October Updates

October 31, 2016
October seemed to whizz on by, and it's hard to believe that I've been back at work for two months already. Here is recap of what's been happening with me.

Work: At work, I've been swamped. Truth be told, I've been a bit frustrated because last year when I taught first grade, it was so easy. I had a lot of extra time to plan and had plenty of time to socialize with my students. I only ever felt stressed during the busiest times, but that was just once or twice a semester. What I liked the most about my job was that usually I left work at work, which is pretty rare for a teacher. This year in second grade, it's a bit different. I'm finding that I'm rarely caught up on work and have to bring it home at least two nights a week. I don't like the feeling of always feeling "behind," but what I'm experiencing this year is typical for most teachers. I guess I should just feel lucky that last year I had a very easy time, and the amount of work I have to do at home now is still a fraction of the amount I brought home when I was teaching full-time in the States.

At work, we also had a lot of events to prepare for. We had parent-teacher conferences, Sports Week, our annual Read-a-Thon, two days of Halloween related activities, and a Family Tree project. Whew! Even though I've been busy, I still do love my class and know that teaching them a second year in row was the right decision.

Health: Up until about a week and a half ago, I was extremely exhausted all the time. I could go home from work, fall asleep at 5 pm at least three nights a week, and wouldn't wake up until the next morning for work. I know that this is directly related to the major surgery I had in May, and it was just my body adjusting from complete bed rest to working full time. Thankfully, I've been able to stay up longer lately, and now that I don't need to sleep so much, I'm finding I have a bit of extra time. What I need to do with this time is to start exercising. By exercising, all I'm capable of doing is swimming and walking, so it looks like that's what I'm going to be doing. It's really important that I start moving around more now, especially because I put on weight after my surgery since I was on bed rest for so long.

In the end, I'm just relieved that I was able to work full-time. At first I had my doubts, it was very hard on me, and I thought I was going to have to quit or get moved to the writing center.

Travel: I still haven't been able to go anywhere, but I'd like to book Sanya for Christmas this week! This trip won't cost too much, and will be a way for me for me to break back into traveling. Also, I talked to Rachael and she's interested in going to Morocco with me over our Chinese New Year break instead of Hawaii like we had planned. I put a large deposit on that Morocco trip, and then couldn't go, but the guide told me that I could put it towards a future trip, so that is one reason why I'd like to go there first. Also, Hawaii is a lot of hiking and I don't think I'm up for it yet. The only thing I might not be able to do in Morocco is ride a camel...I guess I could ask my doctor about that.

Another concern of mine is air travel with my bad back. I'm only supposed to be sitting for twenty minutes at a time. I can sit up on short flights, but will just have to march in place by my seat or walk back to the bathroom. When a flight is longer than three hours, there's just no way I can currently tolerate sitting up that whole time. Does that mean I need to pay for first class tickets each time so that I can have a flat bed? If so, I'm going to have to alter the way that I travel from now on because the price of first/business class is so much more than seats in economy.

Social life: Since I was sleeping so much, I didn't have much of a social life! I did try to plan at least one fun thing a week, though. I've mostly been going out to eat with my friends. Last week, I met Rachael, Tara, and Chris for a tasty Mexican brunch complete with sangria at a place called Maya. I really enjoyed myself, and Rachael said that is our new squad for outings. We've already talked about doing some craft courses together and taking some cooking classes! Yay!

I was also able to get out and go to a more happening part of Shanghai and go on a little shopping spree with my friend Lauren. That's the first time I had really shopped since my surgery! I didn't break the bank, but got two cute shirts from Marks & Spencer as well as a shirt for my Halloween costume, and some makeup that I bought on a whim. Then we went to a place called Tap House for a few drinks and a snack. They had lambic, which I was pretty excited about. Really, I am just relieved and SO happy every time I can get back to some kind of normalcy in life.

During the week, I'll usually go to local places to have dinner with Lauren 2-3 nights a week. Sometimes we run errands together, and this week we even made it into dreaded Wal-Mart. As Lauren so accurately put it, "Every time I go in there I think to myself about how I never want to go back again."

On Friday night of this week, I went to a friend's house, we ordered in food, and just had a relaxing night. Mostly, we talked about how scarily accurate this personality test is! I tested as a INFJ-T, the advocate, which is the rarest personality type. The three other gals I had dinner with also tested as other diplomats. Then we watched some videos of Lauren's favorite Korean singers like CL.

Yesterday I went out for one of my first real outings alone. I got a taxi to Jing'an and was able to try Lanna Coffee which is said to have some of the best coffee in Shanghai. The coffee beans are from Yunnan Province, rather than imported. I was a little dismayed that they didn't do any latte foam art on the top of my drink because I saw some pretty cool designs on their Instagram page, but my vanilla latte was still top notch. Then, I went to Cinna-Swirl, which only sells cinnamon rolls and vanilla and cinnamon roll flavored ice cream. I picked up some cinnamon rolls to go, and they were divine. You can even choose how much icing you want to have on top. Afterwards, I stopped at Old Navy and bought a sweater and a clutch, which my British friend described as "lush." Truthfully, I wanted to walk around more, but my bags were getting heavy, my back was starting to hurt a bit, and I started getting nervous out there on my own. When my friends are with me they protect me from people that get too close and could potentially shove me, but on my own, I felt vulnerable to be in such a crowded area without my usual "body guards." At least I know that I AM able to finally go out for a few hours on my own, though. I may still have to stare at the ground in fear of tripping and I keep my distance from others, but I'm getting there!

As you can see, I can't really go out and do as much as I did last year. I'm really thankful that last year I was able to see so much of Shanghai.

Oh, and we had our dress up day for Halloween at school. Here are some of us in costume. Lauren and I went as mimes! My principal asked me if I was a cat and some of my students thought I was a clown, so I had to show them a video of a mime to ensure they got it!


The Future: Soon, I'll need to decide if I want to stay in Shanghai for a third year. Financially, it would be a smart decision to stay because we get a large bonus if we work at our school for three years in a row. Then again, I don't know what I'd do in the States. I don't think I'd be able to be a full-time teacher there yet because of my back problems, but maybe I could by next year. I just don't know that I'd really want to do that, though. I guess I still have some more time, so I'll be weighing my options. Next year, if I do stay, I need to decide where I might want to live. I think I'm eligible to apply for off-campus housing, which I would probably go ahead and do. I don't really want to commute, but I also am tired of living where I work. My apartments now are basically set up like college dorm rooms, and I'm over that!

Those where my major updates? What are some of yours?
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