I can't comprehend how I've been living in Beijing for one month today! I know it is so cliché to say, but time sure does flies by when you are having fun. It's certainly been an experience and a learning curve at times, but all in all it has been fun and an adventure since day one.
I already knew this before arriving, but living in China is quite different in some ways from living in Canada. I have had to change how I do some of my day to day tasks, and I have also learned to let things go a little bit easier - like when the internet stops working. Sometimes you just can't fix it no matter how determined you might be. So, as I look back and remember the feeling I had when getting off the plane in China after 13 hours in flight only one short month ago, I will share with you five things that I have learned or changed about myself since moving to Beijing, China.
1. I will NEVER, EVER complain about traffic and driving in Canada ever again. Okay, maybe I'm over-exaggerating slightly. But I do know that if I ever do begin to complain again about traffic back ups, crazy drivers, or the lack of signalling in Canada I'll be brought back to my time to Beijing and will remember how insane and intricate the traffic moves here. Sometimes it seems like an art how closely the cars graze each other as the weave in and out of lanes. And the horn honking! I know that here in Beijing the incessant horn honking is not out of angry and road rage (most of the time), it's a warning to pedestrians and other cars letting them know where you are. But sometimes it's hard to hear yourself think, let alone talk, with the horns wailing in the background. It's certainly a lot different then the cruising we do in New Brunswick. China has taught me patience.
2. "Tuan Li rich, Beijing poor." This is so true! I live in a small village in Beijing called Tuan Li which is surrounded by the Tongzhou District. The cost of living out here is very cheap. So cheap that when we wander into the city centre of Beijing we find things to be overpriced and very expensive when in retrospect, it's still a lot cheaper than living in Canada. I mean, HELLO! going to the grocery store in Tuan Li and buying two huge chicken breasts (one does three meals) for about $7 is mind blowing. I think I'm going to find it difficult to pay full price for things back in Canada when I come home in the summer. China has taught me to spend money wisely.
3. It's China. Sometimes you just have to let things go. Life here is very different from life in Canada. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that they play by different rules and you have to accustom yourself to living in a new culture and a new way of living. I am not afraid to admit that I have a bit of a control freak streak implanted within me. It's who I am, it's why I like to lead. So it can be hard for me sometimes to let things go. But I'm getting better at it. Brad, you would be so proud - I'm becoming slightly more "laid back." China has taught me to take a step back and let go.
4. I love teaching here. Every day I become a better teacher because of my students. They have already helped me to grow immensely as an educator. This is my first full time teaching job, and I am loving every minute of it. I had a conversation with my dad and grammy a couple of weeks ago and I remember saying to them that there have been several moments during teaching time where I've paused and thought to myself "This is job is definitely what I am meant to do." I am so thankful that I took the educational path that I did because I love my job. China has taught me that teaching is truly the profession for me.
5. This last point isn't sometime I learned nor something that has changed. It is something I have gained. Friends. I have met and made friends with some amazing fellow teachers. By moving out here we already shared something in common - the urge to travel and see a new part of the world. From there things could only grow more. I can't imagine a better group of people to live with, work with, and see this part of the world with. I am a pretty lucky lady!
If the last month speaks anything of the experience I am going to have in Beijing and China as a whole, I think this is going to be the experience of a lifetime. Something I have been waiting and yearning for for a while.