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Day 2 in Yuyao

Today was a great day!

It started with a trip to a vegetarian Buddhist family run buffet with my new friend Pat who is from New Hampshire and a fellow vegetarian. The restaurant is very small and only opens at Chinese meal times (which are very early compared to back home) so you have to get there QUICK before the food runs out. It cost about 12 kuay for as much as you like- I am starting to question why I bother trying to cook in my apartment!

It’s hard to know what to write down because I want to record everything I experience and I’m scared of forgetting things, but also I'm aware that not everything is as interesting to read about as it seems to me right now...

Later on I went for a Picnic at Longshan park with Vera and La-La (Chinese Staff at the school), Pat, Masha (Russian friend), Ash (South African friend) and Jo (a fellow ying guo ren) from Stafford, who is actually teaching at a different school). We bought lots of fruit and sandwiches and snacks and had a nice chat and I got to know some people a bit better, and played badminton. We were spotted by some local Chinese people with cameras and felt like uncomfortable celebrities/animals in a zoo whilst having our photos taken (I have to keep reminding myself that most people in smaller cities have never – or rarely- seen a foreign person before, so it is a prime photo opportunity for them! They are obviously very curious of other cultures and you have to just go along with it).

After the picnic I convinced everyone to climb up the hill with me and I was so happy to feel surrounded by nature after being in a concrete jungle for the past couple of days! There were steps leading all the way to the top of the hill, with pagodas on the way up. The view of Yuyao city from the top of the hill was really breathtaking- the contrast of high rise flats and busy roads with the peaceful nature of the park made me feel very lucky to be in such a diverse place, so different to back home.

After the park, Masha invited me back to her flat to cook some soup, so we made butternut squash and coriander soup (recipe for me reference: lightly fry butternut squash in vegetable oil then blend with coriander, garlic, salt and pepper and a little water) Butternut squash here is so sweet and delicious.

We drank tea and talked about our home towns and interesting places Masha has visited. She told me about an island off the coast of South Korea which she recommended for a visit- something I would love to do if I booked a tour guide trip as it would be hard otherwise as I speak no Korean.

Things I want to do locally/have been recommended by people (so I don’t forget!):

- get a card which allows me to hire the city bikes and explore the city by bike- maybe go to the surrounding mountains

- go to the rock climbing centre in Yuyao

- go running at a local athletics track

- go to yoga classes

- go to hot springs and Siming mountain

- say YES to everything- don’t miss a great opportunity

I also met Aine (Irish) and Stacy (American) who just got back from a trip to Shanghai. They are both very loud and extroverted which makes me doubt myself a little when it comes to teaching. I’m hoping that I can put my introverted and quieter personality to use, and develop my own teaching style, rather than being loud and pretending to be extroverted all the time- that could be very draining! I start training on Thursday so will see how it goes. The kids all look very cute and fun, so hopefully they like me and find my classes engaging, even if they are less crazy than other teachers classes! Let’s prove the extroverts wrong- introverts can be great teachers too.

I am feeling very reflective, and also still pretty high on adrenaline. Meeting so many interesting and friendly people every day is fantastic and makes me so glad that I pushed myself to make this big move. Although Yuyao does have it’s downfalls- the pollution over here is worse than I was expecting, and I have only really seen it on a good day, and this morning I woke up again worried to open the curtains to be confronted by a scene which is so alien to me. I am writing this blog to remind myself of the good times and amazing experiences I have whilst I am feeling positive. I know there will be tough days ahead of me, but having so many supportive people around me will be a massive help when I get homesick, and I like to think that by reading this back to myself, I will remember to be grateful for the experience.

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