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Photos on My Camera Roll that Make Me Laugh

March 29, 2016
The other day, I needed to clear up some space on my i-Phone, so I went through my old photos to see what I could delete. As I was going through them, there were several that made me laugh. These photos are in no way, shape, or form Instagramable. If I posted them on Facebook, people would wonder what on earth I was posting. That is why I think they belong here on my blog with a bit of explanation for each one.


A group of my girl students kept telling me that I was beautiful like a princess (such flattery, right?), and I laughed and told them that it was funny they should say that because on our three week vacation, my bff Mr. Scott kept responding to me by saying, "Yes, my queen." Of course my students thought that was hilarious and now they'll jokingly say, "Yes, my queen!" to me. For one of our classes, all of the first grade teachers had to come up with a spring craft to do with the class, so this is the one that I chose to do with the students. I told the girl that made this that her chick was adorable, and then 2 minutes later she came back with the chick, only she added a pink speaking bubble at the top that said, "Thank you, my queen." She told me that I complimented her chick, and that was the chick's response to me. Ha ha ha!! The students I have this year are so creative.


Scott and I had been up since 4:30 AM and then had a 15 hour layover in Pattaya at U-Tapao International Airport. Even though we left the airport for an excursion, we still had to wait there for hours and our flight back to China happened to get delayed. We felt exhausted, gross, and irritated, and then this woman decided to fall asleep right between/on us! The room was full of hundreds of Chinese people, so it was rather loud in there. I can't even begin to fathom how it was possible for this woman to sleep with the noise and in this uncomfortable position, but it seemed to work for her, ha ha ha!


Sorry for the bad quality of the picture above, but it was too funny for me not to add! Before school started, all of the foreign and Chinese teachers in each grade level had to get together to pose for a picture. Scott started to blink halfway through and then this picture was displayed in the lobby for parents, students, and co-workers to see for over six months. Every time I walked by this photo, I would chuckle to myself. When I found out the pictures were going to be replaced, I had to snap this photo (hence the grainy quality since it is a zoomed in photo of a photo) to have ammunition to tease Scott with. Our friendship is just like that, and naturally I used this picture as my phone background for months.


Look at the third one down. Needless to say, I had to do a double take on that one. Scott and I thought the name of the restaurant was funny. After a few Google searches, I found out from their website that Cabbages and Condoms "was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA)." So, the money goes towards a good cause and you might have a laugh or two while dining at the restaurant. I mean, right on their website, it does say that their food does not cause pregnancy. :)


Some of our students' math projects are on display. I'm not really sure of the exact requirements for this project since the Chinese teachers teach math at our school, but students had to use solid figures to create their project. One of the boys Scott works with made this project. The boy is so proud this, but Scott says it freaks him out because "he skinned Santa" and plopped his face on his project! I couldn't resist taking a picture of this, and I randomly Air Drop it to Scott when he least expects it. Scott's reaction to this is always hysterical.


Please don't think I'm a bully picking on innocent, little Scott. He makes fun of me probably even more than I make fun of him, and this picture is just one small example of that. When I first came to China, my hair did not respond well to the water here. I couldn't brush through my hair at all, and got this giant hair ball that could NOT be brushed out. Trust me, I tried everything and so did others. I had to have it cut out and then shell out $100 for a conditioning treatment so that I could brush it again. Anyway, Scott said my hair looked like this ratchet mop, so this is him pretending to be me. Sadly, this picture is kind of accurate, because my hair probably did have the same texture as that gross mop!


Grading my students' homework is always an experience because I never know what kind of funny sentences I'll get to read. I probably get a humorous one like this every other day.


When Scott and I booked our 5 star hotel in Guilin, we saw some beautiful pictures of the pool area on the official website and on Agoda, and we so excited to take a dip! Instead, we were greeted with this mess, which Scott described so accurately as "a festering pool." When we inquired about the pool and hot spring, the girl at the front desk laughed at us and then said, "What is hot spring?" It wouldn't have been so bad for the girl not to have known what a hot spring was normally, but the hotel's name has the word "hot spring" in it!! After her, "What is hot spring?" comment, Scott muttered under his breath, "Gee, I don't know. Maybe it's the name of your hotel!" This picture makes me laugh uncontrollably because this is seriously disgusting and is a far stretch from what we were expecting.


Scott is obsessed with cleaning and readily admits it. He is always ordering cleaning supplies and mops. If I have a few items out of place in my apartment, he'll usually comment and say, "Oh, it's so tidy in here." I went and bought a few items from Ikea awhile back, one of them being this duvet. I hadn't opened it up yet, and Scott knocked on my door one day saying, "I'm stressed! Let me into your place so I can clean something!" Then, he made my bed for me. What's so funny is that he had to come to my place to clean because I'm sure his place was spotless already. He has an ayi (cleaning lady) come every other week, and I swear he has to mess his place up for her just for her to have a few things to do. I still wonder what she does in his place for an hour. "Cleaning" his place is probably her easiest job. 

Do you have any photos saved on your phone that just crack you up?

Weekly Wrap Up: Dumplings, Qibao, and Easter

March 28, 2016
This post will be our first Weekly Wrap Up since 2014! In case you're new here, the Weekly Wrap Up is a link up for weekend recap posts that I co-host with Rachael of The Rachael Way. So many bloggers recap their weekends anyway, so you might as well link them up with us. ;) I'm just saying, when I co-hosted the Weekly Wrap Up before, I met Lora, and she's pretty much la creme de la creme. Since it's not like I scrapbook anymore, I'm also keeping track of my weekends on here so that I can look back and have a "virtual scrapbook" of what I did each weekend.

If you'd like, you can copy the code for the button and put it on your blog post. This will help others discover the link up, which will be better for everyone participating, but this is not a requirement. The only posts we will delete will be ones that aren't weekend related. We hope you can make it to the link up!!
Weekly Wrap Up

On Friday after work, my bff Scott and I went to our second Chinese cultural class. For the first one, we learned how to navigate the local wet market. For the class we just had, we asked our instructor if she could show us how to make dumplings. We supplied the ingredients, and she explained the procedure. It's quite easy, the ingredients can all be bought right at the wet market, and the folding part is kind of relaxing once you get the hang of it.

To make them, we just chopped up two heads of cabbage, added 1 jin of pork, a bit of ginger, and two eggs. A jin is a Chinese unit of measurement, which is about .5 kilograms. We mixed it all together, and then just put in a spoonful into the pre-made dumpling shells that we bought at the wet market. It only cost us around $2 USD for 70 fresh dumpling "skins." Scott also commented on how inexpensive the fresh ginger was, since in the States it's not so cheap.

We were shown how to pinch the dumplings in the middle and then fold them three times on each side. The first dumplings we made weren't the best looking, but at least they tasted good! You just have to be sure to seal them all the way around so they don't explode when you cook them.

After filling the dumplings, we boiled some and also fried some up. Personally, I like them fried in coconut oil. For the sauce, we put in light and dark soy sauce (a 2:1 ratio.) Vinegar is also a popular dipping sauce for dumplings here.

Scott and I both had a good time just chatting with our instructor. It was interesting to us to get a glimpse inside a local home and now we can easily re-create the dumplings ourselves. We finally know how to cook a Chinese meal!



On Saturday, Scott and I had plans to explore Qibao, which is an ancient water township in Shanghai. By ancient, I mean that it is more than 1,000 years old, as it was built when the Song Dynasty was in power. To get there, we simply took line 9 on the subway and got off at Qibao and then took exit 2. From the subway station, it was clear where we should go to get to the old town since there is a massive sign. After a short walk, we made it to the center of Qibao where we admired the bridges, the houses, and just walked around and took in the sights. There are some touristy streets full of all sorts of shops selling popular souvenirs for the area.

We did a lot of people watching, and it seemed like everyone was eating which made Scott and I want to order a snack of our own. We opted for candied fruit on a stick, which are called tanghulu. Scott's strawberries were delicious, and I took a chance and ordered...well, to be honest, I have no idea what kind of fruit I was eating. We still don't know, so if you happen to be reading this and DO know, feel free to enlighten us. I will say that it was full of seeds.

Qibao has a temple, a place to watch crickets fight, and a place to view shadow plays. If you're in Shanghai and have some spare time, I think it's worth a visit.





After Qibao, Scott and I went into the mall by the Qibao subway station so that Scott could look for some boots. He wasn't successful, and then we ordered subs at Subway to go and brought them with us on the subway back home--the irony! Since our feet hurt from walking around all day, I suggested that we go and get foot massages, which was a good call. We paid for an hour, but somehow got an extra 15 minutes because our masseuses kept talking to each other and didn't seem to care that they were going over our time, which of course we were totally fine with.

When I got back to my apartment, I was excited because I signed up for an ayi (cleaning lady) for the first time since I arrived. It's 30 RMB an hour, but I left her 50 RMB because I wanted her to clean my shower. I even put the cleaning supplies IN the shower, but she didn't clean it... In fact, she didn't clean much of anything! She didn't touch my bathroom, make my bed, or do any laundry. Scott said, "So basically you paid the ayi to wash 2 dishes and take out your trash!" He thinks I should complain about her, and I am tempted, but then at the same time I kind of feel bad. I mean, I'm only really out $8, but she still should have done more than what she did. I probably will not report it but just stick to cleaning my own place or ask around for better ones.

On Sunday, I went over to a friend's for an Easter buffet that she had prepared for a group of us. She went all out--it was sweet! Then, she even hid Easter eggs for us and we had a short Easter egg hunt. Scott wondered what was wrong with me because I turned competitive all of a sudden, but Lauren still beat me by one egg which she was all smiley about.


For the rest of the day, I just did some errands and cleaned my place since we know the ayi didn't!

How was your weekend?  Link up with us below if you can!

Road Tripping it in Iceland

March 25, 2016

As you might know, I went on an amazing trip to Iceland this past summer. Since my summer was a complete whirlwind, I did NOT ever really get a chance to fully recap my Iceland trip, although I did write a roundup of some of my favorite experiences. Now that I finally have some extra time, I figured I would go ahead and write about this summer's trip. Better late than never is my motto that is becoming my mantra!

Rachael and I flew to Iceland from Boston via Wow Air, an Icelandic budget airline. It was the cheapest deal we could find. Although Wow Air does advertise that they offer $99 trips to Europe, this deal was not yet available when we booked. Still, we managed to save some money even after we paid to reserve a seat, for snacks on the plane, and to check our bags. On our plane there was also no in-flight entertainment "except for the thrill of sitting up high in the sky." That's a direct quote from Wow Air, by the way. If you do fly with Wow Air, just be sure to have a book or something to do to pass the time! I would fly with Wow Air again if the price remains right.

Once we landed in Reykjavik, Rachael and I bought a ticket for the Flybus, an airport shuttle that took us right to the city center. The bus had free wifi, which was great for our 45 minute ride. Our stop was at hotel Leifur Eiriksson, which was about a five minute walk from the AirBnb we were staying at. Leifur Eiriksson is right in front of Hallfrimskirkja aka "The Big Church." This was ideal for us because anytime we felt lost, all we had to do was look for the church and then we knew what to do.

It was only my second AirBnb experience, so I was a little nervous. We were supposed to be sharing an apartment with our Icelandic host, but she ended up taking a summer job at the last minute, so we basically got the apartment all to ourselves minus her friendly cat. We were right by Reykjavik Roasters, which was highly recommended to us by our AirBnb host in the note she left us. Everything ended up being fine with the place. It was clean besides that there was some rotten food in the fridge.

We took a short nap and then Rachael started writing her friend Nate about when we were going to meet. Nate also invited his friend, Jeff to come to Iceland, so the four of us decided to go on a four day road trip. Unfortunately, Rachael and I didn't know this before booking our AirBnb, so we did have to also pay for other places to stay while we were traveling around Iceland for the road trip. We were so happy with our trip that we got over it.

I had never met Nate or Jeff before and was a little nervous about whether or not I would like the people I was to spend the next four days with, but they are both super cool guys and fun travel companions. There was a lot of laughing on our trip between the four of us! I hope some that we can all travel together again because the group dynamic was great.

DAY 1

Nate graciously offered to do all the driving because he was the only one of us that could drive stick shift. (I have to learn!) Our first stop in Iceland was the magnificent þingvellir National Park which means Parliament Plains because the first Europe's first parliament met there in 930 AD, which eventually led to the birth of Iceland. It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the three stops on Iceland's famous Golden Circle tours. This is also the spot where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet! After that, we took a walk over to Öxarárfoss.



Our next stop was to go to Haukadalur, a geothermal area which contains the famous Great Geysir and Strokkur. Strokkur erupts every 10 minutes or so, but Geysir doesn't regularly erupt anymore. Even though we saw Strokkur erupt twice, I wasn't too fast with my camera and didn't get any great shots, so instead I'll just post a picture of some steam coming out of vents from the earth.


Our last stop for our self-guided Golden Circle tour was Gullfoss (Golden Falls.) As with the other stops on the Golden Circle tour, it's a popular spot, but it's easy to see why this attraction draws so many tourists. The waterfall is an incredible sight to behold, complete with rainbows. We walked along the edge for awhile and then just spent about ten minutes in silence getting mesmerized by the falls.


We decided to stop at The Secret Lagoon, a natural hot spring pool, in Fludir since it was close by. We planned on just going for a quick dip, but it was so nice in there that we lost track of time and hours passed when the four of us started talking travel. The water was really warm (about 102 degrees Fahrenheit) and by the end of our time there, it was just us and one other group. Towels are provided and there is the option to purchase alcohol to take into the lagoon with you.



We got back in our rental car and started making our way towards Hella, since we had reserved a cabin there for the night. On our way there, we stopped at Bonus (a grocery store chain in Iceland) and picked up some food and supplies because Nate offered to cook us dinner. We just went back to the cabin, had a big meal, talked, and rested up for our next day of adventure.

DAY 2

Our first stop after leaving Hella was to stop at Hekla, an active volcano. There is a lot of folklore associated with Hekla, as many people used to believe that going through the volcano was a direct route to hell for the condemned who had recently died.

Since we didn't have to follow an exact schedule, we just stopped and got out whenever we saw scenery we wanted to take a closer look at. This happened rather often as the landscape is dramatic and there are so many random waterfalls to admire.



We were on our way our to Landmannalaugar when Jeff randomly dared Nate to run up a mountain with him and to see if they could do it under 15 minutes. Rachael and I thought this was hilarious, so we photographed them while they tried and succeeded!


When we arrived to Landmannalaugar, parts of it were flooded. Jeff and Nate originally wanted to do a two day hike there, but they decided beforehand that it was unrealistic due to the weather and lack of time. We walked around the base for a bit, which was still full of tents despite the flood. I was glad I got to see such a unique place, but it was almost like a tease because I would have liked to have explored more. Oh well, I guess it just gives me a reason to go back, right?




After Landmannalaugar, Rachael and I convinced Nate and Jeff that we should stop in Gjáin. I'd been following the blog Unlocking Kiki for awhile, and on her blog, Kaelene frequently shares her excursions around Iceland. When I saw her post on Gjáin, it looked so lush that I knew I had to try to squeeze it into our itinerary. After a little begging, we made it to the farm Stöng, parked the car, and went on a short hike. 

Now, summer in Iceland can be a busy time because of all of the tourists that come since many visitors consider July to be the prime time to visit. Recently, Iceland's #1 source of income switched from fishing (which was the stronghold for hundreds of years) to tourism. Most places we went to had a substantial amount of other tourists, but as we were going to Gjáin we saw just one other group hiking back. Once we got there, were were pleasantly surprised to find we had the whole area to ourselves, which was like our own little slice of heaven! It felt unreal that a place so pretty was just "ours" for the moment. It really is a memory that I will treasure forever.




After our delightful time in Gjáin, we stopped for dinner. Then Nate started driving east, in the direction of Hvoll Guesthouse near Kálfafell since that would be where we would be staying for the evening. The good thing about the sun not setting until after 11 pm is that Nate didn't have to drive in the dark. Even after the sun set, it was still light out which was lucky for us because we were able to stop at Skógafoss and didn't have to miss out on seeing it due to it being too dark! Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in all of Iceland, and we were able to get up close to it, but not as close as I would have liked to get! Bring some sort of poncho if you want to do this--since I didn't have one and we had to get back in the car and continue on to Hvoll Guesthouse, it didn't make sense for me to keep approaching the waterfall and get drenched.


DAY 3

After some breakfast, we drove into Skaftafell, which is part of Vatnajökull National Park. We went on a 2 hour hike and chose the Svartifoss/Sjónarsker/Sel route which is 5.5 kilometers round trip. I was worried about the hike because I'm not in the best shape, but it was totally fine which makes sense because this trail is considered to be an easy one. I like to hike at my own pace and also stop and take a lot of pictures, and Rachael said that's what she likes to do, too. Nate and Jeff are both in pretty good shape, so they went on ahead. Svartifoss was the main attraction here, as the basalt columns surrounding the waterfall make it a sight to behold. 





Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon was our next stop. When we arrived at the lagoon, we couldn't take our eyes off of it. The bluish white icebergs were mesmerizing, and I know I just spent awhile observing, comparing, and contrasting the different sized icebergs. We debated about whether or not to do a boat ride, but decided against it since it wasn't the cheapest and the boats looked crowded. Even though we didn't opt to go on the boat, I was perfectly content with just staring out at this surreal looking scenery.



We headed out to Vík, where we were lucky enough to find a room at the newly opened Guesthouse CarinaWe basically were only fortunate enough to score a room at the last minute because the guesthouse seriously had only opened its doors for guests about a week before we stayed there. We had originally planned on driving out to Hofn, but changed our plans around a little bit and preferred to stay in the village of Vík instead. To drive from Hofn to Reykjavik in one day would have been a lot of driving for poor Nate, and we had to have the car back at a certain time. 

We passed views like the one pictured below along the way. When we were in Iceland, it was common to see whole fields of Alaskan lupine in bloom. 



We arrived in Vík a little after dinner time, unpacked the car, and had a nice dinner at one of the restaurants in the center of the village. Afterwards, we went down to the black sand beach and the four of us just walked around, chatted, and relaxed. 





DAY 4

Since we wanted to get back to Reykjavik at a reasonable hour/had to to return the car, we didn't take many stops on the way back. We did make an exception to see some wreckage from a US Navy plane that crashed in Sólheimasandur in 1973. I am such a baby when it comes to flying and thought this might scare me unnecessarily, but the fact that everyone actually survived this flight put my mind at ease. It is both interesting and eerie to look at.


I'm glad we took the time to stop and see it because the site is now closed until further notice due to too many tourists not following the path set up by the landowners. Sadly, I cannot say that I blame the them and hope that the problem gets resolved so that other tourists can visit in the future.

Our only other stop of interest for the day was to make friends with some Icelandic horses. I hadn't been in contact with them before, but as many people say, they were very friendly and seemed to want to interact with strangers. This made Rachael and I ecstatic since we had booked a horseback riding tour the next week.


When we got back to Reykjavik, we dined at Sólon and then spent a night out on the town. It was a Friday, so it was rather busy out, but we preferred it that way! The four of us went bar hopping and then Rachael and I said our goodbyes to the guys since they had to fly back to the States.

Because I went on and on about this trip to Iceland to my bff Scott, he became interested in going. Now, the two of us will be back for a week this summer! Scott will be in his element because he loves to go outdoors and explore what nature has to offer. I am already very much looking forward to my second trip to this scenic country!

Is Iceland on your bucket list? If you've already been, what spots would you recommend?

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?

My Typical Day Teaching in Shanghai

March 17, 2016
I teach first grade at a private international school in Shanghai. This is my sixth year teaching, and this year is probably my favorite year of teaching ever. There is ample time to get my work done, my students are lovely, and my co-teacher and I make a great team. Below is what a typical day for me is like, although my schedule does change daily because students will have English and the other classes I teach during different periods throughout the week.

Since I can't post any pictures of my students, below is a picture of my friend Lauren and I at our school's Charity Fair. Lauren also teaches 1st grade with me!


6:45 AM: Wake up. I could push it back to a later time, but I like to wash and dry my hair every day, and that can be a bit time consuming. Also, rushing in the morning makes me frantic...I like to take it slow!

7:45- Either I will knock on Scott's door or he will knock on mine. Then, we walk to school together.

7:50-7:55- This is the time I usually arrive to my class. Our co-teachers have to be there every day at 7:45, but we aren't required to come until 8:05. I do like to be a little early because I have some students that come right at 7:45.

7:55-8:15- Right when I get in, my students strike up a conversation with me. I usually chat with them and then write their nightly homework on the board. I'll remind students to turn in their homework and answer their questions if they have any. During this time, students are expected to write all of their assignments in their contact books. 

8:15-8:35 Even though this is when the bell rings, students are still coming in and unpacking. If it's raining, more students will be really late. This time is called "Morning Read Aloud" time, but it's a little deceiving because we don't have time to do a read-aloud every day and get in other important material. On Mondays only, my Chinese co-teacher will do a read-aloud or explain something (new rules, notices) to our students. On Tuesdays, I talk to the students about how our class is doing and this is when I pass out awards to students who have earned them the previous week. On Wednesdays I'll do a read-aloud. On Thursdays, students have to write in their journals about an assigned topic. On Fridays, the eighth graders usually come in and do an activity with the first graders. If they don't come, I find a read aloud on You Tube for them to listen to. My class really loves Amelia Bedelia books!

8:35-8:40- Break time. Students get their books and materials ready for whatever the have first period. I only teach first periods on Mondays, and on the other four days, my students have my co-teacher for Chinese or math.

8:40-9:25- On Tuesday-Friday, I use first period to grade the nightly homework and to prepare for my English class, which is usually second period. That usually takes me the whole time. 

9:25-9:35- Break time. Students can go to the bathroom, fill their water bottles, get ready for the next class, and play with friends. My co-teacher and I are both usually in the classroom for their break times to monitor the kids. If one of us has to go to the bathroom or make copies, we just tell the other one that we'll be right back. 

9:35-10:15- Normally this is when I teach English class. I teach Honor's English to students who are supposed to be native speakers of English. Some of my homeroom students will go to a different first grade teacher because they are not native speakers of English. Six native English speakers from a different homeroom will also join my English class. Really, my English class is very well-behaved and most students are quite advanced even compared with first graders in the States. Our curriculum is American-based and ties in with the common core standards.

10:15-10:30- Snack time. Most of my students' parents paid a snack fee and they are provided with a snack from the school. Impressively, the snacks are pretty healthy. There is usually a piece of fruit with bread in the morning, and in the afternoon there is usually something like a yogurt drink and a muffin. The students whose parents did not pay the snack fee have their own snacks from home to eat.

10:30-11:05- Typically, this is a planning period for me. This is when I'll finish grading homework, check my e-mail to see if any parents have contacted me and then respond, and check the We Chat groups I'm in with the other teachers. This month I am checking all of the students' contact books for Reading Encouragement Month to see whether or not they did their nightly reading, so I also do it at this time.

11:05-11:15- This is another break time. I encourage students to finish their contact books if they haven't already and just watch the students. Sometimes I'll use this time to talk to a student about behavior or incomplete assignments.

11:15-11:35- I am in charge of this period two days a week. One day it is English reading class and the other period is called Activity Period. Activity Period is really just a time for students to catch up on work they haven't finished throughout the week. Sometimes if everyone is caught up, I'll take my class out to play.

11:35-12:35- The students have to get ready for lunch. We walk outside for about 5 minutes to get to the cafeteria and lead our students in and help them get their lunch trays. As soon as they are situated, my co-teacher and I can go up and get a meal for ourselves. My students are often jealous of this since they say that it's not fair that they can't pick what they want but we can. (They can choose for themselves in 3rd grade.) We sit and eat lunch with our students. The students are supposed to clean up after themselves, and the lunch monitor checks to ensure that everyone has. After lunch, I take the students out to play for about 15 minutes. The kids that didn't do their homework have to stay in and finish it, so my co-teacher stays inside with them.

12:35-12:45 Break time.

12:45-13:20- Like I said, I teach the students during different periods, but I teach one period every afternoon except for on Tuesdays, and on Mondays I teach for two periods. Just to make things easier, let's say I teach every day during this one. In the afternoons, I teach science, social studies, and personal growth.

1:20-3:00- There are three periods in this block. Students often go to their related art classes during this time. Two days out of the week, I have to go to meetings. On Tuesdays, all of the Chinese teachers and foreign teachers meet to discuss certain issues for our grade level. After that, all of the foreign first grade teachers meet to talk about science and social studies, and then I have to meet with the other Honor's English teachers. On Fridays, the dismissal time is earlier than usual, and I am required to meet with all of the foreign teachers in my school so that the liaison can tell us information for school-wide events. There is often another planning period in here for me, and this is when I work on lesson plans, make supplemental materials, decorate the doors, or hang up student work in my class and in the hallways.

3:00-3:10- Another break time.

3:10-3:50- At around 3:45, we tell the students to start packing up. Once the bell rings at 3:50, I walk some of my students to their buses.

On Mondays, everyone has to stay after school a little later for our staff meeting with our principal, but these are usually pretty painless.

As you can see, my schedule is pretty great! Yes, there is always some sort of "extra" activity or event that we have to plan for, but I seriously do not mind because I have a decent amount of planning time. Last year, I had about hmmm.... 40 minutes of planning time a WEEK because during our planning time we had to go to all of these required meetings! I often spent two hours each day of my own time trying to catch up with everything and then had to spend Sundays planning the lessons for the next week. Here, I rarely have to stay after school to work on anything. If I do, I don't mind because sometimes I'll take a walk to the convenience store with a friend to get a coffee or have a half hour where I am all caught up on my work so I can do whatever I want. When I do stay over, I don't feel bitter at all (like I did last year) because it evens out. I know that I'm beyond lucky to have a schedule like this. I don't feel stressed at all this year, and am just focused on having fun with my class and believe me, I am!! I also like all of the break times throughout the day because it gives me a chance to talk to my students and get to know more about them.

What is a typical day at work like for you?