Terrell’s birthday

August 13, 2011

This is really the first Saturday that we have earned because we worked 2 days! What a week it has been. Firstly organizing classes, getting rooms set up, and meeting kids for the first time. My PK class was amazingly bad. I had 2 other adults in the room, and kids squirming all over them some of them weeping. But we got through ‘A tisket a tasket’ so it’s a start. Fourth graders on the other hand were little angels; incredibly sweet. Nice, this honeymoon period!

And socially, a big week. Terrell had a birthday on Wednesday and became a year younger. We celebrated with new friends; just wonderful!!

Nothing could be finer

Maturity is too a high a price for Old Age!

Birthday celebrations

‘Friday night drinks’ was laid on by the school at a lovely place just up the road, called the Blueberry Farm (or something like that) It’s been hot and very steamy weather, so the beers went down a treat. Today the whole place has been shrouded in mist; there must be 100% humidity. And afterwards a group of us headed further up the mountain to a Chinese restaurant and had an absolute feast/banquet for less than $9 each. The food was fantastic, definitely a place to return to.

So today it’s Saturday and most folks have taken the school bus and gone to Dalian to buy more supplies. We decided to venture out on our own and found a little local street with local shops….at local prices! Nice. We also both had a hair cut for the big outlay of $2.50 each, including shampoo and head massage. Terrell looks decidedly Asian.

We are having a ball.



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Our first week

August 6, 2011

It’s been a week living in our luxury 2 bedroom condo. And just as a reminder to watch out on the roads, today we saw our first vehicle fatality. We were walking across a nearby highway, where we saw a man who’d fallen off his motor bike. He was lying on the road, still seated on the bike, with a crushed head. It was pretty disturbing. The authorities had gathered around taking notes, conversing with each other. Folks were standing around watching. It was strange and unsettling.

Dalian power plant

Our social life is lots of fun, as many of the new hires are in our age group, both couples and singles. So we have great times together, hearing amazing stories, enjoying meals together and making new friends. One of the most amazing is a couple with a young daughter who were evacuated from Libya in February. Incredibly they had to leave suddenly, taking nothing with them. They managed to book a flight out. When the taxi got within about 1 ½ miles of the airport they had to walk, along with about 20,000 others trying to get out. When they finally arrived there, the flight had been cancelled; they managed to run the gauntlet of Libyan soldiers beating people with sticks to the ground, and got a flight to Italy. It’s an amazing story. One of the reasons they were able to get through the crowd, they tell us, is because of the Muslims, who made way for them as they had a child with them.

Living here is easy. I still feel that we are on an extended holiday. We have a cleaning/ironing/washing lady. The head of school is a great guy, generous and welcoming.  The place is really like a resort with all the mod cons. It takes us 20 minutes to walk to the beach.  There is a cafe downstairs that serves pretty good meals. This week the cost of these has all been met by the school. My classroom is large, bright and light, with two sides having windows with mountain views. This Thursday we get to see some kids!

One of our activities last week was a bus trip into Dalian (took 2 hours in traffic) to get medicals for our resident visas. It involved blood tests, chest x-ray, ultra sound, and  blood pressure checks. I have to say, that the hospital is not one where I would wish to spend too much time! On the trip home we bought cell phone cards. There have been a number of bus trips like this, taking us to good shopping places.

The area around here is going nuts with construction. We hear workers going on through the night, using flood lights. When trucks drive into the sites and leave mud on the road, there will be a crew of people with shovels following them, removing the mud from the bitumen. There is a luxury hotel under construction next door to us, and the rate of building is amazing. I think it must be a new story added every day. Several times a day we hear a round of fire crackers going off. We haven’t figured this out yet.

Today we spent 4 hours exploring a nearby city called Kaifa Qu (meaning Development Zone) where there a plenty of great shops, including some which cater to westerners. It takes ½ to get there. The school provides a bus for teachers each weekend to be able to shop.


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Campus Village lobby

Dalian day 1

Arriving at Dalian airport at 2am and being met by your future boss, whom you haven’t actually met yet (at least not in the flesh), is a little daunting.

After spending a very pleasant evening drinking beer with Sacha, we stayed one night in Melbourne and then headed for China on Friday July 29th. We didn’t think we would make the connection in Shanghai as we left a bit late, but the next flight on to Dalian was delayed for 2 ½ hours…..should I say naturally?

Kurt and James were the heroes of the night, picking us up in Dalian, carrying our luggage and making us feel really welcome, despite the hour and our trepidation. After over an hour of driving through the mist along highways unknown we arrived at the ‘5 star resort’ that is to be our home for the next years! I kid you not. It is beautiful!

Dalian International School

Our kitchen








School entrance
















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Chapter One

Nearly 9 years have passed since we left our family to go overseas for a year or two. Terrell’s dad was 98 and we were going to be company for him for a time. So we found a cool trailer right opposite his trailer, and with his rusty car parked in our drive, we started our American adventure.

It was such an exciting time. Terrell teaching at SUNY, and me with my 2 part time jobs at Albany academy and playing the organ for Christ Community Church in Clifton Park. Our trailor landlord, Loius was a kind and generous man who left us a half eaten roast in the George Forman oven, and some quilts and furniture. We managed to convince T’s father to park his Ford Temp (circa 1994) in our drive and gradually it grew into our car. I loved it. It had cruise control!

One day Terrell decided to show me the nearby Victorian village of Round Lake which became one of my favourite places on earth. Well, to cut a long story short 2 years later we were the proud owners of 2 lovely wooden houses….well one was a cottage and the other a proud, half falling down, house. Looks pretty good these days though. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Money Pit; well, that says it all. We were so naive. hiring contractors with no real references, paying them too much money before they had completed work…..I won’t go on. But we love the houses and lived in them for about 3 years. I could tell many stories about it. there was the time when the handy-man we hired, who was, in his own words, an expert, drilled a hole into the outside wall, straight into a major electrical conduit and blew himself right off the ladder. Sounds a lot like the movie doesn’t it!

In the meantime I happily taught my music classes to the boys and girls at the Academies, made some great friends , even got a nice promotion and, despite my 8th grade girls’ chorus class, had a good time. And I fell in love with my senior chorus. They were such a nice bunch of kids. On the last day before I left, we had a big cook-up breakfast in the music room. I can still see Ryan,  Steve and Jesse in their aprons. Of course also memorable where our arts faculty meetings at the local pub. So much creativity. Thanks guys.

Then we decided that we should really live in the big apple before we leave the USA. It was again only going to be for a short while, but 5 years later, here we are. St Luke’s School in the West Village has been amazing. Here is a church and school that is truly diverse and a warm welcoming community. I never dreamed that I would be teaching Junior Kindergarten, but some of my funniest memories are here. I remember little Colin who suddenly figured out what I was talking about when I played music from Carnival of the Animals.  “Ms Biemond, I know what carnivals are, carnivals eat meat.” My lively 8th grade advisees Nicole and Blythe taught me about Justin Beiber and where to get decent cheap meals in the village.

Administration, faculty, and kids. What a great trip!!  I will remember the first large coffee of the day, sitting down with the early bird ‘breakfast club’, getting greeted by Nancy with ‘gidday mate’, finding the latest great reads from dear Freyda (who finally relented and bought a Nook, prompting me to buy a Kindle!), picking up my endless report card corrections from Lyn (what a remarkable woman…and an Aussie), going to chapel for a chilled out meditation with Shelli, setting up the PA with Karen (and a few beers to follow….), getting some great chocolate from Maureen. So many more wonderful memories, I could go on.

We started our New York living in Brooklyn in a one bedroom apartment near Church St on the F. It was a great commute. I always got a seat in the train, and read many many books. There was also an excellent grocery store with Russian, Mexican, Asian, Middle eastern influences. Living in Brooklyn pretty much covers all the travel you ever need to do. You can walk down the street most days and hear no English at all. Our kind of place!

After 2 years of Brooklyn we decided we should be home owners again, and found a 3 story row house for a verrry good price in Jersey City. Our first impression was..folks are so friendly. Our second impression ‘where did all that trash come from?’ So it’s a balance. I think this house has been our favourite of all. Old, funky, spacious, and right now we have it rented out, covering our costs easily. What more can you ask of Jersey City!






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