How to make friends and influence spreadsheets

Friends, it’s happened!

I have become a regular at a coffee shop, which means Guangzhou is officially home.

There is a great little coffee shop in the heart of the Financial District that serves hipster-worthy coffee and tasty sandwiches. Today the nice barista with great English gave me a discount for being regular, saying, “It’s all right, I know you.” He also lets me practice my halting Chinese, so double win.

Lately, I’ve been having recurring dreams of riding a big tidal wave, so finally looked that up in my dream dictionary. Apparently, that means I’m adjusting to a new routine. How fitting! This was the week of finding my new normal and making space for myself in this new place. Quick aside- I also had a dream the other night where I could taste sound and hear colors, so started a band where I played music with paint brushes. The mind is a wonderful thing.

I’ve continued attending as many outings as possible to make new friends. A few months ago I attended a training for ex-pat spouses, IE people accompanying their spouses overseas. My favorite part was the end of the day panel with seasoned ex-pats who shared their wisdom with us newbies. One woman described how arriving at a new place feels a bit like dating, except you hope to find someone to be your new best friend. When you meet a new person you tend to ask them two questions: 1) How long have you been here? 2) How long is your assignment? And then a silent third question: 3) Please be my friend? It’s so sad to meet an amazing person who’s leaving the next week (seriously, this just happened to me yesterday) and so wonderful when a new friend says they’ll be here for another year. I have a feeling this will continue throughout our time here, but my perspective will shift as I become the one leaving.

Everyone is always coming or going here. Recovering from the last move or preparing for the next.

I’m really excited about the people I’ve met so far. And I’m excited to see how close people are after being here for a year or more. They are all very welcoming but also close knit. I’m looking forward to settling into some good friendships.

Picture of the result of this week’s cooking class hosted by some new friends

Oh and looks like I’ve made myself a new job… or at least a volunteer gig… I do sometimes feel at a bit of a loose end and usually end up going into A’s work every couple days to have lunch with him and try to use a computer to access bank accounts… boring but necessary.  Unfortunately, the internet has been nonexistent lately, leading me to write a diplomatic, but firm, yet friendly, but still really, I mean it, it needs to get fixed email to the IT Department.

Yesterday, they followed up agreeing that yes it’s bad, but should be working again now and that they hope to organize trainings for people soon on how to better use the computers. I wrote back that I’d be happy to help and could run some basic Excel trainings if there’s interest… A few emails and an in-person chat later and they’re drawing up a schedule of trainings on Excel and everything Microsoft Office.

Though after that exchange, something strange happened today to my over-achiever brain. I suddenly felt very protective of my time off, my Chinese learning, and my blog-writing. So don’t worry, I’m not going to suddenly volunteer for things left and right even though I am pretty excited about teaching people about spreadsheets.

Oh, did I mention I’m on a train right now? A and I are heading to Hong Kong for the weekend. It’s our first time and we’ve heard nothing but good things about the city and its food. Did you know they give you cookies and water on Chinese trains? They do and the cookies are delicious (EDIT: turned out we accidentally booked first class tickets… economy class has no cookies but lots more people).

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