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Moon festival weekend

Yesterday was the Moon Festival which meant John had the day off and a nice long weekend. So, we spent Sunday and Monday exploring some of the tourist sites around Wuxi.

Before that, on Saturday, some of John’s colleagues came to our apartment for dinner. The group who came round were all from the UK, so we decided to cook shepherd’s pie in order to have a taste of home. It can be a bit tricky to find the ingredients and tools you need for non-Chinese style cooking, but we improvised a bit and it all turned out pretty tasty (if I say so myself).

John’s colleagues are a nice group of people. Their ages range from mid-twenties to approaching retirement so it is a good mix. It was good fun comparing notes on our first few weeks in China.

On Saturday we went to the Nanchan temple which is a Buddhist temple close to the city centre. The temple itself is smallish but really interesting with ornate carvings and monks in yellow robes. The area surrounding the temple has shops, market stalls and a huge bookshops with stationery/ tat stalls in the basement. It was pretty busy due to the holiday weekend, but was a great place to mooch around.

A busy week

Apologies for the lapse in updates, but it has been quite a busy week this week. John has been teaching all week and is starting to get to grips with his classes. His students sound great, really bright and motivated. As they are being taught in English, they all have to choose an English name. John has some interesting names in his class including, Harry and Potter (who sit together) and a female Colin. I think Megatron might raise some eyebrows if he gets into university in America.

John had his first observation this week. I am sure none of you who know him will be surprised to learn his was a model lesson. It has given him quite a boost to know he is definitely on the right track.

Today was ‘Teachers’ Day’, so John received a chorus of ‘Happy Teachers’ Day, Teacher’ from many of his classes. They also gave him some lovely cards.

But, it is not just John who has had a busy week. I have been working away on my final assignment for my Open University course ahead of the exam in October. I doubt anyone wants to read about that, though.

On Monday we went to the foreign travel clinical to have a medical for our resident’s permit. It was a strange process, but quite efficient. There was a group of nine of us affiliated to John’s school all having the medical at the same time. Once we had registered, we were each given a form and shown to a changing room where we put our bags in a locker and swapped our shoes for slippers. We then had to visit each of the cubicles in turn. One for blood tests, another for ultrasound, ECG, urine test, eye and ear checks, height, weight and kidney pummel. Then finally we were taken downstairs for an x-ray.  The doctors/ nurses were all very nice, so it wasn’t too traumatic.

The next step in the resident’s permit process is to register with the police. Before we can do this, we need to get something done to our marriage certificate. We thought we had already sorted this out, but apparently we have to take it to the Chinese embassy in the UK. I might have to sort it out when I am back in October.

This week, I had my first three Chinese lessons with Grace. They are hard work, but I am really enjoying them. Grace is a good teacher. She is a qualified teacher of Chinese as a second language, so she really knows her stuff. She has also been great in helping me understand how things work around the city. Thanks to her, we now have travel cards for the bus. The bus journey to my lessons (about 5 miles away) costs 12p each way rather than £3 in a taxi.

So, it has been a busy week, but a good one. We are settling in well and starting to find our way around the city. This weekend is a long weekend as it is the Moon Festival on Monday. We have got all sorts of things planned, so hope we will have time to munch some Moon Cakes.

Zai Jian!