16 December 2015

6 Months In China...

Embarking on a new journey fills me with a feeling of trepidation and excitement. Choosing China didn't take a lot of time, it was finding a legitimate teaching company or school to sign with confidence, that took some going but through the shadiness I signed my papers. I have made it to the sixth month of living in China, it continues to be one huge culture shock!

Saying 'hello' from the other side, the neon charged city of Shanghai greeted me with one mighty culture shock. I was ready to leave England but I wasn't prepared for the goings on in one of China's biggest cities! Embracing chopsticks in-place of a knife and fork I had to run with it for the first few days. Seeing the sights during that June 2015 stopover gave me life for certain! Getting down to Nanjing Road was a sight for sure, so many people were walking the same pedestrian street it made Times Square look sleepy. The skyline took my breath away, it was like nothing I had ever seen before in my life! The Bund served a sense of French sophistication with a flashback of Liverpool's waterfront at the same time. Shanghai kick-started my Chinese experience with an almighty bang, I had finally took the plunge and it felt amazing! Shanghai is definitely on my radar for a future visit, this mega-city will serve more! 

Remembering the reason why I had flown all the way to China it was time to begin my training period with my chosen English company. Meeting at Shanghai Pudong International Airport I got to know a group of jet-lagged fellow prospective teachers. Training started the next morning, no problem for me because my jet-lag had disappeared a few days earlier but I felt the time between their arrival and the start of training was too short! Suzhou presented itself with a growing skyline of cranes and rising structures. Getting to know these new people was nice, predominately from America and Canada I could have banter with them like my friends from placement and Disney. Meeting Sam, a lovely girl who is from Glasgow, Scotland was amazing because we had similar senses of humour. Sam teaches in Ningbo, China, I hope to visit her during my time in China. Passing my TEFL exam we celebrated into the night, parting ways the next morning I boarded my train to Wuhan, Hubei. Yes!

My first chapter spent in Wuhan, China saw me teaching at one English Training School. Based in Guanggu I had my own apartment in the heart of what felt like a new part of the city. That teaching school gave me a useful insight of how some English Training Schools operate. Life in Wuhan was turning out to be natural to me, I felt that the waters of the Yangtze River chose me! My days off would see me finding sights like Zhongshan Park, Jianghan Road and Changchun Taoist Temple. Work was not what I expected with continuous observations I couldn't see a way to satisfy the demands of that business. After a lovely day off spent at the Yellow Crane Tower I was told that my time at that English Training School was over. I didn't need that negativity in my life, I was put in touch with another school. Getting on with things I became an English Specialist at Etonkids, based in Guanggu I could remain settled in WUH! 

Wuhan remained a stable part of my China life, after that minor interruption I was ready to focus on this new style of English teaching. Wuhan may not be the most popular city in all of China when tourists are considered so I've had the immense opportunity to see the sights without the crowds. Keeping my blog going through means I'm not willing to say, it's been like reporting about a new world. Going out in Guanggu is great, I have several places I can choose from and if I don't want to drink I can find some great street food to enjoy. I look back on the first half of my first year here in Wuhan with a feeling of accomplishment, I didn't let my negative spots stop me from seeing this city one bit! Work improved and so did my social life because unlike the Training School, my kindergarten doesn't require us to work at the weekends! Victory Day 2015 allowed me a beautiful weekend in Wuhan with a special friend, things change but that weekend will stay with me for time.

National Day holiday was made possible by my new English teaching job, this time around I had access to more time off to travel in China. Getting in-touch with two of my training friends who were in Chongqing gave me the green light to book my tickets. Leaving school behind me for one week I jetted off from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to Chongqing with Xiamen Air, it took an age to get to the airport but it was worth it when I landed on-time in CKG! Reunited with Micaela and Patrick, they showed me their Chinese city during that October holiday. Getting to Chaotianmen Dock allowed me to see another vibrant side of the vast Yangtze River. I thought I had mastered the tastes of proper Chinese food, wanting to try some Hot Pot I appreciated the experience but didn't enjoy that Chongqing favourite. Seeing Chongqing and my friends helped me experience some 22nd Century Realness! China's ace!

Dashing for my train at the wrong part of Chongqing North Railway Station I boarded my Chengdu bound high-speed train. National Day showed me several slices of that Sichuan capital city. I adored Chengdu from the very moment I found Wenshu Monastery. My ideas of how China would look had to be scrapped when I saw the respected places in real-life, I was living because everything has looked so much better. Seeing the Panda's created another once in a lifetime moment for me, having to battle the crowds to catch a glimpse of a Panda who was eating some bamboo took some going, it was moment I won't forget! As the sun set I wanted to get my dancing shoes on, I had done some digging to find a club where the music and sights were just right. Creating memories and ticking off my China travel list I flew back to Wuhan with a fresh outlook on my life in China. My Sri Lankan flight had touched down four months prior to National Day, so much had happened to me!

Enjoying an reprise of independence I found my love for Wuhan had only increased since my train from Suzhou arrived on July 1st 2015. Seeking some theatre I found the Han Show, a brand new spectacle that happened to be an amazing show! Chu River and Han Street showed me a slice of home, featuring a Marks and Spencer store I ran to the food section to find some Percy Pig's and English Cider! I'm not one for shopping but I really do like going to Han Street every now and then. Turning 25 years old in Wuhan, China was great! Seeking Tanhualin for coffee and cakes, dining at Indian Marka with my friend Elli and then dancing 'til dawn at Vibes Nightclub was absolutely fabulous! Working in-conjunction with Etonkids I have made great friends in Wuhan. I love having the option to hit the bars or keep it simple by going for a curry on a Saturday. With six months in the bag, China has turned my life up!

2015 has been the year of getting my post-university life back together, I took a job in a hotel that was a drag but made it to the Far East in the end. Looking back on my first six months spent in China both teaching English and travelling I have been blessed with so many opportunities. From my misfortune at the beginning I found my way back to the top, working each week to then enjoy the weekend in one of China's fastest growing cities! The final month of 2015 will see in another Christmas but I'm not going to be homesick, I have great friends here to spend the big day with and a full packed month of work to keep up with. It seems like an age since I took off from London Heathrow Airport, bound for Shanghai with a suitcase full of hopes and dreams for the year that stood ahead of me! Shanghai, Suzhou, Chongqing and Chengdu have all been great parts of my first six months but Wuhan is different, it's become my new home! Here's to the next six months in China! Guhh!

It's China Time!

Joseph Harrison 

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