One Day: Part Three

To read parts one and two of my “One Day,” please head here.
This is part of my yearly “really open up” series, based on the David Nicholls’ book, One Day, as the date in the book of Emma and Dex’s graduation was the same day as mine, 15th July.

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Monday 15th July 2013

Aston English School, Zhangzhou, China

This time last year I was a week away from visiting home, family, friends and attending some Olympic football matches. You cannot underestimate how excited I was the day I boarded the plane in Xiamen after 11 months away from home. It was a great two weeks and despite my parents also announcing their divorce and me being in shock that they were actually getting around to doing it, I know they are now both much, much happier people and I’m proud of the both of them.

This year, I am a month and a half away (47 days, but who’s counting really?) from completing my contract in China. You cannot imagine how much I am looking forward to my time ending. I won’t lie. These last 6 months in managing Chinese staff have really, really tested me. I have broken down many times during this period. I tell you this now as I’m not going to go away and create a completely rosy-smoke screen of my job here. My most recent breakdown was from seeing Amy’s (my little sister), prom photographs. Here are a couple, I don’t think you need me to explain why this led me to bawl my eyes out.

prom dress

I’m related to this stunner – you wouldn’t know it! Photo from Mummy Bennett

prom dress

Not a couple – just so you know! Photo from Mummy Bennett

I’m welling up now, just writing about it.

BUT

I have also had the most fantastic time out here. Yes, the last 6 months have been tough, but I’ve stuck it out. I’ve learned I’m not a quitter, I can deal with and put up with what is thrown at me and come out the other end. I’ve learned that managing Chinese staff is possibly one of the hardest jobs I will ever do, though. Their loyalty, inability to read contracts and their obstinate nature, presumably down to how they were raised/treated in China is just ridiculous. I did write a draft post about this, but I decided not to publish it. Just writing down on paper controlled some of the emotions I have felt over some of the Chinese staff that have passed through here and I didn’t want to tar all Chinese with the same brush…but at the same time it’s very difficult to not, if you get me?

Whilst I never say never, I probably won’t be stepping into managing Chinese staff again, teaching maybe as I still don’t have a problem with that. It will just make any job from here on out a breeze.

I am sure that for all the tears I have shed in frustration over the last few months, I will also shed some for sadness at leaving. When I finished working at the kindergarten, I was a little misty eyed; even just the other day when one of my adult students stood up at the front of the class and did a speech, I was swelling with pride (her first ever lesson she was very reluctant to speak any English). I’m dreading saying goodbye to some friends and students too, many of whom I have known for my entire time in Zhangzhou.

There will be tears of sadness I can assure you as truthfully I have enjoyed my job overall, despite the last 6 months.

NEXT

Of course, I am more than ready for the next adventure to New Zealand. I have been since I left there on 7th January 2013. Obviously I had to go through all the medical process to get my visa because of the length of time I’ve been living in China, but I got it.

This blog will continue to follow the New Zealand adventures and anything else that happens along the way. To anyone who has ever read or commented on my ramblings over the past two years, thank you. This blog is a labour of love and it has hopefully helped me document my time in China much better than any emails home ever could.

To anyone who ever doubted me, supported me, sent me things in the post:

Thank you.

I hope you can see that China will leave a huge mark on me for the rest of my life.

And that’s not just the tattoo

Author’s note: This was written after a frustrating week. I then had a good week and another frustrating week afterwards. I still love what I do (the teaching side anyway) and have no regrets doing it at all. I have 7 weeks left, I’m going to enjoy them as much as I possibly can.
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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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18 Comments

  1. Your One Day posts are my favourite. It made me tearful just reading it! You have done so well not to give up 🙂 and what a great experience. Big hugs xxx

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    • Thank you Rox. I wish I was coming home again this summer to see you, but alas, I must head even further away 😉 xxx

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  2. It sure sounds challenging to teach in China! I think I’ve got it really easy right now, teaching at a language school in Bangkok. But I bet you’re right! After China, everything else will seem like a breeze!

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    • The teaching part is fine, it’s the management side I struggle with! It’s been a massive learning curve, but everything will be a breeze after China 🙂

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  3. It sounds like a hell of a ride over there and I can totally see why those pictures make you well up!
    Hope you have a great time in New Zealand. I think it will be so different!

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    • It has been an amazing 2 years, considering the fact I should only have been here 6 months…
      New Zealand, watch out!

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  4. So much emotion! It takes a lot of bravery to be honest about the “cost” of traveling. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Cost is far more emotional than monetary sometimes! Thanks for the support Jessica!

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  5. I’m also living in another country, but the cultures are much more similar. At the least the wonders of the interwebs let us keep in touch with our family and friends.

    Glad to see you’re taking in the whole experience and are looking forward to your next adventure!

    Post a Reply
    • I’m sure I would have survived without interwebs as long as I’d never tried it, but definitely glad of it now! Ready for my escape more like 😉

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  6. What an experience–that’s too bad the management experience has been tough, but you are right, it will probably make everything seem easier going forward! It sounds like China has been quite an adventure! Hope New Zealand goes great–how exciting 🙂

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    • An adventure and a half! But the best kind. Not long now 🙂

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  7. Hi! It has to be a great feeling of accomplishment for you that you stuff through and handled all of that with the staff! And you’re sister is adorable! I love her dress and the sunglasses are SO fun!!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Anna 🙂 My sister is too freaking adorable, it’s true! She was also complaining that she was fat…duh!

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  8. Congrats on lasting! I too struggle with not trying to paint with a broad stroke when it comes to Chinesr tourists I encounter in Asia. It’s just so hard when so many of them fit into such stereotypes. I even hate to write this but after last week at a Thai resort, I left flummoxed at the behavior. So, congrats to you!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Amber. It still confuses me half the time and I’ve been here a while! Ready for the next one!

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  9. Like everything in life, there is give in take. You got an amazing experience in China, but it meant missing out at adventures at home. It’s all about finding balance, living in the now, and accepting where you are in life. Good luck on the next phase!

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    • You’re right, Kimmy. It’s all about the balance. I do not regret what I do at all and these are the sacrifices. Bigger ones yet to come but if I can cope here I can cope anywhere!

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