View from the balcony
'There are three choices in this life; be good, get good or give up'
(author, date, publication unkown).
I'm usually one who gives up, I spent years running away from problems, arguements, relationships that were in all honesty just difficult. It's taken a lot for me to be able to start changing this, let alone admit it, just ask my Mum. People travel to find themselves, lose themselves, discover something more, me I was just giving up. Mum would probably say, if she was being honest, running away. Now don't get me wrong I'm not on a downer, I'm not berating myself, truth is I'm just understanding. I wasn't running away from friends, family or relationships more like I was running away from 'real life'.
After my degree I became almost completely disillusioned with the higher education system in the UK. I wanted something more and I dreaded the thought of going back to the classroom come September. For me it was easier to relocate to the otherside of the world than to face 'real life' at home. The thought of making those decisions was just plain terrifying, I didn't want to just slip away into a career, an
A canal from the balcony
adult life, a mortgage, dishwashers, furniture shopping. I caught a glimpse and I bricked it!
I spent my undergrad years getting good, filling my mind with knowledge, learning how to live with others, how to cope and control my own faults making amends with those I had hurt. God this sounds self-righteous, but it's pretty cathartic so I'm going to carry on. I know I've built, broken and mended bridges with some really important people in my life and I only hope I can continue working on this with you.
Now you're probably wondering where the hell this has come from. Sounds like one of those late night conversations, the ones you have after a few too many and usually involve a half eaten kebab and too many "I love you" 's. However its not as out of the blue as you're presuming.
This weekend I hopped on a bus to Shaoxing to visit a couple I met in Hangzhou during my orientation. (I will write about the actual trip don't worry). The weekend was extremely peaceful and relaxed, no stress about buses, taxi's or language barriers, plenty of good food, good drink and great conversation. The
Somewhere on a cloudy mountain top, Da Yu and a temple
friendships formed during ESL teaching are unlike friendships at home, often the only real common ground is language, but in someways that makes the connections all the more real. You often find yourselves talking about things you wouldn't mention in your own social circle, and as expat communities are small your character becomes magnified, exaggerated and all the more meaningful.
One of the most asked questions is 'Why did you come to China?' and its impossible to answer to teach English because these people know that it's not the only reason. My go-to answer is 'for an adventure' and in many ways it's true but I think from now on I'm going to just tell the truth, I ran away from 'real life'. For me adult life was like Freddy Krueger, like a predator stalking its prey, laying in wait until he could pounce and steal my soul.
The irony is that I'm having to face adult life in many more ways than I would have done at home. I spend much of my free time alone, which unless I'm writing or reading, I spend thinking. We all know thinking is a dangerous past time, but I'm really
A bull in the Uni grounds
getting to know who I am, where my resiliency lies and what I really appreciate back home. In China I can't just call Mum when I'm having a bad day, I can't just pop to my friends house and have a good moan. I have to work through it solve my difficulty myself. Your probably thinking, OK Connie so you've realised you're an adult, big, deal. Well it is, because I'm no longer afraid, the big bad wolf of real life is huffing and puffing and I'm happy to look him square in the face.
As I mentioned earlier I spent the weekend visiting some friends in Shaoxing, it was perfect. Rest, relax and recuperate. I spent no longer than an hour in the city centre area, instead staying at the foreign language university. The university is in the suburbs of the city, which is itself an elegant town filled with canals and leafy trees. Both my visits to Shaoxing are tinted like sunlight through summer greens.
Shaoxing like most Chinese town has a long and ancient culture, the city was originally known as Yue (越). The University is known as Yuexie University, it sits
For the 9 Provinces
opposite beautiful parklands which house the Tomb of Yu the Great. Yu the Great (大禹 Dà-Yǔ) was a legendary founder of the Xia Dynasty. He is remembered for controlling the rivers during a time of great flood. The people of Shaoxing say he carved the channels of the canals and saved the city, his canals irrigated fields and stopped the flooding of the city. In a 4th Century A.D myth Da Yu was helped by a Yellow Dragon and a Black Turtle.
Walking through the parklands it easy to imagine yellow dragons and black turtles helping a mortal man to carve channels in the earth to protect his people. There was something magical about it.
From the appartment balcony we could see the mountain parklands and perched high on top of these mountains is a great statue of Da Yu and the curved eaves of a temple.
I'm not sure I have much more to write apart from that I hope the photos do the place justice.
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