Happy 2016!!! Okay, so I’m a little behind.. But technically it’s not the New Year in China yet, so I think I’m good. (Chinese New Year is on February 8 this year – they celebrate it based on the Lunar calendar so it changes every year).

December was a busy month (as I’ve mentioned before!)

We went to Changsha one Saturday, December 12, for a shopping day – we left early around 7:30am for a 9am bullet train. It took about 45 minutes to get to Changsha, then we took the metro to Wuyi Square, a shopping area I researched and asked my students about. There were a lot of malls in the area that I wanted to check out to find more Western stores.

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There was a really neat place called the 7up with food from Western places and South Korea. We had tacos for the first time in 3 months and it was glorious. We met a high school student there named Pinky who helped us translate things and decide where to eat.

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There was also a Walmart there, which was really exciting! I had to adjust my expectations though and remind myself that it was still a Chinese Walmart, so the products would be similar to the other stores in China. Still, they had hot chocolate packages and that was a win.

This month I had 4 more of my classes over at different times – it is SO fun to see my students outside of the classroom and eat food, play games, and laugh a lot. I ate hot pot more (I need a little break from hot pot now) and one of my classes made dumplings and other traditional Chinese food. We played a lot of “Punishment” or as some of them called it, “Truth or Adventure”. I’m working on making more videos from those parties.

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year, and I loved teaching my students about it! Christmas isn’t a big holiday in China. The students know about it, but they don’t get the day off, they don’t know why Christmas is celebrated, and they don’t know anything about Santa or reindeer or elves. So I taught them the story of the First Christmas, I had them read Twas the Night Before Christmas, and I taught them Christmas carols. The next week I showed them Elf, and they loved it, of course, because of the slapstick humor. I also bought a bunch of Santa hats and reindeer ears and took Christmas pictures with all my classes!

For Christmas, Alden came to visit our fair city of Hengyang and we had a Christmas Eve party in my apartment for some non-student friends. We played UNO and taught them Spoons!

After that we went to a Foreign Language school Christmas Eve performance. It was mostly freshman, so I was really happy to see my students and talk to them! It is a tradition to give apples to people on Christmas in China, so I had a bagful to carry back after the performances.

My favorite thing to probably ever happen in Hengyang came next. We went to Jiefang road where people were going nuts on each other with spray cans of foam. There were policemen and empty cans and trash and people everywhere and I couldn’t be more excited to get down and dirty with them all.

On Christmas we made breakfast and spent the day opening presents, playing monopoly (four 4 hours hahaaha) and lounging around. It was definitely strange not being home in the United States, but it was fun getting to share our traditions and Christmas stories with each other.

Overall, it was a fantastic holiday and a wonderful month. I decked my apartment out it lights and tinsel and a little Christmas tree and I’m really sad I have to take it all down soon.

Stay tuned for the New Year’s edition coming soon… (like today also…haha)