Shanghai, Covid-19 and Returning to “Normal.”

Checking into my quarantine hotel.

After returning to Shanghai at the end of March (a week before the borders closed to foreigners), I spent two weeks in a hotel being quarantined. Truth be told it wasn’t that bad and I felt lucky to have had the privilege of mandatory quarantine given the state of the world right now. Life has slowly transitioned back to a new “normal” in Shanghai with the opening of Kindergartens at the beginning of June. Other grades had resumed prior and they slowly phased in lower grades. So what does life in Shanghai look like now? When I look at the rest of the world, I know I’m one of the lucky ones who has returned to work and able to go out and about.

With some of my coworkers at a bbq before schools opened

I have been hesitant to write a post about this with the fear I could jinx something and the city would shut down. 2020 has done some strange things to people and altered the way we think and go about our lives. China has still kept its borders closed to foreign citizens (unless you are a diplomat or have very rare clearance to return). There is no telling when borders will open again. China has done a remarkable job managing the virus and I don’t blame them for wanting to keep their borders closed. After the peak and Chinese New Year, the only cases being brought into the city were from international flights so it makes sense to shut that down. I don’t foresee China opening its borders until the world has a better handle on the virus and political relationships are mended.

Biking the next day after my 14 day hotel quarantine!

1. So what is life in China like now? Yes people are still wearing masks, but it isn’t mandatory everywhere like before. It is required on the metro.

Individual QR code.

2. When you enter most restaurants there is usually a temperature check they do on you. Some ask for you to show your QR code to show that it’s green. When I first arrived in China, my QR code was red and became green after I did my 2 weeks of quarantine. A green code means you haven’t been in contact recently with someone whose been diagnosed with the virus and you don’t have the virus. China has remarkable tracking capacities.

What online teaching for 2 months looked like! Different sessions with about 4-6 kids for each. They had a chinese and English class. We also sent other enriching videos for exercise, phonics, and based on our theme.

3. So what does it look like in schools? After teaching online classes March-April, the kindergartens got the clear to open in June. The kids have their temperature checked by infrared and also by thermometer every day when they arrive at school. Their parents fill out information daily about the family members temperatures and any new travel history. The kids aren’t required to wear masks in schools. As teachers, we wear a mask that is clear and is more like what I would consider a food guard style. That way the kids can still see our faces. Two months of this and it has faded and we don’t wear masks all the time.

The clear face mask the teachers used.

4. Yes there was social distancing, but I truly believe that China has this under control. My gym has been open since April. It started with limited people being allowed at a time with constant cleaning and then slowly that eased up. The “outbreak” in Beijing was quickly handled and they had hundreds of thousands (if not millions) tested within the week from the incident. Because China is not letting foreigners into the country, the numbers are remaining stable.

Celebrating birthdays with my students on an outing before in-person teaching and schools resumed.

I have no idea how America is going to handle opening schools. Shanghai was cautious to open schools and did so in waves starting with the oldest grades. At first my school had no after school classes so classes wouldn’t mix and had protocols were out in place if any showed sign of even a fever. My amazing class is graduating today and I am off to celebrate with them!

Just my latest thoughts 🙂


Christmas Season Abroad

The Christmas season is here and I am on vacation in Philippines as I write! It was a crazy first two weeks of December that involved an unexpected move! I loved my past apartment, but after deliberation with my roommates and landlord we decided not to re-sign. It was an amazing place to call home for a little over a year and I’ll miss that place a lot! However, I am super excited and loving my new place. I have my own apartment in the Former French Concession. It is in a lane house with creaky stairs and only a block away from my yoga studio and gym! Amidst moving I also was working like an energizer bunny on work for the students while I’m on holiday and preparing for our Christmas party. The foreign teachers go on holiday in December and our school hosts Chinese science week! The kids love it. So here’s our super fun holiday party!

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The Rainbow Mountains of China in Zhangye, Gansu Province (and Xi’an)

I took an incredible three day trip to see the Rainbow Mountains which are a geological phenomenon! I planned this trip Sunday night and left Tuesday morning. I’ve had this past week off post-summer camp and pre-school year. My passport is currently at the bureau to transfer my work visas which means I can only travel within China! If I had my passport I would’ve left the country, but I’m so glad I had this opportunity to visit another corner of China! I stayed in a yurt for two nights, gazed at stars and decompressed from the insanity of city life in Shanghai. Currently I am in Xi’an for the day before I head back to Shanghai.

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A Day in The Life

I always enjoy reading other people’s posts going through what their day looks like so I thought I would do my own! The summer schedule won’t be too different from the fall, but there are changes in the logistical parts of the school day and curriculum. Summer is much more laid back and less focused on specific primary preparation curriculums. For summer camp we also welcome kids from other schools around Shanghai.

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Zhangjiajie: 48 Hours and The Avatar Mountains

When I say 48 hours I really mean it! It was a blitz creek trip to one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been. I had just completed my first week of my new job and was exhausted, but had planned this trip before I signed my new contract. I decided to go with a group as I wanted to take a break from planning and let someone else do it! There are pros and cons to group travel, but overall I am happy I decided to this time as the park is massive and I was able to make the most of my time with a guide. Not to mention the group I went with was a laugh and a half and we had a good time!

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Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

(Touching the Dragon Gate for Prosperity)

I took a few days off from work and headed back to the province I was born in, Kunming! It was a busy few days where I didn’t get much rest and was busy from sun up to down. I was able to do a lot, met up with some connections and friends and went back to my orphanage. The night before and the whole drive going to my orphanage I was quite nervous which really surprised me.

China is such a diverse and beautiful place and I was excited to go back and explore. Yunnan has stunning nature, views and I already want to go back to spend more time hiking away from the borders of the cities.

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24 Hours in Beijing and A Book

So I went to Beijing for 24 hours to meet Cass and have some fun before she went back to the States! I miss her already. We had the best time. Between Shanghai and Beijing, she went back to her hometown and had a profound and beautiful experience. It was great to meet her post her trip, talk about it and just have fun running around Beijing. I loved going to the wall with all the verdant and luscious greenery compared to the cold temperatures I experienced in February. Ps. I used “verdant” because it was one of classes vocabulary words. We can all expand our vocabulary!

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Showing Off Shanghai

The Olson twins have taken Shanghai these last few days! Okay so we aren’t actually twins, but I just had my friend from the states come visit and was determined to show her Shanghai’s best. We have known each other since we were wee little things, grew up in the same neighborhood in Denver and went back to China with our families in 2004! It was so much fun to have her in town and she is off for the next few days traveling before we meet in Beijing next week for more Olson twin fun. The best part about having visitors is that you get to see where you live through fresh eyes. There is no rest for the wicked and everyday she pretty much fell asleep within minutes of the head hitting the pillow. I like to keep my friends busy and on the go go go!

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