New Year, Resolutions and Spring Festival

So it is now 2016! I am busy planning for next semester. I actually have a month off for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), officially from 23rd January. I have a month off. Where I am going and what I am doing, I will discuss in a future post, but needless to say I will be travelling between 25th January and 15th February. This being China, we don’t get our timetable for semester two until a day or two before the semester begins. So we are planning what we will be teaching for next semester now.

We also have to decide what we are planning to do next year, and whether we are going to stay. Many of us here are undecided, me included. I think, if possible (and deadline for guaranteeing job has passed) I will probably stay next year. Then save up money and hopefully go to study Chinese in a university for a year or so. I sort of came to a decision about life and what I want to do – it’s only taken 30 years. Well, less than that as when you’re a kid, like a really young kid, you don’t really care, but you get what I mean.

Christmas has been and gone. I think many teachers’ here felt home sick. I did – to a degree – but to me it didn’t seem like Christmas. The school was open as normal and whilst it was pretty smoggy (so a grey, rather than a white Christmas), it’s odd going out and finding everything open. In Secret Santa, I got a stamp of my Chinese name, and a scroll which says Dr Wilson on in Chinese characters, although it is the wrong sort of Doctor…. Still, it is the thought that counts!

Christmas Eve was also spent at a new Star Trek exhibition in Beijing. It was in the middle of the day, very quiet (only two other people in there), but was great fun and an excellent early Christmas present for me.

All the teachers had a meal on Christmas Day evening, including turkey and veg. My job was to bring the mince pies (originally, it was custard, but I couldn’t find day). Marks & Spencer has just opened its first store in Beijing (others in Shanghai and Hong Kong). This was very busy, when I went the day after it opened, and mostly with expats. But I could buy some mince pies then so that satisfied my food obligations.

As ever, Christmas seemed to be over before it began! I think, partly because there was no build up (I had the day off only, and the school was open for a normal day), and because the weather in the days leading up to it was nice (clear blue skies, which I am not used to at Christmas time), made it feel somewhat unreal. On Christmas Eve, we did a pantomime – Cinderella – for the school kids and teachers. Many kids had no idea what a panto was, so they had to be prompted to say ‘Oh no you aren’t’ and other traditional panto stuff. It was a bit of a shame, that the theatre seated about 600 people and only about 100 were there, but they all seemed to enjoy it.

New Year’s Day was a public holiday, so the school was closed. Many of the teachers went to Shanghai; I didn’t and instead had a quiet NYE watching a movie and playing a game with another teacher. On NY Day I went to Wangfujing – a busy shopping area – in central Beijing. We had lunch, then watched a (Chinese) movie (with English subtitles; the film was very good), then went shopping. In the evening, we hit the Snack Street, the one with unusual food like scorpions, star fish and other bugs and creepy crawlies. I didn’t have any of that, but instead I had lots of little snacks.

In Wangfujing at night. The entrance gate, with Happy New Year written in Chinese, and a monkey, symbolises the new Chinese year, beginning on 8th February, the year of the monkey. The cherry blossom tree was inside a shopping mall. I thought it odd that it was there, inside the mall.

Oh, and in terms of New Year resolutions, I have none. I don’t usually set any. Perhaps to work on and improve my Chinese which is always a constant struggle and slow progress. Happy New Year everyone 🙂 新年快乐.

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