What's New: A Big Decision, Future Travel Plans, and a Pop Art Panda

March 21, 2016
First and foremost, I made my decision about whether or not I would stay in Shanghai next year and teach. I was leaning more towards yes this whole time, but my best friend Everett confused me a bit when he tried to convince me to move back to Savannah. While it was tempting, I just have a better lifestyle and more security here in Shanghai while still being able to enjoy where I am. I just do not think I am done with Shanghai yet, so last week I signed my second contract with my school and will be in China until at least June 30, 2017! Another reason why I was hesitant to sign is because our school offers a large monetary incentive if we stay and work for three years. The word around here is, "You either stay for one year or you stay for three." When I thought about three years in Shanghai, I got a little scared of that huge commitment, but I rationalized with myself because after all, no one is going to force me to stay a third year if I don't want to. Now that I've made my decision, I'm just going to embrace it! I know that I will have many great opportunities for traveling and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another amazing class of first graders.

Scott and I arranged our summer travel plans! We were going to do Morocco and Turkey, but the tour we were going to do in Turkey didn't end up having dates that would work for us no matter how many times we tried to go around it. We decided we would rather go to Morocco and southern Spain and then save Turkey for next summer. Ironically, both of us decided that we don't even want to do the tour that originally kept us from going there this summer and that we'd rather go on our own. We are spending two weeks in Morocco and did opt to do a private tour for that one since we have limited time and a tour would just make life easier. Then, we are going to take a ferry into Spain and just stay and explore a bunch of cities in Andalusia like Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, as well as smaller towns including some of the white villages. At that point, I was going to fly back to the States to see my family, however, I have been raving to Scott all year about my trip to Iceland last summer, and we started to look into Iceland Air's stopover deal since we would be flying from Europe to the States, anyway. It ended up being way cheaper for us to just book through Wow Air, and since the price was right for both of us, we did it and now we'll be going to Iceland for a week right after Spain!! I am really happy we did this, because as I said before in a previous post, Scott will not be in China with me next year, so this 37 day trip will be needed before we have to go our separate ways. I didn't want to go on the same exact trip as last summer, so we are going to rent a car and go to off-the beaten path places, which Scott is 1,000% fine with! After that, I'll be in Ohio for a few weeks with my family. I found out that my entire immediate family will be back when I am there. I didn't even realize it, but my dad brought up that the last time the six of us were together was when my grandma passed away in 2012. What's good news for me is that I found out I don't have to be back in China until August 26th. Last year, I had to leave on August 19th to get here on time, so now I'll be able to have even more time in Ohio.

As for my travel plans before I leave China, here is what's in store...Next weekend, Scott and I will be taking a little day trip from Shanghai and we'll be going to Qibao, which is an ancient water town. We already went to a water town when we first arrived in the fall, but another teacher highly recommended this area because of its proximity to Shanghai. At the very end of April and into the beginning of May, we get a three day weekend. I bought a flight to Urumqi so that I could visit one of my old friends who is living there. I'm sure it will be a wonderful trip, but I have to admit that I'm a bit nervous because I haven't seen this friend in 14 years! That sounds like a crazy joke, but we met during a study abroad program in college and we haven't seen each other in real life since 2002. He already told me that he will take me to the Silk Road, and I'm sure he knows the best places since he has had time to explore already. In May, Rachael told me that the school will take away my passport so that they can start processing my next working Visa, although no one told me this yet! Scott and I decided to go to Hangzhou and stay in a really nice Air Bnb by the lake in May since we can just take a train there and I won't be needing my passport. In June, we have another three day weekend, so Scott and I want to go to Tokyo. I went for a week way back in 2004, but this time I'd like to visit Mount Fuji. Plus, we have a friend living there who has asked us to come several times already.

I'm relieved to report that I'm finally starting to feel better after having had both a stomach virus and a sinus infection which caused laryngitis. I have to admit that it was really slowing me down and my last few weekends were incredibly boring here! This weekend, I got my hair done and met Rachael so for a little blog staycation. We ended up talking a lot, but we still got stuff done for our blogs, so I'd say it was a success. When there's a cheese plate and various desserts involved, it's always a success though, right? While we were talking, we brought up how we used to have a link up every Monday called the Weekly Wrap Up, which was a weekend recap link up. Even though it wasn't hugely popular, we "met" some other cool bloggers through it. Also, Rachael said she liked being able to go back to old posts from her senior year of college because she can see what she did every weekend for a year. Blogging can sometimes be a great way to capture memories. We got to talking and decided that we wanted to host the link up again! I'd personally like to do it because when I hosted it before I had to work almost every weekend, so I'm sure my posts were boring. Now that I have every weekend off and have more time to go out and do stuff, well, I think I have a lot more to say! Since we are both in China, we can easily message each other and communicate about this, so why not? We are going to start it on Monday, March 28th.

While being ill, I somehow forced myself to go to a Sip N Paint and make this Pop Art Panda!! Mine isn't even that good, but I love it and think it's a great souvenir to take back from China. I haven't really decorated my place, but now the painting is hanging up in my living room and it has made such a difference. I might invest some more $$ now into decorating my place since I know I will be here at least another year.

What was the last home decor item you bought? Where will you travel to next?
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