Summer Holidays Lead up

June 16, 2017 at 11:14 am (China) (, )

My long weekend wasn’t over by the time I got back to Suzhou.  A couple of hours after arriving back, I set out to have a look at MORE flats.  Unfortunately, my landlord didn’t want to renew for another year so I was back on the search.  I’m pretty picky with what I like, and I don’t compromise well.  That means I have seen way more flats in the past couple of weeks than I would care to admit!

Finally, after some negotiation, I signed on a new flat with a view of the lake and pants building.  That and the fingerprint access (can’t lock myself out) sold it for me, plus the fact that I was heartily sick of looking and the flat is situated in the compound I had originally aimed for.  I’m now halfway between school and the action, about an 8km bike ride.

Of course in true Chinese style, the flat wasn’t cleaned properly before moving in, there is useless furniture and the last tenant/owner has left a whole lot of stuff in the place… but I worked hard to get everything at least livable before mum’s arrival.  I still need to get some furniture and bits and pieces but that will have to wait until after the holidays now.

IMG_4504I celebrated my find with a trip to the movies with Ollie.  We literally decided we would go after dinner, looked up the closest cinema on our phones and bought tickets to the next available film!  Pirates of the Caribbean.  Totally unexpected but so much fun, and the film was way better than expected.  Bonus!

The next day I was taken sailing on Jinje Lake by Allan.  He is a member of the local sailing club and can always take a guest for free.  We watched the dragon boat races from the IMG_4510water and just enjoyed being out in the clean (for once) air with the sun shining.  I had forgotten how relaxing sailing can be.  It was good to be out and about without a stress in the world.  (Reports written, packing of flat not yet begun)

Seeing my life packed up in boxes again was hard.  I really wasn’t ready for another move and as a result it upset me more than I expected.  A good friend did help to put it into perspective.  She said that I should think about it as always being ready and able to take on new adventures.

IMG_4531Life at school has been busy!  Schools always are.  The end of the year means graduation, music concerts, packing up classrooms, winding up activities to name a few.  The Parents School Partnership did a wonderful job of recognising the job we have done this year by hosting a lovely morning tea.  We were all given feather boas and crazy glasses and then we sauntered down the red carpet to adoring Elementary students.  Perhaps a little bit over the top, but also heaps of fun.

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I hope this picture gives you some indication of the size of the event!

Grade 5 Graduation was definitely more suave than any of my prior experiences.  We had a HUGE ball like function at the Renaissance Hotel.  All the students got dressed up and we had a sit down meal before the kids entertained us with music and dancing.  A highlight for me was watching one particular student get up on stage and dance with the other boys from his own free will.   He has come such a long way this year and I am extremely proud of him.

It was an extremely big weekend for me.  After the Grade 5 Graduation Party, the teachers were bussed to the Leaver’s Party.  This was a fun event even though it is always sad to see people leave.  That’s the way international teaching goes though.  It will definitely be a different workplace for me next year with some really important faces in my Chinese life leaving.  After the party I was out dancing with some of my hashing friends.  It really was an awesome night!

The next day was moving day, and I was not feeling as great as I would have liked.  Luckily, Mark had helped me organise a man and a van AND Ollie and Thorsten were absolute angels helping me.  We managed to get everything to the new flat in one trip and it took heaps less time than originally anticipated.  I do have WAY TOO much stuff though.  Hoarder by nature, even if I can pack my whole life in boxes.

IMG_4565So after a rather big night out, moving and sleeping my first night in a new scary apartment… doing your first triathlon makes total sense, right?  SSIS runs a yearly triathlon and ninja course to raise money for Heart to Heart Shanghai.  Of course I was totally going to give it ago and I figured, that if I was going to try doing a triathlon I should do the whole thing.  It was all in or nothing!

800m swim in the school pool

15km bike ride around the school car park

5.2km run around the school athletics track

It went much better than I anticipated but I don’t have an official time unfortunately.  I forgot to ask my counter to time me as well.  We think it took me approximately 1hr and 30 minutes… but the time didn’t really matter because it was all about the experience.  I really felt it during the first two laps of the track.  It was hot and my legs were wobbly but this stubborn old mule wasn’t giving up and I even managed to catch somebody on the run leg!

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Still smiling and alive! Thank you to my lap counter Jen!

I came in sixth from twelve competitors and was the first female (there were only two of us) across the line!  I wore my gold medal very proudly all day Sunday and at school the next day.  I’m definitely going to sign up again next year and see if I can beat more men AND defend my title.

I think I was the only teacher who did the whole thing!  It was great seeing so many students and teachers involved in the day as you could compete individually or as segment teams.

Then it wasn’t long before mum arrived!  In true Kate style, I decided to go hashing so mum was actually greeted by my friend Tim and spent the first night at his place.  The hash ended up being quite busy because Allan manged to fall down some stairs and we ended up in hospital.  That was quite the experience I can assure you!

IMG_4632Finally reunited with my mother, we went on an adventure to Tiger Hill with Banyu.  Tiger Hill is nicknamed the leaning tower of China because it leans at a 3 degree angle.  It is situated in a beautiful cultivated park which we enjoyed walking around.  Banyu led the way avoiding steps as much as possible after the crazy amount we had down on the hash together the day before.  He enjoyed hearing about the tale of 3,000 swords being buried below sword lake and also the stone cutting rock which he actually pointed out to us after hearing the story.

Afterwards we wandered around wedding dress street before taking a taxi to Ping Jian Lieu.  We ended up doing a lot of walking but mum managed to see a lot.  🙂  We finished with celebratory we survived our first year at SSIS drinks with fellow first year teachers and then had a lovely Chinese meal to finish it off.

Mum has been quite adventurous in Suzhou.  Here is a list of some of her shannigan

  • went to the water town Tongli all by herself
  • visited the Suzhou Museum, got herself registered at the police station
  • organised my washing
  • walked around the lake
  • rode my bicycle in the heat
  • came to school and was a kindergarten assistant
  • visited Shanghai
  • saw the Humble Administrators Garden
  • helped me transport my new dryer via a trolley
  • traditional tea ceremony.
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We picked up the dryer from a friend on the other side of my compound. After carrying it half way, we decided a trolley was a MUCH better option!

I must admit that she’s seen more of Suzhou than I have!  All my friends are mightily impressed with her adventures and are starting to realise where I get my crazy travelling streak from!

Today is my last day at school.  I can’t believe I made it.  It’s been a rough transition and I have had my fair amount of highs and lows.  I’ve learnt heaps and I know I am improving my practice.  There are so many amazing memories and I’ve had ridiculous experiences that I am very thankful for.  As always at an international school, it is time to say goodbye to new friends.  It’s a time for reflection, new beginnings and most importantly… summer holidays!

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Sending the students off Chinese style!

xoxo

P.s  More photos?

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