Happy New Year!
Well, the greeting is a little belated; I can’t believe that it is the middle of January already! Time is going by so quickly! However, that means our trip to Thailand is coming up soon! I am so excited to feel warmth – it is so cold here! The temperatures are not really that different than the ones we get at home, especially at this time of year. Here, though, we also have the humidity hovering around 80-90%, which means there is a continuous dampness surrounding us. Plus, we have no insulation in the apartment, and there is no central heating. We feel a cold draft running through the apartment on a regular basis, so I am very happy that I decided to bring one of our super-soft, warm blankets from home!
Things at school are going well, and the kids are very happy that midterms are over. Although we were able to get 5 days off at New Year’s, we had to make up those days, so when we retrurned we had to work 8 days straight. The students were exhausted, and so were we! Luckily it was exam week, so there was not a lot of teaching or planning to do. We did have a bit of “excitement” during our last day of exams – we lost one class! That’s right, we lost them! Apparently many of the students finished their last exam fairly early, and decided they wanted to go out for lunch. They are not allowed to leave the campus without permission, and the whole campus is fenced in with guards at the gates. When the guards told them they couldn’t leave, they went around the back of the school and climbed a tree to jump over the fence! We spent 45 min looking for them, all over the school, and finally, Bruce tracked down some cell numbers of the students and called them. He told them to get back immediately – they had gone down to the local mall – and to spread the word that they were in big trouble. They came back and tried to bribe us with a large pizza! They had to write a page on why it was a terrible idea for them to leave, and Bruce read them the riot act and told them how disappointed we all were with them. They looked very sheepish! Oh China!
It is still very cold at the school; the windows are left open, and our roof is open to the elements at the sides, so it is not unusual to see birds flying around the hallways and even in the classrooms. Our students have told us that our classrooms are the only ones in the school with ac/heating units, so I try to go into the class to turn on the heat and get the place warmed up. They all wear heavy coats or many layers to keep warm. How they can learn in that kind of environment is beyond me! One day, I was entering the school and had my umbrella up. I walked into the school and left it up without realizing that I was inside because there was no change in the temperature! It was just as cold inside as it was outside! Oh China!
We have 2 custodians who look after our floor. Everyday they wash the floors and wipe down every surface wearing only their thin uniforms. It is so cold in the hallways we call it Siberia! I don’t know how they do it, and I am very surprised that the water they leave behind on the floors does not freeze. Being the rather klutzy person I am, I’m terrified of falling on these cement floors! The key is to walk slowly and avoid puddles! There is also a group of custodians who have to go outside and sweep the running track on a regular basis. I have not seen many people actually using the track, but it must be swept! (I did see a group of cats out there, having a meeting before they wondered off into the bushes). One thing we have noticed here is that appearances mean everything. If it looks shiny and pretty, then it must work just fine. Behind the scenes, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter. As long as it looks good! Oh China!
I ventured out this past weekend by myself to get my hair done. After bargaining with the hairdresser, I finally got a decent price for a cut and colour. The last time I got my hair cut, I went to the salon that Bruce goes to all the time. He promised me that it would be great – a shampoo, then a massage, then the cut and style. As soon as we walked in, they said yes to Bruce and a very firm NO to me. I sat down to wait for Bruce, and another hairdresser came over to me, looked at the picture I showed him about how I wanted my hair to be done, said ok and had me follow him to a chair. He immediately changed the part on my hair, scalped the sides of me, and left a Justin Bieber-style long bang down my face. I have no idea where he got that idea, but that style is very popular here. Through charades and a couple words, I got him to cut it better, but vowed never to return! To top things off, they charged me 8$ more than they charged Bruce, and NO MASSAGE! Bruce swears it’s because I was with him, so he would rather go by himself – and he did and got his massage! After 3 attempts at getting my hair done here, I still can’t find anyone as good as Kari Crowder back home. However, my hair is so short now, I may not need another haircut before we return! Oh China!
We had a glorious five day holiday over New Year’s playing tourist! We went across the river to Pudong, and walked up and down the boardwalk along the water. It was a brisk, clear day, and it really wasn’t that crowded. We took pictures, shared a Starbucks green tea latte and relaxed. The next day we went down to the Bund and walked along the water there – it was decidedly colder that day and it even snowed a little! I was like a kid in the candy store! Although we were both popsicles by the time we left, it was a great day for a walk! We also went to some of our favourite restaurants and had Thai food, Vietnamese food and went to an Udon noodle place that is very good and spicy so it warms you up. As we settle into our routines here, it is easy to forget we are in a foreign country. We still have our adventures – although maybe not as exciting to you guys! However, I am such a badass now that I don’t even use the crosswalk anymore! I’m not really sure why they bother having them in the first place – no one stops, even for the kids! Oh China!
We had a few, or should I say, a ton, of internet problems trying to load the video of the sales meeting that takes place across from the school. Bruce has posted it on his Facebook page if you want to see it. They are so loud with their cheering that I could here them through the walls of the school! I can’t imagine what it sounds like right beside them!
Update on TOT(Tower of Terror elevator): Closed for the second time this week for maintenance! It seemed to be running quieter, so I’m not sure why they closed it again. Maybe the cable broke? We ride it with trepidation when we have to; sometimes the other ones take too long to get to us. We haven’t been stuck in TOT for awhile now……Oh China!!