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Me and My Big Nose

Sometimes the ways different cultures see your physical features is like looking in a fun house mirror. All the sudden small features are big and big features are just well bigger. I have this nose. It isn’t a large nose but then again it isn’t a small nose either. It used to bother me. I used to want a small button nose and blue eyes Fun-House-Mirror-300x300more than anything. When I was pretty young I used to wish that my eyes would change colours and my nose would somehow morph into a button nose. If I was going to wish on shooting stars then maybe I should have been wishing for a few more inches height wise but no one ever accused 11 year girls of being rational.
Maybe adult women aren’t that rational when it comes to their appearance either. I have been hearing about this body dysmorphic disorder recently. The Better Health Chanel describes Body Dysmorphic Disorder as, “…a mental illness. People who have this illness constantly worry about the way they look. They may believe an inconspicuous or non-existent physical attribute is a serious defect…” This is a serious issue but the first time I heard about this disorder I thought, “Well isn’t that like all women?” So I started trying to list features I have that I really really like and I came up with about three and that was a real stretch. I mean I spent the vast majority of my teenage years worried about my hips and now it turns out booty is all the rage. I was born too early. It is really funny because if you asked me about any of my female friends I would say they are beautiful. If you asked me why I thought they were beautiful you probably couldn’t get me to stop talking about all the ways they are gorgeous. The men in their lives are lucky to have them.
But for me my nose was just one of those things that used to bug me once in awhile. I felt like it was a little too crooked and a little too “prominent” let’s say. That is how I felt when I went to China. It turns out China was exactly what I needed. Chinese people didn’t think my nose was “big”, they thought my nose was “high”. In China having a high nose is kind of a good thing. They have celebrities with high noses and they talk about how good looking they are. Eventually after overcoming how self-conscious I was about people talking about my nose all the time, I started to be OK with my nose. It was my nose and it gave me character and character is better than being a Barbie Doll any day. Once I started being comfortable with my nose I started being more comfortable with everything else. I realized that if a change of geography was all it took for my nose to be OK then it didn’t really matter what the other features looked like because somewhere some people would think they were good.
That is certainly what happened with hips after all. It is not as though I get up every morning, look in the mirror and say to myself, “You are one hot mama. Work it girl!” IBE025880t is more like I just don’t really think that much about it. I enjoy putting on make-up and wearing pretty clothes but I am comfortable in my skin. It is what it is.
I also always wanted a tan. Blame this one on the 80s and 90s as well. I wanted golden sun kissed skin. Again, in China my very pale skin was great. Not all my features were great in China and there was plenty of discussion about each feature. It was difficult when it felt like I had to convince an entire country that my hair really was naturally curly. It was also challenging when people thought I couldn’t be American because I was too short and Americans are tall people. The real clincher was when one woman pinched my hips to demonstrate how generous the padding was in that spot. What it taught me was that the way we perceive our physical features is like a fun house mirror. Going from one culture to another is like walking into a room of fun house mirrors. One second you’re tall and the next second you’re tiny. Your legs look like stilts in one mirror and then tree trunks in another. To borrow from a very famoArticle Lead - wide983354421mjoyrimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.1mjo42.png1428883185861.jpg-620x349us Disney movie maybe it is time we just let it go. Maybe we should just all look in the mirror and realise that each feature we don’t like is probably a feature someone somewhere else wishes they had. Did you know that in ancient Greece the unibrow was fantastic? If a woman didn’t have one then they would use black paint to fill one in.
I am me and each of my features expresses exactly who I am. I am short, which is so handy if you are also mischievous. My eyes crinkle up so much when I smile they almost disappear. That is good because when I am old everyone is going to know I laughed and smiled and loved my family. My hair is curly bordering on downright frizzy which is fine because I can’t really imagine mornings without my hair sticking up all over the place like Albert Einstein’s.
Have a big party with your friends and tell each other why you are beautiful inside and out. Tell your friends why you wouldn’t change even one of their physical features. Look up some of those fun cultures where exaggerated hips are prized. Remember you are not objective, whatever you see in the mirror it is filtered through a fun house mirror called culture.

A Teeny Tiny Beast- Cultural Adjustment

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Beast on the loose!

Our family is a mixed up blend.  When we moved from China to Australia four years ago we were all going through different things. My husband was returning to his home country. My boys were learning how to be more Australian because they had never lived anywhere but China.  Then there was me. I was immigrating. I am still immigrating. It is a long process.
I am learning to be something new while not losing what I already am. My children have embraced their new lifestyle. My husband is now enjoying being able to get back to all the things he loves about Australia. I am learning to love new things but that doesn’t mean that I am learning to love all new things. Unfortunately for my husband’s sake, cricket is one of those things I do not love.

4 years of transition have equaled laughter, sunshine and frustration and have seen me start this long process of becoming a member of the Lucky Country. I am American so the process is fraught with confusion and teasing from Australian friends. Don’t worry… I get my own back. How can you not good-naturedly  rib people who belong to a country in which the main point of any political party seems to be to overthrow the leader so that the next person can become king of the hill?  It seems like this country indulges in political blood sport every time the season changes. Yes, I good-naturedly rib them until I realize that while they have been born in this country I am voluntarily choosing to join it.

People might think that making a new home in another English-speaking country is easier than acclimating to life in a place like China. China presented its challenges but at least it was up-front about it. My roofunny-grumpy-angry-kid-girl-park-mood-swing-picsfunnyasduck.netmmate and I used to have what we called “bad China days”. It really meant we were in danger of behaving poorly or already had behaved poorly towards someone because of cultural stress and overload. I love Aussie land. I love the people, the weather, the lifestyle and the animals, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have “bad Australia days”. Australia’s cultural and language differences are hidden beneath a very thin veil of similarities. That veil of similarities makes it seem, from the outside, like it should be no sweat to adjust to life here.

Contrary to the illusion, the shallow similarities that these two cultures actually have, barely hides a deep chasm of differences between mind set and traditions. This chasm is where I find myself overwhelmed and likely to behave outrageously.   I recently refused to hang up on a customer service representative until my problem was resolved to my satisfaction. There is an iceberg under that tip of that story but sufficed to say I behaved poorly and I wish I could take it back.  I wish I could put off that call until I wasn’t having a day where I was struggling to adjust to a country which hates the tall poppy. A country where it feels as though sport is almost always more important that a really amazing classic novel. Where there is so much slang that I don’t understand so I have to spend time figuring it out and then using it. Most of all 220px-Attackofthe50ftwomanit is difficult to never quite fit in. I will never have a proper Australian accent.  I will never enjoy sport or the great outdoors, (unless the great outdoors is the beach with flavored iced coffee).  I would never choose to drink multiple cups of tea instead of coffee. A big stress is having to explain where I am from/not from, over and over and over again. I really should appreciate everyone’s interest and thoughtfulness but what happens is that some days it is really too much. My circuits overload in those moments and I have a, “bad Aussie day”. In my case this means a fire breathing dragon of epic Hobbit proportions bursts forth and everyone wonders where such a teeny tiny lady was hiding such a hideous beast.

Immigration is tricky and it is tricky business trying to angry-boo-cartoon-cute-girl-grr-Favim.com-41244make sure every Aussie I come in contact with knows how much I love this country while all the time trying to be diplomatic about the fact that sometimes the differences make me uncomfortable or stressed.  The ironic part is that now that I live in Australia, the Chinese community feels like a welcome relief from some of the adjustment stress.  They say that cultural adjustment is like a roller coaster that starts off with huge dips and scary peaks and then gradually slows down and the peaks and dips get smoother and smoother until you almost don’t even notice them anymore. At this point in the amusement ride the adjustment is almost over and hopefully the screams filled with terror have stopped. If that is the case then Australia is my roller coaster, a roller coaster that is starting to feel more and more comfortable, while Chinese culture would be the merry-go-round that is fun and different from normal life but not scary anymore. You might think that my experiences with adjusting to life in China had given me tools for eliminating cultural stress. You might see me drinking a flat white coffee and eating biscuits and think that I am an experienced world traveler and I breeze through moves to new cultures. Anyone who has known me longer than 2 Roller Coaster 2minutes can now proceed to laugh at the picture that presents. I do have tools for culturally stressful times,  but they don’t eliminate cultural stress. The tools I have tame the beast I become when cultural stress gets out of control. The times when I ignore the inner voice which is telling me I am not emotionally or mentally fit to face a certain task like a trip to a huge mall,  (the shops), and countless sales people. When I ignore that silent pressure to give myself a break then I am sure to become a raging beast which indiscriminately stomps all over innocent people and their feelings.  Just as it would be challenging to play Monopoly at the same time as you ride a roller coaster, dealing with tasks which are normally challenging while also coping with cultural stress is impossible and will have a different effect on everyone. Perhaps you have faced something similar. Maybe you don’t become a beast but something else happens. Want to share what nickname you have for the days you are struggling to cope?  Let us know in the comments below.

For those going through something similar all over the globe I would say it will get better! Time is key.

The following are websites with information on tools to deal with cultural stress.

Down the Rabbit Hole-Stuck in Zhengzhou Part 2

Zhengzhou Rabbit Hole

Sitting in the dark, in a hotel room, in the middle of a town I had never been to before in China. The only sound was the echo of my slightly frustrated and emotional chuckle because seriously this day could not possibly be this bad. The temptation was to just burrow under the covers and pretend it wasn’t happening but that was not going to get the lights back on. I needed to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. Let me tell you how we got from a missed flight, newly booked flight and a hotel reservation to here.

I had a ticket and I managed to call a hotel and get a reservation but I now had to negotiate the taxi line. ThosNice Tourist Signe who have lived or are living in China can commence laughing at me now. Zhengzhou is a smaller town and they haven’t gotten around to regulating airport taxis as of yet so imagine a tiny,irate, exhausted fireball trying to convince a long line of drivers that she wasn’t taking a taxi unless they used the meter. Joke was on me because my driver said he would use the meter then took the long way around so 260rmb, (Chinese dollars), later I finally arrived at my hotel which was a grand total of 3 kilometers from the airport. I arrived at the hotel tired, hungry and riding a very thin line between patience and a World War III emotional breakdown. I would not be the ugly foreigner again. I would be sweetness and light. Ha!
Since the airport did not take Mastercard I thought it would be judicious to ask, before I checked in, if the hotel took Mastercard. “Oh yes, we do, of course!” Except we don’t apparently. The hotel is brand new and the bank hasn’t approved it, they will have the Hard Time Signpermission by the end of the month. I was told this right after I was all checked in and they wanted me to pay. “You can’t pay in cash?” they asked.  No I couldn’t because as a rule I don’t keep that much cash on hand ever. Tomorrow would have to include a trip to the bank to get the money and pay them. Lovely.
I had not eaten all day either, so my next stop after the room had to be a restaurant, room service or a hotel restaurant. There was no room service or nearby restaurants but the front desk informed me there was a restaurant on the 3rd floor so I went there….except it wasn’t open…yet. It is a new hotel, in fact it is so new the elevator still has paint all over the mirrors, so yeah, ok you get the picture.
Thankfully for some reason they had a waitress looking after a restaurant that had tables, chairs, plates, polished flatware and napkinsChina_Funny_English_inscriptions_Summer-Palace-Beijing but no customers. No it is not the Twilight Zone, just a new hotel. They also had a chef. The two of them decided that they would give me food. I think if I didn’t have a husband, I might marry that chef because of his kindness to me. He made me egg and tomato noodle soup and an espresso.  I might marry him even though I have a husband because wow, he knows how to treat a girl.
My day was looking up. It was 9 pm, almost the end of the day, but I am an optimist when caught at the right moment.  I believed the day could still get better. I had a hotel room, I had a flight, I had eaten and developed a very proper crush on the hotel chef. (Don’t worry my husband will understand, he knows all about my relationship with caffeine.) Nothing could go wrong. All was right with the world. I blame the caffeine for this uncharacteristic rush of euphoria.
But… five minutes passed and the power in the whole hotel went out.  My rush of euphoria promptly left and I could only laugh and  I lived in Welcome Zhengzhou Airporthope my flight did actually make it out of Zhengzhou the next day.  I was also thankful for my Chinese language at the moment. Most days I feel that you can make it in China without a lot of language. Today, however, if I could not speak the language I am afraid I would have been stuck forever. To be honest, I am not sure I am going to make it out of this city even with the language. I hope I see you all again, if not, I guess I have moved back to China.

And the rest of the story…

For those of you wondering what happened with the power and paying the hotel bill this is the happily ever after. After looking out the window and determining that it was a whole hotel problem, I started trying to contact the front desk. I had no luck but did find a maintenance man out in the hall a few minutes later who assured me he would have the power back on in 10 minutes, and he did. After a very good night’s sleep, I was taken to the bank the next day by a lovely member of the hotel staff. Not the chef. I arrived and the bank president promptly came out to show me the banks brand new ATM machine. He was quick to point out the English capabilities of the machine and I was very thankful, if a bit embarrassed. I paid my hotel bill and got to the airport where my flight took off and landed in Beijing. I made it through another 18 hours of flights and some layovers and home to Perth.

If you are looking for more great ironic pictures of signs in China, try this link Shanghaiexpat.com.

Down the Rabbit Hole-Stuck in Zhengzhou Part 1

I am writing this blog sitting in a hotel in the middle of a dark hotel room in Zhengzhou, China. Zhengzhou is meant to be a stopover between many larger cities. Zhengzhou is a middle point between two places and Zhengzhou5not often a destination, even though it is a capital city. The fact that I am writing this from a hotel in this city says a lot about how my day has gone. First of all let me say that it is no surprise to anyone that I have a love affair with China. I adore this country. I fly, and to say I hate flying is an understatement, so that I can come to this country.  Having said that, there are days when it throws me for a loop and today was one of those days.
I lost my patience today with several people. I will no doubt be referred to as tiny crazy lady, or dragon lady, in this city for a long time because I got a little peeved. I did not yell, but most people who speak Chinese as a second language will say there are some times when it would be better for everyone around them if they couldn’t speak the language. For me today was one of those times. I checked into my flight at Shenyang airport and the flight was supposed to go to Kunming. At check in I was  informed that I would be changing flights in Zhengzhou and it was not just a stopover. I would actually have to get a new ticket and change planes. “OK” I said politely, “Would I have enough time?” The lady at Zhengzhou8the check in counter replied, “Oh certainly, more than enough.” I had my doubts so I later asked at the gate and found that this person thought I would definitely not have enough time if without someone to help me. “Tell the flight attendant,” she said, “she will arrange for someone to meet you and transfer you.” I then asked, “OK, well I have an international flight leaving from Beijing the next day, I am meant to fly to Kunming for a meeting then immediately after, fly to Beijing, so are there many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing?” She replied, “Oh yes naturally!” Newton’s law went into effect here. A little voice said, “Switch airlines or flights now!” But I ignored the voice, I was already checked in and, I thought,I am not that person that screams about broken phalanges and gets off the plane. (Watch Friends the TV show.) So I took the flight, which arrive a half an hour late, and no one met me to help transfer me so, no, I didn’t make my flight to Kunming.

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Zhengzhou

I finally found the domestic ticket desk at Zhengzhou airport, (see picture of airport above to the right), and some people who were reluctantly willing to help me. (At this point I had already gotten put out with the people at the transfer desk who couldn’t help and now was actually power walking mad so their reluctance was very understandable). There was not much they could do though. There were no more flights to Kunming today. The flights the next day were too late to arrive in time for my meeting. Surprise, surprise there were also no more flights to Beijing because there are not, as I had previously been told, many daily flights from Zhengzhou to Beijing. So I cancelled my meetings in Kunming with embarrassment and as much grace as I could manage and moved on to booking a ticket for Beijing tomorrow.
20507975064be68c6999116This sounds easy and it would have been but I am in a city where people are not supposed to stop or do things like buy brand new tickets so I could not pay with foreign currency or used my MasterCard to pay for the ticket. The banks were closed so I couldn’t exchange any of the three other types of foreign currency I had. So, I had to call my husband, have him purchase the ticket online and send me the confirmation while also looking up hotels. Then I had to confirm the flight with the airline which I had been told to do. Shoot to a picture of me still in the airport four hours later.
You may think my story is  finally over, I have a plane ticket for Beijing and a reservation at a trusted hotel chain. “It wasn’t so bad after all”, you might be thinking. You would be wrong because as of this moment the electricity has gone off in the entire hotel and here I sit in the dark writing a blog because that is all there is left to do. You can read about how I ended up in a dark hotel room writing a blog in part 2, coming soon!

Another International Student Success Story

From The Australian 12th September 2014

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Can I get some help?- Well, I need some

In March 2014, Ross Taylor, President Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 11.17.05 AMof the Perth-based Indonesian Institute, suggested that Indonesia could provide nannies for Australians and relieve some of the issues surrounding childcare in Australia. A huge problem in this country which every mother has experienced and to which there does not seemed to be a well thought out solution in place.  It is a dilemma, and it seems that leaders think if we just talk about the problem and then sort of ignore it well it might just go away. Probably more to the point, they will get elected looking like they care and then do nothing and no one will be all that surprised. The wonders of democracy around the world!

There was almost nothing said in the media about the fact the Indonesian Instituthe-nanny-diaries-5290a42c68b23te had suggested it. No one was leaping at it as a possible solution. Overseas Foreign Workers send back $5 billion a year to the Philippines and have been called heroes by one of the country’s former presidents.  Has The Nanny Diaries scared us all off? Are we scared of Asian immigrants stealing day-care jobs?  I find the non-reaction funny because if by some miracle Indonesia did start sending nannies over and, big if, we could afford it, then we would be running over people to invite an Indonesian nanny to come work for us.
Let me tell you why. We had a Helper in China. A Helper is a person who is employed by the family to well… help. She did, so much. She heHelper Chinalped me by teaching me language for everyday things. She made delicious Chinese food for us. She laughed with me on my days when I didn’t seem to be able to figure out how to do even the simplest things in China. She cleaned our house. She became a loved auntie to our children. She spoiled them…rotten. We ate at her house and her daughter played with our children. She hugged me and cried with me when my grandmother died. She was and remains to this day, a friend.

Is it possible for some people who are employed in these types of positions to be exploited? No one would like to hear this, but yes and it happens more frequently than we would like to know. It is hard work and when the employer is from a different culture then there is the possibility that every day will mean culture shock or, in the worst scenarios, abuse for the employee. They can be asked to do too much. We can blame them for mistakes we made ourselves. I have done that.  I would rant to my husband about a sweater that was lost and claim that she must have put it somewhere strange only to find a that I had lent it to a friend. If you can think of a mistake to make with someone working in your house, chances are I did it because I am flawed like that.
There were plenty of friends and family living in other countries who would make judgments about our lifestyle based on the fact we had a Helper. I was teased many times about my “high on the hog” lifestyle. To those who teased me I laugh and say, “Yes and I loved it!” I have a friend who nicknamed her Helper the “Dinner Fairy”. They both got a good kick out it. She was charmingly overboard in her gratefulness and amazement at the wonder of a dinner which magically appeared without the need for her to slave over it. I don’t blame anyone for being green with envy over that lifestyle and if the employee is happy and fairly treated then I don’t see any reason to apologize out of a silly sense of misplaced guilt.
We kept it as fair as we could by paying a decent wage, fairly allocating sick days and holidays, making friends with her, and providing training. Our helper learned to cook many western dishes to sell to others. Training Helpers
She always made them better on her first try than I made them after a lifetime of practice. She would make tortillas once a week for our youngest child. All he ever had to say was, “I am hungry” in Chinese and he had tortillas. Spoiled rotten! One of our friends tutored her Helper in English and she became a teacher’s assistant. This was not something our Helper desired but I think it is important to provide opportunities to learn new skills.
It doesn’t always work well and I wouldn’t want the job of figuring how to legislate this for the best of everyone involved, but the cultural enrichment and relationship is fabulous. It must be free and fair. I have no interest in a program which abuses people.  I would love to make a new friend. Maybe I would make a fewer mistakes than I did before.

Our helper didn’t live in our home, which is a whole other ball of wax. So, would you hire an overseas nannie if you could?

*I have omitted our Helper’s name and have not included photos of her out of respect for her privacy.

Waiting to Exhale- Inside the mind of a Semi- Bilingual

You may catch me sometimes looking atMixed Flag you blankly, hesitating for several beats before I answer your question or finish the sentence I just trailed off in the middle of. You may have already started your next thought and moved on without me. Forgive me, but the truth is I am still trying to figure out whether to call it a wardrobe, a dresser or a gui zi柜子. My mind is stuck in a hamster wheel flashing up other options that might work as well. The problem is that one of those words has the best meaning but the person I am talking to probably wouldn’t understand it. So here I am, holding my breath and waiting for the word to come out, and here you are, trying to pretend that I am not odd or an airhead or at the least just a little ditzy. In some instances I will just use the wrong word for the language I am speaking at the time, and if you wait for it I may remember to translate for you when it finally clicks that you have no idea what I just said. This process makes me look even more ditzy because I should be able to remember what language I am speaking, right?

I am not really bilingual, and if you want to know the truth I am not even biEnglishgual. Yep, you caught me, that is not a word. If in doubt I like to make it up as I go along. Try to keep up because my mind is a bumpy ride. So is it a clothespin or a peg? Or a i_talk_to_myself_in_2_languages_kid_s_t_shirt-r581602a7953b4888b0479cc8c85dac3b_wio57_324clothes peg? Is it a laundry powder or laundry detergent or washing powder? The English isn’t even really the problem. It is just incredibly entertaining for you because in those instances when my mouth doesn’t wait for my brain to catch up, you to hear me rattle off every word I can think of that might fit until you nod and say, “Yes that is it, I know what you mean.” My good friends do this because they know they have to eventually indicate which word is the right one for Australia or else I will just keep going. Sometimes I think they let me keep going as long as they do because it amuses them to watch me try. Some of the words I come up with are way off base. Did you know a brad in the US is a split pin in Aussie land? Those words have no relation what so ever.

Chinese, that other language that I semi speak but am completely illiterate in, is the real issue. It’s the issue because there are so many of my thoughts, that after 12 years of living there, I must express in Chinese. You think I am talkative, verbose and overwhelming? Imagine if you could hear the 30% of my thoughts that are kept quiet because the entire sentence can only be expressed in Chinese. Oh boy, would you love that joke or appreciate the irony if only you knew what the heck I was saying. Imagine how much more articulate I am when I don’t stop breathing in the middle of a thought because the last half of the thought was in Chinese and now I have to translate it or explain it.20507975064be68c6999116 You might find me understandable. You might think I was humorous. Well maybe not because I never really mastered the art of a joke in Chinese. I want to tell you I have a gege 哥哥, not a brother, because then you would know without any further explanation that he is my older brother. I want to tell you that that problem I am having is well meibanfa 没办法 .  This has so much more meaning than just no solution because it indicates there will never be a solution and all hope is lost. I feel this way when dealing with websites and html. Another word that comes to me when I think of html is ma-fan麻烦. It means trouble or stress or both rolled into one. Hard to translate but sheer joy to apply when you are at the end of your rope. And when you are leaving my house after I have complained about all of the above, I want to say man-zou 慢走 because it kind of means take your time leaving but it also dayton chinesemeans I care and because I care I say man-zou not just see ya. If you are born into a single language family, then all your thoughts and feeling take place in that language. Like me, you may not realize that there are a bunch of other thoughts, feelings and ways to describe things until you start to learn your second language. Once that other language and culture becomes part of you, it becomes very difficult not to express that other language and culture. It becomes, for me, like holding your breath and containing all those other descriptions and thoughts that are running through your head.

By the way if you are bilingual and would like to own one of the t-shirts in the picture above, you can find them and many more items for bilingual families at Bilingual Style.

Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival- WA Style! 端午节

June 2nd is Dragon Boat Festival which is celebrated in many different places. China, Hong Kong, MacaZongzi 1u, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia all celebrate Dragon Boat Festival. Western Australia will even be holding Dragon Boat races later this year. This year Dragon Boat Festival also falls on a public holiday in WA and I decided that it was time to celebrate the festival in style. So what did we do to celebrate this festival here in WA? First, I made a very important visit to Lotus Vegetarian restaurant on James Street and picked up some Zongzi. You cannot celebrate this festival without Zongzi. Zongzi is swZongzi 2eetened glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or banana leaves. Lotus Vegetarian is a friendly little place with a vegetarian grocery attached. They are quite helpful and you can order over the phone for pick up later. You can find contact details and other information for this restaurant on their website by clicking here: Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant. You can see my son with our haul of Zongzi in the picture. We were all excited to dig in! Word of caution, don’t eat the leaves.

We also made origami dragons. To say this was a challenge would be a huge understatement. Dragon Origami 1My husband actually went to lie down to get away from me ranting at the computer. I made two and the first one was a real clanger. Free online patterns for dragon origami can be found here: Hugo Pereira origami diagrams. For some of us though a little more help is required, so if you are like me here is a link to a great YouTube tutorial: dragon origami tutorial. The boy in the video is incredibly impressive and patient. You can see my second attempt at a dragon in the picture.

Williams Street 1Our next stop was William Street. We made reservations at Shanghai Tea Garden. You can visit their Facebook page here: Shanghai Tea Garden. Not only is the décor gorgeous but the food was absolutely amazing! We were the only people there who weren’t Asian, which to me is always a good sign you are getting excellent Chinese food. Our boys left the table after Shanghai Tea Garden 1eating so much it boggled my mind and then came back 5 minutes later to eat even more. The people were very friendly and some of the other patrons even advised us on where to take the best photos in the restaurant. After stuffing ourselves like Christmas geese we decided on a walk down William Street. This is a street meant for the explorer in your family. There are so many different shops and restaurants to visit. If you want pork buns, spring onion pancakes, traditional Asian clothes or beautiful Chinese lanterns in addition to a lot of other food and Asian products, then this is the street for you. Dragon Boat 1Lastly, we made Dragon Boats of our own using a pattern available for free here: free kid’s crafts, dragon boat project. The boys really got into this project. They named their dragon boats, mine was Smaug, and we raced them later by taping them to toy cars. I have a feeling the races will last all week or at least until our dragons fall apart and we need to make new ones. Dragon Boat Festival is tomorrow but our family has enjoyed celebrating all weekend long. We still have Zongzi in the fridge, dragon boats to race and I have some beautiful Chinese lanterns to hang tomorrow. I hope you enjoy Dragon Boat Festival tomorrow and some of these ideas come in handy. For more information on living an international lifestyle please visit my other blogs: Life Hack Language Learning, Third Culture Kids, Birthplace and Belonging  and Where will you go? Living a life Without Boundaries .

Nurture Your Inner Adventurer-Becoming an International Teacher

China 1While the majority of people would admit teaching is a challenging job they wouldn’t really look at teachers as adventurist people. Deep inside most of us who teach is the inner adventurer who looks at our class with sparks in our eyes and thinks, “What can we accomplish this year?”

Deep in their heart most teachers nurture a wonderful sense of exploration. We want to take students to new places through books, science and history. We want to join our students on a journey of education and we see each child’s journey as a unique experience. We get an adrenalin kick from seeing students excel in new subjects and reaching children that haven’t been enjoyed school before.

There is more out there though. International teaching, whether it is at an international school or teaching a language like English, is a true adventure. I have eaten everything from delicious homemade pork dumplings to barbecued grasshopper. I have seen the great wall and learned to enjoy Korean food with my 218186_10150163925577852_5413126_nstudents. I have celebrated Mother’s Day by helping students make cards with mother written in as many different languages as you could imagine in one classroom. I have gone to educational conferences in Malaysia, Singapore and Beijing. I could continue with this list until I had no more room to write.

It is not only these experiences that made my time an adventure but also the times when I got lost in a taxi in the middle of nowhere and the times I had to travel to Hong Kong to renew my visa. The time I rode a train overnight to suffer through sub zero temperatures to see the Harbin ice festival for one day, before immediately hopping back on the night train so that I could return in time to teach the next day. I was not at my best teaching my class of five year olds that day!

The cream on top of every one of these experiences, during my time teaching in China, was my colleagues and friends. I could not have survived without them and they made everything that we went through together a great memory that we still laugh over whenever we have the chance to get together.

Should you take some time out for your own adventure and teach in an international context?

Of course! Not only will you experience great things but think of the richness you will be able to bring back to the classroom when you return to your home country. Especially for those who have been teaching for a while, it can bring some much-needed spirit back into your classroom. It can help every teacher understand the growing migrant population better.

From a career perspective, it can improve your resume and give you core skills that all employers are looking for. Think teamwork!

Can you take a family?288_16188737851_5952_n

Yes! The language experience and cultural learning is extremely valuable for everyone but most especially for children whose brains can develop long-term skills in language learning at an early age.

Picture yourself somewhere else… teaching!

What benefits do you feel international teaching has had for you? Add your thoughts to our comments below.

For more information on how we can help you find international teaching opportunities visit http://staceycollege.com/employment/international-teaching-opportunities/.

Christa SmithWritten By Christa Smith, China Promotions Manager for Stacey College

Where will you go?- Living a life without boundaries

ImageProxy.mvcFor those who choose to study or live internationally the community and support groups that help people are increasing and are increasingly good at what they do. People are finding it easier in today’s world to live internationally than they ever have before. In Australia we see people coming here from several different countries to live, study and work. The trend of living internationally is definitely growing. In the past 5 years the number of expatriates living and working in China has increased 18% and the Indian consulate in San Francisco has reported that from 2009 to 2010 the number of visas issued for Americans going to work in India doubled. Worldwide, according to justlanded.com, in the year 2000 there were 161 million of us living and working overseas and in the year 2010 that number had increased to 200 million.

There are several questions raised by these trends in our global community. One of which is: Are we, as a society, preparing our children for what is happening in the world today?

A person who reaches the top of their chosen career path today will find that in order to be the best or to work with the best they must live and work internationally. They must speak another language or two or three and feel comfortable working with people who hold a variety of cultural perspectives. In sports the top coaches move in international circles. Australian’s recent national soccer coach was from Germany. Yao Ming went from playing basketball in China to playing NBA in the U.S. This is not to mention the many interesting coach and player partnerships in tennis, which seems to specialize in international cooperation. WALMART CANADA - Walmart lance le défi pour étudiants le plus am If you are a chef chances are you will eventually want to study or work in another country to learn more about international cuisine. One example is Manu Feidel from the TV show, My Kitchen Rules. Manu is French but now works and lives in Australian. He also lived in England for a period of time. We tend to think of the manufacturing industry and diplomatic circles as career paths in which knowing another language and international problem solving are great skills to have. However, more and more as we look around this world being free to expand your career means to move amongst different cultures and languages.

Looking at some of the most famous actors and pop singers in Asia will also show this growing trend as many of them were born or have lived in western countries for a large time period before making their name across several Asian countries. South Korea and China even have a pop group named Exo, made of 12 members, 6 Korean and 6 Chinese and they sing songs in both Mandarin and Korean.

Starting early and preparing yourself with international cross-cultural experience and language study gives a person a much stronger ability to live without boundaries. Studying in another country as an exchange student, or later as part of your university studies, gives you the freedom to take your career where you want it to go. To live in the global community the way it is now, with the skills to take you anywhere you might want to go.

Christa Smith

Written by China Promotions Manager Christa Smith