Should we stay or should we go ? We can always ask the question. Actually, it is the job (my husband’s job) that decides. We once left Lyon to go to Normandie, then France to China, and we don’t have any idea of our next place. Sometimes, when our relatives are sick, we feel sad t be so far away. However, travelling and quiet life make the distance easier to bear. Life is made of changes and uncertainties, or what I can call opportunities. We just enrolled the girls in their school for a new school year, which means that we should stay a bit longer here.
We arrived in April 2012 and the girls already spent over 4 years in China, over half of their existence for the both of them. For them, studying in English with friends from all over the world, living in a country where you don’t speak the native language, travelling regularly in amazing places, coming back to France and catching up with the family… This is absolutely normal to them. But what is normal? I sometimes feel worried about what they miss at the cultural, schooling or family level; then, I realize that they are happy to live with their parents, in a school system that encourages self-confidence and valorizes success. Being open to the world and the others is a source of wealth that is part of the package. The world is changing, and they will have to find their place. They grow up, we genuinely hope that they will become blooming adults finding their own path to face life.
On the practical side, they have French lessons with me. Since Camille was in Grade 1, we receive the CNED courses (French home schooling curriculum). However, it is at times difficult to start with French after (English) school and home work from school. There is no other choice, French is one of the most difficult languages, and we fight grammar and spelling together. They both love reading in French, and even if they are a bit late in French, we don’t forget that they are ahead in English!
Our oldest was diagnosed as dyslexic by a specialist from New Zealand. She benefits from the learning services of her school: 45’ every day, she leaves her class and works with a specialized teacher. .They did extremely well and she progresses. She can now put a word on her difficulties. In 2016, we decided with the school that she would stop learning Chinese and focuse on English and French.
Parents also go to school
After several years of studying the language, we decided to take the HSK: Hanyu Shuiping kaoshi, an exam testing our level in Mandarin. We took level 2 that shows our ability to communicate on familiar issues or everyday life in Chinese. The 1 hour quiz includes 35 oral comprehension questions and 25 written comprehension questions. We need an average mark of 120/200 to pass the test.
School is not everything and our life in China is also full of happiness. Arnaud’s best friend came to visit us in May with his wife and children. We spent 3 days in Hong King, climbed up the Pic Victoria with the tramway, we crossed the harbor on a Star Ferry, visited the old Sheung Wan district and the Man Mo temple, before starting a journey in deep China.
Arnaud is always found of thrills and loves sky running. He enrolled to a night race, 60 km assaulting Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia. He arrived at the top in less tha 11 hours; unfortunately, after 39 km and 17 hours of running, he wisely gave up. Only 14 runners out of 90 finished the race in less than 20 hours. Arnaud is fully motivated to enroll again to this mythic race in 2017.
We also travelled through amazing Indonesia. We were hosted by friends living on Java. He is Austrian and she is Indonesian, they have two daughters. They welcomed us very gently in her family, close to Surabaya.
French bread in Zhuhai !
Since September, Ronan, an expatriate Breton in Zhuhai, married to a Chinese wife, delivers his bread in Tangjia. He runs a shop in Huafa, but we would need two hours of driving to get some bread. No, thank you! Every Tuesday evening, he comes to our place and delivers bread to the expat community of this side of the city. We order by sms on Sunday evening, and our delicious and fresh bread arrives on Tuesday evening! This is a revolution to us, a treat that we can afford, even if it is quite expensive, quality is there and we enjoy it!