Monday, August 1, 2016

Getting Ready for China - February 19, 2013

I have been reading non-stop. I have been going to doctors, getting medical exams, getting vaccinated against nasty diseases like Hep A and B and am aware that I need to get way more organized very soon. And I’m scared.
Little sayings like ‘courage is not the absence of fear’ pop into my mind but I have to say, the more waiting I do, the more scared I get. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stay in Canada…I think this is a normal part of making a huge change in your life. It’s just such a powerful feeling, fear, that I thought I would mention it so that those of you who may decide to do something new and different in your life, to know that it’s part of the process.
The first stage of moving to a new place for me is always the ‘wow’ moments. As in “Wow, I’m really going to CHINA!” (Or Nunavut, or the Arctic, or Ontario…etc). Then I do all sorts of reading and research about the new place and get excited about it and think of all the things I want to do when I get there. In Nunavut it was the riding of my new ATV on the tundra, the picking of berries, the silence of walking out on the land, the meeting of new people. For China it is going to one of the most dynamic cities in the world (Beijing), the chance of travelling all over Asia, the food, the beauty of the land, the different culture that I will get to know really well in a year and a half, the teachers I will work with who also wanted to experience life this way. Then there’s a stage where I think of all the challenges. In Nunavut it was the cold, the lack of regular plumbing, the chance meeting of polar bears, etc. For China it is the pollution, the lack of ovens, the crowds, the cold apartments and not knowing the language of the majority of people around me, not being understood. The scary part is that you don’t really KNOW which challenge is going to be the one that is difficult for YOU to handle. I thought the fear of polar bears would be intense but I didn’t really think too much about it when I was actually on Baffin Island (although I had plenty of nightmares about it before I left!). What was really hard was the lack of support in my job and the utter loneliness when I didn’t fit in to any social group in that small town. Then there were the things that are impossible to predict before you leave. I had no idea that my dog would be killed, my father would die and my house would be broken into as I slept, terrorizing me after with what might have happened if the criminal had gotten in.
I know I am going anyway and I hope that I can meet the challenges without too much trouble, whatever they may be. For anyone else in the future thinking of moving to China, I am reading a fantastic book called ‘Living Abroad in China” by Barbara and Stuart Strother which outlines all the things that no one else tells you about living there. It has been a great resource. I am also devouring the Lonely Planet books on China and trying to learn Mandarin. In doing this research, i have managed to get my son excited about going to the Gobi desert to ride on a camel. I was reading a blog from a teacher who has been living in Dalian for the past few years and one of his trips was to the desert. I have promised to try and visit there with B– so that he can ride a camel too. Perhaps our May trip?
Regardless of what torture I put myself through before I leave, I should be in China in less than two weeks. Part of me is terrified and part is really excited. What an adventure awaits me and that little boy!

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