And so it unfolds…
The irony of moving to Shanghai is that – at this point – my life feels more peaceful and settled than it has for a while. Around me is this huge, frenetic city – and I’m living in a (relatively) quiet local district (no English, just the street names), specifically a leafy school in the Hongkou district about 20 minutes out of the downtown area and with a couple of ‘aunties’ always at the door to greet me when I get home. There is so much to be said for living close to where you work (or in this case, living where you work!).
I love having some clarity and routine to my life and my work (teaching English as a second language). I’m aiming for a rhythm where the weeks are fairly calm, clear and focused; the weekends are for exploring this enchanting city. The weeks are very much Chinese immersion (I’m the only foreign teacher in the school), the weekends will be a bit more diverse and multicultural, I think. I feel I’ve settled in fairly quickly, taken some steps towards making friends by joining a netball team and signing up for a 12-week language lesson course (and in one of the admirable facets of Chinese culture, somehow ended up getting talked into sitting the first level formal exam that foreigners take if they want to live here).
And in week two, met a random person – a writer – in a quick café pit-stop (literally dashed in there just there to recharge my phone before meeting up with six of my students at Wujiauchang!). In fact, it was that very meeting which tipped me over the edge to just get on and put some of my writing out there via this blog. I do hope we catch up again but if not – wow, that few minutes of interaction has already made a huge difference to me (so thank you, Daniel).
I love the growing sense of community around me; I’m continually on the receiving end of small generous acts, whether it’s the ladies in the dorm room helping me with my washing, the old man in the supermarket who deterred me from buying a watermelon (and slapped about 10 others before shaking his head and sending me on my way) or my colleagues helping me with the bank account, the phone set up, and where to get the best dumplings in the neighbourhood.
And yeah, just to give you the balanced version of events – I’ve also had the urge to run and go home, moments of panic and complete lack of self belief. More about that later – all I can say is I feel very alive right now (and yay to that).
 And ‘tipping is indeed the word – I have some fabulous people around me who have been equally encouraging over the last few months, reviewing material and providing support and encouragement. So thank you to those people.