Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Extra, Extra, Starting A New Blog!

I realize I haven't updated in months (the main reason being that this was a blog about my time and China and I'm not in China anymore...), but I have a bit of news I wanted to pass along to anyone interested.

I got some positive feedback about keeping up with the blogging, so I am starting a new blog. It's also on blogspot and through the same profile. I've called it "Hooked on Hobbies" (it was the best I could come up with at 2 in the morning...) and I plan on writing about my life and the various things I do to pass the time.

Anyway, I guess I am officially calling this blog closed for the time being. If I ever go back to Shanghai though, you know where to look for updates!

So, thanks for reading and here's to another adventure...


Tuesday, 29 June 2010


I think everyone who reads this blog knows that I am home safe now.

My brain feels a little foggy. I am sleep deprived. My flight/shuttle home was uneventful and the last few days I have been seeing people, unpacking, enjoying time at home and playing with my dogs.

I have more stuff to write about. My last few days and so on. So tune in soon-ish to read the last of my China stuff.

I am also debating keeping this blog up. It wouldn't really be Stephanie in Shanghai anymore, but I could keep it as a general blog. Maybe document my job-finding process or post the stuff I cook or make. Feedback is appreciated.

That's all for now, though. I is tired.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Give It All Away

Last night was my "Come Buy/Steal My Stuff" party. Most of my foreign coworkers, some of my Chinese co-workers, my Chinese teacher and Lucy were the ones who made it. A bunch of people canceled last minute, so I was left with a LOT of leftover food and drinks. Sarah and I pooled our stuff together (with a couple of additions from Kelly). My apartment looked pretty weird last night. One room was filled with too much food and the other looked like a tag sale. Which...I suppose...it was.

I think Rao Laoshi (my Chinese teacher) takes the prize for taking the most stuff. She was the one who bought my toaster oven, as well as my big fleecy sheet, my huge winter comforter, and one of Kelly's dresses and a bunch of kitchen stuff. Lucy also took a bunch of stuff. Mostly kitchen stuff. We might be able to see each other again on Thursday before I leave but with her schedule the way it is it's not a sure thing. It was sad saying goodbye to her, but if we could be penpals for ten years I am sure she and I will be able to stay in touch living in separate countries again.

 I was a little worried when the party was done how much stuff was leftover. I brought a bunch of stuff to the office today so the people who didn't make it over to my apartment last night could pick through it. Suddenly I had a very captive audience. Almost everything I brought to the office has been claimed and I led a trek back to my apartment and even more stuff went.

I just have bits and pieces now. Some books I will donate to a local coffee house. Some clothes that I will give to that Sorting Party charity I volunteered for a few times. Anything that's really worth anything has gone to others. It was really depressing to watch the pieces of my life here go away, but I'm happy that they went to people that want them and will use them.

After the party last night, Sarah helped me clean and sort what was left. Then we went to her place for hot chocolate. I kept her company for some last minute packing. Saying goodbye to her was really hard. We've hung out on a nearly daily basis this year. It is going to be so weird to not have her down the hall anymore.

I finished all my work. Grading, finals...everything. My desk is clean and empty now. Taking a look at what I still have in my apartment and considering sending those packages earlier were not as expensive as I was worried it might be, I think I might send another package home. I can't believe I leave in two days. I think the mixture of sheer manic busy-ness and sleep deprivation is keeping me from having some sort of emotional breakdown.

School closing ceremony this afternoon and then a dinner to say goodbye to the teachers who are leaving this year (including me). Then my last Improv show with the PRComedy group. I am so tired and out of it, I'm a little worried I will suck, but who cares? It's a chance to do something I love and see people I will miss.

Tomorrow I will probably do all my last packing, close my bank account, maybe hit the post office. I also have to check out of my apartment so I can get my last paycheck. Thursday night I plan on getting one last massage from my favorite parlor. Soon I will be flying back to the world of expensive massages.

I think I am rambling now so I am going to wrap this up. I'll probably post another update on how everything is going before I leave.

See you soon, America.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Last Day of Classes

On my last day of classes we did my one tradition and we played bingo.  And just like I did last year, I took some pictures of/with my students on the last day of classes. We took some nice pictures and some silly pictures. I think I like the silly pictures best, so those are the ones I am putting here. I will probably put them all up on Facebook when I have unblocked internet again.

These are the first students I have ever taught. In the two years I was their teacher they have been challenging, fun, creative, intelligent, frustrating, surprising, confusing and always amazing. While my bad days of teaching them could easily get me angry or depressed, my good days of teaching them have been some of the best days of my life. I got to know them through their writing. I will miss them as individuals and I will miss them as a class. I hope their futures will all be amazing and that we will meet again someday.

To the Pinghe IB Class of 2011.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Keeping Memories On Hand

A about a week ago, I had dinner with some coworkers. Zeno (remember Zeno? She taught me to make dumplings!) was back in Shanghai to visit the Expo, so we all got together. We went to an awesome restaurant and ate far too much food. This place was famous for soup so we had three different kinds of soup on top of the already exorbitant amount of (delicious) food. Including sparrow, crab noodles, shrimp, chicken, dim sum and tons of stuff I am forgetting. It was nice to see Zeno again. She tested me to see how my Chinese was going. We talked about the Expo and how her job in Tianjin is.

Towards the end of the dinner, my office mates sprung it on me that they also considered the dinner to be a kind of goodbye dinner for me. They presented me with a really pretty ring they had all chipped in for. About a week or so before the dinner we had been talking in the office about rings. June wanted to look at my class rings and try them on. I thought nothing of it at the time, a lot of people here are curious about my class rings since China doesn't have that tradition. In retrospect the whole thing makes me laugh. A few years ago my friend Jesse wanted to buy a ring for his girlfriend Rose who was my friend and roommate at the time. I played sneaky spy and found out by striking up a casual conversation about rings. My coworkers did the same thing to me and I didn't even notice!

The ring fits perfectly. I love the style of it. I think it has a slightly medieval feel to it (which someone else also said, so it's not just me!). It's nice to have something small that I can wear and remember my coworkers with. It means a lot to me.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

On Being Sentimental

I am an overly sentimental person.

I have known this about myself for years. I attach meaning to the most ridiculous things. Moving from one country to another is incredibly difficult for me. Putting aside the fact that I am going to be leaving a job I love with coworkers I love in a city I have come to love that are all part of a life that I love, just PACKING is killing me

I am trying to be brutal about making decisions. I only have two suitcases and my carry-on that I have to bring with me. I know I can ship stuff home but its very expensive and I don't want to break the bank. I have TWO YEARS worth of memories, gifts, and LIFE that I need to go through and decide what to do with.

There are a few givens, thankfully. Everything on my "wall of love" is coming home. Nearly everything that was given to me as a gift is coming home. All of my one of kind things (my hand carved buddha from Wuzhen, my mask from Suzhou, my calligraphy from Harbin, etc) is coming home. Then comes stuff like...clothes. And books. And notebooks. And magazines. And just STUFF. Sarah helped me out today. I had three boxes packed to mail home and I realized it was just too much. Sarah was over and we went through all three boxes and she made me argue/explain why everything in the three boxes needed to be sent home. When we were done I had a box and half of stuff left. It was rough.

I want to bring home a sweater because of the way it makes me feel when I wear it. I want to bring home a hat because I bought it from an event run by my students. I want to bring home my favorite baking dish because of the happy memories I have cooking for my friends with it. Plus I am also a worry wart. What happens if I get home and decide I really needed that item of clothing/book/doodad that I left behind?

I guess I wouldn't feel so bad about leaving stuff behind if I knew it was going to good use. I hope when my friends come over for my "Open House/Steal My Stuff" party they will take my things and use them.

I will feel better when this is all over and I don't have to make these decisions anymore.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


I have five days off for Dragon Boat Festival and I am using them to get ready to head home. Well, Monday I went to Century Park with Sarah and some friends of hers for a picnic and crazy four-person-bike races around the park. But other than that....packing.

I have two wardrobes in my bedroom so what I am doing is taking everything I want to take home and putting it in/on one wardrobe and taking everything I need to throw out/sell/give away in the other wardrobe. It helps with the organizing and since I can just close the doors and hide the mess, my apartment still looks clean. It's a really depressing process going through my stuff and deciding what is worth keeping. I have tried to keep the reminiscing to a minimum since I have a lot of stuff to go through.

Most of my big items have already been claimed. Stephanie wants my toaster oven, blender, comforter, and a bunch of my small kitchen items. Becky and Chris want my big pot and my DVD player. I've promised to give Kelly my guitar as long as she practices with it (Yinglong needs love!). I organized a sort of open house party during my last few days here which serves a dual purpose of saying goodbye to people and I've encouraged people to just take my stuff away while they are here. Anything that doesn't belong to the school or I'm taking home must go!

As for the excess, I've already packed one decent sized box to mail home. It's stuff I want to keep but not essential, so I am risking it to the Chinese post office. Two month ground shipping. I am going to do a test pack of my stuff and see if I can get everything I want to take home in my two allowed suitcases. If not, I am going to have to start making another package to send home.

Moving from one country to another is troublesome.

Today marks NINE days until I leave.