Thursday, January 17, 2013

Changes: Ever-Occurring

As I have been in China for almost 5 months now, I have begun to notice a continual pattern.  The pattern is change.  China is always changing, whether it be building new sky scrapers, changing it's political opinion, or things breaking, everything changes.  Sometimes the changes are good, such as the push to reconcile its differences with Japan (sorta) or trying to reduce the amount of pollution that is spilled into the atmosphere everyday (in Beijing the air pollution is supposedly 3x as worse as Los Angeles). 

I've been through a lot of changes here, mostly changes that I've made to better myself, but also changes that I've just had to kind of roll with.  Adapting is key to surviving life in China, if you do not adapt well then you probably won't make it very long (as I saw with one person from my Cambodia course who left China early, but bringing that many stuffed animals to China was an indication to us all that that person wasn't going to last very long).  Often it is quite interesting to see China in it's state of ever-changing; I remember a lot of buildings were just being built when I arrived and they are now completely finished (I give China credit for it's quick engineering skills, and of course the night workers).  

The biggest changes are the people you meet.  You gain friends over time, some you meet through your job, others through mutual friends and some online.  Foreign people are so much friendlier than Americans (not all Americans of course), willing to help with no thoughts on returning the favor.  Why is that? I ask myself that a lot.  Even I am helping more than I would back home.  I think when you are abroad, without connections or family/friends, you make connections in order to feel safe or at home.  These connections to others, who speak a common language, brings you closer and therefore you act on that and are willing to help each other more so than at your home country, at least that could be the reason for me. In a place where not many people speak your native tongue, you don't talk very much, you just do a lot of listening.  I actually find myself listening to Chinese, but hearing English in my brain instead; totally crazy.

Every teacher that you meet has a contract and a set agenda, some come to travel, earn more money, find a relationship, party, teach or even to settle down.  Realizing that everyone is doing what they want and when they want is also a key when going abroad, but also getting to know each and every one of them while you can is also a great asset; you may discover great people in the process.  In the end, you are an individual living in China, whatever you feel is right for you to do, then do it.  Don't stay somewhere because it's the safest bet and because that is where you know people; you're teaching abroad for god's sake, not living with your parents, live your life.  Roommates will leave you alone to find something better or what better suits their needs.  Fellow teachers will leave at the end of their contracts ready to dive into their new adventure.  Schools will have weird holidays or rescheduling issues, and you will have to be fine with it and go with the flow.  You may get teachers/staff that you may not agree on, but you have to accept it because this is China. 

This is the life you chose, to live or teach abroad, if you can't deal with those changes on a constant basis then this isn't the right place for you to be.  I've learned to deal with these things and I'm still learning.  If you do come here, it will make you a better person because in the end you become patient and better at adapting at a moments notice; good skills to have.

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