Weekend Recaps and Other Updates

December 11, 2017
I wanted to do a weekend recap post since I haven't done one in awhile. While I'm at it, I'll include some other updates.

*Our due date to say whether or not we would resign our contracts for next year was at the end of November. It's crazy that we have to decide so early. I mean, I get it because the school needs to find replacements for us if we are not staying.  Recruiting new teachers and sorting their visas takes time. I wasn't completely torn about my decision this time, so I told them yes. I am comfortable here with the job and most of the other teachers in first grade are staying so we have a strong team. While some of my close friends will be leaving (always the hardest part about staying behind), a few of my good friends have chosen to resign their contracts when the time comes. I also think it is a smart financial decision to stay here. I plan on staying in China until I am completely debt-free. Last year and this year, I was able to pay off $14,000 worth of surgery debt to my dad.

* I found out that I have a nephew on the way! My sister Melissa is expecting a baby boy in April. It's cool because now I'll have a niece AND a nephew.

* My boss asked me if I could help her interview someone for the school. The teacher is interested in working in first grade next year, so he'd be working with me if he gets hired. We had to do a Skype interview since he's not currently in China. I know this might be weird, but I've only ever Skyped once before and that was for my interview to get my current job! The room we had to give the interview in wasn't private and another teacher walked in as I was asking questions. I don't know that teacher at all, so that made me extremely nervous to have him listen. Luckily, he left after just a few minutes! Despite that distraction, my boss said that I did a very good job preparing questions, that she had fun interviewing with me, and wants me to come back and interview more teachers with her.

* Last weekend I hung out with Tara. We met for dinner at Palmetto and then we went to see West Side Story together. I was wondering whether it would be with Chinese actors and whether we would have to read subtitles, but luckily for us the play was all in English with touring actors and actresses. I really enjoyed the play and now I'm wanting to see more plays soon. Legally Blonde is the next one that will be performed at that venue, and I'd LOVE to see that.

*I went to the Paulaner Brauhaus Christmas market in Shanghai with three friends. We enjoyed some mulled wine, shopping, and just catching up. One of my friends is fostering a dog named Arlo, and I finally got to meet him after hearing about him for weeks--he's the sweetest. Most people here have cats as pets because we aren't allowed to have dogs, and since I'm much more of a dog person than a cat person, it was a nice change. There was some slight drama when Arlo's foster mom went inside to go to the bathroom though. Another friend and I were put in charge of watching him. Not even a minute passed and he got out of his leash and escaped for a bit! Luckily, it was so crowded that a group of people started "oohing" and "ahhing" him. Since they were petting him, he didn't get too far, and we held him until his foster mom came back. We laugh about it now, but for a few minutes we were freaking out that we lost our friend's dog!

At the Christmas market, I picked up an Amber Cedarwood candle made by a company called 6pm candles that I am obsessed with. It just smells SO good. The Christmas markets in Shanghai are really a great way to discover some local businesses and support them.

*This past weekend started with a trip to a mall because I needed to go to Zara to return some online purchases. I found out that Zara has my size AND my shoe size if I order online. I can get free same day delivery, too! That is very dangerous. Luckily (and not so luckily at the same time), the dress I ordered looked terrible on me and the shoes were too tight which was disappointing but good for my wallet. I did end up keeping a pair of lacy sneakers, so it's not like I was left empty-handed. At the mall, I stopped at Starbucks and got a free drink with a coupon that my school gave me as a gift and then got a Miso-Yogurt Chicken & Feta salad from Element Fresh. Rachael got me addicted to those salads and it did not disappoint. I went home and watched some episodes of Grace and Frankie. When I visited my friend Nanci last summer, she recommended the show to me. I wasn't sure if I would like it at first, but it's actually pretty hilarious. We are both low key obsessed with Frankie's jewelry. Then, I read a few chapters of Emma in the Night. I'm about half-way through and have to say that the book sucked me in so far. It's about two sisters, Emma and Cass, who disappear for years. Cass makes it back and tells the story her disappearance piece by piece.  Emma is still missing and so it's very suspenseful right now because I want to find out Emma's fate. 
*On Saturday, I met up with a group of friends so that we could have a Christmas dinner. We couldn't really find a place that was having an official Christmas dinner, so we booked a table at a bar/restaurant called Boxing Cat and at least were able to order some comfort food. A bunch of us tried the mac and cheese, and it was delicious! I think it was the best mac and cheese I've been able to find in Shanghai. Afterwards, we found a really cute coffeeshop by day/bar by night kind of place called Antique Garden Shanghai. The inside was decorated really nicely for Christmas. The drinks were a bit pricey, but they were all special cocktails made with different kinds of alcohol. The garden area was seriously nice, and I'd love to go back during the day for some coffee. There were lots of great photo ops and the whole inside has a nice "Old Shanghai" vibe. The one picture I took in there doesn't do it justice.

* I couldn't decide where to go for the Chinese New Year break for the longest time. A group of my friends are going to Melbourne and Brisbane, but it is more just to hang out and not really to travel. Tara will be going home, so we also couldn't travel together. Since I want to see the sights, but don't really want to travel "alone," I decided to book a group tour through Intrepid Travel. This will be my first group tour trip that is longer than just a few days. It actually sounds pretty good--all the tour really covers is accommodation and transportation. For the tour part, we are only given a few city overviews when we first arrive, and then we are free to decide what we want to do. That is pretty great because I won't be stuck in a big group all day, but I also don't have to be concerned about safety since someone will be checking in on me every night. I looked at all of the tours, and the one that really appealed to me a lot was a trip to Mexico. I know it seems funny that I'm going to Mexico from Shanghai and not the States, but the flight was only about $850 round trip. Our break is long enough that you really can go anywhere in the world! I didn't know whether or not I should book my own accommodation or chance it with a roommate. Obviously splitting the cost with a random roommate is cheaper, but I was willing to pay the extra money. I ended up putting down that I would have a roommate just because Tara told me that when she went on a tour through Europe, that her and her roommate were really compatible and went on a lot of optional day trips together. I felt like if I didn't have a roommate that it would be harder to meet others since I'm not that outgoing. I don't know. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I guess I'm slightly nervous about this tour as well as excited! 

**Linking up with B Loved Boston.
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