25 Memories for Turning 25

Surprise I’m 25! On my birthday, my coworkers totally surprised and pranked me! They had a decoy cake on the morning followed by a prank in the afternoon where they told me our December holiday was canceled. I actually was fine and said I would be gone no matter what. Ha! Needless to say, I had a great day and wonderful dinners with friends. 25 feels so good and I’ve had an amazing year. Here are 25 memories that I have loved and will cherish forever. And I truly believe the best is yet to come! Cheers to 25.

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Zebra Class: Life in Shanghai

The school year is in motion and I am loving my class of 20 interesting, funny, smart, and energetic students! We are the Zebra class and are settling into our daily routines and having so much fun getting to know each other. Here we are at circle time playing a guess the word game with one kid acting it out. We have a lot to do everyday and these kids are just so amazing. They all know each other and have been coming to the school for 2-3 years since they were little babies! This really is such an incredible age.

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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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The Shanghai Kid

Fabulous, expectation, advanced, pressure and lovely. These are all words I would associate with the “Shanghai Kid.” These past nine months teaching have given me incredible close insight into the world of kids growing up in Shanghai. There are so many sub-cultures that my anthropology degree has me constantly dissecting and categorizing daily observations. Education in Shanghai is constantly changing at a rate that I would bet is one of the highest in the world. There are shifts I have already seen in only eight months. It is an exciting industry to work in and I’m constantly looking at the differences/similarities to America and what additions I would make to strengthen different curriculums.

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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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