Back to my second home in Zhaoqing. travel blog

For new readers, I will give you some background. One of my friends has asked me some questions, so thought it would be good to answer in this form, as I guess she might not be the only one with questions. And the fact that I stayed in all day today makes this a perfect opportunity.

I originally came to Zhaoqing, in Guangdong Province, China in August of 2005, to work as an English teacher at the Zhaoqing Medical College. This is a quite well reputed college, but the students graduate with diplomas, as opposed to bachelor degrees. At this time, the college is progressing toward upgrading the college, to offer bachelor degrees. Great progress for them, when it comes off.

My students were all studying nursing, but the ones I taught were specifically in an International Nursing programme. This meant that they were doing the equivalent of a double degree, with full time nursing study, and almost full time English added on top. The kids all humbled me on a daily basis, with their attitude to study, and improving their lives, and those of their families.

The college actually covers every aspect of medicine that you can imagine, from dentistry, to Traditional Chinese Medicine, to anaesthesiology, to physiotherapy, etc, etc., etc.

I spent six years here, and loved the life. The teaching was sometimes challenging, but always satisfying. There were very, very few issues with getting the students committed to their study. All these students came from relatively low socio-economic backgrounds. If their families were more wealthy, they would definitely be at a higher grade university, where they would study for bachelor degrees. But the students I saw all appreciated the fact that they were getting an education. Without exception, in my six years, not one of my students had a parent who had finished high school. In fact most of the parents probably were lucky to have completed primary school.

I went back to Australia six years ago now, and was happy to be home, but really missed the lifestyle, and the friends I had made.

Two years ago, my friend Cheryl and I came back for a visit. That was only 18 days, and I promised myself, and all my Chinese friends that I would be back, but for longer next time!

A year ago, I had a visit from my ex-colleague Frankle, who was head of English department in my time. He had come to Perth for a seminar, and had the chance to spend three days with me in Albany.

About that time, my son Scott, who is 43 years old, expressed an interest in doing what I had done, so we chatted with Frankle about the possibilities, and he was very supportive of Scott's plans. It took a few months to get everything in place, and ready for the college to apply for a work permit for him.

So, he left Perth on Anzac Day this year, and settled in very well. Much more easily than I had, as a matter of fact.

My friend Greg, from New Zealand, arrived back in Zhaoqing in May, for his six month stint. He is now retired, and not in the best of health. New Zealand winters are not good for his health, so he has been coming back here annually, to avoid the cold of the winter. Once he was here, I got thinking that I would love to catch up with him again, and realized that China is probably the only place I will be able to afford to spend time with him.

So formed a plan!!

He was leaving on November 1, so I wanted to have a couple of weeks here, before he left. And then I got to thinking how great it would be to live another Chinese New Year here. A Google search showed me that Chinese New Year is not until February 17 next year. That makes for a long stay. My first consideration was Scott, and I checked with him that an extended stay would not be an issue for him. Having cleared that, my next step was to Centrelink, to check what the impact would be on my pension payments. And when I found that there would be very minimal impact, plans started to formulate!

And on October 10, I flew out of Perth, landed in Baiyun Airport, Guangzhou at about 2.20am on October 11. Waiting for me was Scott and Frankle, who had driven the hour and a half or so, to meet me off the plane.

So, I am on an extended holiday, staying in Scott's apartment on the college campus. Most of the people I am catching up with out of the campus are friends, who I hung out with when I lived here. Interestingly, they were all young and single, and we spent lots of time together, but they are all married now, with child, or children in Rony's case, so their lives have changed since those old days.

The only expats I have connected with since I got here are John, from Scotland, who has been here since about 2007, and is now married to a Chinese girl. Then there is Greg, from New Zealand, who is now retired, and who worked in Zhaoqing for a lot of years, and loves to return. Melrose is a young woman from the Philippines, and she also has worked here since 2007. I never knew her very well before, but we are having nice times hanging out. She also has great knowledge about where to go for the best vegetables etc, having been here for some time, and kept up with all the changes.

This coming weekend, I am having a re-union with old students who enrolled in the college in 2005. I am so excited about that. They are coming back to Zhaoqing specially to have dinner with me. There were only about 24 students in their class, if I remember rightly, and 14 are coming to the dinner. Wow! That is just so good. Of course most of them are married, with (or having) babies now.

Any questions, I would be more than happy to answer. There is a function somewhere on here for comments, so please search and you will find it!! Email and Facebook is not always easy to access here, with Google and Facebook requiring a VPN!!

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