A moment of reflection

Wow! It has certainly taken us a while to get used the pace of our new lives in China. After a whirlwind first week of adventures including apartment hunting, medical exams, and moving (Grant is still alive BTW:) we officially started school at CISQD (Confucius International School Qingdao).

While inservice can always be a bit of information overload, being a foreign teacher seems to come with it’s own unique set of challenges. Not only are there new procedures and rules, but we have found ourselves at a proper English boarding school where house points are awarded for good marks and being helpful, and detentions are earned for students caught speaking Chinese. It’s all an attempt to help prepare them for lives abroad at various prestigious universities. Again, lots to take in and learn..but we came prepared! Stepping up our game is why we chose CISQD in first place.

We can’t seem yet to put this new experience into words. Our lives now seem to move even fast then before. After a few weeks on the job we’ve realized that the work week is for work; it’s fast paced and professional. As soon as you arrive at school in the morning you hit the ground running until you’re on the bus headed home in the evening. And you work so hard on the weekdays that you really want to capitalize on the weekends by hitting the beach, going out to eat, exploring new areas, etc.

So that’s what we’ve been doing! When we’re not working, we are out exploring the city and surrounding areas, checking out the local parks, hanging out with our friends, or eating. There is so much great food here!

More to come later!

Our first experience ordering Chinese street meat!
When you Google “Qingdao” this is the iconic sculpture you’ll most likely come across first.
One of the coolest koi ponds we’ve seen…so far;)
There is some amazing architecture here, especially where there are parks or temples.
This park is called “Little Fish Hill”
When you order “1” thinking you’re ordering a single steam bun…
One of the many lotus ponds.


A view from Signal Hill
Parks in China are interesting. While you can find some moments of tranquility, you only have to walk for 2 more minutes before you come across people exercising in large groups, or having a saxophone lesson with a dozen people all playing different songs, or a group putting on a play or little concert. You really don’t know what you’ll find!
Hot beaches
Grant with his department at the Confucian Opening Ceremony at our school.
Ok…honest moment…the beer here isn’t very good (comparatively speaking) BUT some of it does have cute little characters on the cans. So…yeah…
Everywhere you look there are interesting sculptures and architecture.
You can find western food! If you know where to look 😉 (Full disclosure: it’s not that hard)
After the first full week with students the whole school faculty were treated to a catered event on the roof of this hotel. I got to hang out with my favorite 🙂


We were both welcomed very generously by the faculty and our new colleagues…Grant even got cake from his department for his birthday!

CISQD Opening Ceremony

We work at a secondary school in Qingdao, China. Our student demographic is 100% Chinese. The students (ages 14-21) that attend our school have the aspiration of attending a university/college in an English-speaking country (UK or USA). Our school is a combination of traditional British values (and British national standards/curricula) alongside the Six Arts of Confucius. During school, this means that students take a combination of rigorous academic courses such as Business, Economics, Physics, and Biology as well as arts courses such as Chinese, Art, Current Issues, and Physical Education. 

We had no idea what to expect for the opening ceremony at our school. All parents were invited to the event. It was a way to honor to the Six Arts of Confucius and welcome new students into the school. Students were divided by grade (G1, G2, AS, and A2) and house (Zong Zi, Meng Zi, Kong Zi, and Yan Zi) as they were honored on the red carpet. Primarily, new G1 and G2 students were honored. Here are some images of the morning’s festivities:


View of the student dormitories and parent seating area
View of the school on the left, faculty and staff seating area, mural to be signed, and red carpet
Prefects stand at the entrance to welcome parents, teachers, and honored guests
Teachers arrive on the bus for the morning’s opening ceremony
Science Department prior to the ceremony starting
Returning students stand on the left in front of the dormitories. Headmaster and Miss Sandy stand in front on the red carpet. Teachers stand to the left of the school’s entrance. New students (in white uniform) stand in front of the school’s entrance.
The business department is welcomed to the ceremony.
New students are ushered down the red carpet by returning students. This was the entrance of Meng Zi house. Teacher leaders Gregory and Rachel stand on the left. The young man holding the flag is Leo, the student head of house. Alison belongs to this house.
Kong Zi house prepares to walk down the red carpet. This is the house that Grant belongs to.
Headmaster, Mr. Carolan, delivers the opening address at the opening ceremony. Note the signatures behind him. Each person (teachers and students) that walk down the red carpet sign their name on the mural at the end. Miss Catherine translates headmaster’s speech into Chinese for the families (image below). 


Lily and Alison listen to four student speeches. Student speeches were delivered by a CISQD alumnae heading off to university, the Student Council president, and two new G1 students.
Olivia, a new G1 student, delivers her speech.
After the speeches, new students come to the front to be honored. They receive their CISQD acceptance letters from Mr Carolan and Miss Sandy.
Gavin, one of my students who is beaming in the front row, is proud to receive his acceptance certificate. At this point in the ceremony, I became quite teary-eyed. Another new teacher like me from South Africa, Shelley, shared my sentiments. There is only so much pride and happiness one can feel until the only reasonable action are tears. I felt so happy to work at CISQD and to work in a school that has such a high degree of honor, dignity, and respect. There is no other school like this, and I had never before experienced a ceremony like this.
CISQD Family Photo for 2018-2019
Business Department Photo

Click here for the complete album of photos from the event.

& just one more for kicks…

In the halls of CISQD


What grocery shopping looks like here… ya, like in a grocery store.

For now, Grant and I have been acquiring items from the food pyramid from grocery stores. I find it thrilling to get a surprise around each corner and shriek with delight at the many (sometimes very alive) wonders that the grocery stores have to offer. From fried sea cucumbers to cow intestines to powdered milk, why can’t grocery stores in America be this awe-provoking?

Here is what that looks like for us in Qingdao. These images are from Metro store and Leada mall.

Vegetable area – once you place your produce in a bag, take it to the end of the section to be weighed. No scales at the register up front. You need only make that mistake once. But … look at them tomatoes, eh?
If you have never smelled durian before … then I am envious of you. Yes, the image is not deceiving. These are GIGANTIC fruit with a distinguishable odor that can smelled for meters and meters. Some people love the smell and taste. I am NOT one of those people. NOTE: man in the back cleaning the floor during busiest store hours and yelling at carts to get out of the way as he makes the slick tile floor a wet hazard. SECOND NOTE: there are live fish in the back of this photo; swimming around in the tanks in the seafood area.
MOON CAKES for sale. We are approaching the mid-autumn holiday; for which we will take a week of school off at the beginning of October. Moon cakes parade!
Moon cake close-up. Can you say YUM?
Does this mean these eggs are expired on September 4th, or were just put on the shelves? Who knows? Let’s gamble!
Eggs for sale – quail, duck and chicken – in bags or not 🙂
Crayfish hors d’oeuvres anyone? Spices and sauces accompanied on the right. They taste like mini-lobsters but spicier. Trust me, I know.
If you saw this image, you might think to yourself, “What is the big deal? You’re in China? Yeah right! That looks exactly like a grocery store in Vermont!” … but then you lean in closer              and see this:
This little piggy went to the market?
You thought Americans were wasteful with the plastics? You ain’t seen nothing! *limes in bags*