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christmas1I find it amazing that Christmas has already come and gone. When I first arrived in China 11 months ago, I remember having the impression that a year is a really long time and that I would be spending my very first Christmas away from home. But that was in February 2013 and Christmas seemed ages away. After all, there was still snow on the ground in Shanghai and it would still be another few months before the weather got warmer and we’d be working 6 days a week during the 6-week long intensive summer course. I had just arrived and had a whole year of learning the job and adjusting to life in China ahead of me.
They weren’t kidding when they told me that time flies in China.

EF Christmas Show

tree1And then summer course was in the past, as well as the entire hot season. It cooled down, but it never actually became cold. I’m still waiting for winter. The festive season in December needs to be cold and snowy in order for it to actually feel festive. I’m from Canada though so I’m biased. Anyone from Australia or even the UK would almost certainly disagree. Christmas isn’t that big a deal in China either so there isn’t the same amount of hype as there would be in the West. At the beginning of December our workshop time was taken up with rehearsals for the annual Christmas show. Besides singing ‘Hello, hello,’ it involved some class performances with singing and mini dancing Santas, as well as featuring the EF teachers in the play “Cinderella.” Finally, to wrap it all up, there was a rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock,’ also featuring the EF teaching staff.

December 24

santa1I went to Shanghai on a cool and crisp Christmas Eve. As soon as we hopped off the metro we were confronted with holiday decorations and a Christmas tree on the street. There was even a Chinese Santa Clause. The supermarket had been decorated and all the familiar Christmas tunes were playing in the shops, which I might have been more impressed by had I not heard ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ playing at the local Wal-Mart in July. I celebrated with my roommate at a local wine bar near Shaanxi South Station then left for the metro so we could make the last train home.
We missed the last subway.
Instead of making it back to our apartment on Christmas Eve, we ended up crashing on somebody’s floor. Definitely not how I planned on spending the first part of Christmas morning.

December 25

No holiday breakfast. Not even my usual morning coffee. We were up early, but instead of gathering around a Christmas tree and opening presents, as is the usual custom, we made our way to the nearest Shanghai metro station to go to the train station. 3 hours later, we were home.
The afternoon on Christmas Day involved a social gathering at a hotel with the academic staff, including both local and foreign teachers. There was Secret Santa as well as a buffet lunch. It was a quiet affair, but enjoyable nonetheless. Holiday movies were playing in the background, but nobody was really watching. There was wine and there was beer, and there were board games or card games later that night at someone’s apartment, which I ended up missing out on. But Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather, to give and to receive and enjoy each other’s company without the common distractions of everyday life. And despite being away from home and away from the winter weather, it was Christmas, in every sense of the word.

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About the Author:

Gillian Campbell
Gillian Campbell is an English Teacher at EF Shaoxing.
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