I feel like I live here now. I know where to go and when and what bus line to take to and from work. I don’t have to watch my phone to know which stop is mine anymore. I’ve developed enough of a mental map that I can estimate distances.
I know how to cross the street without the walk signal and where to get good noodles for a hot lunch. I no longer have to eat Subway every day for lunch.
I have a regular lunch date with a British colleague. We’ve exchanged teaching strategies, dog photos, and pins-and-needles giggles. I think we’ve become friends.
I know how to get around campus without getting lost (and that’s saying something, considering I work next to a building that is a real-life Escher painting). Sometimes I even get lost on purpose just so I can learn and navigate better.
I tutor an eight year-old and a forty something regularly. Both tell me that I’m their favorite English teacher.
I’ve hit a creative stride with teaching now that I know my students. They’re loving it and so am I. We laugh a lot more. I give them content MY way, all tailored to them, and the students are truly beginning to blossom. I love seeing them every day.
I delivered a lecture for about 150 students this past week and the students from my classes cheered for me. I have never felt more elated after a public speaking opportunity.
I volunteered to teach a lesson on “finding the right word” for the Student English Association this past week. I received another round of applause and many requests to come teach again. They loved my pebble in water metaphor.
I joined a gym. I also bought personal training sessions. My trainer is a South African man named El who is fluent in Chinese. (Wrap your head around that: me, an American of European descent, working with a South African personal trainer in Asia. I feel so very intercontinental.)
I am delighted that this is my experience in China so far. It was worth all the headaches to get to this point because I am fulfilled. I am challenged, loved, and cheered. I am excited. I am growing, learning, and expanding in ways I couldn’t have if I had stayed where I was. I have things to do, places to go, and people to see. My schedule is a bit hectic sometimes, but I am happier when I am busy. And I am so happy.