“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” ~ Joseph Campbell
You know how sometimes when you’re in a public place, someone that you don’t know comes way too close to you and you start to get uncomfortable? When you feel like you have to lean back, just to put some distance between you and your ‘space harasser’?
Well, I do.
And coming from a culture where personal space means a lot (as it should), I’ve had a few problems in this department since arriving in China. And I will share with you today few things that crossed my mind.
Last encounter that caused this problem to come up again, happened about two days ago, in a bar in downtown Hangzhou.
Me and a bunch of my friends go there almost every Wednesday to have dinner and to play Trivia. Old-Skool, I know! But we are loving it, and the atmosphere is also so vivacious and exciting. It’s also nice to spend some time surrounded by lowai (that’s a term Chinese people use for foreigners).
Because the setup of the tables we were sitting at was quite strange – me and my friend were sitting with our backs to the bar and basically to where the organiser of Trivia was sitting.
So we were getting into our game, having fun, enjoying our food and drinks; and half-way through the game this guy comes by our table and starts talking to me and my friend about random stuff. Now, note that we kinda knew the guy (he’s part of the team that mostly wins Trivia every week).
But basically you could tell he was few drinks in, and he was trying to make all this funny jokes and ha ha, and hi hi. But then he places a hand on my shoulder. From the back. And I was like ‘Wohoo, my dear Sir. What is going on here?’. I let it drop once, but then he kinda just leans over my chair to write something on a piece of paper and he’s basically leaning into me. Again, defence mechanism went up, I tried to lean the other way, tried to move, because he was getting too close. Uncomfortably close without my permission.
My friend sees him and she tries to get him to sit on the chair next to us – which was empty by the way, but he could not be bothered.
He was in his own little world, feeling like he was charming these two attractive young girls. Which he was not.
Thankfully, the game started and he had to leave our table, because I was being bitchy at this point, and I was giving him my stare- of -death (which is scary, believe me).
But it got me thinking – what is it with these people? Why can’t everybody get the idea that when you are so close to someone you don’t know, a defence mechanism sets off?
The way I see it, we all long for security – we need to feel secure about our surroundings and about the surroundings of the people we care about. And when someone steps into that personal space, they violate that right of security that we all should have.
Now, I’ve done a bit of reading, and a bit of travelling too, and I know things work quite differently in China. Because there are so many people, and this and that and you don’t get that privilege here.
Wait a moment .. privilege?? How did this simple thing – the need to safe – became a privilege? In what parallel universe have I gone to? I honestly ask myself this question every time I think about this topic.
It is not ok to say personal space is a privilege. It is not ok to find excuse for people that come so close to you that you can feel their breaths on your neck. It is not ok to turn your head the other way and pretend you did not noticed it.
Or maybe it’s just me.
In my head, that’s a right that no one in this entire world should be denied. Of course I’m not naive, I think about all these places in the world where so many bad things happen – to children and women especially – but we, as a human race, should strive for making conscious decision to help one another, to free one another.
We, as human beings, should fight for the right to freedom of any kind, for those around us that cannot do it.
And the only place where we can begin to do that, is ourselves. Standing up for ourselves when we feel in danger. When we feel uncomfortable.
*Please note that the above was just a personal opinion of an issue that bothered me. I have the deepest respect for all cultures around the world, I live to learn about all these Cultures. But there are certain topics that I feel in a way we, as humans like to comply to and accept them without challenging them.This is one of them.*
“Santa Claus is coming to town..’
It’s Christmas day and I’m sitting here trying to send Xmas wishes to all my friends, but in between I’m looking at possible places to travel next. I think there’s a serious case of Wanderlust building up!
But in the Christmas mood, today I want to share with you what I did with my students for Christmas.
I had a long debate about it, but in the end I decided that I will do Secret Santa with all my classes. We will talk maybe a bit about Christmas and watch some Christmas classics!
When I planned that, I did not expected it will go so well! These were, to be honest, the best memories I have made in China so far. Everyone got involved and they all tried to make this week so very special for me. I was trying to make it special for them, but they made it special for me!
We shared good moments, laughter and we took lots of pictures. It was wonderful. And I’m trying very hard to express it in words, for everyone to understand how much I love teaching here in Hangzhou and how proud I am of my students.
I don’t know if I’m going to teach them in 2nd term, but they made this first few months here extra-special.
Here are some of the pictures we took. In each class, I had one of the students put on a Santa hat and give the prezzies away to everyone.
Day 1 of Christmas Celebration – Monday, December 22:
Day 2 of Christmas Celebrations – Wednesday, December 24:
Day 3 of Christmas Celebrations – Friday, December 26. Poorer quality – I forgot my camera on Friday, so all the pictures were took with different phones..
my weekend has been pretty quiet – the cause of that being a nasty tooth ache. it’s painful and uncomfortable, so i chose to basically catch up on my sleep, update my playlists and drink plenty of tea (taking painkillers and looking for home remedies to cure a tooth ache in between).
so while i was doing my usual internet troll Sunday afternoon, i started thinking about things that i miss from back home (i consider UK my home, yeah).
that always happens when we’re sick, right? you miss the familiarity of places, sounds, foods. it’s the little things, remember that!
don’t get me wrong, I am having an amazing time in China! it’s more of a Wanderlust case that I feel like it’s developing. I miss places that I have never been before at the same time as the familiarity of places like UK.
Things that I miss ..
Costa and Starbucks Coffee. Especially the Xmas Special, Chai Latte.
Birmingham city at night, close to Xmas day. All the lights, the buzzing around the city was crazy.
Pure Gym. i go to the gym here too, but it’s different. Pure Gym was like the Gym of all Gyms. Clean, warm enough, spacious. Oh.
Food. Not ‘traditional’ fish n’ chips, but the Indian Food I had back there. And the freaking Baguettes from Greggs.
Cadbury. Chocolate. Nothing else.
Boots – I miss going there, picking my makeup and perfumes and doing it on my own. Without one person constantly following me (it happens in China, in any shop you go, it drives me nuts!)
Getting or making a Cuppa, whenever I felt like having one.
Cooking and baking. It’s nearly impossible to cook here (since I don’t have a kitchen, but I do have a stove) and impossible to bake! (no oven)
German Markets. My sister loves Xmas, and her energy it’s usually transmitted to me too. Also, wondering around a German Market – it just feels like Christmas is here.
My friends. Last one, but the most important. What’s life without the people that support you? What’s life without crazy night, loud people, beautiful dresses, expensive perfume and going to bed at Dawn? Good memories.
Things that I miss:
I know it’s normal, it’s human nature – to miss things, places and people that mean something in our lives.
But I also think it’s important to remember to not give up because of that – when you are travelling , or moved to a new country – remember why you are there and what you want to achieve with that. You are probably there because you are following dreams? or your Career? Or maybe it’s something that you really wanted to do?
Put things into perspective.
Peace & Love,