Friday, April 21, 2017

Paperwork, paperwork & more paperwork


Well, unsurprisingly, the road to China is a bumpy one, cluttered with seemingly endless amounts of bureaucracy and paperwork. I accepted a job at a college in Nanning in mid-February, and it's now nearly May and I am still trying to get all the boxes ticked on the laundry list of things I need for a work permit.

It's definitely been the slowest and most arduous process of any of the countries I've worked in so far. Luckily, the end is finally in sight.

Monday, April 3, 2017

U.K. Visit: Brighton

The West Pier in Brighton

One of my favorite places that we visited while I was in the U.K was the city of Brighton, located on the southern coast of England on the ocean. I went with Anna for the weekend and we visited some of her old friends from university.

Brighton became a popular summer holiday destination during the Victorian era, so a lot of the architecture and famous landmarks are from that time. As a seaside city, Brighton has a nice beach where we spent a lot of our time. The beach is a great place to wander around with plenty of shops, art galleries, food and pubs, and it's most famous landmark, the Brighton pier. 

Walking the beach in Brighton

Friday, March 31, 2017

From England to New England

Hello Boston!

As I explained in the last post, I've decided to accept a position teaching in China next, which will be starting soon. However, the visa process for China is turning out to be longer and more complicated than any other country I've worked in thus far. So I decided to use the extra free time while I wait for my work visa to visit family in the U.S.

I just got back stateside a couple weeks ago and I'm having a great time staying with my sister and nephew James at their new apartment in Massachusetts. I've been keeping busy here helping home school James and working on my Mandarin. I'm also really enjoying exploring Boston and New England, a part of the U.S. I've never been to before.

Although, I have to say, I'm not enjoying the weather much. The week I arrived there were actual blizzard conditions here, with on and off again power outages that are really not good for my nephew, who has special medical needs. And people say that England has bad weather! Luckily things are finally warming up now.

I was welcomed to Massachusetts by a blizzard and power outages... 

I have at least one more post about my time in the U.K. I'd like to catch up on, and then as I do more sight-seeing here I will do some posts about that. I'll also post more about the China job hunting and visa process, in case anyone reading is considering working there.

I already miss the U.K. and Anna and her family. It was really fun staying there and getting to know Bristol, and I can't wait to get back there again soon. Also really looking forward to seeing Anna again in China!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Getting ready for China

Beautiful Guangxi, China (amazing photo from Trey Ratcliff at

Well, it's official now - I've accepted a new job at an international college in Nanning, China. It's located in the Guangxi region, which is in the southwest near the border with Vietnam. From the photos I've seen of Guangxi so far, it looks beautiful and tropical with some of the most incredible landscapes in all of China, especially in the Guilin area.

Terraced rice fields near Guilin in Guangxi (photo credit)

I'll be teaching English to first and second year university students, as well as potentially doing some subject classes. One subject I may do is teacher training for those students who plan to teach English in the future. Teacher training is definitely something I'm interested in doing someday, so it's really exciting to have the opportunity to do that with this job.

Monday, March 20, 2017

U.K. Visit: Oxford

University of Oxford

Oscar Wilde, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Tolkien, Jeanette Winterson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Prince Naruhito from Japan, C S Lewis, T E Lawrence, Stephen Hawking, Gandhi, T S Eliot, and a long list of many more influential people, all share something in common: they studied at the University of Oxford.

I'm an avid reader so following the footsteps of some of my literary heroes during my U.K. travels has been really exciting. Just walking the streets around Oxford, surrounded by old stone buildings and narrow alleys, you have the feeling that you could turn a corner and run into one of the greatest writers, leaders, scientists, human beings of recent history.

I only spent a day in Oxford so this will be a brief description, but the beauty of the architecture in and around the university really impressed me. We started off just walking through the university grounds, which were a mix of gardens and tiny paths that cut past warm stone halls and libraries. 

Beautiful gardens on the Oxford campus

Friday, March 17, 2017

U.K. Visit: Countryside walk from Bradford to Bath

The city of Bath in southwest England

Since arriving in the U.K. in October, I've been staying in Bristol in the southwestern part of England near Wales. Very close to Bristol is Bath, one of the most picturesque cities I've ever visited. 

Although a lot of the current city of Bath was only built fairly recently, the presence of humans in the area goes back an incredibly long time, all the way to the Mesolithic period (10,000-5,000 BCE.) Romans were attracted by the hot springs in the area and built baths there in AD 60, giving the place the Latin name Aquae Sulis which means the Waters of Sulis.

The Arthurian legend nerd in me got excited when I learned that Bath might have been the location where King Arthur supposedly defeated the Anglo-Saxxons around AD 500. At any rate, a monastery was built there possibly in the 7th century and the place continued to be known for its natural hot water. This quote from Nennius, a 9th century historian, is kind of funny: "It is surrounded by a wall, made of brick and stone, and men may go there to bathe at any time, and every man can have the kind of bath he likes. If he wants, it will be a cold bath; and if he wants a hot bath, it will be hot." (Wikipedia)

Map of Bath from 1610 (photo credit)

Monday, March 13, 2017

A very British mystery

I've been pretty intimately acquainted with British English for a while now, thanks to Anna and my many friends from the U.K. over the years and all the British TV I've watched. I've read a lot of books by authors from the U.K. as well, not to mention I've been staying here since October.

Despite all that, I still occasionally come across words or phrases that I don't understand. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Mingin' (adjective.) "I think we should get rid of that sofa, it's a bit mingin."  (American English tranlsation: "it's a bit gross".)
  • Bob's Your Uncle (exclamation?). You've just managed to fix a broken bicycle and you exclaim, "Bob's your uncle!" (or something like that.) (American English translation: "there you go".) The origin of the phrase is pretty funny, read about it here.
  • Naff (adjective.) "That gold clock is so naff." (American English translation: "so tacky.")