First, here's a recap of what made me too busy to blog over the past couple of months.
In mid-December, we hosted two big Christmas parties at our house. Matt spent his Christmas break in California with his family, so I suddenly realized that if we wanted to have people over for Christmas, we had to do it before he left. So, with about a week's notice, I started planning. On Saturday night, we invited one of my classes over. Then on the next day, we hosted my training course members for a special Christmas "Free Talk."
For each party, I wanted to have a lot of homemade American-style food that Chinese people usually haven't had before. (My second post this month will be about an unexpected hobby I've started this year - a return to baking/cooking, which I pretty much haven't done much since we moved to China.) So, for several days before the party weekend, I was prepping food.
The parties went well. People enjoyed trying new food, including salty popcorn (Chinese popcorn is always sweet), homemade bread, potato and sausage soup, hummus and pita, cookie bars, brownies, and more. My favorite quote about the food was one student asking another student about the soup, "Is it sweet?" "No." "Is it salty?" "No...it's just, delicious!" We held a White Elephant gift exchange at each party, and everyone had a great time giving and stealing gifts. The best moment of the gift exchange was when Matt and I had accidentally put one of our wedding photos in the box we contributed to the White Elephant exchange. (Apparently, I had put it there when we moved and forgot about it.) When the student opened the gift, he was like, "Wow! Does the picture come with the gift, too?" After everyone finished laughing, Matt and I told him that unfortunately, he couldn't keep our wedding photo. Oops.
It was pretty awful to lose so many days of productivity so late in the semester, but there wasn't much that could be done about it. I went to the doctor's to get a flu test and see if there was any medication that could be given to help me kick it faster, but the flu test came back negative, so the doctor said it was some other type of virus, and I would just have to rest and wait to recover. The second week I was sick, I managed to go to class, and my fever had gone down, but I was still super out of it and not able to get a lot of work done. So, my Christmas and New Year's were both spent in bed - Christmas with a fever and New Year's just still trying to catch up on rest and recover my voice.
On Monday this week, the last exams were finally graded, and my Chinese New Year winter holiday break officially started. I now have almost 6 weeks off, but much of that time will be, of course, dedicated to prepping for next semester. Now that I have more of a feel for these new courses, there are a lot of things I want to change to make the next semester more manageable for me and for the new batch of students I'll have. The more work I do now, the less stress next semester, so it will be a working holiday, but that's pretty much the case for all teachers, I think.
That's about all for my general life updates. More to come in a later post on specifics (such as how I'm keeping up with my other resolutions...some yay! some...at least I still have half a school year left...)