Monday, December 11, 2017

China Until 2020

I have been back and forth as to what to do come March of 2018 which is when my contract ends here in China. I have had the great fortune of time and options in which to have my mind wander.

My first thoughts were about where I wanted to work next. Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Mongolia were all high on my list of "next destinations". Staying in China was an option but for the last 7 years I have focused on "the next place".
Second was travel. There is a 6 month gap between the end of my current contract the start of new school years and the hiring "season" in many places. My list of locations and itineraries changed on a weekly basis. One minute I would head down through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and enjoy the mysteries of South East Asia. Then I thought it would be brilliant to trek in Nepal then wander through India and Sri Lanka. Finally Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan loomed in the distant, dark and mysterious. However, regardless of my "next great adventure" focus, China kept popping back into play.

I was all over the place and believe it or not you can have to many options. I was feeling oddly scattered until I had a great conversation with my amazing friend Lynne Edwards. After listening to me patiently she said in a direct and calm voice: "what do you always tell me?" "Make a decision and own it!" . I take it back, she was being mean because I hate when I have to eat my own advice from someone I will listen to. For the record those people are few and far between.

I thought about everything that presented itself and was just about to "own my decision", but as I have cosmically come to understand, the answers usually present themselves when they are ready. Knowing that China kept coming back into my thoughts meant something. Then I realized that I like it here. I like the school, I like the people and of course there was so much more I wanted to experience. I also wanted to get a really good handle on the language. After all my time in Latin American I can get by on Spanish, my French is passable but needs about a year of immersion (Africa anyone? ) and so having a fourth language under my belt really appealed to me for what lies ahead.

I arranged a meeting with the Teaching Supervisor to talk about my contract. He was a bit surprised as it a month earlier then expected but I wanted to get the ball rolling. My contract expires just after the Chinese New Year and I want to avoid as much hassle as possible, after all this is still China. I put forth what I thought were reasonable requests for staying. These requests were not what they were going to offer as a part of a normal second year contract so it was time for the "corporate negotiation skills" to appear. I had thought I put them to bed but all acquired skills help fill your apart of your

Now normal and me are rarely mentioned in the same sentence and I enjoyed that moment when I was told this was not a "normal request". Our conversation turned to an extended stay of 2 more years with a bit of give and take on contract details. After an hour we went to our separate corners and agreed to talk again in a few days.

Regrouping a few days later I was given great feedback and 10 minutes later we had an agreement. Amicable and no bull**it. So, Xi'an China will be home until at least March of 2020. Now that being said I do not have any government approval documents in my hands, there is no new work visa in my passport and I do not have my new residence card. Lets put it this way. In order to obtain these needed documents, think of yourself jumping in the front car or a giant roller coaster and the safety bar has just been lowered. You know what's going to happen and you know you will reach the end safely but the journey is going to make you scream and laugh at the same time.

Many of my choices in the past few years have been as spontaneous as combustion. Mexico was never on my radar but not only did I live and work there for 8 months it has become number 1 on my list of Final Destinations. No, I do not mean where I will get have a horrible death like the movies of the same name. My final destination list contains places where I will finally "stop" and relish in the history of my adventures. This does not mean I will stop traveling. It means I will find a place to use as a base from which to work and live my life. A bit less nomadic and more focused (..yeah I can not stop laughing to). As of now my top five are: 1. Mexico 2. Nicaragua 3. Uruguay 4. Ecuador 5. Panama but that list is in a constant state of flux

Of course, Canada is always an option but lets keep the Expat life dream alive for now.

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