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.
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.
I’m welling up now, just writing about it.
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.
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:
I hope you can see that China will leave a huge mark on me for the rest of my life.