Being greeted by the heavy humidity of the Chinese summer upon my arrival at the airport isn’t the ideal form of welcome. The heat and moisture producing enough sweat and discomfort bringing ones feet ten times closer to the ground. Despite the discomfort, I am not one to be stopped easily. Being back in China after a year of waiting was exciting, and the prospect of being in a new city was a great opportunity.
I was met at Ningbo Lishe International Airport by the Director of Studies at EF Ningbo Haishu, the school at which I would be teaching. While driving me to the hotel, I learned a little more about Ningbo. The city was one of the most thriving ports in China, and boasted a growing population of 9 million people. Asking about how fast the city was growing, I was told that the area in which the school was located had changed drastically over the course of a few years. Along with other new developments, there was at least one subway line in operation with others being built, and the area’s proximity to important places such as Lao Waitan and Tianyi Square made it a good place to be.
As for the city itself, Ningbo has been a city with open trade dating back to the 7th Century, although it is open today due to more recent historical events. The city was one of the many ports opened to foreign trade and relative control following the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. The treaty, which was signed by the British and Qing governments to end the First Opium War, gave the British fixed tariffs and unrestricted trade within the city and it’s port. Much later, in the 1980s it was one of Deng Xiaoping’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to be open to foreign investment and trade. The latter development has benefited the city greatly, as it is one of the busiest deep water ports in China.
I had not come to Ningbo for trade, but being in a place full of history and surprises waiting to be found was exciting. The major task at hand, though, was to settle in and strive to teach others the English language. Even though I had some experience while studying in Beijing, it was never a full-time job, and I was a little anxious to start. The excitement was there, though, and as I settled down into my hotel for the next few days, I looked forward to learning and exploring in my new home in China.