There's a reason I'm not a poet

Posts tagged ‘xi gua’

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Lads.

I have officially booked my flights to China.

Aaahhhhhh this is so fricking exciting.

This blog is meant to have some degree of literacy and as a general rule I try to stop myself from posting all in capital letters all the time.

BUT YOU GUYS I AM MAKING DEFINITE PROGRESS TOWARDS ACTUALLY GOING TO CHINA.
CHINA. LIKE ACTUAL CHINA. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I finished my Mandarin lessons a month or two ago (basically two hours every fortnight of me sitting and wishing I was as cool as my middle aged teacher) and I had planned to get to planning/booking/applying for visa but I’ve been really busy until the past week or two, with changing jobs/exams/deadlines/extra-curricular curricular activities. So I hadn’t actually made progress. But now I have! Went into the travel agents on Wednesday and tied down some dates and then booked them yesterday morning.

The next step is applying for a visa. China is reportedly one of the more difficult countries to get a visa for, and you have to be particularly organised. Some countries allow you to rock up for a grace period of x number of days, but with China you need a formal letter of invitation to the country from someone in China, and you also need to provide them with the purpose of and an itinerary for your stay. As well as proof of your itinerary- this means confirmations of flights and hotel bookings.

So although I’ve booked my flights, sadly it doesn’t mean I’ll definitely be going to China! Earlier this year, the President of China visited the UK and they cosied up to each other (but if garden party chat can be believed it’s a bit more complicated than that) and as a result they’ve actually relaxed the visa rules. You can now visit China on a single entry for a total of 90 days at one time, and you’re allowed re-entry into the country as many times as you want in a 2 year period. Which sounds fantastic! My worry is that in relaxing the requirements they’ll be stricter about how many visas they give out, but I guess that remains to be seen.

So at the minute I’m trying to work out what exactly I’ll be doing every single day for 90 days. Needless to say, it’s proving a bit complicated! And I keep getting distracted by places called “Fairy Pool Scenic Area” and mentions of golden monkeys. But my plan is to fly out mid/late August to Shanghai, move around using the squiggly green lines below before ending in Hong Kong mid/late November. I’ll stick around there for a couple of days then fly out to finish my adventure in Japan!

China Route Map Plan1

At the minute I’m getting very confused trying to work out how to compare small guesthouses in rural China. But it’s most definitely a labour of love. Asia here I come!

M

Treat yourself to a dumpling

My friends and I were trying to work out when the most depressing part of the year was, to decide when to have our Treat Yo Self day. It’s likely some day in the middle of November, but we couldn’t wait that long. So we went for the first Saturday in February!

The day started off with brunch, cake and a mimosa (aw yeah) before driving into town and getting a taxi from our car. Theme of the day. We went shopping for needless items, drank during the day, found the comfiest chairs in Belfast, and had a Rhianna dirty chip. In the evening we headed out for dinner to Shu which was amaaazing. I didn’t take any photos because oh my god the food was fantastic and I was too busy eating. It was clear that everything on the plate had been carefully selected due to compatibility with the other ingredients. Yum to the max.

The next day we had a few people over for Chinese New Year! I don’t actually really have any Chinese friends in NI so I was kind of just winging it. I’d made some efforts at calligraphy beforehand and stuck them up around the apartment.  

 The plan was to make fortune cookies (which failed abismally because tuile pastry is a d***) and then like 200 dumplings. That bit was much more of a success! We had a good production line going, and managed to make three different flavours of the things. I haven’t made them in a couple of years and previously had been under the fierce watchful eyes of some pros so wasn’t sure if I was really the best person to be teaching. But the team did well and they ended up delicious. And I got to eat my bodyweight all over again. Wode fu dao le.

M

What is your emergency?

So I’ve moved on from my FY1 year and have been working in A&E for the past month now, and I think my experience so far can roughly be imagined by the fact that I’ve had three whole days off in that month. That includes weekends by the way.

In a word? Relentless.

Part of me is a little sad that I was off last weekend, because the whole “I’ve had one day off so far” was such a badge of pride at week three. But the majority of me is quite happy with the fact that I actually got some me-time.

The thing is though, that while I’m working essentially every day, the shifts aren’t that long: say like a 8-4:30, or 11-7, or 4-12. So you often get either the whole morning off or else the evening, and so I’ve actually been able to make a fair amount of plans over the past while, which has been nice. In my previous jobs I had days that were much longer, and so committing to things was harder in a different way.

I have been enjoying A&E, and I think over the four months I will have certainly learnt a lot. The place I’m working in just opened up a new A&E department, and man is it shiny. So it’s a nice place to work in. On a good day, you’re enthused by the variety of things you’re presented with, by the enthusiasm and hard graft of the people you’re working alongside, and by the hilarious people that come through the door (intentionally or otherwise).

On a bad day, you’re overrun by swarms of people coming through the door, you’re filled with blind fear and your mind is thinking “oh pants I have no idea what’s going on with this person and I’m too young for this crap and I can’t decide if they’re going to drop dead if I let them walk out the door or if they’re just a bit drunk/weird/insane” (delete as appropriate).

But I’m getting there. Getting a bit more confident with dealing with diagnostic uncertainty, with judging levels of safety, and assessing what the person actually wants you to do for them today. And there’s time for improvement. So obviously by the end of the four months I’ll be an absolute boss at everything. Obviously.

In other news I’ve moved out of my house and am currently back at home while we look for a new place to rent. Turns out it’s pretty difficult in Belfast to find somewhere suitable, but we’re making some progress with a place now and it should hopefully work out. I’ll also be starting up Chinese lessons again later this month- custard bun 4lyf

M

Mao-tivated

Slight delay in posting this but my Chinese classes have ended! Aww. By the way in case you didn’t know I’ve been taking Chinese classes. And they’ve been great fun! It was a bit strange cause nearly everyone else in the class had come from the “level one” beforehand, and so there were a bunch of times when they were talking about vocab that I didn’t know as if it were common knowledge. But generally it wasn’t difficult to keep up, and the course I did a few years ago gave me a really good grounding in the language, so I was quite happy in the class.

I feel like I made a bit of progress with the language, but as I’ve obviously been working this time I haven’t really had the time much to sit down and just geek out on my zhongwen like I did a few years ago. And as the course wasn’t as intense (ie there weren’t two exams at the end of it) there wasn’t really any pressure to study in between classes either. So I probably didn’t advance as much as I could have done. Which isn’t really the end of the world.

So it raises the question of what to do next. I’m currently thinking of taking a gap yah after F2, and during that time I’d quite like to go to China for a bit and explore. Ideally I’d like to be able to survive on my own while I’m out there, which would obviously involve a bit of speaking the language. I don’t feel like I’m there yet, so a bit more learning is required.

My next placement is A&E, and what with the irregular shift patterns I don’t think I could realistically commit to going to a class at the same time each week. Well, maybe I could, but I feel like I need a contingency plan. So I’m thinking about the possibility of getting private lessons; they’d be less fun obviously because you’re on your lonesome, but I feel like I’d learn quite a lot.

So yeah, the dream of becoming Asian is still alive.

M

Plans

Work’s going alright at the minute: I’m continuing in my efforts to slowly transform into a man of German-style efficiency, and it’s nice when it pays off- some people have complimented me when I get things done quickly. Hooray! I’m not incompetent!

My bank balance has been taking some pretty major hits recently, but for fantastic reasons as I have been making plans. The first takes place later this month: I’m going skiiiiiiiiing! A few friends from uni and myself will be heading to the French Alps and doing what people with incomes do. I will of course be doing what dyspraxic people do, and will be spending a huge proportion of my time on my bum/back/face/weenis covered in snow- I wasn’t exactly good when I went skiing the first time. Two of the others are beginners like me, and the other two went as children, so it should be a good balance. Thankfully my sister tipped me off to the possibility that my travel insurance mightn’t actually cover me for sliding down mountains at high speed, and that’s been sorted.

The next destination is Lahndahn in late February- as part of training, doctors have to undertake an Advanced Life Support course, and I figured if I was gonna do it why bother doing it in my normal hospital when I could go elsewhere and see people in the mainland. So I’m gonna be in a posh London hospital where the complaints are less about being stabbed and more about being kicked by your pony. I’m over for the weekend, so if you’re reading this then send me a message so we can arrange to see each other! If you’re not reading this then obviously you don’t deserve my company.

The third current plan is probably the warmest of the three- my housemate and another friend of mine are planning on running a marathon in March, and being the virtuous person that I am I decided to get a bunch of people to come along and support them as they run it. In Barcelona. Hell yeeaaahhhhhh. I don’t know much about the city other than people who’ve gone there have really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to exploring it for a few days. Unfortunately I don’t speak much Spanish apart from “I am lost”, “Hello”, and “I’m pregnant”. Hopefully I’ll only need the middle one.

Maybe I’ll go for tapas. That’ll count as me doing my research.

Oh and before I forget I’ve also signed up for some Chinese lessons! I did a course a few years ago and really loved it, so I’m looking forward to getting into it again. Unfortunately the only course I could feasibly get to from work is the “Level 2” one so I may be struggling a little for a while! I’m also meant to be working 13 hour shifts over some of the days when the lessons are so my rota may require a bit of tweaking. If I end up not being able to attend much/keep up I can always take the course again: my aim is to be at least vaguely passable by the end of my FY2 year, as my pipeline dream is to take some time out and explore China for a bit. Bad for the career, good for the soul.

Anyway I’m off to bed. AU REVOIR/ADIOS/ZAIJIAN

M

Semper eadem

So I leave tomorrow- this is my last night in England.

I don’t think I’m a massively sentimental person, but I would say I’m at least pensive- so I’m having a think back on my six years here: how much fun it’s been, who I’ve met, and what I’ve achieved. I’m happy to say that while obviously there have been social situations where I’ve said the wrong thing (or things I would have liked to have done more etc.) I don’t think I have any major regrets.

We had our “Declaration Ceremony” on Sunday- it’s like a graduation, but not. It’s more of a ceremony where you profess to follow the equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, but family are invited to take the obligatory photos of you prancing about in a gown and a funny-looking hood (ours were hot pink with white fluff. Manly)
While essentially it was one big queue, I had a fricking great time. Hearing my name being read out and having some applause/cheer was a fantastic feeling, and in true Michael style I had the stupidest grin on my face when I went up to the front. At the end though, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I would be saying bye to people. So all of a sudden I found myself trying to thank people in about thirty seconds for being the kick-ass, superfriendly people that they have been for several years. Naturally I failed completely, and so afterwards I sent a few soppy text messages and got to ruminating.

And now I’m leaving.

At the risk of sounding like the most pretentious d*****bag ever, I’m reminded of a poem I heard several years ago. I think it was originally written in Chinese and to be completely honest half of the language/imagery doesn’t work very well, for example I’ve never quite understood the line “I would be a water plant”
The last sentence has always struck me though- it describes a visiting scholar called Xu Zhimo, on the evening he’s leaving Cambridge. The place is at heart the same it has always been, and will very much remain so for a long time. While I’m extremely lucky to have studied here, and I feel like I’ve achieved a lot/possibly made a difference in some people’s lives, Cambridge itself will remain unchanged by my presence. It’s not necessarily a sad feeling, but it’s kind of poignant. His poem ends on a bit that does in fact translate well, and to me talks about how that feels:

 

Very quietly I take my leave
As quietly as I came here;
Gently I flick my sleeves
Not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away

This is it guys. It’s been a pleasure

M

Get yer red out for the lads

Gong xi fa cai!

CNY 2k14

Time for a more sober post. Friday was Chinese New Year (or CNY as my cooler friends seem to call it), and we’re now in the year of the horse, which is the one I was born in. I’m not sure if this is meant to be good luck for me, but I’ve been trying to wear lots of red just in case.

On Thursday I tried to scarper up some enthusiasm for getting a “dirty Chinese takeaway” from the carry-out just round the corner from our hospital accommodation. My Chinese friends are all at home this weekend or else seeing family friends, and they’re all having huge feasts and making me incredibly jealous. So this was my attempt at getting into the spirit of things, in true white-boy fashion.

One of the girls who agreed to the plan had never actually had a Chinese takeaway before because, being Chinese herself, she had only ever eaten proper Chinese food (as opposed to the salt-and-MSG-filled stuff I’m used to from Norn Iron). She told me she tried to Google the place to find out what its food hygiene rating was., at which point I had to take her aside and tell her to seriously lower her standards.

I’m a bit of a sinophile (yes I did just look that up), and it’s one of my ambitions to go to China some day. My current plan is to take a year out after foundation training and see as much of the place as I can. I was considering going this summer, but I don’t think I’d really have enough time to do it properly in the end, so we’ll have to put a pin in it until 2016 methinks.

I think when I first mentioned my interest in all-things-Chinese my mum was a bit worried I’d find someone and end up settling down in Beijing, slowly getting fatter and earning the pet name of “dumpling”. To be honest I think that sounds ideal

M