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Update #2: Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy year of the monkey, everyone! I hope you have had a great new year and that it has already been filled with wonderful times.

Here is a brief recap to bring you up to speed!

Christmas was great! I was able to have some students over to my house to celebrate with them. It was a lot of fun and they had lots of questions about my own Christmas traditions. I talked to them about how Christmas started and what I like to focus on around that time of year. I shared with them my usual holiday rituals of watching The Santa Clause every year on Thanksgiving to prepare myself for the Christmas season. Some of the other workers at my school got to come to my apartment for a faculty “Christmas party”. While it was a little different this year, it was still lots of fun. I actually visited Beijing this year on Christmas and was able to spend it with some great friends. We visited the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and other famous sites in Beijing. It was cold — so, so cold — but it was fun!

After the new year, our new year, I had some other students over to watch a movie. We watched Evan Almighty which sparked great conversations. We shared snacks, and even sang songs. It’s so great getting to know my students!

After that, our winter holiday, called Spring Festival, began. We were given six weeks off. SIX WEEKS! What a great vacation. Well, after the first week it was great. What do I mean by that? Well, I got the chicken pox. Yep. The chicken pox. You know, that thing that children get? Apparently I had never gotten it. Fun fact — it’s way worse in adults. Seriously. It was miserable (I’ll spare you the pictures). What was worse? My brother was traveling all the way from America to visit me the very next week! But thankfully, I had some great friends that took care of me. I took some traditional Chinese medicine and I was back to normal in just six days! It usually lasts two weeks (at least that’s what WebMD said). Not the most ideal way to start a vacation, but hey, that’s a story I’ll have the rest of my life. Root canal in Greece, the chicken pox in China.. who knows what’s next.

Next up, my brother Adam came to town. He lived in China for four years prior to my arrival. He actually worked at the school I’m working at now. We laughed at the fact that some of the furniture in my apartment was furniture that he and his wife, Jamie, had when they were here. We had a great time while he was here and it was certainly encouraging to see family here with me. It’s also always fun traveling with my brother.

My vacation is now over. I started teaching again today. I ask that you keep me, my students, and my fellow teachers and friends in your thoughts as we begin this new term. New challenges will arise. New conversations will hopefully be sparked. Answers will be given and shared. For all of you, I want you to know that you are in my thoughts every day. While I do love China, I do miss my home, my country, my family, and my friends. Until my next update, please be safe and enjoy this new year. Make the most of the opportunities that arise, and never take them for granted.

Austin

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