A Travellerspoint blog

So strange

August 3rd, 2010

sunny 33 °C

Saying good-bye to friends and packing up is such a strange feeling. It's sad to leave. As the departure date is getting closer, I feel like there's so much more I want to do here. At the same time, there'll always be missed opportunities, no matter how long you stay in a place! My confidence is also wavering. Doubt is seeping in. What if I can't find a job back home? What if Mike and I break soon after I return? Will I regret my decision? One of my new colleagues who is in a long distance relationship as well would rather sacrifice her relationship with her boyfriend rather than miss the opportunity to make a good living in China for the next few years. I was a bit shocked. I'd never even considered doing that. But maybe I'm much more of a romantic than she is. Maybe good opportunities aren't always financial ones!

Posted by Evil1 09:06 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Between staying and leaving

July 28th, 2010

overcast 36 °C

In exactly one week, I'll be flying back home. Right now, I'm torn between counting down the days and wanting to delay the departure. I know I'm making the right decision to leave now. I'm feeling happier now than I have in the last couple of weeks. I'm happy to be free from apathetic teenagers and manipulative toddlers, from all the paperwork and last minute requests. I can't wait to see Mike, whom I haven't seen in over 6 months, and my parents. I'm already salivating at the thought of French food.

At the same time, I don't feel ready to leave! In the last few weeks, taking private lessons from my colleague's husband, I've made an enormous breakthrough in Chinese. He's made it more relevant and exciting than any other teacher I've had! Sure, I still can't name all the vegetables I want on my Subway sandwich, but I can say "I think, I prefer, I agree". Now I know how to give my opinion!!! I've also started to bond with my new colleagues and with the wonderful Gabriella, a lovely Chinese student who assists in the small kid classes.

And I'm also reluctant to part with my comfortable, easy lifestyle! I'll miss the fun extracurriculars: karaoke, visiting, shopping. The affordable transportation, food and housing. Not having to live paycheck to paycheck and being able to financially weather the unexpected. I'll have to scale down my expectations back home. I know I'll be comparing costs with the ones here. What? That hole in the wall is worth how much? why should I pay an arm and a leg for this sub-par public transport that goes on strike 6 months out of the year, doesn't have AC and cherry on top, is dirty? In China, I only paid....

That being said, money or no money, I'll strive to live my life in France how I lived it here in China: devoting my off time to friends, volunteering, regular exercise and studying Chinese!

Posted by Evil1 06:55 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

What I won't miss

July 26th, 2010

overcast 35 °C

It's always best to start with the bad news, so here's, in no particular order, a (non-exhaustive) list of what I won't miss here in China:

1. Crazy traffic. Cross the street at your own risk here! You ought to have 360* vision because there are pedestrians, bikes, cars and electric bikes coming from every direction! Electric bikes are, as far as I'm concerned, the most dangerous vehicles, since they go as fast as certain cars and make no noise! And no one stops!! Not cars for pedestrians, not pedestrians for buses. Everyone just swerves around each other!

2. Spitting. I hear it used to be worse before the 1998 Olympic Games but nevertheless, I still find it utterly gross! It's mostly a male thing. Guys spit when strolling down the street, holding their girlfriend's hand. Several times, I've seen men spit in the pool water, as I was swimming by. But most often you'll hear them behind you in the street, racking heir throats, getting ready to expel a big luggie and that's when you pick up your pace and run for cover!

3. Little emperors. Thank goodness most of my students are well behaved. But once in a while, you get a real spoiled brat, a kid ( a boy 9 times out of 10) who's been so spoiled rotten that teaching him becomes at best a challenge! His parents are tickled by his disruptive behavior and if you interpret it as anything else than cute and endearing, they start to question your teaching abilities! How do yo expect to have any authority in the classroom when parents don't take you seriously?

4. The food. Oh gosh, even before my near death experience, the spicy, greasy food never really agreed with me! Notable exceptions: Beijing duck, hot pot, and Korean BBQ (not Chinese per say, but still scrumptious!).

Posted by Evil1 23:47 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

The final countdown

july 21, 2010

sunny 32 °C

I gave my month's notice two weeks ago. My last day of work will be August 1st and I'll be leaving China exactly two weeks from today, on August 4th. I know this may sound as though it's coming out of nowhere. But in fact, it's been brewing for a while. When Gunther (our Type A, anal retentive boss) first showed up in January with his revamped class organization, I nearly quit. I started looking at other schools where I could teach. But in the end, I figured he was only here temporarily (although for a while there, it looked as though he wasn't ever going to leave!!!) and that I, myself, only intended to stay in China for a year.

And then, about a month ago (see "When the shit hits the fan" entry), when my internet broke down, when Beverly and three other colleagues were on their way out and when Gary was getting on my last nerve, I wanted to throw in the towel. But Mike advised me not to make any rash decisions, that I might come to regret decisions made out of spite. (He's so wise!)

So then, why now? Why not wait until early October, when my contract ends? Well, for one thing, Mike started a new job a month ago and it's been very difficult communicating. We're lucky if we speak 3 hours on the phone in one week! And then, I figured I'd have a better chance of landing an English teaching job if I got home before the school year resumes! Knock on wood! I haven't actually started searching for work yet!

PS: Stay tuned to find out what I will and won't miss in China!!!

Posted by Evil1 04:57 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Food poisoning

July 15th, 2010


I apologize for not writing in here for a while. Things have been both crazy and busy here! For one thing, our summer camp classes have started. That means that instead of having a normal 5 day work week, we work 6 days and our teaching load has increased to include 3 hour long classes in the mornings!

And then, I got hit with the most debilitating case of food poisoning I've ever experienced in my life. Diarrhea for five days straight! At first, I thought I could just sleep it off, that I'd be better after I'd expelled the bad food from my body. But by the third day, I started to think something was seriously wrong, so the center director of our school took me to a local hospital. For 350 kuais (roughly 35 euros), I got a six hour long IV drip and medicine. But I still felt terribly dehydrated and freaked out. So that same night, I hopped into a cab and went to the ER of an internationally recognized private clinic. The doctor there put me on 6 more IVs! For close to 7,000 kuais (roughly 700 euros), I got the following upgrades: western toilets (with toilet paper provided!), a clean, freshly painted room and a medical staff who spoke fluent English (but who nonetheless kicked me out at 4:30 am when the last IV had finished!).

Moral: I will no longer buy cheap take out or eat pork!

Posted by Evil1 05:30 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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