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Monday, January 18, 2021

2021 so far....

 Here is what I have written in my memoirs so far in 2021. 


We made it to 2021! So far, this year has been treating me well even though we are only two days into it. I am thankful for my daughter and my health even though I still have a long way to go to get back to 100%. I am alive and grateful to be in halfway decent shape. I hope this year turns out better than 2020.

Jenny, Eliana and I made it to midnight on the 31st but went to bed shortly after that. We will see what this year has in store for the Horton Mojica Family. Hopefully only good things, I hope that both Jenny and I will be working before summertime gets here.

Today is January 7th, 2021 and I went to see my doctor again. My doctor at the local health center is a man and he is very nice and helpful. He has helped keep my vomiting under control with medicine and has monitored my progress. At Ubarmin, the rehab center run by the Spanish government, my doctor is a woman and she told me that at least for one more month, my treatment of physical and occupational therapy will remain the same. However, she told me that she is seeing a lot of progress in my recovery.

Until and unless I start having worse symptoms again, I also think that I will continue to get stronger and healthier. Currently, the only thing that I cannot do for myself is drive. Basically, everything else I can do for myself and by myself. My left eye is still crooked, and I am waiting on the treatment for that. My speech is basically back to normal in both English and Spanish.

My walking gait continues to improve, and I am no longer using my walker. I still have a long way to go to get back to normal like I was before the surgeries but after living in Spain for a year now and having such a crazy 2020, I am feeling more confident that unless something really bad happens and I have to go back to the hospital, then I will continue to improve.

I can deal with occasional vomiting and headaches, even though they are not pleasant, if that is the worst thing that I have to deal with then I am doing ok. At the end of January, I will be eligible to take the test to receive my Spanish Citizenship. I plan on doing so. Normally, you must wait five years minimum of living in Spain but because I am married to Jenny who is a Spanish (and Colombian) citizen, I am able to apply for Spanish citizenship after living here for only one year. I look forward to having a passport from the European Union and being able to work and travel freely in the European Union.

I want to try and keep politics out of this book but, something recently has happened back in the United States and I feel obligated to say something. It saddens me that supporters of President Trump have assaulted the Capitol trying to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as our next President. It saddens me that so many people see others as the enemy and not as fellow Americans. It saddens me that so many people believe crazy conspiracy theories that have no basis in reality.

Our two-party system is broken. In reality, I believe that the Democrats are just as corrupt as the Republicans and we should be allowed a valid third-party choice. As it stands now, not much is going to change. The rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer. I can only hope for healing in our nation going into the future.

Unfortunately, as of mid-January 2021, both my parents have tested positive for Covid-19 (we think that my mom got it and gave it to my dad) even though they have been wearing masks and generally trying to protect themselves. We are very lucky that they had mild symptoms though. They both lost their sense of taste and smell but that is pretty much the worst thing that they experienced. Both of them are back to work now and doing better. I was super worried about them, so I am very relieved that they are OK.

Sadly, Jason´s wife Lou, her mom caught Covid and was in the hospital for almost three months and she didn't make it. She passed away due to Covid-19. We were very sad to hear that news.

Eliana also has not been doing great as of late, she has colic and her stomach has been hurting her. The doctor tells us this is totally normal and nothing to worry about. It should go away by the time she is three months old. However, I feel bad that she is in pain and not sleeping well. I hope all of this passes soon.

As of January 14th, 2020, Eliana is one month old! I can´t believe that one month has passed already. She is growing bigger and stronger every day. She now weighs more than four kilos or more than nine pounds. She continues to grow in both weight and length. She is perfectly healthy other than having a little colic. I am so thankful my daughter is normal and healthy.

Being a parent is hard work. It is a sacrifice in time, energy and sleep loss. However, I wouldn't change it for the world. She is my little angel and I love her more than I have ever loved anyone in this world. I cannot wait to continue to see her changes both physically and mentally. I want to hear her first words, see her first steps and see what color her eyes and hair will end up being. This world is a terrible place in many respects, but it is also good in many other respects. I can´t wait to see what this world has in store for her and how she will learn about the world. I do not regret helping to bring her into it.

On February 22nd the Spanish government informed me that they are finally going to give me my Botox injection and fix my twisted left eye! I am not looking forward to this procedure but hopefully I will be asleep, and it will be painless, and I will finally be able to see correctly again.

As of January 16th, 2021, I found out that my parents have sold their house in Little Elm. After living there since 1997 they are getting ready to retire and move to a smaller town to live out their retirement. They plan to rent a house in Little Elm for two more years and then make the move to Saint Jo, Texas where some friends already live.

They plan to build a two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin on some land and enjoy a slower pace of life. I am slightly sad that the Little Elm chapter of our lives is closing, since so many of my formative years were spent there. However, I am happy for them and look forward to visiting a new smaller town. Little Elm is getting too big and city like for me anyway. There are always so many changes every time I go back home.

 


Spain, 2020 and 2021 to come....

 I have started writing my memoirs and to be honest, I have updated those more than I have this blog! So, I will copy and paste everything I have written from 2020 and 2021. So much has happened to me in such a short time since we left China!


Well it looks like in 2019 I was overly optimistic about 2020. This has not been a great year for anyone so far.

Our plan was that Jenny would leave for Spain in September and I would stay until January 2020, to finish out my contract and then I would fly to Spain to rejoin her. This four-month period of time was the longest amount of time that we had been separated since we met each other. It was not easy to be away from my wife for so long, but I was staying busy working and getting ready to move. There were times that both of us were lonely and missing each other and it felt like the days would never go fast enough.

However, before we knew it January 24th had arrived and after finishing all the things I had to get done at the university, I boarded my flight from Shenzhen to Madrid and then onto Pamplona Spain. Finally, after four months I was able to be reunited with Jenny once more and start my new life in Spain.

From this point forward, I will need to arrange my working visa, we need to get a car, I need a driver’s license, or a new apartment and all the basic things that one needs to start a new life.

We will see what happens for me (and Jenny and our family and friends) in 2020 and find out what life has in store for me and us. I look forward to seeing what happens.

As of March 2020, the biggest story here in Spain and around the world is the Corona Virus (or COVID-19) that has paralyzed the world. Everything has shut down here in Spain and worldwide. We are in our third week of total lock down here in the house. We can leave (one person only) once a week for groceries or to go to the pharmacy or hospitals. Luckily, Jenny and I are still able to work online. Many people are not so fortunate. The only people allowed to be out are the ¨essential¨ healthcare workers.

As of March 31st, 2020, there are 801,061 cases worldwide with 38,748 deaths. These numbers will just keep climbing unfortunately. This is unlike anything the world has seen in over one hundred years at least.

Spain is currently third worldwide in the number of total cases (94,417) and second worldwide in deaths with 8,189. Scary stuff. Luckily, so far no one that Jenny or I know here has been personally affected but that could change. My sister in law works in the hospital and many people are getting infected.

But Jenny and I now have jobs, an apartment and a car so as of right now we are still doing ok. I am more worried about my family back home in the U.S.A. than I am about us though.

The U.S. is generally much less well prepared, and people seem to be taking it much less seriously there. Our current President and administration are not helping matters. I truly hope that things get better sooner rather than later.

Hopefully the whole world will have learned something from this, and we can all come out stronger from this. The only positive thing is that (at least for now) we humans are doing much less polluting and general destruction of our only planet.

April 5th, 2020, a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. This was the day that Jenny told me she was pregnant with our first child. I still can't believe that we have created a new life that will arrive in nine months. I am beyond scared, so nervous and unprepared but excited. I have no idea what I am doing, and I know nothing about babies but now I have something beyond myself. Someone who will live beyond me.

I have a legacy, someone to pass on not only my genes but also my ideas, parts of my personality and more. Of course, I am not the only person involved in this process, in fact, I have the easy part. Jenny has the hard part! Our child has 50% of her as well.

We are partners in this new adventure and many years from now, maybe my future child will be the one reading these words.

Now we have a responsibility to try and give the best life possible to our child. I hope Jenny and I are as good at parenting as our parents have been. I couldn’t ask for better parents and I know she would say the same.

We will have big shoes to fill. As of May 25th, 2020, we are in week twelve of our pregnancy. We still do not know if we are going to have a boy or a girl, but we are super nervous and excited either way.

In three days, we will go for our first sonogram and hopefully be able to find out the gender of our little one. As soon as Jenny told me she was pregnant I felt a change inside of me. I became extremely emotional and excited at the thought of becoming a father and to have done my part to help create a new life on this planet. Creating a life is one thing, raising a child is a completely different matter!

However, I am positive that Jenny will be a great, loving, caring and involved mother and I only hope I can do half the job that my dad did to raise me and that I will be a good father as well. I sure am going to try my very best to give our child the best life possible.

I already feel more love than I ever thought possible for him/her and our baby is not even here yet!

I am excited every day to see and feel the changes in Jenny's body, knowing that our little one is growing inside her and I cannot wait to hold my child in my arms.

This is unlike any experience I have ever had, and I have never experienced the feelings that I now feel with anyone or anything else in my life.

This is a new and exciting adventure! I got to feel Eliana kicking in Jenny's belly. That was an exciting day for both of us.

We are very happy and excited and can’t wait until she is in our arms. We are hopeful for a smooth and uneventful delivery so we can see our healthy baby.

After arriving to Pamplona in January, I got a job at the public university until March but then we went on lock down and we were basically locked down to the apartment until the end of June so we didn’t get to do anything outside of the apartment and then I ended up in the hospital. In June 2020, I started vomiting and experiencing headaches. This started my eight-week journey at the hospital in Pamplona. Spain. My mom has come over from Texas and Jenny´s family has been great. I ended up having three brain surgeries.

The first surgery, the doctors tried replacing the shunt tubing. After that didn't work. They decided to take out the shunt tubing for a week to monitor the flow of liquid.

Well that didn't work either, so they ended up taking my thirty-five-year-old shunt and giving me two new programmable shunts. These shunts can be adjusted with magnets without having to open my head to do another surgery. So, I survived three brain surgeries, but I have a lot of recovery ahead of me.

Unfortunately, I have lost weight and mobility and I am still weak, and I have some facial paralysis with a wonky left eye that needs correcting (hopefully it will be self-correcting with time, but eye surgery is an option for the future if needed)

So, I have lots of rehab ahead of me to get back to 100%. But I am hopeful that with time and some hard work I can fix my left eye and get rid of this facial paralysis.

I know that physically I will gain my weight and stability back, so I am not worried about that. But it has been nice having my mom here to help and give me some good Southern food. Of course, we will get to see them again in December when Eliana is born. I can’t wait to hold her in my arms and hopefully both of us will be 100% healthy in December.

Now I have been out of the hospital for just over a month now and I have started rehab five days a week. I do both private and government funded rehab. I have physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. I have gained some weight and noticed improvement in my eating, drinking and speech luckily.

However, I still have a long way to go to get back to the way I was before the surgeries. I know with time and patience it will happen though. Both my mom and Jenny and her family have been a huge help to me during this trying time. Hopefully by the time Eliana is born in December I will be better though. At least I am out of the hospital and not in too much pain

I had a relapse in the beginning of October, and I had to go back into the hospital for ten days. I feel like my speech is worse and my balance also but everything else remains the same. I can still eat and drink whatever I want, and I have restarted my rehab and hope to gain back what I have lost now that I am back at home.

Today is November 9th, 2020 and I am slowly but surely regaining my strength and balance.  I am still waiting on the doctors to fix my lazy left eye and I am still going to rehab (both public and private) Monday through Friday. I am working on my balance issues and improving my speech, but overall things are not as bad as they were previously.

I have stopped vomiting, nor do I have bad headaches anymore. I can lay flat on my back for a longer time than I could previously. My neck is still weak where they put the new shunt in, but I have been gaining weight since I can still eat and drink whatever I want. Things could be better, but they could also be much worse. My full-time job now is going to my rehab and trying to get better.

I have had a job offer for a job that I can do from home so hopefully I will get that job and I can start working again. It will not be the perfect job, but it is better than doing nothing. Luckily, I feel like I have progressed faster after this most recent hospitalization. I have been out of the hospital just over a month now, but I can shower, shave and dress myself. So, I am slowly but surely regaining my independence.

I have more movement in my eyebrows and with my smile. I still have a lot of facial paralysis, but things are getting better slowly but surely, and the muscles of my face are activating even if it is just a little bit. 

Little Eliana Valentina will be here in less than a month! I still cannot believe that I am going to be a father. I am very excited and nervous to meet her though. Currently, Jenny is 36 weeks along.

Our daughter will be here before we know it. I still feel unprepared, but I hope that both Jenny and I will be good parents.

Jenny is getting big and our daughter currently weighs 2.5 kg or just over five pounds. She will continue to gain weight in the last four weeks of this pregnancy. I am nervous about the labor and delivery, but I cannot imagine what Jenny is going through and I will try my best to do my part and help where and when I can even in my weakened condition.

Luckily, Jenny so far only has some leg pain and pressure from the weight of her stomach. We are lucky that she has not experienced horrible pregnancy symptoms that some women go through. From this point forward through, every time jenny wakes up in the middle of the night I am going to freak out and think that she is going into labor.

I should also mention that The United States just recently elected Democrat Joe Biden as our 46th President. He is not my preferred candidate, but he is better than the previously President and I wish him all the luck in the world. He will need luck to work with our dysfunctional government. The average joe is being crushed in America unfortunately.

It is now Friday December 11th and Eliana is five days overdue! She does not want to leave Jenny´s belly. I am very nervous and excited to meet her though. I hope she is perfect, and I still cannot believe that I am going to be a father. I helped to create a new life that will come into this world on or before December 18th (that is Jenny`s induction date)

I am nervous and feel unprepared for parenthood, but I know that Jenny and I will do the best that we can even when we make mistakes. I cannot wait to show Eliana the world and watch her grow and learn. My heart is full of love for her and she is not even here yet. I get a huge thrill out of talking to her in the belly and feeling her move when she hears my voice.

Being a parent is an incredible responsibility and I have felt a huge change within myself since I found out that I was going to be a father.

Eliana Valentina Horton Mojica was born on Monday December 14th at 9:08am. After fifteen hours of labor Jenny ended up having to have a C section but now after three days in the hospital,

I have both my girls back home with me. It was hard for me not being able to be there for the birth (we decided to have my mother in law go with Jenny due to the chances of me catching Covid from the hospital with my weakened immune system. I was very nervous waiting at home for any news. I did not sleep well at all! But luckily other than a C Section Jenny is OK and so is Eliana.

Being a parent is a huge and awesome responsibility. I still feel unprepared but ready to take this on. The first time you hold your child in your arms is an amazing feeling.

I felt her grow for nine months in Jenny's stomach and now she is here in my arms. She is the most beautiful little girl and there is nothing more special than being able to hold your own child in your arms. I love her more than I have ever loved anything in this world, and I want to keep her close forever. Both mother and daughter are perfect.

Today is December 30th, 2020. This terrible year is almost over. As of today, I turn thirty-six years old. I can´t believe that I have made it this far.

Sometimes I still feel eighteen years old and other times I feel like I am sixty-six years old. This has been a challenging year for everyone, to say the least.

However, I survived three brain surgeries and went on to have a healthy baby girl. This year has not been all bad since Eliana was born.

Being a parent has been an exhausting yet rewarding experience. Every time I look at my daughter my heart is filled with love and I know all of the struggles are worth it. She is just now a little over two weeks old and sometimes she sleeps well and sometimes she does not sleep at all (then Jenny and I don't either) but I know this time will go super-fast and soon we will be wishing for it back. Eliana is perfectly healthy, and I am so thankful that none of my health problems were passed on to her.

 I can't think of anything else that I have ever done that is as fulfilling as becoming a father. I have visited over forty countries and had a wonderful blessed life, but nothing compares with holding my little girl in my arms. My life is far from perfect.

I do not have everything that I want, yet I do have everything that I need. There are people much worse off than me in this world. I am hoping for a corona virus free and better 2021 now that we have the vaccines available. I hope that Eliana will be able to have a normal healthy and happy childhood free of the fear of another pandemic. My biggest hope is that this world will be a better place for her than it has been for me.


Friday, February 14, 2020

My Experience in China

Well my time in China has finally come to an end. Now that I am out of China I can finally give you my thoughts about the experience. I will be sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of China. For those of you in the Western world, particularly in my home country of the United States (and those of you who have never been to China) you may hold an overly negative view of China based on what you have seen in the news media. So, some of what I write here I hope will pleasantly surprise you and some of the bad things may shock you. It is my hope that after reading this you can come away with a more realistic view of Mainland China and get rid of some of those old stereotypes.

I will start with the good things: First and Foremost (in my mind anyway) their cashless payment system which is accepted everywhere. I realize this might not hold a big appeal for some people (my dad comes to mind!) but for me, being free of cash, coins and cards was incredibly liberating! I think I miss that more than anything. Here is how it works: You register your fingerprint to your cellphone (so that only you can unlock your phone with your fingerprint) then, they have a chat/messaging service very similar to Whatsapp (it is called Wechat) and within Wechat there is a payment service which is linked to your bank account (you also have to register your fingerprint to unlock your virtual Wechat Wallet that is inside the Wechat program)

So the end result is, if you want to pay for anything or pay to anyone, send or receive money you can do so virtually with your phone. No need to carry cash, cards or coins ever! If for any reason someone was to steal your phone they could not unlock your phone without your fingerprint (even if they could unlock your phone somehow, they would still need the secondary fingerprint to get into your Wechat Wallet). In my mind there are only three downsides to this virtual payment system. 1. The Chinese government is in control of the payment system (so they could theoretically lock you out of your own money if they chose to do so) however, in China government control is a fact of life. They control everything, so once you accept that fact it isn´t such a big deal anymore. I never had any problems with it. 2. If the Wechat payment system is down you cannot pay for anything or receive any money from anyone (which is why I always carried a little emergency cash on me) but in 18 months the system was only down for a short period of time, twice. 3. This virtual payment system locks out anyone who doesn't have a smart phone or bank account. Those are really the only three downsides in my mind.

The next positive thing about China is, as hard as the U.S. media (and Trump in particular) try to get China to hate us Americans, in my experience in generally almost all regular Chinese citizens still hold America in high regard. I met some extremely nice, extremely friendly, extremely kind, loving and wonderful people in China. I never did learn how to speak Chinese (beyond a few basic words) and many Chinese do not speak English but in my 18 months there I had nothing but great interactions with people. They were eager to learn about me and the United States in general. They always tried to help me whenever and wherever they could. Chinese parents love their kids just like parents in the Western world love their kids. They want the same things we want (generally speaking) really other than being separated by a vast distance, a different language and a different culture, humans around the world almost always share the same basic traits that make us human no matter where you live. The Chinese are not monsters out to get us.

I enjoyed my job in China. Working in Asia (and China in particular) is very different from the Western world. However, the students are extremely studious and hard working, they are respectful and do as they are told. Too well sometimes. Critical thinking and having unique open minded opinions is not a trait that is at all valued in China unfortunately. They strive for excellence and they all want and need to be excellent. Conformity and not looking bad or failing in front of others is something that is extremely important in Chinese culture. It was a big shock for me at first, walking into the classroom and getting absolute silence when I asked a question. However, I quickly learned to adapt (more on this later)

Something else that was really good in China (at least in Shenzhen where we were living) was the public transportation (it is one if not the only city in the world that has a full fleet of all electric city buses,taxis and trains) it was cheap, clean and efficient. In addition to the excellent transportation, Shenzhen (and China in general) is very safe. I want to clarify what I mean when I say safe, I mean the chances of getting robbed on the street and having your personal belongings stolen is practically 0%. After living almost 8 years in Colombia and constantly having to be on guard for someone trying to rip me off, this was a welcome change. In China you will see relatively few armed uniformed police officers on the streets. However, there are facial recognition cameras everywhere (Big Brother!) so I can promise you that the Chinese government knows almost exactly where each of its 1.4 billion citizens are and what they are doing. It may seem intrusive and extreme to us, but for them it is a way of life.

China has has a relatively low cost of living. It is not expensive to live there and live well if you have a good job. Rent costs and imported foods can be astronomically high, but pretty much everything else is very cheap. Eating ¨Western food¨ is not cheap so its best to eat like the locals if you want to save money.

Chinese people in general, (and Chinese kids especially) are very curious about us Westerners. They are extremely shy, but once they warm up to you they will ask you may many questions (some of them very strange) because they just have no baseline knowledge outside of what the Communist Party of China allows them to see/learn. Information that you or I take for granted, just what you would assume to be basic knowledge, to the could be something completely new.

Traveling in China is cheap and easy. There are many beautiful places to visit and China has a ton of history and culture that is very different and interesting from our history in the Western world. The bullet trains and public transportation in general is very good and not expensive. In general, it is clean and fast even if there are 1.4 billion people in China. The crowds are not something that I enjoyed but there are many positives in China and not everything is negative.

Now I will move on to the negatives of working and living in China. First and foremost, the Communist Party runs and controls the Chinese Government and the Chinese people in general. What this means in practice, is that the government controls exactly what the regular Chinese people can and cannot see, do and know. Knowledge is restricted to what is government approved. This means that the ¨regular¨open Internet does not exist in China. Of course there are ways to access it if you know how but it is not easy nor does it always work.
The average Chinese person really has no concept of what the average person in the Western world understands as ¨freedoms¨. Since they have never experienced these basic freedoms they do not know what they are missing. As foreigners, there are many things that we miss when we go to China and live and work but the Chinese have their own versions of everything that we have, so they have no need for our version of various things. Any form of dissent or protest is also strictly banned by the government so you will never see or hear of people congregating in groups to do something that is against the will of the Chinese government.

Another negative of living in China is that there air quality, food safety and various other things are not up to Western standards. That being said, China is making strides to improve the environment, air quality, food safety etc. Many countries (the United States included) are currently doing much less than the Chinese are to combat global warming etc. (hopefully this will change in the future)

The language and culture barriers are something else that can be hard to deal with. Of course this is to be expected, but it certainly is not the easiest thing to deal with. I cannot imagine living in China prior to the existence of the internet. Without technology like translators and such would be almost impossible I think. The cultural barrier is another story all together. Our Western culture is just very different from Chinese culture. Our governments and social structures are very different.

One of the last negatives that I can think of is the food culture. Chinese food in China is very different from anything we eat in the Western world and Chinese food is very different inside than China than it is inside China. They love to eat spicy food, meat with lots of bones and fat and of course the Chinese use chopsticks which can be hard to get used to if you live in the Western world. Almost all Chinese food in China is based on rice or noodles. So this can quickly get old eating these base foods everyday. Chinese also love to buy live animals and kill them to eat them. This not only is unsanitary but also creates the risk of human to animal (and vis versa) disease transmission. This was a big worry of mine while we were in China. There actually was a disease outbreak while we were there but luckily I managed to leave China without getting sick or stuck in China.

To wrap this all up, I basically just want to say that China just like anywhere has its good sides and its bad sides and don´t let your negative stereotypes of China prevent you from visiting there sometime in the future. The Chinese government is not great as we all know, but the average Chinese citizen is very nice and helpful and very similar to you in more ways than you might imagine. I enjoyed my time there and I am glad I had the opportunity to live and work there. Now we will see what Spain has to offer Jenny and I and where our lives will go into the future. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Chinese Food Culture

Hey dear readers, my apologies for missing my weekly update last week. Life gets in the way sometimes! Well today I want to show you what real Chinese food looks like. It is actually quite different from the ¨Chinese¨ food we have back home! I always assumed our Chinese food was pretty authentic but, I was wrong. The Chinese food in the US has most certainly been tailored to American taste buds. I have not seen a single fortune cookie here haha





Some of this is ¨Western food¨ mixed in with the Chinese food. I will try to get a photo of some noodle and dumplings. Those are very common here! But so far what I have noticed about Chinese food in general is, 98% of the meat is ¨bone in¨ even though they eat everything with chopsticks.... talk about frustrating! The food in general is pretty spicy, and the meat is also pretty fatty ( for flavor I guess) really I wouldn´t say the food is bad here, its just different. Not what we are used to.

They have a lot of things with sauces and creams in the middle, a lot of spicy or sweet and sour flavos. They eat a lot of rice here and lots of green veggies. They love to eat fried food and food with a lot of oils and stuff. I really am quite amazed that they are as skinny as they are here with all the fried food that they eat.

China also has Walmart. Different foods of course but, same company 

Good ol Yellowtail :)

Toys R US may be finished in The US but not in China! 


Charming Grilled Fish is always charming haha

Found a store getting into the Christmas spirit. ¨Christ Merry Mas¨ lol

China also has convenience store food just like we do! But it may not be exactly what you are used to....

Chicken in a bag

Well thats all that I have for yall this time. If you have any ideas for topics you are curious about here in China just let me know and I will be happy to explore it for you! take care, Ty


Saturday, December 08, 2018

University Life

Considering that I am now working/living at Sustech (Southern University of Science and Technology) here in Shenzhen, I thought yall might want to know a little more about university life and the student body here.

Main gate of my university

The university is very modern and big. It has a lot of greenery and all there are many different clubs and activities for the students and the teachers. All the vehicles around campus are electric so its nice to feel like there is less pollution around. We even have our very own robot! The technology really is amazing here in China.

me greeting our campus robot literally minutes after we first arrived to the campus on our first day!

Now I will show you some general photos of the campus so you can get an idea of what it looks like here. 









There is also a medical center, sports center, restaurants to eat at, stores, shops etc. We even have a kindergarden and nursing home here! It is like a small town here on this campus. If you chose to, you could stay here and never even leave the campus and have everything that you need. When we get packages delivered, they send a text message to our cell phones and we go to these automated lock boxes, punch in the code and bam! we have our packages. Easy peasy. 




As far as my students go, they are all very good students. Quiet and reserved, typical Asian students. I am used to a loud dynamic interactive classroom with constant speaking and noise so it was an adjustment at first for me coming here and realizing that getting them to speak out was like pulling teeth! But, as long as you approach it the right way ( a lot of group and pair work!) then you can get them talking. In one of my classes we even have a class mascot. 
Our class mascot :)

 Their worldview is completely opposite from our maps
China is truly massive! I think there are 34 providences

Sorry for my finger in the photo haha. You can buy books out of a vending machine! 

So, overall opinion working/living here has been good so far. It is very different work wise and living style but not bad. We are still adjusting but happy. The campus is very modern (founded in 2011) and everyone is super nice. I have good students and my coworkers are nice also. I certainly do miss Colombia but things aren´t bad here. 

See yall next Sunday, Tyler

Sunday, December 02, 2018

We made it to China!

Well just as I promised, I am finally starting my blog once again after a two year hiatus! This time with a new and improved layout and more photos. Hope you like it. So I guess I should start at the beginning....

I got offered a job in China back in June and Jenny and I decided to make the move to China! I love Colombia and really enjoyed my (almost 7 years) there. I am already missing it and missing the ability to communicate, since we don´t speak Chinese!
This is all of our life in suitcases

Once we arrived and got settled I had some time before I started working so Jenny and I decided to explore the city for a bit. Shenzhen is huge! 23 million people in one city! 

Many more pictures to come! 

At the moment Jenny and I are living on the campus of my university ( I will post pictures of that in another blog post) things are going well for us so far but it isn´t always super easy to get what you need when you don´t speak the language. Thank god for Google Translate! I can´t imagine coming to China 20 or 30 years ago before the Internet and easy access to these translators. It has been an adjustment to get used to the food here. Almost everything is spicy, full of some weird cream or sauce or full of bones. It makes it harder trying to eat all this with only chopsticks!

Everyone has been super nice though and very helpful with everything. We have managed to use the Chinese version of Uber without knowing how to speak Chinese and they have an excellent metro and bus system here. One of the things I like the most is that you can connect your phone to your bank account and pay for everything with a click of a button on your phone. I have not made a single cash transaction in almost a month. Here in China there is an app called Wechat it is one app that can do everything. I do mean everything all inside this one app. 

I can pay rent, pay bills,buy movie/train/bus tickets, book a hotel, book a trip, order food, pay for anything, send money to someone, receive money, download things, make calls,video calls, record audio,order an Uber, locate myself on a map and much much more all inside Wechat without ever leaving the app!

I will end this blog with a few pictures from our trip to the Shenzhen Zoo ( many more to come)


 That bird is one of the most dangerous animals in all of Australia, I was very surprised that they let us get that close. It may not look so dangerous but even with the cage, they have been known to kill full grown adults!

Our lazy panda photo haha.

Well thats all for now. I promise I will try to be better about updating this more frequently with lots and lots of more photos. I hope you enjoyed this little update, I have lots more coming! 

Take care, Tyler

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Semana Santa

Hi there, its been quite a while since I have written anything but I wanted to tell you about our trip to Medellin (a city about 9 hours driving time from Bogotá) Jenny and I decided to take advantage of her benefit tickets with Avianca (the airline she works for) and fly to Medellin for Semana Santa (Holy Week) unlike my American friends/family we here in Colombia get basically 7 to 10 days off of work for Easter, generally.

So we booked a hotel online from here in Bogotá. It looked nice but once we arrived, it was in a terrible area and a total dump! We didn´t even have a mirror or a toilet seat! So after one day of staying in that hell hole we left. We found a much better place to stay albeit much more expensive :( But, we were able to meet up with a coworker of mine and his wife in Medellin. They happened to be visiting at the exact same time as us.

We all went to a natural science museum and it was actually really cool. Then Jenny and I had a great dinner. We ate at this Italian pizza place and it was real pizza! Super super good! Not like  the usual bad pizza you get here in Colombia. The chef was true Italian. Medellin is so much cleaner and more organized than here in Bogotá. They have a metro train system and a cable car system to transport you all around the city and up into the mountains. They even have giant escalators to transport you directly up the mountain! It is super cool!

We also went on a tour around and outside of Medellin. We took a boat ride on a cool lake and we saw a giant rock that they have built stairs into and turned into a tourist attraction. The guy who owns the land must be super rich because there seemed to be about 10000 people there and they charged about 8 dollars just so climb up that rock! For that reason, and for the crowds we decided not to summit the rock but we still had a great view and a great time. We also visited a typical traditional little town which was neat to see.

The only mistake that was made we Jenny begged me to plan something for our trip. Something set in stone. Well those of you who know me, know that I am not a big planner. Never have been and most likely never will be. So I decided to plan nothing to prove to her that we could have a good time without planning anything. My plan to not plan, was to go to the tourist information office and ask them some questions and plan on the spot. Well what I didn´t realize was, because of the holidays they were closed!

So my plan to not plan, failed! I had to eat some big crow on that one! But we still had a good time none the less. I really really enjoyed Medellin and would love to return!

Yall take care,Tyler

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Almost Vday (in The States anyway)

It is well into February now, we are almost at Valentines Day (In The States) Jenny and I have been busy bees since her family left. I got moved into her apartment and out of my old one. This one is in a much nicer area but it is further away from the central part of the city. I am back at work now, slowly but surely. Classes are starting now. Trickling in, but I am working. We are still preparing for the wedding in August and our trip to Spain in July. I have started a Spanish class online and also started watching a series that I highly highly recommend. It is called Making a Murderer. I have been sucked into the vortex haha. I wont tell you anything because I don't want to give it away.

I wish I had more to tell you but right now this is all I can think of. Yall take care,Tyler

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now its 2016!

Now that it is 2016 I figured it was time to give you an update. Back in December before Christmas, I took Jenny to Texas for the first time! My cousin was getting married a day after we arrived and I  was an usher in her wedding. I was slightly worried about us getting there on time because Jenny works for Avianca, the Colombian international airline, so we get cheaper benefit tickets but we have to fly standby. Luckily everything worked out though. It was great for her to get to meet almost all of my dad's side of the family. We had a really good time at the wedding and my cousin married a guy of Mexican heritage so her and I are the first ones to bring Latin blood into our family haha.

She was nervous about her level of English but she did great! All of my family loved her and we had a great time. I took her to Austin and we stayed at my uncle's house and toured around Austin. After that, I took her to San Antonio and to The Alamo and all the touristy stuff in San Antonio. Back closer to home, I took her to Denton and The Square, then we went to Downtown Dallas and The Kennedy Museum. I also took her up in The Ball (reunion tower) in Dallas and we got to hang out with my best friend Matt. I showed her around Frisco and Little Elm and The Colony as well. Jenny only had 10 days before she had to go back to work and it went all too fast.

After she left, I stayed another 10 days or so and celebrated Christmas with my family. Then I headed back to Colombia on the 25th. When I arrived back in Colombia, Jenny's family was already there. She lives here in Bogota with her brother but, her parents and sister live in Spain. So her parents and sister were here in Bogota. Also her brothers fiancee is here in Bogota. I have had a really good time visiting with them so far. We went to a city about 6 or 8 hours from Bogota and it was close to the desert. It was really neat going to see the desert. It wasn't like desert with sand dunes but more just kinda barren rocky terrain. After leaving the desert we went to a water park and that was fun.

I am still not working at the moment but I am staying busy searching for our next apartment. my contract is up 1 march so Jenny and I need to find an apartment quick! I will start back at work at the end of this month. Jenny's sister and father have now gone back to Spain but her mother and her brothers girlfriend are still here. Jenny is of course busy with wedding planning and working so we are all staying busy! I am helping out with the planning where she needs me but she is doing the lions share of the work really. We have the invites,my tux,her dress and things are moving along smoothly, getting ready for that august date!

So I guess that is it for now. Yall take care,Ty

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Texas here we come!

So, I am coming home for my yearly visit soon! I will be home from the 4th until the 25th of December. This time it will be a little different though, because I have my soon to be wife with me :) Jenny is coming along for her first time in Texas. So I am hoping to show her a good time and have her experience everything Texas has to offer. I hope that everything goes well. I know she is a little nervous about her English and meeting my family but I am confident she will do great!

Anyway, just wanted to give yall the heads up. See you soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The state of the world today and various other things

So I am quite sure all of you have heard about the recent attacks in Paris,Mali etc. I gotta say, the state of the world really is starting to worry me. I am almost 31 years old but I just don't remember growing up with this stuff. I remember the 90's fondly and it seemed like such a better time to be living. I don't know what has happened to our world but everything seems to be going down the tubes recently. I worry for my family and friends around the world and hope that everyone stays safe! I hope this world calms down soon. I don't want to raise my future family in a crazy world. I want my kids to have a great childhood like I did.

On a happier note, Jenny and I and her brother saw the new James Bond film Spectre. It wasn't the best James Bond I have ever seen but it wasn't the worst either. Other than that, I am busy with my last weeks of work and getting ready to go to Texas with Jenny to visit my family and friends. Jenny and I are deep in wedding planning as well (ok mostly her haha) but that is coming along well. Really other than that, I am just living life and pretty happy :) wish I had more to tell you but that is about it for now. Things here in Colombia are going along swimmingly and nothing crazy as of now. Hopefully it stays that way.

Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, November 08, 2015

At the suggestion of a friend

I was talking to Ben the other day, my traveling buddy and one of my best friends. He suggested that I write this blog because we were both saying how we feel this way but I am better at expressing my emotions in written form than he is. I can safely say that I speak for both him and I though.  Most of you who are not travelers most likely will not be able to understand or relate to this, that is ok. I do not fault you in the least. But, those of you who are travelers may understand our feelings perfectly. I am writing this in the hopes that maybe I can help a fellow traveler who is feeling the same emotions.

Ben and I traveled the world together for 2 years. Between 2009 and 2011. I can say (and I think I speak for him as well) that our travels were some of the best times in our lives.  We were both working and living "normal"life but we were so free. It is really indescribable if you haven't lived through a similar experience. We was so happy and so free. Doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted free to travel and see the world and explore and take advantage of  every opportunity offered to us.

In a way, both of us are living in the past. Because we both compare our current life experiences to the experiences we had four years ago. Our barometer for happiness has become the happiness we felt four years ago. We are constantly trying to reach the point that we felt 4 years ago. We constantly talk with each other (and others) about experiences we had 4 years ago but the only people who care are us. It isn't always good to live in the past, but it is also hard to move on when your barometer for happiness is stuck in the past.

Both of us aren't kids anymore. I am 30 and he is 28. Eventually you have to get your life together and figure out what you are going to do for the future. You can travel for your whole life if you want, but you will most likely end up a lonely old man with no one and nothing. That is not what I wants nor does he. We have such great memories of our travels and it isn't like we can NEVER travel again but now I think our travels just have to change.

I don't want to suggest that I am completely unhappy with my life. That is so far from the truth. I am in love and getting married! Jenny is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I wouldn't change or give up our relationship for anything in the world. I am happy with my life. I guess I am just not happy with routine. Once you break out of the box its hard to go back in again. For the most part I just live my life, go to work,see Jenny and do normal stuff. I mean that is life. I may live in Colombia and many of you thing I live this exotic and amazing life but in reality I do the same things as you, just in a different country. Really the only time my old emotions come flooding back is when I see a video about someone dropping everything in their life and going to travel the world. Once a traveler always a traveler I guess.

More than anything I want a life with Jenny. I want to be married and be with my wife and enjoy married life. I am very excited for that! But I still have that free as a bird spirit. It is hard sometimes to be torn in the middle. The solution I think is to have a conventional life that makes you happy while still trying to do unconventional things to keep it interesting. I just don't want to die and say wow I was so boring and I never did anything, I don't want to grow boring. I want to be exciting and have an exciting life! Luckily now I have Jenny to join me on adventures and I know now that I won't be alone she will always be by my side to support me and I will always be there to support her.

I know that this might not make much sense to some of you but I wrote it to express myself and maybe someone else is feeling the same. Maybe I will help a fellow traveler to know that they are not alone. I just want to reiterate that I am not unhappy with my current life, quite the opposite! I am very excited for my future! Maybe what I need to do is just reset my barometer for happiness. But I welcome your advice/suggestions. 

Tyler

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My anniversary

Today is my one year anniversary with Jenny. It has been a great year! Of course we have had some ups and downs but I wouldn't change any of it. In 299 days we will be married! She is truly my better half. I love her for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons is that she always tries to put me first and I always try to put her first. Our relationship is a partnership in love. I am very excited to spend the rest of my life with her. Even when we get annoyed with each other we still love each other and I wouldn't want to be marrying anyone else. We are going to do something fun this weekend for our anniversary so I will keep yall posted. -Tyler

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Future and My Promise

As most of you know by now, I am studying to be a Spanish/English translator. Ever since I moved to Colombia I have been interested in Spanish. I love the language and I love learning. Shortly after moving here I decided I wanted to bank my future on this. English teaching is a skill that I have, something that I feel that I am good at and I enjoy it. But, I want this to be a stepping stone to translating. Being a translator is my end goal. Translation is how I want to provide for my (almost) wife and our (future) family. There is a chance I could fall flat on my face and this could not work out for me. It is my goal to try though. to give this a shot. Everyone needs to have goals in life and to take risks and try new things.

You know, I took a risk when I was 24 and I moved across the globe to Australia and it was hard and scary at first but I have survived and I haven't looked back since. But, I am writing this to yall (and myself) because I want and need to make a promise right now.

Learning a new language is easier for certain people and harder for others. As for me personally, this has not been easy to learn Spanish but I have been trying. I have been studying. I have learned quite a bit but I do have a long way to go until I am at a level where I can actually be a full time certified translator. I do study on my own (Duolingo and such) but there is more I can do.

I am writing you this because there is more I can do and more I need  to do. I have been taking classes but it isn't enough. I have this goal but I need to get hungrier. I want this but I need to want it more. I need to get to my goal faster. I saw a YouTube video recently and the guy said you are the sum of what you spend most of your free time on. I work two jobs. I work hard and I work a lot. I teach English so most of my time is spent speaking English. It is ironic that I live in a country where Spanish is the official language and I have to try hard to speak it with anyone other than Jenny.

You know how I spend most of my free time? I am usually really tired when I get home so I love doing things that are "no brainers" to relax. Like reading the news,watching YouTube videos,movies,series etc. It helps me unwind. It is enjoyable to me. But you know what else? It doesn't get me any closer to my goal and my dream. I am working hard to my goal of being a translator but I can work harder and I need to work harder. I need to stop spending my free time with my brain off and I need to start working hard in Spanish to get to my goal faster.

This is my promise to myself and to yall. Tyler