Maria Herring

“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice…..Oh no, wait, that was me - this morning -
and yesterday. In fact, that has been my opening gambit every day for the past nine months. Surreal? Even Dali would have difficulty trying to illustrate the bizarre experiences which have peppered my existence here in China. It’s been amazing!

Fortuitously, I came here last summer with no preconceptions, which is probably advisable on account of the fact that the Chinese have a wonderful knack of surprising you at every turn, on any subject. I think it’s a national pastime or something. But what you think you know about China before you get here will likely be irrevocably changed after you’ve been here for a couple of hours.

To be perfectly frank, I wanted to teach out here just so I could tell people back home that I’d be doing something weird after I graduated (and to cunningly delay the repayment of my student loans). But I’ve grown to enjoy the job more than I could ever have imagined. My students are so friendly, appreciative, and eager to learn that it doesn’t even feel like ‘work’. Teaching in far-flung destinations, in cultures which are so far removed from my own, has actually become something I can see myself doing for a while yet…

So, a few words of advice for those who are still in the contemplation stage:

  • If you’re “invited” anywhere, you’re gonna be doing a performance of some kind - whether you like it or not!
  • If you’re going to climb Bei Bei Mountain, don’t do it in flip-flops. Seriously.
  • If anyone tells you “Hotpot” is delicious, don’t believe them.
  • Finally, be fully prepared to miss this place when you’ve gone!