Entries from December 2009 ↓

Y2 in SH

OOOOOOKAY! I’ve been putting this off for a longggg time, and here it be: an introspective post. (I guess timely as we’re about to wrap up ’09 and prep for the dawn of the new decade…..)

First off, contrary to what some may be thinking due to my sporadic rants, I am, in fact, doing just fine n’ dandy here in the ‘Hai. Yeah, I’ve definitely had my “touch of downs” (as my fellow homettes refer to them here, shout out to KK) and even a touch of homesickness, but right now I’m in the ups. (Thank you to those who have leant their ears to my grrr sessions. <3 u!) Besides, WHERE don’t you have your fair share of rollercoaster moments? I certainly had them in NYC at times. Maybe not for the same reasons as I do now, but ups and downs, nonetheless. That is, duh, life! As my moms always says, “if it doesn’t kill you……”

I mean to think, a year ago at about this time, this city, this experience, this “EVERYTHING” on this side of the world, was brand-spankin’ new to me! I was bright-eyed to it all. Not to say that I’m an expert now, but I’ve definitely acclimated myself to the far eastern conditions and in a sense, have also grown immune to the workings ’round here (that had once puzzled/pissed me off… though, some still make me shake my head and curse under my breath). But most importantly, I think, is the fact that I’ve most certainly accomplished my intial, goal of just living-a-life-abroad. Now in my 2nd consecutive year! – that deserves a good ol’ GOOD HMPH! :-)

Let’s see….

A year ago at this time:

  • I had only been in Asia for just about 6 months.
  • My Mandarin was beyond basic. (It’s still basic… but last year at this time was BEYOND basic.)
  • I had not experienced: Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Beijing, Nanjing, Guilin, Yangshuo etc.
  • I had not fully developed amazing friendships that I hold dear to, to this current day – with folks from varying angles of the world; from travels to those I had the pleasure of sharing the “life abroad experience” with.
  • I had not realized that, I in fact, have legitimately served as inspiration to others around me; taking leaps of faith in oneself.

As for SH life, Round 2? Well, with the exception of my disagreements with my new school’s administration and overall operation, all else is quite in the uppity. I miss my former admin and students, but I guess I just can’t have my cake and eat it too. (le sigh) But in exchange, I’ve got many pluses. Here’s a snapshot look at life in Y2 in SH:

  • I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Teaching abroad has most certainly allowed me to reach my main goal of coming out here in the first place: TRAVEL. And with a relatively easy in/out day job…. with no crazy commute or after-school tutoring schedule as last year, life is like living on a cruise ship this year. I leave the house at around 7:20am and am back by 5pm. Thereafter? Gym and/or whatever else that may come up… ie. grab some eats/check out a new restaurant with my peeps, check any special outting this city has to offer,… read a book… catch up on my subscribed blogs/podcasts/news…blog myself… piece out ideas/plans for upcoming trips, ….check out the DVD store for some $1usd (sometimes, less) goodies… pick out a TV show series to follow online or via bootleg… (I’m SERIOUSLY going to miss the DVD stores here when I do leave the ‘Hai. Just the other day, I picked up 6 DVD’s all for a grand total of less than $10usd!!…inclusive of Where the Wild Things Are, Precious, MJ: This Is It and the others that slip my mind at the moment…)
  • By each day, Shanghai is becoming more and more like NYC to me; I still don’t quite know if this is a good or bad thing; perhaps a mesh of both. Subway, cabs, variety and generally all things citylife… all at fingertips’ grasp.
  • I feel as though I’m much more “settled”; aware of more of my surroundings…and what this massive city has to offer…and I’m not running around all too anxious.
  • Thanks to a great group of friends who are also in their sophomore year’s experience, we’re taking it all in stride together…. checking new spots, scenes, getting involved… (we’re making our way into some charity/volunteer work at the top of 2010; tba, etc. )
  • The International scene in this city amazes me on the daily. Prior to making my initial jump to the ‘Hai, I would’ve never thunk for this city to be so global…. and it’s only gonna get more exposed with the upcoming World Expo being held here next year. So many foreigners, so many “western luxuries” making it pretty darn simple to live beyond comfortably here. (I can’t believe I just said that, but it’s all truth.)

But don’t worry, I’m not all saying this to say that I’ll be living here foreva’ eva. But I am saying, that it depresses me to hear of my stateside peers talk about how gloom everything is back home; and even some buds who were with me in the ‘Hai last year, only to return to a “too real” life back in the States, and their “I miss Shanghai / China” declarations. How did “ooh la la America” get to this point? Fortunately, I never really had to “feel” the hardships at firsthand, in the way many of my unemployed friends back at home are. And to be honest, Shanghai, in many ways, does feel as though it is a land for great opportunity — and I’m not saying solely via teaching. Pshh… teaching is the easiest thing to get involved in. Though not as “glamorous” to speak of when out and about, expat teachers DO have the comforts in knowing that (in no particular order):

  • a) we get a much better package than say, a person at a (insert industry) deskjob, etc.
  • b) we get wayyyyyyy much more PAID vacation dates, and thus always talking about travels for the sake of actual personal enjoyment/exploration/relaxation.
  • c) we have wayyyyy less on our plate in the workday. (this is the first time in my life, where my work… doesn’t extend beyond workday hours/ come home with me nor on my PDA)
  • d) our work/school hours are da bomb.
  • e) and ahh yes….. we are making a difference in the world. :-)

But yeah, even outside of the teaching realm, this part o’ town is hungry to improve with some western influence/expertise!

A bit choppy, I know, but there ya have it… and now, I’m off to pack my bags for my return to the “Land of Smiles” aka Thailand Paradiso, for my Christmas Break!! Catch ya’ll on the flip! ¬†Happy Holidays ya’ll! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Little Miss Santa 2009

Soooooo of course, the over-the-top productions continue with this school. Today, our holiday show turned into a 3-hour long extravaganza!

First…. ya’ll MUST check out my lil’ 1st grader (half Colombian, half Chinese)…this kid is such a cutie… as he performs his solo, “Take Me To Your Heart”…. I guarantee, he’ll met your heart. He did mine! I mean, shooooot, he bravely sang over straight-up instrumentals! :-)

And now some flicks from the show…
(Disclaimer: Footage from my camera stopped midway-show as since I had to head backstage to get my little helpers …as well as my belly, ready for my grand finale.)

and some Miss Santa Selects….the premise = random raffle drawing + prizes.
(Dressing up as Santa is such a tradition in my fam; started way back with my pops, then the honor was rotated amongst my brothers….and now, ironically, I was REQUESTED to put on the red/white suit all the way here in the ‘Hai. The IRONY.) But, HO! HO! HO! nonetheless…. I definitely did not disappoint in upkeeping my family’s tradition in awesome Santas……Enjoy!

My coooooooool sleigh…

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My cheeks got pretty Santa-rosey by the end of my performance… I was hot under my suit!!!..and check out my cotton-brows!!

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and with this all….. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD A GOOD NIGHT!!

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. . don’t burn the day . .

Because at Christmas, You Tell the Truth….

….and because I absolutely love love this movie. I had to give it, its annual shout out!

Love Actually

along with my fave part in the flick! Love you all, Miss you all… as this will be my 2nd Christmas away from home. :-(

. . don’t burn the day. .

New Blood!

Aight! So I got a new NYC head with me here in the ‘Hai…. my homette Kym and her fiance, Zia! (newly engaged = CONGRATULATIONS!!!)

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Kym and I met wayyyy back in ’04ish via our (now, former) employer, Giant Step: haven for music lovers. Kym had just peaced out of the GS doors as I was coming in, so while we never legitimately worked together, we bonded via the tight familial union that GS was/is – a camaraderie of all sorts of international flavorings; we had every continent up in that mix! Once GS Fam, always GS Fam.

Anyhoots, not to get all too off topic, I’m happy to have another NY head in this here crazy city… as it seems that I’ve fallen in a rather “comfy/immune” zone to “all things China.” I get to relive the “wow” and “wtf” moments thru them! (and chuckle while I listen to their “fresh off the plane” stories.)

So, as for their welcome, I had to do it right with a proper serving of some deliciously spicy selects from the Hunan province at one of my fave spots, located in the French Concession, called Di Shui Dong.

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Hmmm… our meal: House Special Hunanese Fried Rice, Fried Eggplant, Ribs, Stir-fried Dried String Beans, another style Eggplant, Green Veggies w/Mushroom, and…….. TURTLE!! (yeah, you guessed it… the newbies wanted to try turtle. so we went for it. i couldn’t even look at the poor thing…. it had its shells in the broth!! :-( )

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Here’s a shot of Kym trying to make sense of it all…. the turtle….and the ‘Hai…

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However, despite the confused look, no need to worry about them. Z and K’s already developing great love for Shang’town!… I think they’ll come out of this “more Chinese” than me!!

. . don’t burn the day . .

Sports Day (Italian Remix)

As a continuation of our “Ciao Italia!” (intro to Italy) initiative for these lil’ chumps, each classroom was held responsible for painting their very own gondola for the grand parade and gondola race at this year’s Sports Day Event (held a couple weeks ago).

What’s cool about this school is that I can shoot for the stars with creative direction and NOT have to deal with any of the production!!! Farrrr cry from my marketing days… when creativity, production and stressing were all hand-in-hand. But here, nope! I say….and THEY make it happen! I say this to say, I was VERY impressed with how the gondola boats turned out!! I simply gave the school’s Events Coordinator a template/sketch; she took it and ran with it!

Here are a few shots of set up and parade:

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(Pardon the backside view of the following. I was stuck holding the Sports Logo sign as part of the parade.)
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A couple of dance routines by my 1st graders… they were soooo cute……and some of these kids got moves!!! (Please mind the back side viewing; I was standing at my designated spot, holding the sports day logo sign. ) Enjoy!

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Phil (Ohio Native) and I were in charge of the Long Jump. Here we are being no less than dorks…oh, and be sure to read the banner. :-)

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Gondola Race
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Teachers also had a Gondola Race. Try to find me below! (3rd from the front of the boat, in green tshirt and shades.) ..and we totally won! :-)
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Then I had to jump rope….This event, I didn’t do so well. But the pic is kinda cool!
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The Director:
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Relay Races (reminded me of my good ol’ HS Track days…sigh)
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Award Ceremony (Kids who placed got their earned medals, then later all the kids got a bronzer to take home… because, drum roll….. parents had complained their children were crying last year, coming home empty-handed.) PSHHHHHH!!!!!
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and one more look at how fabulous the gondola boats turned out!
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. . don’t burn the day . .