Why we miss it!
With everything that has happened this year, travel (especially with two young children!) is one thing that has gone out the window! Typically, at this time of year, Will and I spend weeks learning more about our schools in preparation for the next academic year as well as planning an annual trip to China to check in with both schools and teachers. With the current global situation, it is looking more and more unlikely that we will make it out to China in 2020 (fingers crossed for 2021!) for our usual visits which of course is very disappointing, but it has also made us realise just how much we miss China. With this, we had a little reminisce and thought we would share the following:
1. Speaking Chinese – As a language graduate, language has always fascinated me with how it evolves and continuously changes. Mandarin is a truly fascinating and beautiful language and we always found Chinese friends and colleagues were willing to help out with learning and pronunciation. I also think that Mandarin is quite a logical language so would recommend anybody in China or heading there to certainly give learning a go- it will certainly feel very satisfying (and impressive to visiting family and friends!) when you are able to order your own dinner and drinks!
2. Smells – You really can’t find good authentic Chinese food here in the North, we have come close but it’s never quite the same! Walking the streets of China, you are constantly having your senses tested by the unbelievable variety of food on offer. A particular favourite of ours and probably one of the trickiest to find here in the UK is a really authentic dim sum experience- heading out to eat late morning and feasting on prawn dumplings, siu mai and noodles all swilled down with a big pot of tea.
3. The sense of adventure – we really miss waking up at weekends and heading out ready to explore a new area. Finding new restaurants, parks and historic areas really does help ignite that sense of adventure. In China people live their lives on the streets and we would love nothing more than walking through local neighbourhoods eavesdropping on old men playing mahjong on stools and listening to the sounds of a violin or piano wafting through an open window. Anybody living overseas craves that sense of being lost in translation and it can be sometimes difficult to achieve that whilst living at home. It’s just not the same here in the UK!
4. Meeting new people – China really does attract a whole load of interesting people. Aside from having many fellow teacher friends, we met many creatives, academics and tourists all just as eager to chat and learn from each other. We really miss the sense of community and how welcoming both foreigners and Chinese are with each other.
5. …disposable income! – I really am quite a prude when it comes to money but since moving back to the UK, we certainly are feeling the pinch! Mortgages, council tax and bills are some of the things we haven’t had to worry about for the last 10 years but now they seem to determine everything we do. It really does make us realise just how lucky we were to have the experiences we have already had.
Of course, the above is based on our experiences and I am sure these will vary person to person and can change depending on the amount of time spent in China and where you were based. We would love to hear your experiences and thoughts too so please do comment and together we can make this a much longer list!