Tag Archives: winter

"SPRINGTIME" IN HARBIN

I was loath to put on my down coat this past Monday. Something about wearing a down coat in April doesn’t feel natural, but once I stepped outside into the wind and snow and pulled my hood tight over my head, I was glad I had put it on.
At least the snow wasn’t sticking to the roads, my co-teacher and I noted as we walked back home from lunch.
That afternoon, I had office hours, and running a bit late, I decided to take my bike. The roads were clear, after all… But when the doorman saw I wanted to get my bike, he quickly said “It’s snowing!” “I know,” I replied. “You’ll break your head open, the roads are slippery!” I looked out the door… “Oh!” He was right, there was 2 inches of snow on the road! I decided to walk.

That evening, after my class ended at 8 PM, two students walked me home, umbrellas in hand. By the time we reach my apartment, there was a thick layer of snow on the umbrellas.

Umbrellas in the snow … that reminds me of a story … I should have known that Harbin was under the White Witch’s curse.

Tuesday, it kept coming. It didn’t keep me from going to the pool, though, but I think trudging through drifts of snow up to my knees and walking against the wind was as much exercise as I got while swimming! I wonder how long it took for this taxi that I passed to get out…

All the locals say this snow was really abnormal – a once in 50 years kind of thing. I admit, it was bit fun to see all this snow at once, but I’m still left wondering, how much longer until Aslan comes? How much longer until Spring?

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JANUARY 9 SNAPSHOT

The fall semester is over! Most of the students have gone home, all
the exams are graded, all the paperwork is done (thankfully! this
week was a bit full because of all this), and tomorrow morning I also
leave campus. I can’t believe how fast this semester has gone by.

After 3 flights tomorrow I’ll arrive in Chiang Mai, Thailand where
I’ll be taking classes for 2 weeks for my graduate degree in Teaching
English as a Second Language and Intercultural Studies through
Wheaton College. Classes start on Monday! A few days after classes
finish, I’ll attend my company’s annual conference. I’m really looking
forward to the warm weather, sunshine, and also the time to reflect
on this past semester and be renewed before the next one starts.

Next time I write it won’t be -15 (F) outside, but hopefully
something more like 70 or 80 (F)!

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DECEMBER SNAPSHOT: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I’m almost caught up! Here’s are some of my pre-Christmas thoughts:

I can hardly believe it’s Christmas already! This past month has really flown by. I give my last exam today, yes, on Christmas Eve (but in the morning). And then aside from grading and paperwork next week, the semester will be finished.

But, the semester isn’t over yet! There’s about one week until students go home for their holiday.

The other teachers and I have planned to do a lot today (Christmas Eve) – host an Christmas Office Party for our colleagues in the English Department, deliver cookies to people on campus to spread the Christmas cheer, and have some student friends over for a party. And later this weekend, I’ll have my 80 sophomore’s over for Christmas Parties (in groups of 20 … I hope they all fit!).

Amidst all this busyness that comes at the end of the semester and with planning many activities I am trying to remind myself that Christmas isn’t about what we do for or give to other people, it’s really about something that was given to us.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty G, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas!

Snapshot: Becky and I and some of the Office hour regulars after decorating a Christmas tree we found hidden in the back corner our office. How come I’m the only one with antlers?!?

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SUNDAY SNAPSHOT

Yes, I know it’s Monday. But it’s just such a good alliteration, especially when you add my name to it that I just can’t drop it. Plus, you can’t complain, because a good headline gives me more motivation to write a post, especially when I know it’s just a short snapshot.

So… this week I want to give you a snapshot of my new place. As you know, I had to move at the end of the semester, right before I left for Thailand. And though moving was a bit of work, I feel like it was a major improvement. I wasn’t too settled in or attached to my old, drafty place. The other American teachers also had to move, however, were a lot more settled, and their new apartments have some ‘spots’ on the walls…but we’re all adjusting well.

Here’s a snapshot of the new apartment from the north-west side. Lot of teachers live in this neighboorhood, as I saw during this morning’s commute (10 minute walk). You don’t see many other people outside during other hours, except for elderly people getting their exercise or walking their dogs. My balcony window is the one on the top leftmost corner.

In my stairwell there’s about 18 apartments. Besides my 3 teammates, there’s also a family from Vietnam, some Korean students, an elderly Chinese couple, a family from Sudan and another man from Sudan. I haven’t met everyone yet, and those I met I have a hard time with their names. (They have a hard time with mine, too, though). Oh and I almost forgot Mr. Wang, who’s in charge of housing foreigners, and the two guards who take turns sitting in the apartment on the first floor.

Here’s a photo I took today from the little park area to the west of the apartment building.

The park is nice. Sometimes couples go here to sit, as you can see …

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SUNDAY SNAPSHOTSSS (many photos!)

I taught my last class on December 23rd and had two days off for Christmas, but since then it’s been busy, getting exams ready and giving exams. I just gave my last final this past Friday (January 2nd). Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to as the term winds down …


All the students at our university have to learn to ice skate. It seems like a Harbin tradition. Now that it’s the end of the semester, many students are selling their ice skates back to the school store. I bought a used pair and I’ve gone twice at the ice rink on campus (a large flat field that they flood). I hope to skate on the Song Hua River sometime this winter.


Lindsay and I ice skating. Yes, it’s as cold as it looks. Ice on my eyelashes and I think you can see our breath in this picture. But is good fun and good exercise.


第十届哈尔滨冰雪大世界。The 10th Harbin Ice and Snow World. The other foreign teachers at my school and I braved the cold to see this last Sunday evening. We lasted 2 hours. I think I wore the 4 pairs of pants! Good thing, because they had ice slides there!


Me at the 10th Harbin Ice and Snow World. A note about the fake fur on my hood. I had this jacket in the states, but never zipped on the fur. But here, it’s worth it. It helps block the wind. And it’s totally the style here!


We also treated some of our close mutual friends to a holiday dinner last week.

But it’s hasn’t been all fun this past week. End of the term means it’s also time to grade exams …

I’m done with my stack of 32 English second-majors. But now I need to tackle my 83 freshman English majors Oral English exams (pictured here: as thick as my Lonely Planet travel guide). Before I could grade the exams, I had to have a lesson from our Chinese teachers. This year, the foreign teachers have been asked to follow the same format as the Chinese teachers. It’s meant that we’ve spent a lot of time in the English department office, but it also means that we’ve got to know the Chinese English teachers a whole lot better! Now … I wonder how long it’ll take me to grade these exams …

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