There is a common question here, one that took me a bit to really figure out. 回家吗？Did you go home? There rarely is any real context, so the first time I was asked I still thought of home as here. I came home a couple weeks ago. But the people here are talking about going back to the States. What home means to me is just where I’m living, the place, not a place to go back to. Even going back to the States won’t happen for a couple years.
Now that the cold is fading and the people are filtering back in, Lanzhou feels like a completely different place. A few of the places I used to love are gone, replaced or maybe just not back from the holiday yet. I’ve still been cooking at home a lot, but part of that is just because I have to find new restaurants to eat at. It’s frustrating to have to start finding favorites again without the benefit of moving to a new country.
A lot has changed here, not the overview, just the details. There is a bridge outside the south gate of the school that used to almost completely block the sidewalk. It was way too big, and people ignore it and just walk through traffic instead. Fortunately, it was put on the slate to be fixed. By fixed, I mean they cut out the middle section and squeezed the edges together. Now the stairs going up are much smaller, and still virtually unused. But it is much easier to walk around though.
The construction continues here, and it probably won’t end in this area until after I am gone. The coming subway, the buildings going up, if you count all of it I doubt it will ever end. Having a subway here would make things so much easier to deal with. Just being able to avoid the traffic for a while would be nice.
Even on good days walking in the city is never easy. The buildings block the skyline, and the sunrise and sunset can barely be seen, at least from my vantage point. It would be nice to have an upper floor at some point, something with a view. The mountains have been beautiful in the haze, and as spring goes on there should be some vegetation growing at some point.
It’s good to be back home, cool dry air leading into Spring. I’m only teaching about 6 hours a week here, but I’m sure there will be more coteaching as time goes on. The freshmen are still at this campus for one more semester, so I might get lucky and not have to travel as much as before. I fade between anxiety about my classes and fascination with the potential. I can teach anything I want, really. My only instruction has been to get the students to speak more.
Nothning is ever really set here until the last moment, but at least there is always something to learn. With the open lesson plan here I also can practice and teach anything I want to learn. There is still so much I haven’t done, and so many things I can try to get the students focused. I think it’s going to be an interesting semester.