Thursday, January 8, 2009

Life after China!

Yes yes, Team Wuxi is go! remains Team Wuxi is closed.....but, we have decided to start another project.

We spent too long in the country and both maintain such a vested interest(possibly even growing), that shelving our experience and filing it away as history is simply not an option. So without further ado.....We would like to present you with our new blog project:

Life after China details our continuing thoughts on how we feel about this ever-changing, very interesting country. Prior to our leaving, and possibly even moreso since our return, we were always keeping an eye on China. Through news articles, documentaries, travel literature, you name it, both of us could probably say it's the subject that most captures our attention.

Almost daily we come across articles or similar that has us cracking up over something Chinese. Something we have most likely seen ourselves or can relate to.

Our new blog will be a combination of our thoughts on random topics mostly relating to China and/or the Chinese. Occasionally we'll throw a 'we're doing this!' thing in there, but we're really not up to anything so interesting at the moment that journaling our own day to days is worth it.

So if you happen to see this post - feel free to stop over at Life after China and take a look!

Marcus & Court!

-note - we've relocated to as it appears to be a much more fully featured blog platform that blogger is/was.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Team Wuxi is....closed! :( (Marcus)

When we were clinging together in a bed so cold it was almost wet, wearing full tracksuits, jackets, socks and anything else that would fit, our breath clearly visible in the air, so completely upset we said to each other that in a blink of an eye we would be home and this would all be behind us. At that stage even two weeks there seemed like too much. Now? We have been back in Australia over a month and already our Chinese adventure feels like it happened a lifetime ago.

It’s hard to sum up everything that happened in just a few short paragraphs so I won’t – there is over 230 entries that talk about that! But I will say this – since returning from China we have felt different about our lives.

The whole point of going to China was to promote change. Change from working day in day out in jobs we didn’t care for. Change from our every day routines. Change to not only challenge but prove to ourselves that we could do it. And we did. While we came home earlier than anticipated it reached a point where we felt that we had achieved everything we set out to. We came home confident that it was time to return and get on with our real lives.

Our time in China felt like a timeout from ordinary life. It was like living in a cartoon, where no two days were the same and predicting what would happen at any given time was an impossibility. We wanted to immerse ourselves in another culture – one so completely different to our own that I don’t think either of us can still really comprehend just how out-there the place really is. In fact, I think even a life-time in China still wouldn’t help you as a foreigner to really understand what goes on inside the head of the average Chinese person.

We wanted to live overseas but somewhere different. We could have gone and worked in London (well actually I couldn’t as I am too old for a Visa now, but still...) we picked China as China looked so weird and wonderful. While it was definitely weird, and had large elements of wonderful, it was a very different place in reality than the China we saw on television. What we both expected to walk into – beautiful garden here, lovely pagoda there, oh and massages on every corner – was in fact mostly a fantasy(Well not with the massages, but most were ‘happy ending’ massage parlors…wink wink). The harsh reality of China was a country absolutely teeming with people, living in almost unbelievably bad air pollution where as a foreigner it was near on impossible to walk around with any degree of anonymity which in the end became a major factor for our decision to return home.

Since returning to Australia we have remarked here and there at how nice it was to have the convenience of English life again, but in reality, the things we were missing were really never that life changing. I will say that returning to a shower that works, a hot water tap in the kitchen, real bread and chicken paramagana’s however is absolute bliss.

One of the first things that really stood out when we walked off the plane in Melbourne was how absolutely crisp and in focus everything looked. Even on a clear day in China, it is still smoggy. There is absolutely no comparison between the air quality here and there.

We have yet to find work, but the whole spirit of change is kicking along nicely. We have the luxury now of targeting industries that we actually want to work in. While I have yet to make considerable progress, I know what I want to do. Courtney on the other hand, by way of a friend has almost landed into the exact type of position she was looking for. That alone made everything worth it.

This will be the last post we make to this blog and we close it with heavy heart. It started out as being just a fun type of project for us to keep in touch with friends and family back home, but it really did evolve into something more. Unexpectedly, it became a fantastic way to vent, to put down how we were feeling and really help us get past it. The early days were considerably difficult, and even though we had each other, I don’t think either of us has ever really felt truly as alone as we did back then. Being able to put it all in writing and share the experience with our loved ones really helped. And of course, now we have a great record of our entire adventure, one that we will never forget.

We had lots of fun writing it and hope you enjoyed reading it. We wanted to thank everyone for their support while we were away, and an extra special thank you to those who sent us ‘care packages.’ It was wonderful being able to brush our teeth with toothpaste that didn’t potentially contain chemical solvent, and I am sure Courtney appreciated the…female products, as well; a bag of cotton balls just wouldn’t suffice ;)

Below, like Courtney, I have selected a random bunch of photos that held different meaning for me. There were so many different themes that ran through the 8 months we were there, and these photos capture some of them.

But in all seriousness, we came home with wonderful memories, some brand new friends, box loads of memorabilia and a hunger to try something new. I hold a very special place inside for China. I still can’t believe we did what we did – particularly the scale of teaching we undertook. I miss having regular access to Shanghai, and sorely wish to return to Beijing for an extended holiday. We picked up enough of the language that we could(and did) comfortably travel anywhere in the country, and I am sure one day we will return.

The very first photo we took in China - a very tired yet positive Courtney on the dreary highway between Shanghai and Wuxi.

Our dear friends Matt & Abby!

Mr Pan and family, we miss him so much!

You're not likely to go fishing for goldfish anywhere other than China.

Magnificent Shanghai.

A view of my favourite building in Shanghai.

No Yak on a stick for you lil fella.

Beautiful Dali.

This was just ridiculously cute, I was utterly cuted out photographing them.

China is full of really cute children - something happens to them though as they age :)

Oh how i miss Grape-on-a-stick covered in toffee.

I didn't expect to be overly impressed by the Great Wall - but I truly was.

Getting tanked with a local Beijinger by the walls of a huge Chinese Belltower - a most excellent evening.

My faithful welcome wagon from Gifted class 2; Paddy, Parker and Taylor.

We saw this T-shirt everywhere, a definite classic when worn with the female counter-part.

Skate shoes - If you visit Shanghai and somehow aren't harassed to buy these, you really haven't experienced Shanghai.

Margarita's played a large role throughout our stay. In the Chinese summer? Bless you!

Mr Pan at the Chinese wedding - one of the outright best parts of our trip.

Zhen zhou nai cha - or milk tea for the uninformed - oh how I miss thee. What a pity it was too hot for the past five months to really spend time with you.

The smell behind this mask was apparently legendary.

I can't believe we of all people stood before such an audience every single week.

We 'performed' for over 1700 different kids *every* single week during the height of our teaching. Each class had an average of 52-55 students.

And the things we ended up getting ourselves into..

Nothing was more embarrasing than completely sucking at making dumplings in front of a 'dumpling master.'

Dog in a bag, China, nuff said. (Oh and before you think it, NO this was not dinner, the country isn't that primative thx.)

Oh CCTV9 - How i will NOT miss thee. Good riddance!!

Last night in China! *sniff!*

And last but not least, a grand view of Wuxi City on what was actually quite a clear day.

And without further ado, Team Wuxi is…closed!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

My last post (Courtney)

So it's probably time we wrapped up the blog. I'll leave the honours of final post to Marcus, but I wanted to sum up our time in China. I figure there's no better way to do this than with photos. There is so much life in China that you could never capture it all or give another person a true representation of what it is like to live there. It is a complicated and amazing place, really like no where else I have ever been.

So here are some of my fave pics of our time in China...