Soooo we’ve had about five days in a row of horrible smog, and now we hate Beijing. Neither of us was able to truly conceptualize the disgusting haze that encompasses Beijing on bad smog days, but mother-of-god it is terrible. On the worst days, the smog is like a heavy fog that prevents us from clearly seeing buildings within 200-300 feet. We’ve taken to wearing the cheesy face masks (pictures will come, I promise) that you see in lots of pictures of Beijing, because without them it is physically draining to walk between adjacent buildings. It’s been nearly a week now, and I can’t imagine how people live in this atmosphere for more than two weeks at a time. The pollution is, undoubtedly, the worst part of Beijing.
Also, our hectic schedule, which I’ve recited for you before, has caught up to us. We’re both incredibly burnt out and the amount of teaching and learning we are capable of doing is steadily decreasing every day as information is forcibly crammed into our skulls. In Beijing, we have had to plan about 15 hours of lessons coordinated with 5 other teachers in two weeks. In Shenzhen, we’re going to plan between 1 and 2 hours of lessons coordinated with 0 other teachres in two weeks. It will be significantly more simple, and even though our class sizes will increase from 20 to 60, I know we’re both excited to start to settle into a less hectic routine. We want to settle into a home, feel out a neighborhood, and get to know some actual Chinese people. Yeah, we want to buy a bunch of cheap stuff that will be really useful, but mostly we want to regain the sense of normalcy that was lost when we left New Orleans way back at the end of June.
Last, but not least, I’m starting to become vaguely comfortable with the Chinese language. I can now order from most restaurants (I can’t read every item, but I can ask what is the best food, if that food is good, etc.). It’s actually a huge step for me, because Chinese menus are a horrible maze (as I believe I’ve recounted before) full of colloquial terms. I’ve been (insofar) very pleased with my level of self-taught Chinese, as I feel like my 6 months of individual study has wildly over-prepared me for Chinese one. Chinese is a great language for learning, and if anyone feels up to the challenge, I am more than willing to help them begin the painful process of character memorization/pronunciation.
Anyway, we leave for Shenzhen on the 19th. I can’t wait. Hopefully in Shenzhen we’ll be able to post some pictures and really start to share the true glory of our majestic journey. Until then, Peace, Love, and Harmony from Beijing!