It’s been a few weeks since I last updated- I’m working on a post that’s taking far more research and work than I initially thought it would, so I’m delaying it. I’ve also been struggling with a lack of motivation to write, as no other topics seemed super exciting to me, but since it’s been a while since I last talked about how life in Shanghai was going for me, I feel like this would be the perfect time to give a short update.
This fall has been pretty busy, with a few fun events mixed in between work. At times, this work schedule has felt all-consuming; whether spending much of my time either at home, at work, or in transit, it was hard to find a breather. But there’s beauty in the grind, knowing that the work that you’re putting in is helping me to develop and grow as an individual, as long as I’m doing it with intention and mindfulness. Everything is part of the experience of living in China, even the work.
Fall marks the season of nights of terror, sweaters, turkeys, and pumpkin spice flavored everything- at least in America. In Shanghai, the only Halloween and Thanksgiving I experienced were marketing events for the school or with my fellow foreigner friends. The Chinese don’t really celebrate these holidays, as to be expected- Thanksgiving is directly tied to American History and Halloween is just another day to the average Chinese person (generally speaking). Not to say that there was nothing Halloween related. There’s a brief influx of Halloween related advertising and décor in stores.
However, as we enter December, there is a noticeable amount of Christmas/Winter decorations going up everywhere- streets, stores, even metro stations are preparing for the holidays, so it seems to me that at least one holiday has been adopted from the West.
At my center, we hosted a Halloween Party for interested students in our center at a trampoline jump center called Jump 360. Teachers were in charge of giving out stamps to children who completed the games at various stations, ranging from trampoline basketball and dodgeball, to huge foam pits. There was even a full-sized Ninja Warrior type obstacle course, which I was able to run when the teachers had a bit of free time. Overall, that party was very fun, and coupled with the in-center costumes that kids came to school with that week, I imagine the children and parents had fun with it too.
For Thanksgiving, there was less fanfare about it, since only the American teachers really celebrated it back home, but I was able to hang out with some coworkers and friends and even enjoyed a standard Thanksgiving feast, complete with a turkey, pies, and all the sides. Hào chī!
Speaking of delicious food, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to go out and explore the various Shanghainese specialties, but I have recently had a couple Muslim-Chinese dishes that have been spectacular, namely a beef noodle bowl right by my apartment. I’ll be looking at doing more food-venturing now that I’ve finished paying off my cash advance and have a bit of extra wiggle room in my budget.
The Changing Seasons
Summer was unbelievably, unquestionably hot. And this winter is shaping up to be the foil to the hottest summer Shanghai has had in a few decades, with the coldest winter in a few years arriving. Although I’m not new to cold weather, spending 5 winters in Portland and 1 in Durham, it still chills my bones. I guess being born on an island makes it a little hard to get used to colder winters.
I’ve also been dealing with a mild cough for the better part of last month, not helped by the rising pollution levels that Shanghai experiences in the winter months. I’ve purchased filter masks and I’m doing what I can, but the cough has been a persistent nuisance to me.
Other than that though, I’m finding a good balance between work and play, taking time to devote things important to me now. I’m cooking more, keeping up my Mandarin studies, exercising, and finding time for friends and adventure. It’s really hard to believe that I’ve already been here for 5 months, but I feel like I’m really starting to settle in and roll with the punches.
Right in front of me is my 5 month appraisal at work. I’m not sure how it’ll go, but as long as I prepare and do my best, I’m confident that I’ll be able to accept the result. Not going to go into too much detail here, as I’m still not sure what aspects of my job and the career development process I can talk about, but it’s tied to bonuses and starting to talk about my future development as a teacher.
In a week, I’ll be going to Hong Kong for 3 days, which I’m excited for, and will have another post about. My grandma on my dad’s side is born from somewhere in south China, and most Chinese in Hawaii are Cantonese (from the south China area), so I’m excited to see the ‘homeland’ and compare the food and culture from what I experienced back home.
As far as over the horizon and into the next year, I have nothing planned after January, but I’m looking forward to My Next Chapter™ in the back 9 of this journey.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and if you like pictures instead, feel free to check out my Instagram: