Christmas is over, the semester is wrapping up, time for a year-end wrap up!
Chris Guillebeau, over at the Art of Non-Confomrity advocates doing a yearly review to keep track of all the things you have accomplished in the past, and all the things you hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. While he suggests dedicating a week to this reflection, I managed to dedicate a few hours over a few days, and will continue to do it over the upcoming weeks.
To begin he suggests reflecting on two things
What went well this year?
What did not go well this year?
What went well this year?
Firstly I have to say my Chinese language skills have been my biggest accomplishment this year. After almost 4 years this was the first year in which I could have meaningful friendships with people who can’t speak english. I also spent the most money on learning chinese with a month-long intensive course in Kunming, and paying for my own private tutor. But it was worth it.
Like I’ve said many, many times I am the biggest language learning idiot, I can’t remember new vocabulary, my grammar sucks, and learning anything requires me hearing it repeated and repeated until it finally sinks into my dull brain. But despite all that I stuck with it and did it! I’m very proud.
I managed to do a lot of traveling during the semester. I’ve always wanted to take a few breaks during the semester, but my ex never wanted to. So this semester I managed 3 little side trips, one to Fuzhou to see my best friend Color, and two trips to Shanghai to see my friends. Which brings me to the next thing that went well this year….
Friends! This year is the first year I have a really vibrant group of fun, creative friends. When you live in a small city, with few foreigners you tend to just put up with those living near you, whether you would be friends with them or not if you were in different circumstances. But this year I had the privilege of meeting some amazing people with whom I have a really deep connection. It started with my friends in Kunming, then branched out to more people I met in Shanghai. Unfortunately we are all spread out over China and the world, but thanks to apps like Weixin and good old fashion texting, we’ve been able to stay in contact almost daily and even meet up sometimes.
Dating Chinese guys and then ending up with a boyfriend. This has been an interesting experience to say the least, and honestly, I could fill blog entry after blog entry about the (oftentimes hilarious) things I’ve done. But I’m a bit too shy. Let’s just say it has enriched not only my past year, but my whole chinese experience.
But it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Let’s move on.
What did not go well this year?
First off, my health. I have gotten colds, flu’s, festering tonsils, double dragon (pooping and puking), single dragon (you guess) and others in amounts unprecedented in the past. I blame the fact that it is the year of the dragon, and bad luck to those who are dragons like me. I’m not sure how I can fix it as I didn’t do stupid things like drink tap water or eat uncooked food. Just bad luck.
My work. I love teaching, and I love my students, but this past semester was especially hard. Instead of my normal 8 classes, they gave me 14 classes crammed in just 9 periods. My normal and expected 240 students ballooned to almost 450, most of them new. Doing everything suddenly became about 3 times as hard, and 5 times as long. Part of what I like so much is getting to know my students, but with huge classes, and everyone becoming a black-haired blur, I couldn’t even try.
And if I gave them assignment? They might write for 40 minutes in class, but it added about 8 hours of extra work onto my week to read and grade them. So I just gave up and didn’t try as hard as I usually do. The students still seemed to enjoy class, and hopefully they learned something, but it wasn’t as fun for me. The students also complained in droves (which I encouraged) and the school said no more double classes. So I’m expecting this won’t be a problem going forward.
In the past year I have also been a little less active on my blog then I would like. I would like to post 3 times a week, but this year I only did a total of 71 posts, a little more than one a week. The reasons for my lack have to do with the things that went well; boyfriend, friends, learning chinese, and things that went bad; more students and more work. I just didn’t have the time.
Which brings me to my next year end wrap up, the top 5 blog posts of the year according to Google analytics.
5. Train Travel in China–Part Two. Not sure why part two is more popular than part one, but I assume it is people looking for help understanding the chinese train system. Glad I could help!
4. Chinese Dragon Fruit. I wrote this one almost 3 years ago and yet it continues to get a lot of hits. A lot of dragon fruit fans out in the world I guess.
3. The Swiss Family Robinson are Bunch of Jerks. I wrote this rant after reading the book, but it looks like a lot of people agree with me.
2. QQ–The Chinese Facebook. Another practical post. I guess these are popular.
1. Making it Official–My Chinese boyfriend. This one was overwhelmingly the most popular. You guys just love the gossip!
One a side note, I can also see the search terms people use to find my site. For the most part they are expected, my name, some aspect of Chinese culture and so on. But I burst out laughing when I looked one day and saw the term ‘lobster porn.’ Not just one, but 6 people found my site while googling ‘lobster porn.’ To each their own I guess. (It was because of this post on a lobster flavored potato chip.)
So that’s my year end wrap-up. See you on the sunny side of 2013, and I hope wherever you are you have a Happy New Year!
Double dragon… so that’s what that’s called.