From my window I can see and hear the finishing touches being added to a huge complex of fourteen story apartment blocks. These will be the most modern flats on campus and many teachers currently living on the other newer campus have bought one of these flash new ones. All over the local area there are new apartment blocks in various stages of construction, and also many abandoned projects; the property boom continues but for how long we can only speculate. New growth is everywhere. Our home is on the old campus and currently the area outside the gate is underdeveloped, only first year students and some staff live on this campus so there is less demand for high level services. The new residents will move in over next few months and already we are wondering how the arrival of our neighbours will change the local area. Currently this is our main market so an upgrade might bring more exciting choices of food.
There may be fancier restaurants and shops but I dearly hope that the character won't be lost. The village backs on to fields, so peasant workers mix with students and staff making the streets an interesting mix of faces. So much of China feels new and utilitarian with little sense of history, so we feel fortunate to have this interesting area right on our doorstep for us to explore and learn about.
It’s cold outside but my windows are open so I must be learning something from the locals. I can hear the chirpy techno-pop music from the kindergarten which signifies exercise time and I wonder how my little F is coping. The drop-off at school is still pretty gut-wrenching, he's reluctant to go in and cries every time. Still, if we wait sneakily outside the windows we can hear the cries quickly subside and him getting on with it. It breaks my heart and makes me agonise over our decisions, but for now we’ll just take it one day at a time and when he comes out bouncing and full of stories I feel much happier. F of all of us has the biggest challenge at the moment and I am so proud of the way he is adapting and embracing it all.
We've been in China less than a month and already our lives have changed a great deal. There has been a lot of new growth within us too; our linguistic abilities, cultural understanding and personal creativity have all been stretched and this feels wonderful after years of not feeling challenged. Perhaps some of my student's ambition is rubbing off on me too, they all have such big dreams and it makes me remember what my dreams were when I was their age, and what they are now. So much has changed in China in only a few generations so it is not surprising that this rapid growth is reflected in the landscape and the people. Perhaps not knowing how things will change is a pertinent reminder to enjoy life as it is now, accept that nothing in life is guaranteed and follow your dreams. I'm certainly trying to.
all photos by jaysheldon.co.uk