My first full day in China. Can I say how it started? Well, I woke up after 12 hours of sleep – unaffected by jetlag. And the first thing I had to get my head around: was yesterday a dream? Was I still really on the other side of the world, the place on the globe I'd been looking at for so long? So near to Beijing? Once I realized that I really WAS alive and experiencing this, the second thing that came to mind: Australia. I had the exact same feeling as when I was in Oz in January of last year; I was staying with my Trish and Ed (aunt and uncle) and I'll never forget the strongest sense of peace and quiet I was feeling every morning when waking-up. I loved that soooo much! And on this first morning of waking up in Jinzhou city, I felt the same sense of peace. Wow. What a start!
First-off: to the office. I felt so at ease... which was almost freaking me out. So I forced myself to stop questioning this ease and instead I relished in the feeling and was so grateful for that fact that I'd made it! I was in China... Yes yes yes... The impressions would continue and I'd be putting myself in this Chinese world, in whatever way it would take me!
I stepped outside the apartment – by the name of Manhattan (!!!!) - with my workmate and housemate Matt. Gorgeous weather was what hit me first. It wasn't too hot of course (around 0 degrees). But it's a crispy freshness that doesn't feel bitter at all. The air is so light and even if it's cloudy, they aren't sitting on top of your shoulders (I'm beginning to think that the condensed formation of the clouds and the heavy feeling it can provide, is only felt in Ireland...). This climate feels so lovely! Anyhow, 10 minutes in the cab and we arrived at the office/school. And what a great set-up! I was introduced to all of the staff (around 25 in total, including 6 Western teachers) and got a guided tour of the school. It's a private English school, so it's not a 'standard' set-up. To describe it best: it resembles an office building, with bright, colourful, spacious rooms – that serve as classrooms. It's modern, with facilities that probably Ireland doesn't even have in their classrooms!
But that's only bricks and water I suppose. Because what's most important is what happens INSIDE the building and the people that come and go each day. And, so far, I'm delighted with my colleagues! I have 6 Western teachers to work with and the Chinese teachers (who are the Western teachers' assistants) are the cutest and nicest people ever. It's all such early days, but I instantly felt like I'd known these people for alot longer than a day...
For the first week I won't be teaching – just observing classes. This is so good, because it's been giving me a chance to get my head around just being 'me' in China! So I'm in the office everyday and writing my way from one stage to the next, just to get my bearings and to gear myself up for teaching to start.
Throughout my first day, I was like a kid to be honest. I probably did everybody's head in...whaahaaa! But I couldn't contain myself. It was like I'd been locked away from travelling for so long and suddenly I was being let set free again in the amazing Asian world and I didn't want to 'keep a lid on my excitement'. Why should I? Next week, this excitement could be gone; I know I'll feel more settled. Also, I know it's impossible to sustain such a level of excitement. So when these days DO come-up and the events in ones life DO give life to such a passion – then it's a shame to dampen that excitement. We can never know how long it will last or when and if it will come again. I just reckon it's important to savour the feelings that come from the experiences we're encountering. And this note probably sums up my first day in China... Just letting go!!!!