I haven’t blogged for over a year. “I haven’t had time”. Or maybe I haven’t made time. In May 2020, the then of Head of Boarding resigned. I applied and was successful.

As Head of Boarding the academic year of 2020-22 was a rollercoaster. August 2021 is going to start as a bumpy ride as Covid-19 cases in the community in other cities are increasing – from a low level of zero. We have had one whole academic year of face to face learning. In February we started eating in the dining hall face to face again. It was lovely to talk to and see people during lunch and dinner. But with hotspots on the rise we can only watch and hope that we don’t have a return of that in 2 weeks time.

We spent a lovely Christmas with friends, friends who we have been on holiday with in December, February, April and June/July. We haven’t holidayed at length with friends before and certainly not repeatedly but we have found strength in each other. It is without a doubt that all of us would much rather have been with other friends and family outside the mainland.

We can’t just get on a flight and fly beyond the boarders of the mainland. In February we could only stay in the boundaries of Suzhou. We didn’t leave Suzhou from 27th Dec to start of April 2021. #StillInSuzhou was our quiz team name.

We have been vaccinated. But we are not complacent. We have watched from afar the initial chaos of the UK, and other countries. We have seen other countries deal with the situation admirably. But we are stuck. But at least the three of us are together. Many are not.

It is our choice to remain here. We have made our lives here. And as contract renewals come around for many of our friends, it will be an interesting time for teachers around the world.

A significant birthday ending in 0 is looming for me. We have been unable to celebrate with my parents their significant birthdays, or their 40th wedding anniversary. I know that no matter where we were last year, even if we were in the UK, we wouldn’t have been able to be together but now that we are miles from home and now that it is my birthday creeping up, I am feeling sad. There is no point in feeling sorry for myself, but I am – for now. This blog is simply saying that while we have had a lovely holiday and a seemingly great year, seeing new parts of this country, having great food and spending time with friends when others overseas couldn’t; we would rather (like so many of our friends) have felt the sustaining hugs of our friends and family.