On the Party

18, August 2018

Three days before my departure, my family hosted a party at our house to provide many of our family and friends the opportunity to say “Good riddance” to me.

Though the name for the party on facebook followed the line and its tongue-in-cheek attitude, it was only a few days ago that I wish I had named the celebration the “DePart-Y,” a regret I will have to endure until the end of my days.

It was a great party. About 40 people were there, including my best friend from college, geographically-close family, my master-teacher, and dozens of family friends accumulated over the years. It was such a blessing to have all of these people who have played such an instrumental part in shaping the person I am in one place.

My favorite local Thai restaurant, Mom Can Cook, catered and seemed to be well-received, judging by how little we had left over! For dessert we had ice cream bars and bundt cakes–no mess and no clean up is always the best.

My father delivered some kind words about how far I would be: 6487 miles away. He also informed the crowd that if you dig through the earth from California, you do not end up in China, as popular mythology suggests. (It is, in fact, the middle of the Indian Ocean). He also announced that it was also my birthday, much to the surprise of many of the guests! Like I said previously, the purpose of the party was to say good-bye, but it was a happy coincidence that the Saturday before my departure landed on the anniversary of my birth. He even lead the guests in the Chinese version of “Happy Birthday”.

My mom spoke next, though did not get through her five items without cracking a bit. She announced to everyone’s surprise that she loved me, she was proud of my selection of profession, that she would miss me, she said good riddance, and then wished me the time of my life. 

As the sun was setting, it was my turn to speak. I had prepared a speech, which I will include in the next post.

The rest of the evening was catching up, telling everyone about my coming adventure, and thanking them for coming and the contributions to my life. It was an overwhelmingly happy and beautiful evening.

A perfect epilogue to the first book of my life.

Thank you all for making it happen.

PS: I apologize to everyone for giving them the wrong address to this blog! I thought I had also bought the other domain, but learned that I hadn’t. Oops!

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!