Turning 30= handstands, lattes, wine, cherishing friends and saying goodbyes

my dear Chinese friend

 

 

 

 

When I was 22 or 23, my college roommate remembers how I couldn’t wait to be 30. Then last year I went into *slight* panic mode and decided I didn’t want to be 30. Now that it’s officially my birthday month, I’ve decided I’m treating the day like any other. After all, half of my students think I’m 21 anyways. Ha! “Teacher, you don’t look 30, so young.” Why thank you students.

November in Shanghai has started off sunny and clear skies. It’s getting colder, and rain is forecasted, but for now, enjoying the niceness.

At the end of October I took a weekend getaway to Hong Kong. It’s definitely one of those crowded cities that makes you slightly claustrophobic, but the views were awesome of the city and mountains and sea together. It was good to be out of Shanghai for bit. So many people rave about Hong Kong, however if you were to ask me, I prefer Shanghai. Though I think it has to do with circumstance. For instance, when I was living in Makassar, Indonesia (a crazy port city) and travelled to Kuala Lumpur, I thought that city was paradise. Now, that I have been living in Shanghai, Hong Kong is oddly similar, way more expensive, and more stacked. Maybe I would have felt differently about the city if I would have been in a different place originally.

I did get to go to one of my bucket list places: the highest bar in the world, Ozone, at the Ritz Carlton. Amazing drinks and amazing city light views below.

Sunday November 13th. Today I am thankful. Thankful for sunshine after this morning rains. Thankful for sweet serenity the candlelight brings. Thankful for the hope worship music brings to my soul, knowing my God holds me. Maybe that’s why I feel an odd sense of peace after a weird week. My sister sent me Chai tea earlier this fall. And it is amazing. Soul soothing. And today I took time for myself at home, sipping my tea, chatting lovely friends, making french toast. Just being as the light floods in. It helps to sit. Alone with thoughts, with inspirational words and music, taking comfort in my simple life. Wondering if turning 30 can be this good? Perhaps my early twenties were a disaster, but each disaster brought me to where I am now. I like this me. This new decade is going to be full of growth and goodness. Of more moments to be who I am and not who others want me to be or who I think I should be because of worldly influence.

Good Morning 30.

My birthday day was simple. Just how I like the day to be. I started the day with yoga, taught my classes, then met a friend for Mediterranean food and wine. Like a bottle of deliciousness. Good conversation and lots of laughs. My kind of day. On Sunday, friends and I ate dinner and went to Godiva for hot chocolate after church. So much silky smooth delectable chocolate in liquid form. Our Shanghai Hot Chocolate tour had begun.

30.
Christmas at Disney!
Cheesecake deliciousness.

The next week we went to Thai food and Farine’s, for hot chocolate place #2. So quaint and rich scents of fresh baked goods. A homier place for sure.

I spent Thanksgiving at an expat potluck party. It was wonderful to celebrate the holiday with other foreigners, fun conversation and good company.

daily metro grind.
random street mirrors.
sunny fall day.
glowing yoga studio

And now it’s December 9th. Where does time go? Shanghai time moves faster, I swear. Too much busy-ness or hypothetical busy-ness, because are we really that busy? Or just the time is allocated differently so it seems busy? I feel some days it’s all a facade. People really aren’t that busy. Just pretending to be busy. So they don’t actually have to face reality or interact with others.

To close out 2016 in December… one of my dear friends came to visit me…it definitely means the world when friends come to see me in my international city. Though it’s so hard to say goodbye again as visits are never long enough and the missingness is more poignant after, I feel so blessed to be able to share a snippet of my Shanghai life with him.

Also in December I spent a weekend getaway in Kuala Lumpur with my dear Aussie friend before she moved back home! A great weekend of food goodness, luxury hotel lounging, and relaxation.

Cheers 2016, you’ve been fabulous. Between having two best friends and grandparents visit, traveling to Thailand, stateside road trips, a trip back east to New York and Maine, completing my thesis and graduating with my Master’s Degree in International Studies, to moving back to Shanghai and getting an apartment and teaching at a new school I’d say it’s been quite a year! 🙂

touring Shanghai before his island adventures begin
thanks for making Shanghai a stop over!
global citizen status necklace from a dear friend
almost ready to get clothes made…but first a cafe!
these kiddos make me laugh so much.
coffee chat with my University students
Miss them!!!
International church singing
today…Spanish!
another lovely lunch chat
latte and red nails
new mustard color scarf and
coat made from the fabric market
tastes of home…beer and grilled cheese
ready for our KL adventure!
new lip gloss=a picture for sure.
what a treat!
breakfast at 5pm
so much sunlight
after an afternoon nap

glam night
more airport goodbyes
expat friend love

so cold.
my new thing?
leg warmers
foggy yoga night
more wintery sunset
sun obsession
a lovely evening ritual of tea and candles
and city glow
love tutoring this fabulous lady!
Rockin’ my
“Handstand by 30”
#goals
saturday fun of tea chats
and baking pumpkin scones
thank you Trader Joe’s
sent via Sister
introducing him to lattes and quaint Shanghai cafes
saying goodbye makes me cry, blurry eyed bus ride back to the city
cinnamon rolls and sunset for comfort
cozy wine sipping Christmas eve
Merry Christmas from my sweet International Church
last latte of 2016

Stay tuned for 2017 adventures and thoughts.

Advertisements

The Oddness of National Week Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




China: Here are 7 days for a holiday in which traveling in China is the busiest, most hectic, but here are 7 days for the.whole.country.at.the.same.time. Thank goodness I’m basically a local and stayed on the back streets away from the go-to tourist areas, but could still get good food and coffee and do yoga. Life essentials, right?
Also China: Now that we have given you 7 days holiday, you must “make up” the given holiday days by working Saturday thru Friday.

National Week. The holiday time has been filled with ups and downs…fun social activity, an amazing get-together with a dear friend from Korea, and spending a couple days in bed, coughing up gross stuff, losing my voice, and getting better. Awesome stuff let me tell you. Losing my voice is.no.fun. But thank goodness for home remedies and natural health cafes that make honey lemon ginger goji tea. Lesson planning ahead did not get done, but lesson planning for the 7 days did get done. And Sports Day is Monday. Sports day: when students ask to miss my class to practice basketball or to finish a mural (don’t ask) (Tuesday: No, you may not miss my class; Friday: just go. it’s whatever, have fun. Really teacher? Thank you so much!) All teachers must report at 7:40a.m. for the opening ceremony, classes are cancelled, but teachers must also stay until 4p.m. for the closing ceremony (my day usually starts at 10:25 and ends at 3:30) so there’s that.

On any given day I could be speaking to people from multiple countries. For example, today I texted my Mother “Happy Birthday” in USA, called a friend in Indonesia via WhatsApp, and spent the day showing my friend from Canada, whom I met in Korea, around the side streets of Shanghai. My favorite kind of day. I love these days. I am inspired by people all over the globe. Their words, their stories, their adventures and challenges have impacted me so. I met this friend 5 years ago when we first went abroad to live and it’s incredible how we both have grown and changed except for our friendship. How special to show her and her new husband around my city!

Ahhh Fall has arrived to Shanghai. It’s beautiful, cool air, fresh-ish air….and blue skies! It makes for a good start to a long teaching day. Trying to power through and stay positive on this long stretch. It’s only Tuesday when I’m writing this and it feels like a Thursday afternoon. Groggy and tired and my words don’t come out right when I try to explain something. Maybe teaching first graders dance and song isn’t such a bad thing at this point in the week. Ha.

And then I torn my hamstring during a yoga class. As many of you know I’m going on year 2 of rather consistent Ashtanga yoga practice. It’s a sequence of poses and breathing and once you have memorized and achieved certain poses you move on to the next. It’s a purely individual practice. So I was getting into a new posture and my yoga teacher was helping me. I have really tight hamstrings, but the stretch felt good up until the point it crackled and popped. For about a week now I’ve been limping around Shanghai. I can’t touch my toes. It feels better to stand and walk than to sit because then the back of my knees become stiff. Needless to say, I’ve been in a lot of pain and trying to work through it. This past week has taught my a lot of patience. I’m really frustrated, mostly because I had improved so much mentally and physically since arriving back to Shanghai. So I’ve taken this week to chill, drink wine, and sleep. My yoga teacher is the sweetest and has provided me with natural “icy hot” pepperminty oil that seems to be working. If it doesn’t improve, I will see an acupuncturist.

It’s hard to believe that it’s the latter half of October. The weather has still been warm, a bit humid, rainy some days, it’s been a pleasant temperate month. Part of me wants to just curl up in a sweatshirt and jeans, but I refuse to wish those days upon us now, because once they hit, warm weather won’t come again until April! BRR.

To make it seem a bit more like fall, my lovely sister has sent me pumpkin things like tea, scone mix, and cookies. I’m trying really hard to ration these things. And now I have mastered the perfect French press cup of coffee to make mornings a bit more cozier. Yay home things.

It’s nights like tonight with rain pattering, country music, red wine, and chocolate that make it good for writing and getting back to focus. It’s about perspective, about taking a step back. Thank you God for subtle signs that help me realize the importance of slowing down.

Reading List: Present Over Perfect by: Shauna Niequist. Read it, be inspired.
Music: “Gulf Coast Time,” Roger Creager and really anything by the Eli Young Band. Also note Hillsong Young and Free remixes are great jams for cleaning house.

And now it’s November. Oh my goodness. Sometimes the days go by too fast and then I realize a month has past and I haven’t posted. Stay tuned for birthday month updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Apartment

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!
yay!
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
tradition.
more Shanghai sky.
evening snack

School

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!
Buzzin’
jammin’ to Nicki Minaj and drinking my latte
afternoon Cajun food and wine
much needed conversation with a dear friend
typhoon clouds


Life

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 just.being.in.a.small.town. 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

 

hearts

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 just.not.like.that. 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=
SPRINGTIME IN SHANGHAI

 

 

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

 

Phuket in Pictures

 

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? No perfect words to describe the islandy teal waters, touristy bling, heavenly sunsets, sweat in power yoga 2 hours a day, or the chill deep house lounge music while the sun sinks and I sip my wine. Though the beaches were crowded, it felt good to have the sand beneath my toes and the salty air on my skin. Oh how I love the endless ocean waves meeting the sky and shore. Phuket, you are busy and crazy, but your ocean is still beautiful.
at Maya Bay
because outside the boat…
wind in my face
salt on my lips
nothing but the waves in my ear
with the everlasting oceanic horizon
is magical
I took a day trip on a fast boat among the islands, swam in a lagoon, landed at Maya Bay (where The Beach was filmed— side note, I’m now reading the book and then will see the movie, but let’s just say the first 50 pages are uhhh… interesting.) But at least I have a distinct picture in my mind of that water). Met some super cool people on the boat. Fun fact #1: out of the 5 boats on the tour, mine was the only English speaking boat…the other 4 were Chinese. People from Brazil, Singapore, the U.K., and Australia were on board. Fun fact #2: when you give Turkish men grief about their cigarette smoke in your face while you’re trying to enjoy the ocean breeze with my attitude (you all know that I can’t hide my looks) they ask you if it’s ok to hang out with you the rest of the day. The world makes sense again. Fun fact #3: I love sweating during yoga. And Thai- speaking yoga is like music to my ears. Seriously some of the coolest sounds and accents ever. Best workout… Nothing like going on vacation to get healthy. In addition, I had a daily green smoothie and tried some mango chia seed pudding. So good. Fun fact #4: Mango smoothies will always be my favorite and so are headstands on the beach. Fun fact #5: Though I do most traveling alone, sometimes it’s so nice to share pretty places with friends and it also means sipping peppermint tea and listening to country music  and having last minute dance parties at…10 p.m. in our super comfortable hotel room…because we can! So glad we could vacation in Phuket, Kassi!!!
what this island-country girl
properly identified
and opened
MANGOSTEEN. LOVE.
funky tuk tuk riding
CHEERS!!!
Yummm
Thai Iced Tea
7-11 style cafe
Happy Chinese New Year
the best fruit bar ever.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑