teaching, The China Chapter, travel, video

When Disney Feeds Wanderlust

I was fortunate last week to spend time in Singapore and Thailand, first celebrating Chinese New Year and then just relaxing near the beach.  Coming back to Chengdu was a bit hard, remembering the chilly weather I left, but spring seems to be making an early appearance here and the city has brightened up quite nicely in the nearly two weeks I was gone.

As soon as I got back, in the few days before school started up again, I plotted my next trip–spring break on Jeju Island–and booked hotel rooms and made flight arrangements.  After that, I fly to Germany to see my school next year.  I feel a thrill just knowing travel is happening again soon.

Today, I had the opportunity to show a couple individuals around the school here in Chengdu.  It’s always so much fun to pop into classrooms and the amazing things teachers are up to.  And walking around seeing kiddos reading in groups or programming robots or making stain glass windows, I felt the early sting of nostalgia.  I will definitely miss this place muchly next year, even though I think Germany will be a nice change of pace and place.

For some reason, the combination of loving the journey and knowing that I would miss the here and now had songs from Moana popping in my head all day today.  Rather than just push them out, I thought I would share them.  These songs have a way of almost perfectly emoting that feeling of wanderlust that settles in my soul.

First from the song “Where you are” we have two moments:

At 1:28, look at the cute, little, trapped-in-one-place Moana sadly sing:

 …And no one leaves…

And then at 2:17, we have the wanderlust meat of the song:

You may hear a voice inside.
And if the voice starts to whisper,
to follow the farthest star,
Moana, that voice inside 
is who you are.

Then we have one of my favorites, “I am Moana.”

Here, at 1:25, Moana sums up the wanderlusting, traveling life completely:

I’ve delivered us to where we are,
I have journeyed farther.
I am everything I’ve learned and more–
still it calls me.

And the call isn’t out there at all,
it’s inside me.
It’s like the tide, 
always falling and rising.

I will carry you here in my heart;
you remind me
that come what may,
I know the way….

And finally, from “We know the way,” at 2:05:

We are explorers reading every sign.
We tell the stories of our elders in a never-ending chain.


So there I end.  Lin Manuel’s lyrics can carry this post far better than anything else I could add.

China, holidays, The China Chapter, video

给在东方的感谢 – Giving Thanks in the Orient

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Normally, I’d be working today, but our school (and apartments) are without water, so everything was shut down which has allowed for an awesome day so far.  My internet (down for a few days) has been fixed and I had brunch with some coworkers.  This is only my second year living abroad and, for the most part, I love it.  But periodically, I start feeling intense nostalgia for all things stateside.  I miss being able to drink water from the tap, seeing the sun on a usual basis, going to the regular grocery store for nearly all my shopping needs, and finding teaching supplies in abundance.

But because this is Thanksgiving, I wanted to write down a list of things I do love about living abroad.  Although I’ve had a positive experience thus far…this list was not really that easy to compile.  I think I’m just missing the idea of family gathering tonight…

Things I love about Chengdu, China:

  1. Togetherness.  Chinese people spend a lot of time together, whether it’s dancing or exercising on the sidewalks or just playing cards.  I love that at night, people don’t just go home and shut their doors.  They play, they laugh, they wind down from the day together.
  2. Shoes. Okay, not really shoes (being as though they don’t exist in my size over here) as much as the removal of shoes.  I love taking off my shoes at the door and slipping on “house shoes,” whether that’s slippers or flip-flops.  It’s a great way to shake off the dirt and stress of the outside world.  I’m home.  This is my fortress.  And now, I’m comfortable.
  3. Space.  Bizarre to say in a city of 14 million, but in a 3-bedroom, 2-bath apartment, I have more space to myself than I have ever had in my adult life.  Yes, I loved my townhouse in Virginia, but I’m a person that needs time alone to unwind and here…I have plenty of room for it.
  4. American Gardens.  I really love this little area of China.  It’s not the most happening place, perhaps, but I can walk to work and almost all my friends’ places in a matter of minutes.  It gives Chengdu almost a small-town feel.  I also like that so many buses go by this area, making it easy and cheap (though not necessarily fast) to get to Carrefour, Auchan, Ikea, and many, many restaurants and malls.
  5. Experiences.  The thing I like most about being abroad is that I get to have modern Asian experiences that I never could in the states.  One of the most recent things I got to do was take my class to a local Chinese school.  There, we watched a Chinese opera, complete with men breathing fire and actors performing the feat of face-changing that is a staple in Sichuan opera.  (I’ve attached two videos here.  The first I took at the performance we went to and the second is just something I found online to explain more about the art form.)