As I mentioned in the last post, we were invited to our friends wedding. Hong Wei and his now wife Lu Chin are both from China. Hong Wei attended Alfred University for his MFA in Ceramics, he and Nick met two summers ago while working on an installation together. Lu Chin came to visit a few times and they decided to have a simple American style wedding with some friends in Alfred, the ceremony and picnic was held at Foster Lake. Fast forward to this past summer, these two little love birds were having a modern/traditional Chinese wedding. It was really special to us that we were able to be part of both weddings…..I’ve tried to arrange the photographs to be in the order of how things happened…. Enjoy!
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We left for Beijing on August 2nd (we missed our flight on the 1st because of a whole crazy situation with my Visa, to sum it up, it was a nightmare!) Here’s a picture of Nick on the plane
Once we landed and got out of the airport it was HOT. I was really nervous and timid about everything. I felt so nervous to meet people from my school and to be in Beijing. It was happening! After we loaded into the van we were taken to our hotel to rest up and get ready to hit the ground running.
^This is the hotel where we stayed for about a week.^ In Wangjing, the staff are really nice, the rooms are very clean, and they have a little restaurant right in the lobby! I would recommend it to anyone who comes to Beijing!
The next morning we went to Element Fresh, a western restaurant in Lido. There are a bunch of them around Beijing. They are clean, the food is decent and the menu is in English. Oh and I believe it was nicely air conditioned as well! Key for the hot hot summers in Beijing!
We spent the rest of the morning walking around the little area of Lido, enjoying the weather and feeling like foreigners.
The afternoon was spent looking around at all the various apartments that were available near my school. A real pain in the butt and overwhelming experience. Housing in Beijing is crazy expensive… and I don’t mean it’s expensive compared to Alfred’s rent standards (which are crazy inexpensive!) I mean these little tiny apartments were going anywhere from 5,500 RMB (roughly $800USD) to 6,000 RMB (roughly $1,000) !!!!!
These are just a few pictures of the apartments that we looked at. We must have looked at 10 over the course of 3 or 4 days!
Before we arrived in Beijing a friend of ours who lives here invited us to his wedding. We were very happy to oblige and I am so glad that we did. It was a wonderful experience! The groom had sent us his brother who gave us a ride to where the wedding was going to take place. (About 2 hours outside of Beijing, I forget the name of the town.) We were greeted by the bride and her sister who then took us to our room. (it was the fanciest and nicest hotel room I have stayed in!) We were then told to relax and rest up and to be ready by 7 to go to dinner and a show with the brides family.
Here we are in the “magic van” on our way to dinner.
Blurry, but another view of the van….
A follow up post entirely about the wedding next!
It’s Chinese New Year, Spring Festival!! Yay! I am on a 3 week vacation! (mid- way through now) there has been lots of lounging, relaxing and movie watching in this house (I should say, money saving) But we have spent more time going out and seeing new sites and going to new restaurants. It’s been a healthy balance. I am finally getting caught up with all of my work from school and the things I have been putting off. So I decided that today I will sit down and write a few blog posts about our life since we got here.
So this will either be one big long post or it will be a few snippet posts. But it’s happening now and I’m getting it all down so I can start posting about my life so far here in Beijing.
First of all, if you would have told me a year ago that my life would look like this, I would have laughed and said, “Maybe” or “Challenge accepted”. One year ago today, I was still student teaching at a teeny tiny school just outside of the teeny tiny town I lived in. I was loving every minute of it and I was looking into teaching jobs any where and every where. My boyfriend had just told me about this sort of maybe job in Beijing. (We hadn’t started using that four letter word yet) And I was fine with it. I was fine because I knew no matter where I ended up, alone or not, I would be happy. I knew I was ready to move, any place and start working and doing my thing. I applied to lots of jobs in every state, I even looked into jobs abroad. No bites. So I started thinking “ok, well I will only be student teaching for another month, I need to find work, soon!” So I found a few jobs in the teeny tiny town I was living in. And got by on a teeny tiny paycheck. But I didn’t stop searching for jobs, I kept looking and applying. Fast forward to January, the boyfriend and I were using the four letter word and he even asked if moving to Beijing would be something I would be interested in. I was really surprised, not because he asked me but because I never considered China to be anywhere I would be interested in living or working. (I had a very different picture of China before moving here) I said to him “Let me do some research” and so like the organized type A part of me would, I started compiling loads of research and talking to LOTS of people. I was still applying to jobs in lots of different states, I just also started applying to some jobs in Beijing as well. I even had 2 interviews within a month of looking and applying. Both interviews went really well and I wanted one job more than the other but I was still looking just in case to find the best fit for me. I told Nick in February that I needed to do what was best for me and I wouldn’t be willing to teach English in China (there are tons of those jobs) that I would only move somewhere to teach Art and follow my dreams to start my career. (he was surprised, a little sad, but impressed. Me too.)
I spoke with a few friends and professors about their experiences in China and if they thought it would be a good idea to move there. Everyone unanimously said, yes. I felt really excited about the possibilities, and the changes. After talking to a few more friends who had no experience of China, I just kept it simple, I’ll go where ever the job is.
So now let’s move forward to April, I believe it was around then. I had applied to more jobs in Beijing and in the states. The job I I interviewed for in Beijing ended up not being able to hire a foreigner because of moving costs. And I just couldn’t bring myself to e-mail them and say well thanks anyways. I found a few art teaching jobs and my heart would flutter every time I clicked on one to send them my credentials. I found this really cool looking international school with a job posting for Visual Arts and I thought to myself, “hmm.. what the heck.” Within a day I received an e-mail that said “Sorry, the position has been filled, however we will keep your application on file.”
After about a week I finally e-mailed the job that had to turn me down to let them know that I would still be moving to Beijing so if they needed a substitute I would be willing to apply for that. They wrote me back right away to tell me they had a position open up and that they still would love to hire me, even just for that. I was pretty stoked, even though it wasn’t my dream job. Then the next morning I received an e-mail from the cool looking international school and they had asked if I would like to interview for the Art teaching position that had suddenly become available. I started dancing on the bed and feeling so excited. Nick was thrilled for me but kept his composure and said, “It is just an interview, you didn’t get the job yet”. And naturally I said very casually, “Who wouldn’t want to hire me?” I asked the first position for more information and set up an interview for the other job. And then magic happened…. after I interviewed with the second job, I sort of knew in my bones I really really wanted the job and that was the one for me. (even though I thought I did terrible in the interview because it was over Skype) I couldn’t stop looking at the schools website and thinking, yeah this is kinda perfect for me!
A few days later they e-mailed me with the proposed package and I let the other job down as gently as I could and graciously accepted my position as a Visual Arts educator. I felt like I was on a cloud.
By the end of April, Nick and I were trying to plan out our summer and a few things were looking certain, we needed to move to Beijing by August 1st and we needed to move his stuff from Alfred, NY to his parents house in Oregon. A road trip seemed like it would be the best bet.
In May we set a date to leave Alfred in June. We had a yard sale to raise some money for gas, packed everything up, donated what we couldn’t take with us and we hit the road.
So when I arrived to Medford, I spent a small amount of time reflecting on how it felt to be out of Alfred. I wrote a letter to express the way I was feeling intending to share it with you all here.
It’s been a little over a month since I left. I just want to start off by addressing that this is not a good-bye letter.
Five years, it doesn’t feel like it was that long but I know it was. And now it’s time to move on to new things or, real life as I keep hearing people call it. I feel untethered. The thing I’ve realized Alfred, is that, there’s nowhere else on earth like you.
For the first time in my life every morning I woke up, I felt like I was exactly where I should be; doing exactly what I love and want to do. I would say it’s the first place I’ve ever truly called Home.
Alfred, you’ve allowed me to gain my “adult footing”. I am who I am because of all the people, opportunities and community that abound the little valley and it’s surrounding areas.
I know I have not lost anything by leaving but it does feel like I have found myself in uncertain territory, I’ll be honest; I’m slightly worried and scared for all the new-ness. Can’t I just linger a little longer in the memories and long for all the familiarity?
I know I can’t, not for much longer, in less than a week I will be in completely new territory. From knowing almost every face I see on the street to, not even being able to possibly process all of the faces I see on the street because there will be far too many.
I’d love to just sit here and write about all the good times. (Which I wrote out and it was too long to include, still, you know what I am talking about.) Sadly it’s not going to change anything. I have to leave however, I am ready to take on these new adventures and pursue all of my goals because Alfred, I don’t want to let you or myself down.
I want to say to thank-you but I know that’s not enough. But I’ll say it anyways, thank-you for, all the support, love, the swift kicks in the butt, gossip, friendships, and time. I can’t wait to come visit. And I will as soon as I can.
So back in June when Nick and I left Alfred, NY to drive out west to Medford, OR I promised to keep up with my blog. I was supposed to add photo’s during our trip of all the cool stuff that we saw along the way. But instead, I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked to and honestly, I felt like I failed my mission. We had barely any time to stop and see roadside attractions or get lost and find something neat…. But what we did get to see and do was really special to me and I had an amazing time.
So what I am going to do for the next few posts will be to “re-cap” our trip in its entirety. From leaving Alfred to coming out here to Beijing…. I’m sorry to anyone who was waiting for these posts…. and for not following through with what I said I would do.