On My Adventure

I noticed, perhaps too late, that I had never detailed what my adventure is. I have made allusions to it in other posts, but nowhere do I properly explain what is happening. So here is everything in one place:

I leave August 21st for Shanghai where I will be teaching at a high school that is ranked among the best in China. (So that I can be more open in this space and to maintain some anonymity, I will not state which school).  The students at the school receive all of their instruction in English with the exception of their Chinese-language class. About half of the teachers are American with the other half being mostly British, Australian, and Canadian–so I should have a reasonable foundation for a social life. The students all expect to earn their way into the best universities in the world and for some reason, the school thought that I could help them get there. I will be teaching 9th and 10th-grade history.

My contract is for one school year, but that can be extended at the end of the year if I like the school and the school likes me. The school pays approximately what I would be making if I was working as a first-year teacher in the States if you include the fact that the school will provide me with housing and utilities in one of the most expensive cities to live in!

Shanghai is a massive city of 24 million people; my home state of California has 38 million. Only about 2% of the city’s population is foreign-born, but that still accounts for almost half a million people!

I got this job by attending a job fair in New York City in February. I was by far the youngest and least experienced person at the conference, but I interviewed well and the school was looking for a teacher who can bring new ideas into the department about how the students can focus more on critical thinking and problem solving than memorization of dates, events, people, and concepts. Even though I haven’t much formal experience teaching, they liked what I had to say and decided to take a chance on me. An opportunity for which I am already extraordinarily grateful. I am not throwing away my shot. 

I went to the conference because I wanted to teach abroad. And I strongly feel that I have a unique window that is open to me right now that may not be available to me later in life. I am single and at the beginning of my career, so the flexibility to move to another country will probably never be greater.

I have also wanted to live in another country for as long as I can remember. Not just to travel, but to live and immerse myself in another country. I want to feel foreign; like a perpetual outsider. I want to see how a different culture creates different people.

I want to expand my vision of what reality is.

On the Next 57 days

I leave for China in 57 days.

August 21st is D-Day. Now that my project is complete (see last post for how much of a relief that is!), here are a few things I must do:

  1. Complete the Visa process
  2. Formally apply for teaching credential
  3. Finish my last class to earn my Master’s degree
  4. Compile a more Shanghai-appropriate wardrobe
  5. Order a new suitcase set and traveling equipment which may, I hope, last for the remainder of my life (any suggestions would be appreciated!)
  6. Write cards to everyone who may want to follow my adventures in China to tell them about this blog (Hi Everyone!)
  7. Identify all of the things that are easier or cheaper to purchase here
    1. Purchase all of those things
    2. Figure out how I am going to get those things to China
  8. Restart learning Chinese
    1. (I was using Duolingo and Drops for a few months but stopped about a month ago due to stress)
  9. Try to identify as many potential problems with the move as possible and seek solutions to those problems
  10. Prepare for the classes I am going to teach in China!!!!
    1. This is the one I will probably most regret not spending the most time on

So I am by no means done and I cannot relax before I go. But most of these are exciting or at least interesting, so my fears of procrastination or laziness preventing me from tackling them are probably ill-suited.

So I should probably stop writing here and get started on something on this list now!

PS For the careful planners out there, I have already purchased a flight and have an apartment set up for me by the school. The school is also providing me with transportation from the airport to my apartment, so I do not have to worry about those parts!

On my Project

Yesterday I completed a major step in my development as a teacher and progress to working in China. I finished a 4 part project that proves to the State of California that I am capable of being a teacher. The Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) is a project every teacher in California must complete in order to earn a teaching credential. It is notoriously time-consuming and arduous to produce. And in order to work on this project, I have spent no fewer than 4 hours at least 4 days of every week for the past 4 months in my town’s public libraries to work on it.

This project was probably the most difficult work-related task I have had to complete. It is not interesting nor fun nor does it feel necessary. Merely opening the document on my computer was difficult. Keeping myself focused while the mysteries and wonders of the world outside of the TPA beckoned was the most difficult part of completing it for me.

I so badly wanted to escape this responsibility–this burden. And on many days, I did. Some days I would explore the internet or play Civ with the project open in the background. On days with better impulse control, I sat in the library and forced myself not to open reddit or to play a game. On more than a few occasions, I sat in front of an empty screen waiting for the will to begin typing.

When I left the library, I often felt deep anxiety about not being able to complete it. That anxiety would whisper seductively that my future would fall apart if I didn’t finish and that I wasn’t even capable of finishing it. I sat at home with my stomach in knots angry that I did not finish enough that day and worried–perpetually stressed–that I couldn’t finish.

I will stop myself there before this post turns into a rant about how much I hated this project. But suffice it to say this:

It took me 77,681 words on 184 pages to answer all of the questions the state of California asked me.

But I am now finished with it.

 

I know this all may feel dramatic or hyperbolized, but I am trying to describe as accurate as possible my experience with this project. It was painful. It was difficult. I do not feel like it made me a better teacher. But I had to do it and I did.

I wish I had worked harder on it and more efficiently. I wish I had not procrastined so much on it. I wish I had done a million little things better. But I am doing what I can to not dwell in that muddy pool of self-depreciation. I really want to feel proud of myself for pushing myself to the library all those many days and for pushing myself to continue typing on the days I managed it and for pushing the final submission button yesterday. I want to acknowledge that I did accomplish something and allow myself to enjoy this moment of success–a treat I so rarely allow myself.