One year ago today I was getting off a plane in Shanghai to begin my Chinese adventure. One year ago I was waking up only an hour after I fell asleep, feverish and confused in my surroundings due to extreme jetlag. One year ago today I was walking into stores and marveling at all the strange things on the shelves. One year ago today I didn’t even consider Chinese to be a language, but rather a sort of art form that communicated something, but I didn’t know what.
And here I am today, sitting at the computer my walls filled with pictures and mementoes of my first year, full from a big meal that I ordered myself (in written Chinese) getting ready to welcome the new foreign teachers and begin the school year. I’m at ease, relaxed and *gasp* and really looking forward to getting back to work.
This past year has been a big one, with a lot of up’s and down’s and. Aww, who am I kidding, there were a lot more up’s then down’s. Even in my darkest hour (like the day I spent on the toilet) I never regretted coming here for a second.
Everything is so different and strange here yet I feel oddly comfortable. Even when I get stared at, even when someone comes up to me speaking energetically yet I have no idea what they are saying, even when I pick up a piece of food don’t know if it is animal, vegetable or mineral, I feel, I don’t know, relaxed? At ease?
I still sit in wonder that I live in a different country. There was a time when I thought the word expat meant ex-patriot and referred only to older men who had left the country after serving in a war. Look, I was 12 give me a break. (It actually stands for expatriate and means anyone living in a country different from their home country.) I’m an expat! How crazy is that?!
I remember, many years ago, finding an ad for English Teacher Wanted on the internet and dreaming about what it would be like. Now I find my living in that dream. It’s a whole lot messier in real life of course, but that’s part of the charm as well.
If there is anybody out there that is stuck in a rut and dreaming of an escape to a mobile lifestyle, well all I can say is to go for it. Work towards achieving your dream, whatever it might be, and keep it in the back of your head every day. It may take awhile to come true (coming to China took me two years of dreaming and one year of 80-hour workweeks) but the payback comes eventually and it will all be worth it.
And if the one year anniversary wasn’t enough today also marks the 14th anniversary of Ryan and being together. Happy anniversary to my favorite traveling partner.
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