Sunday, November 24, 2013

My China Firsts.

Sorry. It's been a while since I last wrote a post. Typical me. Get in to a groove of things then leave it all behind. But I'm back. 

Beijing has been my new home for three months now. I've made some amazing friends, some amazing memories, and done some amazing (and crazy!) things. I've experienced many "firsts" in China. Sometimes I find myself chuckling at the fact that I had to travel to the other side of the world to experience some of these things that I probably could have done back home in Canada. But in all honesty, I'm glad that I've had these firsts in China. It makes them even more special and memorable. 

I went zip lining for the first time ever in China. Whilst mountain climbing at Shengquan, we stumbled upon the opportunity to zip line from one mountain crest to another. I didn't hesitate in the slightest to take part in this thrill. Of course I winced and "cried" prior to being released down the zip line, and I screamed at the top of my lungs while zipping down the chord, but I loved every minute of it and would do it again in a second. The most hilarious part was at the end of the ride wherein you had to stop yourself by sticking out your legs and gliding full force into a hug gymnastics mat leaning against a fence. Good thing I have decent knee strength.

I've eaten some pretty interesting and unusual things for the first time ever in China. Things like scorpions, sheep stomach, and duck neck. Now, I can't say I particularly enjoyed any of them, but if I had to choose one to eat again above the others which one do you think I'd pick? Definitely not scorpion - that was the hardest thing for me to eat. They tasted similar to french fries until you crunched in to their body and their insides (stop reading now if you are squeamish) exploded out everywhere in my mouth. Not a good taste nor a good texture. I remember screaming A LOT while trying to eat them. Eventually, I got it down with a chug of water.  Duck neck wasn't terrible, but crunching in to the bones unexpectedly was a BIG turn off. Surprisingly, sheep stomach I could do again. It was served as a soup, and if I had eaten it without being told it was sheep stomach I would have just thought it was chewy noodles with a spicy broth on it.

I think I've written before here on my blog how interesting, complicated, and complex the driving here is in China. Truly it is an art and I don't think I could ever perfect it. Ever. Nor do I think I ever want to attempt it. I've also seen traffic jams that trump any other traffic jam I have ever witnessed in my entire life. I remember one time traveling with my family in Boston (maybe? Correct me if I'm wrong Dad...) and we got stuck in an insane traffic jam. It was absolutely locked. No one moving. A car even overheated beside us and was billowing smoke everywhere. The traffic never locks here in that way, but there are cars everywhere and horns are always honking. But the best way to beat the traffic in the city is to take a tuk tuk. They can squeeze between cars and take small side roads that cars don't travel on (or aren't supposed to anyways - they always do and it makes me so angry!). I've taken my first tuk tuk ride in China (thanks for sharing the moment with me, Amanda). I've even tuk tuked in a formal dress heading to ball. Fairytale-esque? I always feel like such a kid while taking them. They start, and my giggling begins. For no reason. Just "I'm having so much fun" giggling. Just like a kid.

China has been good to me. I've been enjoying my life here, my job, and all of the experiences I'm getting to have. One first that I'm going to have soon that I can't say I'm looking forward to is my first Christmas away from home. It's been on the back of my mind a lot lately as the date gets closer and closer. Because I am working at a Chinese school, I don't get a Christmas vacation like I would in Canada. I do have Christmas day off from work, but that's it. It's probably a good thing I'll be working leading up to Christmas and directly after as it'll hopefully keep me busy and occupied enough that my homesickness won't be as extreme as I am anticipating it to be. Also living with a bunch of crazy Canadians will help as we'll all be together and celebrating Christmas in our own China way. But it'll be hard, different, and a little less like Christmas.

Enough about that though. No need to get emotional yet. China has been an amazing adventure and I can't wait to see what is around the corner next! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Amanda!

I just went back and looked at past blog posts - Amanda, this is the third birthday blog post I've written to you (2011 & 2012). That means I have kept up this blog for two years, going on three! ME! Who was doubtful and said to you on that night when I opened the blog that it probably won't last more than a month. Look at me now! Thank you.

Today is my friend Amanda's 24th birthday! While looking back and re-reading the past blog posts I've written to her on her birthday I felt mixtures of nostalgia, joy, and thankfulness: Nostalgia for the moments we have shared together, joy for the memories we have created, and thankfulness for the friendship we have created. Amanda has taught me a lot over time. She has helped me to grow and taught me what a solid and honest friendship should be. She has also inspired me to be a bigger person and to do great things.

This past year was the first time in our friendship where we lived apart from each other. And not just in different cities. We lived on different sides of the world: me in Calgary, Alberta and her in Beijing, China. I've seen many friendships diminish with distance. But when you put two people together who cherish a friend, a relationship that means you have someone to lean on and confide in, someone that listens to you in times of happiness, sadness, and darkness, a person who picks you up when you are down - that's a friendship that lasts through thick and thin, near and far. 

Amanda, as you begin your 24th year, I want to reflect on what this past year has meant to me and our frienship.

Firstly, you inspired me this past year. I remember upon arriving back in Calgary from my Christmas vacation at home, I FaceTimed with you at an ungodly hour in the morning and talked through with you where my head was at with my career and the future. I saw how successful and happy you were with your adventure in China and I wanted that for myself. You inspired me to capture the moment, to take it all in while I have the time, and to just jump!

You should also know that you taught me honesty this past year. To be honest with myself and to be honest with others. Though we didn't get to FaceTime or Skype as often as we both would have liked while you lived in Beijing and I in Calgary, when we did I often left our conversations feeling motivated and rejuvenated. You listened to my woes and you reminded me to just be true. With friends, with romantic relationships, and with family. You got me through some hard times, and for that I am thankful. 

Distance doesn't have to change everything. I am so happy that we had this past year to grow our friendship. If nothing else, this past year has taught me that we will be friends forever (as cliche as it sounds). You play an important part in my life, and though I may not always show my appreciation as clearly as I would want, you should always know that I love you and who you are. You don't ever need to change. Just keep on being you! I only hope that I have impacted you in a small way the same way as you have impacted me in such a big way. Honestly. 

Happy Birthday, Amanda! 

Love, always and forever.