Week 5 & 6 – Xi’an – Kunming, China
The start of week five in East Asia was spent in Xi’an. Xi’an is located in the northern central part of China. It is the capital city of 13 different Chinese dynasties, and has a long and storied history. Our first day in the city we had lunch at a local restaurant with one of the parents of a Georgian College student. The second day we had two presentations at The Shaanxi Institute of Trade & Commerce and visited a tourist area called Ma Wei Yi. Our presentations at this school were great because there was a mixture of students from different campus’s. Two of the students had a lot of interest in Tourism and Hospitality and it was great because Melissa could speak from experience in that industry and share some insight with them. Ma Wei Yi is an area that is famous because it is where the famous imperial concubine, Lady Yang is said to have died. Lady Yang was the concubine of Li Longji, Emperor Xuanzong Li, Tang Dynesty. There is also a myth that she actually didn’t die and fled to Japan and some people in Japan believe that they are her Grand Children. Ma Wei Yi was amazing because it has many places with local food and was a great opportunity for us to learn more about the Chinese culture. One specific booth sold beetles and scorpions to eat! We asked about the reasoning behind this and apparently, they are very good for your health, and they are used for medicinal purposes such as helping with arthritis.
After Xi’an we took a one hour flight to a city called Kunming. Since being in Kunming we have had a few presentations for students, parents & agents at multiple agencies. During our presentation at an Agency called New Oriental a student that was still thinking about coming to Canada decided to come to Georgian! We also attended a promotional fair/event and had a lot of engagement with students at Hengshui high school, Chuxiong Experimental Middle School. One interesting food item we learned about in Kunming was the edible flowers. Kunming is very well known for the jasmine and chrysanthemum (in Chinese it’s called Ju Hua) flower. They are made into pastry’s and have great health benefits for your skin.
This week we decided to include a section for our readers about the learnings of studying and working abroad. We wanted to incorporate this to help people better understand how life is when your abroad in hopes it will help prepare your mindset before departure.
Here are some key tips we’ve learned so far:
– When you are in another country be prepared for things that would normally be simple to accomplish to take way longer than they would in your home country
– If where you are traveling to has an extreme time difference be aware of this. It took us about a week if not longer for our stomachs to adjust to the time change of meals, sleep, and begin to process the time change. Also, listen to your body. If you feel like you need to rest make sure to do this or you will tire yourself out.
– Learn how to ask for simple things in the language such as: Hello, How are you? Thank you, Excuse me, Can you help me. One thing we have done to help ourselves with this is used Voice Notes on our cell phones with words we commonly use and also screen shot images of words in Chinese to show when we need to translate something to someone.
– Research any apps that are popular in the place your traveling to that may help you with the language or day to day life. In China, the most popular one is “Wechat” – It is used for practically everything here.
– Keep an open mind when it comes to trying new food & beverages
(This is so important – because when you have expectations for things to taste a certain way and they don’t – it can be a huge let down).
– Let go of your comforts. This is SO important. When you are living abroad especially in a place that is a different language be prepared that you WILL feel uncomfortable. This is okay, when you are uncomfortable your growing, and when your growing you reach new levels in a personal and professional way.
– Be patient with yourself. We believe this to be one of the most important points that we have learned. It is so easy to be hard on yourself, but the important thing is to know that you are trying your best and that you are not in your comfort zone so it’s okay to make mistakes. Learn how to laugh, and move forward.
– Know you triggers. And know how to defeat them. Learn what activates your frustrations and pushes you over the edge.
Melissa – For me it is hunger. When I get hungry it pushes me into a mode of frustration. What I have learned is to always have back up snacks just in case to tide me over until I can’t find a meal. I also bring protein shakes with me everywhere just incase.
Paulo – For me it’s when there isn’t air conditioning in my hotel room (especially with how hot it is in China). So what I have learned to do is always make sure to have an extra fan with me and set it by my bed side table just in case, and whenever I check into a hotel room I make sure the air conditioning works, if it doesn’t I have learned to just open the windows and work with what I have.
– Know your strengths and times of focus
What we mean by this is to understand when you work at your best. Sometimes when your going through culture shock, and are homesick it’s easy to push tasks off to the side and “do them tomorrow” when you know when you work best (Evening, First thing in the morning, afternoon etc.) take note of this and work on what needs to get finished during those time frames.
– Learn how to not always be the one who is in control
This one was HARD for both of us to accept. We have learned that our schedule is going to change regardless of how solidified we might think it is. Instead of getting frustrated and putting energy towards this, just understand “Okay this is how it’s going to be, no problem” and accept that things will change – and that is totally okay!
Next week we are headed back to Xi’an and then to a new city called Nanjing!
We want to thank all of our readers and followers for commenting on our blog and sending us emails! We hope that our tips this week are helpful for anyone who is going to be working or studying abroad and that you enjoy our photos we shared below.
Paulo & Melissa
Trying to catch a taxi in Kunming, China
Snacks @ Ma Wei Yi – Scorpions & Beetles
Our friend Manning playing the Cucurbit flute, (Chinese – Hulusi) after a family dinner