“Excuse me”. An elderly gentleman of about a metre distance from me says these two words in my direction, as he walks towards the bread in the distant back area of this particular supermarket aisle we are both standing in.

Wait, what did I just hear?

Was that…manners?

What a foreign concept this is to me. When did that surprise me?

Reverse culture shock is the process of re-adjusting to the area you used to refer to as ‘yours’. That place which used to be comfortably natural, and a good reference to what the base definition of the word normality is.

That place that just made sense.

I honestly cannot call any place my own place with certainty now. And I quite enjoy admitting that.

There is a difference between a place of your own and a home though. I do have a home. It is filled with my wondrous family, who are graciously putting up with my broke 22 year old ass for the two months I am living there. This is the place I learnt life, and will forever be a valuable nostalgic place with which I can remember all the beautiful and terrifying emotions when the words ‘grow’ and ‘up’ are mingled together.

But it is not my own.
I am still looking for that place.

This is a very interesting and unusual transitory phase I am experiencing now. Because I am in New Zealand for two months (in between contracts) I will have time to explore and write about these new feelings, and get to know my home all over again. It has only been four days as I write this, so I feel the best is yet to come. Or maybe I’m still in shock about being back in New Zealand. Ten months in China really flew by.

What do you call a home? Is it different from what you call your own?


A simple plan for planning in China.

Step one: Say everything you are going to do.
Step two: Do the complete opposite.
Step three: Don’t tell the foreign teachers.
Step four: Profit. (Somebody always profits).

I work 27 classes a week, spread across a 25 Junior Two/3 Junior One ratio. By this logic I should have most of my work interactions with the Junior Two department. If anything is to change at the school, then a veritable team of teachers and leaders employed alongside me should be able to inform me of said discussions, yes?

Hahaha. Nope.

If you ever work in China, be prepared to redefine the word ‘communication’.

Usually communication means two parties exchanging or imparting information/news/ideas and so forth.

In China communication is….well…it’s…

We’ve recently had our timetable configured to the ‘summer’ plan. The change now means I start classes at 7:45am, and finish my days at 6pm. This started after our short holiday celebrating May Day (of which another post will be about). I know all of this because I was informed of this time change by one teacher from Junior One, not Two, as I would have expected. And I was informed, by China standards, on time.

Now there is such a thing called time in China. I affectionately label it as ‘last minute for everything’ time. Everything you think is important will be told to you. Just at the last possible second of its conception.

So my short lesson here is: when dealing with China, be prepared to have every conceivable Plan A you could possibly make thrown out the window, along with Plan B, Step Five and Preparation H. You must be able to adjust to this new ‘rush’ rather quickly, as China doesn’t care about that evening coffee you wanted with your friends, or your hair appointment, or if your fish needs watering. China wants everything done on its time, whether you can keep up or not is another story.