too! (haha).


Day 5: Monday. We met up with my Chinese friend, Gao Pan. She took us on a tour of People’s Square and Nanjing Road. The three of us shared stories over a Hot Pot lunch. So wonderful to introduce Laura to all my dear friends in Shanghai! After lunch, we walked along Nanjing Road to The Bund. We also went across the River to Pudong and went up in the Shanghai World Financial Center building. By chance we got to see the National Geographic exhibit on the 94th floor. After touring the exhibit we had tea time by the window to admire the nighttime city lights below. We made our way through hectic rush hour traffic back home. We ate hot wonton soup in a traditional Chinese shop for dinner. Another successful sightseeing day in Shanghai! Not to mention we got “buy two, get one free” exquisite macaroons in the SWFC shops.




Day 6: Tuesday. A lazy morning before heading out to explore Korea town on Ziteng Lu on Line 10. A perfect chilly afternoon for 돌솥 비빔밥. Seriously one of my favorite dishes. We walked around. A lot. Then we found a Starbucks. Rode the metro. Walked home to change for the evening. Went back to the city center and got our nails done before going to Lost Heaven. Saw The Bund at night with the iconic flashing lights before heading to the Lost Heaven lounge. We had exotic drinks: for her a Thai Zeed and a “Yao”; for me, a Basil Brazil Smash and a Pisco Sour. Had to have my South American drinks. The lounge was decorated in candles, and red, very swanky, but chill. Good music and appetizers of lamb samosas and crab cakes. Impeccable service and quality.

We thought we were funny…
Our version of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami
Laura and Megan Take Shanghai

Day 7: Took an Uber to Jingan because Laura had her luggage. Then ate breakfast at Wagas. Took the metro Line 7 to Longyang Road, then got Maglev tickets for a 7 minutes ride to PVG. She departed Shanghai around 1:15. And I headed back home to take a 3 hour nap, blog, and mentally prepare for the rest of my busy week. What a wonderful visit with a dear friend!!! I feel so very lucky to have the opportunity to play tour guide in this city and show her my life as is. Hope you enjoyed our itinerary and pictures~ Cheers family and friends!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s from Shanghai!

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.

Taking full advantage of a rainy Sunday… why not go to the Bund?!




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.

December 10th.

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!!!

That moment when you’re in an Audi, giving your Uber driver directions in Chinese. And the driver understands you.


Proper Cafe and Latte Art.
A typical afternoon for a teacher and grad student.
Deep House Music.
and my post-its.
A few weeks ago…

I read a dear friend’s blog post over my lunch break. “I recently heard author Michael Hyatt say that rather than escaping his life, he wanted to create a life he didn’t want to escape from. Brilliant.” So now this quote has transferred from Mr. Hyatt to her to me- to you, dear readers. I feel.the.same.way. My life. Is. Brilliant. and each year it’s Brilliance makes me stand in awe…each experience. each challenge. Why would I want to “escape” from the raw beauty of eclectic- ness and character? 
My life isn’t considered mainstream, 9-5, but that doesn’t work for me. If it works for you, embrace it. Find something to stand in awe about each day. Because really from afar not working 9-5 seems glamorous, but really I do the same things as you, only in a different order, in a different way. But why would you want to copy someone else’s lifestyle? For example, this morning my alarm clock rang at 6:17 (I have a weird thing about times. Never an even number, but never a 5 either.), I got up, got ready, and was on a bus by 7:40 to ride for an hour to the school’s second campus. Then I struggled with my phone/internet to talk to a friend, but it failed. Life abroad? Perhaps. Taught my students then had a lunch break, before teaching another class. Back on the bus to the main campus, yoga tonight, then paper writing, and to bed early because the bus leaves at 6:45 tomorrow morning. 
Escaping life isn’t an option. Embracing life, embracing that is. My holiday trips consist of experiences, personal development, and rejuvenation for Don’t escape life. Live it. “Invest in it.” My friend mentioned a “growth getaway” in her post… even though I’m not married, I think self-improvement, development, and establishing goals for myself is key, and recognizing the time to take to spend on these aspects will make a better me. 

*****The other day when I came back after yoga class I had this amazing idea of a Yoga Journey Around the World. It had been a great practice after a rough day and I haven’t had the opportunity to write for fun lately, so I wrote it. Then the internet and my VPN decided to fail and I lost the whole article and photos…and my time. Insert a mass amount of frustration here. A few days later I have composed myself to write again and hopefully the post is just as good as the first… 🙂

It started in Kenya when I was first introduced to my friend (who now has her own studio, so if you’re ever in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area check out: 3Tree Yoga ) who would practice most days. She had a mini yoga class with the other students studying abroad, but I was unable to attend because I had class. One morning I was able to observe her practice and just thought “oh my goodness I will never be able to do this…” and now 9 years later I can do some of the same poses!

After that I started taking 6 a.m. yoga classes at UNL and somehow convinced my non-morning person friend to join me! (Thanks Meredith!) Even on those freezing cold mornings we would go…and always thought that Sunday afternoon classes were so much better.

Once I graduated, I moved to Arizona and started taking Bikram yoga classes. Now looking back I wonder “why the heck would anyone do HOT yoga in a DESERT?” Simple. The 120 temps outside felt cool compared to the heated humid room. Talk about a breath of fresh air. And we never paid full price nor actually joined a studio during those days, did we Daniella? It was Groupon all the way. Free weeklong trials? Pay 20$ for one month unlimited. Sold. New member discount? Done. Every time. Over and over again. Nothing like going to every studio in the valley.

Then I moved to Korea. Now this was the most convenient studio ever. It was also where Sarah and Taryn and I bonded over trying to do the crazy poses that our 50 year old teacher could do without so much as batting an eye. My yoga teacher and my Korean mother who gave me herbal medicine when I was sick and made dinner for my own parents during their visit. This place is still dear to my heart. The fresh fall or spring breezes through the open window or the heated floors on those frigid mornings when we would bundle up to cross the street. 요가. One of the first Hangul words I read…kind of like a lightbulb moment, of ohhh I get these symbols and sounds now! 
음 지 금 지 친구.


visiting after one year!


My friends and I vacationed to Boracay after completing our contracts in Korea. Here was where beach=yoga=magic. Not to mention the yoga studio was above the most delicious Indian cuisine ever. Sunsets. and Relaxation. and Laughter. Repeat. 






Between Boracay and Chile I did yoga at our family’s YMCA and I dinked around with the yoga routine I tried to memorize in Korea. But nothing too intense or stable.

In Chile as a part of the government’s English initiative the volunteer were required to conduct an extracurricular activity after school in English. So I taught simple yoga poses to those interested. How fun!

After Chile, came Taiwan. I did yoga at the gym with my gym “family.” I had a variety of teachers and types of yoga including “dancing yoga.” It was here that I developed an actual routine of doing yoga on a daily basis. Yay~ What a fabulous year of yoga! And a Acro-yoga experience in Cambodia during a quick trip!







I did yoga in Bali, on the top of a mountain in Padang Bai, next to the ocean on Gili Air, and among jungle trees in at the Yoga Barn in Ubud (with Laura…we both agreed that it was a “slightly” intense practice followed by hippie organic energy snacks and fresh juice). Sometimes the classes are full of too serious people who can’t laugh at themselves. Because let’s be real, if I fall out of a pose, I’m pretty much guaranteed to be cracking up and get fits of giggles. Life is too short A. not to laugh and B. not to laugh at yourself! And a headstand in the sand on Bira Beach on South Sulawesi courtesy of Ms. Lini!



Yoga Shakti kept Katie and I sane this summer in between all of our grad school assignments and group projects! A true escape from campus and a time to zennn out…or at least try! Nonetheless, we were thankful for a new member discount package and a variety of classes to get us moving and out of our desk postures and craned necks. 

And now. Japa Yoga in Shanghai. I love it. I may be slightly addicted/obsessed motivated/ecstatic …whatever you want to call it. My teacher, Vanessa, is amazing and my friend and mentor Ann, also assists and has her own class on occasion as well which is so special to me!  I also invited Jazmine to join me…so we have our Mind.Body.Soul. Sundays. It’s been a solid three months now that I have developed my own Ashtanga yoga practice. Everyday I’m getting stronger, both physically and mentally. Everyday I prove to myself that yes, I can do this. It’s such a revitalizing experience. My body is healthy and so is my mind. Dedication at it’s finest as I am traveling an hour each way to practice. So no matter the weather, or how tired I am, I go. Because I know that after 90 minutes of work that I will feel so much better and I owe that to myself. 🙂








I have been blessed by so many incredible teachers, breath-taking sceneries, unforgettable accomplishments, and worldwide friends throughout this yoga journey of mine. That is why I talk about it so much and why it’s so important to my daily life. 


Also there are songs that should never be listened to while it’s raining and you’re feeling sentimental…such songs include: Ellie Goding’s “How Long Will I Love You,” and Lee Brice’s “That Don’t Sound Like You.” Insert weepy tears that match the window pane on the bus. Such descriptions should not be allowed when focus is needed for the paper due this weekend and a dozen other things needing checked off my to-do list. Focus self. Focus Focus Focus. Because now a walk in the pouring rain to buy chocolate to go with my wine is probably going to happen. Thank you hoodies and sweatpants to make me look “out of place” among the finely dressed people here in China on this miserable weathered night. (Sometimes I miss the casualness of American dress…especially when I just need to run into the convenience store…I just can’t bring myself to wear heels and put on makeup to buy chocolate…) Nothing like standing out in crowd.

Bottle of Wine and a pumpkin shaped cookie and a box of orange PEEPS. Happy Halloween to me. Mind. Body Soul. Sunday. Great flow yoga class and productive study day. Sunday Worship, brings me to tears. I Want To Know You Lord. In the secret, in the quiet place… Pull me a little Closer. Thought of a creative lesson to demonstrate Inquiry-Based Learning. I’m doing a literal inquiry lesson by teaching students how to ask questions to continue the conversation. Great idea, huh? To introduce the main question words I’m doing fill-in-the-blank lyrics of brief song snippets: “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?” (Blake Shelton), “What Do You Mean?” (Justin Beiber), “When I See You Again?” (Wiz Khalifa), “Where Is The Love?” (Black Eyed Peas), “How Do I Live? (LeAnn Rimes), “(Why) you gotta be so rude?” (Magic!)

My goodness. It’s already November. My birthday month. The past two weeks have been filled with writing my pilot thesis study, teaching on the “Good Life,” usual yoga and city life. It’s been rainy and cold here. I chopped my hair short and dyed it dark. Starbucks now has red holiday cheer cups and I bought a Shanghai city Christmas themed mug. White roses were being sold on a random flower cart outside church today. I couldn’t resist. Ten beautiful white roses for less than $5. The vases? Empty almond milk glasses from my organic store I order online from. Brilliant. Today (Sunday the 15th), two of my best Shanghai friends surprised me with pumpkin caramel cake, chips n dip, and wine…so wonderfully blessed by their friendship and kindness! So happy…happy 29!!! It’s sure to be a fabulous year. Cheers~ Monday brought family FaceTime, Thai lunch with a dear Chinese friend, Coffee and call from an Indonesian friend, and yoga zen time. Really the most perfect birthday celebrations. Tuesday continued the birthday fun with tapas and happy hour Sangria. Yay! 

Saturday November 21st.
A recent song played on my “Acoustic Afternoon” Spotify mix…by Brandon Rhyder.
It’s a beautiful morning, to see the sun rise
It’s moments like this that make me wish I could freeze frame time
I got a hot cup of coffee, gonna watch the world come alive
Surrounded by nature likens the innocence of a new born child

Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry
Some days it’s hard to figure out our way in this life
But it’s moments like these that make me wish
I could freeze frame time.

I got a picture in my pocket, of my baby boy
He’s growing up so fast I swear he thinks he can conquer the world
Just yesterday evening, he come running up to me
He said he made his momma mad and that she said he was just like me

And I laughed until I cried, all swallowed up with pride
You should have seen the concern in that little boy’s eyes
Yes it’s moments like this that make me wish
I could freeze frame time

You are and angel, you taught me how to fly
You picked me up when I was down turned me around and you made me fly high
We’re a little bit older now, together we’ve seen some change
But I love you more now than I did on that very first day

Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry
Some days it’s hard to figure out our way in this life
But’s moments like this that make me wish
Yes it’s moments like this that make me wish
Yes it’s moments like this that make me wish
I could freeze frame time

But really if we could freeze frame time, what would it look like? I took the day off teaching today…though I will make up the lessons next Friday. It’ll be fun to show Thanksgiving clips and do I’m thankful for…activities. Sometimes life just needs to be paused. To savor a heartfelt moment, or simply to “catch up” on life…it was wonderful to take that time this morning to talk with family and friends in three different countries, pick up groceries from an organic market that delivers, make coffee and listen to Country Coffeehouse tunes, clean, light candles with a match…and watch the drizzle fall from the sky. I will do lesson plans and celebrate a friend’s birthday in the city later today. And yoga, church, Thanksgiving dinner with the MAIS grad students. Only 3 weeks left of the semester!!! Phew what a fast and furious three months this has been…challenging and fulfilling! 

Thanks for being my friend!


Awake at 5 am.! Coffee and Half Marathon time!


Sunday yoga time!


life is good.





green smoothie and honey ginger tea!
gotta stay healthy.


Ahh love our Sunday routines! Yay friend!


Saturday class
Listening and Speaking: Kenya presentation
Saturday class:
Listening and Speaking: NEBRASKA presentation


Pronunciation class Learning Journal
Christmas time at Starbucks!


one of the last blue sky sunny days for a while…




Reasons to love Asia…
Fruit Markets.
A bag of fruit for less than $5


hair salon


new hair


I have amazing friends.
Happy 29th!


beautiful white roses


Thank you Google.


Study sesh before tapas…love this coat…
Allison has a match one!!!


Tapas AND Dessert



Simply Thai. Already sunshine and beach dreamin!


birthday nails and caramel macchiato
study sesh with MAIS cohort!

Mind…Body…and Soul Days…

Saturday October 17th

This week has been a challenging week trying to get back into a routine after the holiday schedule. Saturday classes are tough to wake up for, and I was up at 4:30 putting last minute ideas on a powerpoint. (my fault!) In my Listening and Speaking class for English minors, our topic for the next few weeks is “Where in the World?” Last week’s country was Malaysia. This week I decided to be the “video” and give a presentation about my experience in Chile. I was nervous. Sometimes I blab too much, and I was afraid they would be disinterested or unresponsive. I received the exact opposite. They loved it. After each aspect, I had them do a “partner share” about each topic, comparing and contrasting it with China, their thoughts, opinions, and comments. I encouraged them to ask their partner questions about what they saw (brilliant). The students were so enthusiastic about learning about a new culture and were thankful for the opportunity to broaden their horizons. I showed them the Chanco Winter Camp 2013 lip dub video…they picked out words from the song they recognized…they fully enjoyed the video. And I got all teary eyed…proud of my Chinese students, proud of my Chilean students, and missing everything and everyone and becoming all nostalgic about life. My heart is so full and once again I am encouraged that I am right where I need to be and that this is my passion, and I truly enjoy what I do. It’s truly a special occasion when I can share my pictures, stories, and experiences, and open up my students’ eyes to the world around them, as well as introduce them to unfamiliar places. What an amazing, inspiring day of teaching! 🙂

I also bought a blender and made my first green smoothie in a while today. The blender will take some getting used to, but it works. I made a smoothie with plain water, ice, spinach, mango, orange, and pineapple! Very refreshing and citrusy. I did have some more energy, but more importantly I didn’t feel nauseous this morning. Now I just have to get my hot plate working so I can make eggs… slowly, but surely my healthy eating habits will be back!




Last night I went to yoga after being absent for almost a full week, and not practicing my Ashtanga series for over a week. And it was a much needed class. I *almost* did a headstand by myself. Got a note of encouragement that I had improved so much. I adore my teacher. She is the best.

my city lights.
somedays they get the best of me.
but I’m an overcomer.

Sunday, October, 18th.

Today was a Body.Mind.and Soul day.

Limbo time!

I invited one of my Shanghai bests to yoga today. I was so excited for her to try yoga for the first time. It was a great class! We had a coffee chat afterwards before I started studying and completing homework assignments. I went to church later in the afternoon.


spices and a Thai snack 🙂
Thanks Jazmine!



Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord…I want to see You…these lyrics rang in my ears for the first time in middle or high school…years ago…I would have never thought I would be singing these among an international congregation in a church in Shanghai. God is Good. He is a Good, Good, Father…and His Love Never Fails. These lyrics…these melodies…I am exactly where I need to be. Cheers to another week in Shanghai!

Woah another week has passed…and now it’s October 26th… Week in photos kind of helps illustrate. If you could only listen to my spotify station then you’d get a glimpse of my scattered-brained-ness. (Is this a word? I hope so.)

Received a lovely postcard from a dear friend
and a red envelope for editing a lady’s translation paper
Makes for a great Thursday!

Yesterday (Sunday) was another Mind.Body.Soul day. So wonderful to spend with fun friends…yoga, study, and church! I am so blessed. I have friends…that go to church with me. Amazing. Indonesia was the start of this blessing and it is continuing, strengthening my heart and soul. Today, I spent the afternoon with Pan, my Chinese friend. She spent last year in the states in Pennsylvania…and is my go-to person for any questions. It was such a lovely afternoon exploring back-alley historical streets of Shanghai. Quaint shops, red bricks, touristy trinkets, and a plethora of patios to have afternoon tea or a cold one.

I found pumpkin goodness in Shanghai!



study sesh~


one of my favorite parts of the lesson…introducing WORDS


On traveling to Spain…the country of the week!


must try this restaurant!







Balcony cafe in Tianzifang

Blog at

Up ↑