10 June 2015

This Year's Surprises

We went into our move last year with very little in the way of expectations. Possibly as a result of that, many of the highlights of our time in China came as a complete surprise to me.

I didn't exactly expect to finish off my first year as a teacher with an overly dramatic reading of a classic piece of comedic American poetry in front of more than a hundred of our students.

{Backstory: We were asked to judge our school's English Performance Competition. Angel happened to mention to another teacher that when I was in high school, I participated in, and won, Performance Competitions. They thought that was exciting and said that I "should" perform during our school's competition. We didn't know up until they called me on stage whether "should" meant that I would perform or if it was merely a random idea with no real-life application. I printed off a copy of the poem I used when competing during my senior year just in case--I'm glad I was semi-prepared, since they did ask me on stage. And yes, I realized that my choice to perform semi-obscure poetry written in the 1800s is not going to make me seem cool anytime soon.}

I never thought I'd watch my husband perform a dance in front of 3,000 people while wearing a fedora and sunglasses.

I never expected to get asked by the school photography club to "model" for a photography project of theirs. It was at the end of a long school day, I was makeup-less and hadn't straightened my bangs that day, but I could hang out in the library and pretend to read books with the best of them.

I never thought we'd be featured on local television in a news segment about the lifestyle of foreign teachers in China.

I was surprised to see the U.S. Capitol Building for the first time on this side of the globe...and right underneath Mt. Rushmore, too!

Jungle Cruise
I sure didn't expect to actually spend my 4th wedding anniversary at Hong Kong Disneyland (I honestly thought that there was no way I'd ever convince Angel to go to anything Disney with me!).

I was surprised to discover that my own Gilligan's Island isn't anywhere within range of a 3-hour tour from Hawaii.


I never thought we'd live in a hotel for three weeks. During this time, handwashing clothes in the bathroom sink and hanging them to dry on the balcony wasn't the highlight, but not having to clean the bathroom since it was magically cleaned every day--that was!


A few more surprises and life lessons/experiences, without pictures:

Getting an EKG, blood draw, and ultrasound immediately upon arrival in-country was a surprise I hoped wouldn't happen (visa-related health screening)...but I lived to tell the story.

Learning that Angel looks like President Obama, according to lots of teenagers.

Finding out that ballroom dance is actually quite a popular activity in this part of the world--I would have never known had I not randomly stumbled upon groups practicing the salsa or waltz outdoors on a regular basis.

Discovering that it's actually possible to feel comfortable riding buses and subways all the time. This small-town girl thought I would always feel terrified of getting off at the wrong stop. Not anymore.

Realizing that while cockroaches are a menace in our home (similar to Malaysia), ants aren't. Ants are everywhere in Malaysia, so I had assumed that since we're not that far away, they'd be the bane of my existence over here, too.

Learning the immense importance of not getting caught outside during monsoon season without an umbrella. Even if it doesn't look like rain when you leave the house...bring the umbrella, just in case. A rainy day takes on a whole new meaning when you walk everywhere instead of just hop in your car.

Left-handedness is nearly unheard of, which surprised me. My students were shocked and full of questions the first time I picked up a marker to write on the whiteboard.


  1. This is such a fun post! You have such an exciting life, and I always enjoy following your adventures. Your travels this year sound especially fun.

  2. What an amazing year you have had. Your washing comment made me chuckle as I have been living in a hotel in India for the last 22 months and have become very proficient at washing our clothes in our bathtub. Cheers to many more memories.

  3. I love the things that come about when we aren't expecting them.

  4. What a wonderful interesting year full of "first times" and unexpected surprises.


  5. not a dull moment in your life, my dear - bravo to you! :D

  6. What an amazing adventure! I love all the "I never thought I would ......." The way your hubby was up there dancing and your modeling photos! SO awesome :)

  7. Sounds like you've had a pretty great year! That dance was pretty fantastic. Go Angel!

  8. I lived in China for 6 months and taught English there and it was the most amazing experience! One of the biggest takeaways I took from that time in my life was that the Chinese people are the kindest people I've ever met. I've never felt so welcomed! I think China has such a negative connotation because of their government, but I love the Chinese people!

    xo, Chelsie @ Life with Rosie

  9. Wow isn't it awesome the things God puts in our lives that we never expected?! Those pictures the students took of you are lovely and I can only imagine what it must be like watching your husband perform. I do know what it is like washing clothes in a sink and finding places for them to dry though haha.

  10. It sounds like you have been having an amazing adventure! Congratulations on all the wonderful happenings!

  11. I love this! And by the way...those photos the students took of you are just stunning - so beautiful!

  12. Oh, what a lovely post! It sounds amazing- and I LOVE the photos where you're modeling. You didn't just pull it off- you ROCKED it!! :)

  13. I loved watching these videos!
    Melanie @

  14. China sounds amazing! I'm so glad you had such an action-packed year! I love these pleasant surprises!

  15. Great post! Loved reading it. How funny that left-handedness is uncommon: is it 'trained out of' students? (It is frowned upon here, too, with most teachers in public schools 'encouraging' left handers to use their right hand...I always wonder what that does to brain wiring/creativity...)

  16. Your time recently has been full of surprises! I wouldn't have thought that being left-handed would be so strange, but I guess it must look quite odd if one isn't aware that it's a thing!

  17. I'm left handed too! High five! :D
    You guys are the cutest, I swear! You give me hope that the world is not as shitty and I would love to meet you someday!
    Hahah, you are on fire during that performance! Hell yeah!
    Loved the song from the dance too!
    Washing clothes on hand is probably my least favorite thing, right after dusting!

  18. So many cool and unexpected things. I just watched your video loved your reading!

  19. oh my goodness i love recaps like this and especially love that your students were so intrigued about your left-handedness! EKG and ultrasound upon entering the country?! welcome. ha!

  20. what a great year! one for the books, it sounds like!

  21. I had to laugh at the one where Angel looks like the president.