Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

6th September 2019

First report from China by Nik Janus

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Nik Janus has just arrived in China for his year of teaching, partly-supported by Hazel’s Footprints Trust. Nik is from our local area – the Scottish Borders – and we’re amazed that he feels China doesn’t seem all that far from here! Nik also shared his thoughts ahead of the trip, back in May.

Report from Nik Janus as he arrives in China

The travel to China was a horrendous ordeal as we had a 7 hour flight from London to Dubai and then also a 7.5 hour flight from Dubai to Beijing. We then spent two nights in Beijing and had a 26 hour sleeper train to a nearby city and then an hour car drive to finally arrive at our destination. Even with two nights’ rest in Beijing we were completely exhausted when arriving at our project.

Rural China is beautiful!

I’ve been in China for a couple of days now and it’s safe to say it’s completely different from what I expected. The entire country is covered in trees and has beautiful landscapes. Whereas I expected a lot more tacky factories and other buildings to be dotted around everywhere just polluting the countryside. Especially where I am, there are fields and agriculture all around with beautiful streams flowing and shimmering amongst the cornfields. I don’t yet know why but most of the fields are cornfields which I find very interesting.

Adapting to change

Although it is a pretty developed country, there are some things that will take getting used to. The main thing is the squat toilets. Let’s just say that they are what they sound like and avoid going into any more details. Another thing is most toilets in China don’t offer toilet paper and therefore you need to carry your own around. This is something I learned the hard way although luckily I managed to tell my Project Trust partner and he had some spare to lend me.

Another thing that I will have to get used to is the fact that although there may be many tourists in the big cities such as Beijing etc, where I have situated there aren’t really any tourists or any other ethnicities in general. So, many people will stare and looked very shocked when I walk past them. Although it isn’t intimidating or menacing in any way, it’s just something that will take getting used to. Usually, I am not the main attraction when I am just walking down the street.

I quite honestly don’t feel like I’m on a different continent at all. It’s as if my family is just around the corner but I reckon that with time the fact that I am so far away from my family will sink in. Perhaps that’s because the people here are so welcoming and friendly that it makes you feel safe and not really worry about how far away from home you are.

I haven’t started teaching yet as the headmaster said he first wants us to recover from the jetlag. Then, we’ll have physical examinations and get all of the administrative stuff sorted and out of the way. Hopefully, I will begin teaching and start receiving my Mandarin lessons very soon.

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