Wednesday, January 1, 2020

MY 2019!

Last year in my “My 2018” blog post (you can read that blog post here), I was expecting that 2019 would top the year I just had, and I was right! 2019 started with nerves and anxieties about my upcoming move to China. I was constantly second guessing my decision to accept the job as a teacher in China for a year, but I am so thankful to myself that I ignored these thoughts and took a leap. To say this year has been the best year of my life is an understatement. I have had the opportunity of a lifetime; to travel, teach, eat new food and meet people from all over the world. The only thing that would have made it better would have been taking my family and friends along with me. But I will be going home in 4 weeks with many stories and a lot more photos of all the adventures I have had this year! 

I thought it would only be right to write a year in review. I often forget how much courage I have and have had through taking on this adventure, so I thought I would take a nice trip down memory lane and share all (or most at least!) of what I have done this year! Most of this blog post will be photos, so enjoy!

Soon after arriving in China, I started my new job as an English teacher. I have written many blog posts about the challenges I faced, but also of the enjoyment I had whilst teaching my many students. Sad it’s over, but I am so glad I did it! 

Me with one of my Grade 3 classes on Children's Day in May

Throughout the year I have been trying hard to try new foods. The difference in foods between here and home in the U.K. is astonishing, and I love it! 

Spicy fish and vegetable hotpot

The first of many trips I have had this year was an unexpected visit to Hong Kong. I loved it! From seeing the views of the city at night on Victoria Peak to taking a cable car to one of Hong Kong’s almost tropical islands, I had so much fun in this city! 

Hong Kong during the day

 Hong Kong at night

One thing that Chengdu is most famous for, is being the home of the pandas! So, I made it my top priority to see them when I had free time. I will try to visit them again before I leave China. 

One of the pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding 

This year, I had the honour of being invited to Buckingham Palace to collect my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award given to me by the Royal Family. This was such a great reward for the hard work I had put into my Duke of Edinburgh journey over the period of 8 years! So at the beginning of May, I took a flight from Chengdu to London to collect this award and also spend some time with loved ones before making my way back to China two weeks later.

My Gold Duke of Edinburgh Certificate 

Me in the gardens of Buckingham Palace

Soon after returning to London, I finished teaching my first semester and began a long and wonderful summer filled with travelling and hot weather. The first trip I took was to the famous Giant Buddha in Leshan, a few hours away from Chengdu. 

Leshan Giant Buddha 

After some small trips around Chengdu and Sichuan, I mustered the courage to take a solo trip to Bali for a week at the end of July; this was one of the best decisions I made this year. Not only did I have such an amazing time seeing everything I wanted to, I also proved to myself that my anxiety is having less and less of an effect on me. I did not have any panic attacks or anxiety at all while I was alone on a tropical island! 

Me in one of the swings at the Rice Terraces

While I was in Bali, I did some pretty amazing things like climb an active volcano to watch the sunrise and visit the monkey sanctuary which I LOVED (even if one of the monkeys stole from me)!

Me after having climbed up Mount Batur, Bali's largest active volcano

Making some monkey friends at the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud, Bali

Three days after returning to Chengdu from Bali at the beginning of August, I took a 3-week trip around Thailand with a friend and one of my sisters who met us in Bangkok from London. We visited Bangkok, Chiangmai, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Surat Thani (unexpectedly!) and Bangkok again. I think all three of us can agree we had an unbelievable time and would certainly go back again! 

Me in Bangkok

Me in Chiangmai

Me in Koh Tao

Me in Koh Phangan 

And of course, in the middle of our trip in Chiangmai, we visited the elephants. Honestly one of the best days of my life!!! 

Me with the oldest elephant of the group in Chiangmai

After Thailand, I joined my sister in returning to London, to spend some more time with my family and friends. I was really lucky this year that I got to go home twice to visit. It was so lovely to spend some quality time with all my loved ones in the middle of my busy year. 

Took a boat trip on the Thames when I visited London in August 

I came back to Chengdu from London at the end of August and almost immediately started teaching my second semester. This semester was quite difficult as it was just three months of teaching without much of a break. But I managed to take a couple of trips, one to Beijing by myself to see the Great Wall of China (and other attractions too) and to Xi’an with a couple of friends to see the Terracotta Army. I had an amazing time in both places! 

Me one the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China 

Me outside a traditional building in Xi'an

I ended my year celebrating Christmas with my students at my school and finishing teaching there too. It was a bit emotional to say goodbye to all those I taught this year, but they gave me lots of gifts and notes; I hope I can see them all again soon!  

One of my last classes with my Grade 4 students 

Some of the many notes my students wrote to me to say goodbye 

And of course, not forgetting how well this blog has done! I started the year on 10,000 views and am ending it so close to 30,000. It has been so wonderful to write all that I have done throughout this year and have so many people send me messages or comments congratulating me for making the big decision to come to China!

This year has just been magnificent. I have done amazingly well despite my previous mental health problems. I have proved to myself every day while being here that I am a much stronger person than I was a year ago. Never in a million years did I think my 2019 would be as marvellous as it was. I don’t really know how 2020 will top this year, but maybe it doesn’t need to. I am looking forward to some much needed and awaited catch ups with friends and story time with the family! 

But I still have 4 weeks left in China after the start of the new year, I have some exciting trips to look forward to before I say goodbye to Asia and head home. 

Happy New Year everyone!

B x 

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