Tonight I got into a lovely clichéd Facebook war of words with someone I barely know, who took it upon himself to say that I “rant” and that I’m not embracing the food or culture of China. That I signed up for this adventure, so now I have to live with it. Let me provide a small disclaimer; I come from the Webb school of negativity. I was raised to be negative, to have all negative thoughts and to think the worst of every situation. It’s something, along with my depression and bipolar II diagnosis, that I am very keenly aware of and struggle with daily.
I find myself beating myself up over it. “Am I being too negative in this conversation?” “Have I talked too much and have I asked the person enough about their day?” And, it’s because of this that I think about what I say about China on a daily basis. I try to mix the positive posts with the negative. People ask me every day what it’s like here, and I try to give my honest opinion. Whether it’s too negative, I can’t tell—I wasn’t raised to be a positive person so it’s hard for me to seriously gauge.
I will say this: I did NOT sign up for an adventure. I have no idea where people who know me are getting this. I left to become an expat because I simply can’t sit still. I was afraid of being normal and having a “normal” life, whatever that is. I wanted something different, yes, but an adventure? I wouldn’t go that far. Over the past year or so I have tried to steer clear of risk taking behavior, as that is a sure sign of my mental illness. My counselor and I even discussed if this whole thing was just another risky trip.
I’m not as brave as everyone says I am in coming here. I don’t feel brave or strong at all. If I were, I would’ve picked a country that had no comforts and no hand holding. China provides a furnished apartment, Visa assistance and a school that pretty much guides you through every little detail. Even my normal travels are done within the confines of a tour group. I am not an adventurous person, and in my mind I was thinking, OK, I’ll be near the Wal-Mart and the McDonald’s.
So, it’s been tough for me to find out I’m not teaching what I trained to teach or want to teach. I feel cheated, especially with all the money I have put into this. I do believe in fate though, so something brought me to this place whether I like it or not. With that being said, I am going into my classes 100% and giving the kids an education and hopefully what their parents are paying for.
It’s also tough to be dropped into a suburb that has nothing, including minimal food options. It’s hard for me to be adventurous and to go out on my own to find things in a country that doesn’t speak any English. It gets lonely, and the cab ride alone is taxing for my over-anxiety mind, but soon I will be forced to do so if I am to have any sort of life here. The other teachers all are in one building together in the heart of the city. So again, I feel kind of cheated.
Lastly, I will not get used to the level of cleanliness here. That is not a negative expression, it’s a fact. I get sick enough in the states. We’re talking about my health, and I don’t take that lightly. I could easily contract something very serious with the absolute utter lack of personal hygiene in China. So, when someone tells me to get used to people pooping in the streets and having no toilets, it’s not going to happen. If I would’ve known about this, China would not have been a country I would’ve even considered.
But, I’m here. And I am making the most of the situation I was dealt, I promise. Most of the crap I say is sarcastic anyway, and I am settling into life OK. Am I having the time of my life? Of course not. Am I miserable? Not even close. I am doing my best to enjoy my classes and my time here, while it lasts. Even though I did not seek out an adventure per se, the adventure has surely found me.