2019

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January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

 

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November

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December

2019 has been a strange year.  A year of change, transition, ups, and downs.  A year I’m ready to let go, but a year to remember nonetheless.  I am hoping 2020 is a little more settled, a little more cheerful, but no less adventurous.  Happy New Year.

What A Long, Strange Winter It’s Been…

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Hello, World.

I feel like I’ve shut you out for a while.

These last few months have been dark, cold, and difficult for a number of reasons and I haven’t been in the right headspace to say much.

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I still don’t feel at home in China just yet and culture shock has been a daily reality.  The new job has proven itself to be quite stressful and time-consuming.  The pollution has been worse since the seasons changed.  The sun rarely shines here in winter.  You get the drift.

I’m holding out hope for the best, but I know the only thing that will help this season pass is time and patience.

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That’s not to say it’s been all bad.  I am in a very cool Dungeons and Dragons campaign here, I’m sticking with my yoga class, and I got to see Disney on Ice (albeit in Chinese).  I’ve hired a tutor and am taking private lessons, though I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with the language just yet.

This is all just to say I’m still alive and weathering the storm.

Hongyadong

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Hongyadong, or Hongya cave, is an architectural oddity and key landmark of Chongqing.  Though it is a modern building, it has been built to resemble traditional Chinese market halls.  Each floor boasts a series of winding, narrow walkways filled with shops, restaurants, and stalls selling everything from carved wooden Buddhas to Dairy Queen Blizzards.

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As an aside, there is a rumor that Hongyadong inspired the bathhouse featured in Spirited Away.  I don’t think I buy it, but I do see the resemblance, which only made it feel more magical to walk through.

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As you move to the upper floors, you can take in excellent views of the Chongqing Bridge as well as the meeting point of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers.  It was lovely enough by day, but the view becomes even more spectacular at night, when the whole city lights up.

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While we enjoyed the luminescent skyline, we decided to try the local specialty – hot pot.  Hot pot is a sort of spicy fondue, except instead of cheese, everything is cooked in hot chili oil.  It was pretty tasty (great with a cold beer!), but definitely not a quick meal, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re hangry.

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After dinner, we walked along the bridge to get a view of Hongyadong from the river.  This was easily the highlight of our visit.  I’ll let the photos do the talking here.

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It is a nice change of pace to be living in a city with so much to do and see.  I’m looking forward to more local adventures.

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Nihao, Chongqing.

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We’ve officially been in China for two weeks and my head is definitely still spinning.

In a nutshell…the city is huge, the food is spicy, the weather is very hot, I am still processing a lot of information from our orientation, I start teaching next week, I also start my own classes next week, I optimistically joined a gym…and…that’s it so far.

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Though we have been spending most of our time working, settling in, and trying to prepare for classes, we have tried to get out and explore this gigantic city a bit.  We walked through the Expo Gardens (didn’t even scratch the surface on that place) for a bit of exercise one afternoon and we recently took a taxi into the city center to get a feel for some of the main squares.

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I am very happy to report that I LOVE our new apartment and there is plenty to do in our neighborhood, including a fabulous gym and a great local cafe that sells good coffee and craft beers.  It’s only a five minute walk to grab groceries, which is LIFE-CHANGING after living in the middle of nowhere in Turkey.

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It is still taking some time to get used to everything being unfamiliar again.  The language, culture, and landscape are all still alien to me, so I am looking forward to getting to know it all better.

Here’s to a new adventure.

 

Another American Summer

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Kansas sunsets really are the prettiest.

Greetings from China!

Yes, we are here and settling in, but before I talk about that, I feel compelled to talk about our hectic, brief summer in the U.S.

We knew this summer would be unpredictable.  International moves always are.  I’ve learned by now that the visa process is usually one big question mark until it isn’t.  It makes it difficult to plan much because everything has to revolve around the visa timeline and (of course!) you can’t make appointments.

Amidst the chaos of moving from Turkey to the U.S. and then packing again for China, 5 weeks of rapid couchsurfing around Kansas, and going to Chicago for our visas, we did manage to enjoy ourselves a bit.

Indulge me as I go through the highlight reel:

img_20190801_134339Hanging out with my grandma’s adorable cats!

img_20190801_134316Eating my grandma’s peanut butter pie!

img_20190710_150803Enjoying a beautiful Chicago summer with my partner in crime while we waited for our visas to be processed

img_20190711_130659Trying aerial yoga for the first time (loved it!)

 

img_20190723_155126Childhood treats

img_20190726_115942Reminiscing

img_20190727_192935_1Drinking wine in the Flint Hills

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Drinking more wine…this time from the wine box we sealed at our wedding.  As it was our 5th wedding anniversary, we got to open this bottle and replace it with another (to be opened on our 10th.)

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Saying goodbye (for now) to the U.S. and hello (or nihao, rather) to a new adventure.

 

So there you have it.  A very brief recap of an all-too-brief summer.  More to come on China soon!

We are moving…

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Photo from Wikimedia

…to Chongqing, China!

After a few months of intense job hunting, we found a school that seems like a great fit for us for next year and were offered the jobs a few days before Christmas.  It still feels pretty surreal.

I am already daydreaming about misty green mountains, spicy hot pot, breathtaking temples, and cuddly pandas.

We are super excited to explore Asia, take another step in our careers, and immerse ourselves in a brand new culture.  We are also soaking up our last six months here in Turkey before taking off on this next crazy adventure.

Bring it on, 2019!