Saturday, June 27, 2009

More end of the year

I'm currently sitting in Panera bread, surrounded by the hum of multitudes of people. Internet has been down at my parents' place, so I headed here with the express purpose of doing research for a paper with a due date sooner than I'd like to admit. Instead I'm updating my blog. I need a serious injection of motivation...stat. But while I wait for the caffeine in my coffee to work its magic in substituting for sleep (last night the total was three and a half body's a little out of whack...there's no one to blame but myself, I totally broke my no naps in the first week rule), I thought I'd clue you in on a few more end of the year activities.

Before the final push, the team took a long weekend retreat to the coastal town of Dalian. I was incredibly thankful for two 9 hour train rides where I had nothing to do (like updating my blog) other than graduate work.
We spent some of the time reflecting on the year, and a lot of time just hanging out and eating Western food. I must admit, Starbucks was likely the highlight of the trip for me. There is just something I love about curling up in a Starbucks armchair early in the morning, starting my day off with a Caramel macchiato. Pure bliss.
We visited the local "amusement" park in Dalian, where the kids (big and small) enjoyed many overpriced rides.
We also headed to the aquarium, which we were herded through in the midst of massive crowds of people just trying to make it to the end of the aquarium in time for the dolphin show. The crowds were massive. I live in China. I'm used to crowds. This was...well, I seriously began to feel claustrophobic in the underwater tunnel exhibit. After seeing the show, we snuck back in the front of the aquarium for a much calmer view of the place.
While in Dalian we also took time to relax on the "beach". As a midwesterner, I know I shouldn't be picky about my beaches. But really...I find piles of pebbles hardly noteworthy. I guess I've been spoiled by the sandy shores of Thailand. Regardless, the kids seemed to enjoy the plethora of rocks available for throwing into the water.

After returning from the retreat, we had a few weeks left which were jam packed with (but not limited to) the following: grading, giving finals, more grading, team leader appreciation day, teammate goodbye party (to Sarah and Vance, who won't be returning to Siping), end of the year banquet with brothers and sisters, foreign affairs department end of the year banquet, Senior performances, saying goodbye to seniors, arranging the details for the orphanage, packing up all of my belongings in my small office, and a little bit of sleep.

One of my hardest goodbyes this year was with my tutors of two years. Both of them are moving away and I will greatly miss their friendship!
Caffeine is beginning to work its magic. Time for this day's attempt at productivity!

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