So, a couple of observations/realizations living and teaching in China:
1. Pollution sucks; In China, it will likely worsen until the Chinese can no longer ignore it… or get better at denying it and the massive public health issue that it is.
2. Bananas are your friend. Your yellow, peel-able, phallic, friend.
3. I am likely in the worst health of my life and need to do something about it, ironically, in a country where the food toxic air quality are probably killing me even faster than when I was in the States.
4. I enjoy teaching and will probably spend the rest of my life doing it in some capacity either as a profession or as a volunteer.
5. I am probably not going to stay in Chicago once I get back; I love my country, and I still consider Chicago my home, but the world is too big for me to stay in one city.
6. I need people, but I can survive being alone.
I’ve been here just under two months; I’m adapting to the language and culture, but will most likely move on after my contract is up. The pollution and quality of life, while survivable, is a major factor in my desire to move. My throat is constantly irritated, and I’ve developed a chronic cough. If things worsen, I’ll probably go see a doctor, which, I think should be relatively cheap.
When I say quality of life, I also mean lifestyle; I’m hoping I’m able to meet more people and build community while I’m here, but given the size of the city, and its reaction to foreigners, I’m skeptical I’ll be able to integrate as much as I’d like to.
That said, I would definitely consider coming back after spending time elsewhere. I would love to see Europe, given I haven’t traveled nearly as much there as I have through Asia.
The Middle East currently pays the highest salaries in ESL, at least as far as I can tell looking through some of the job postings online. I’d need a master’s or a 120 hour TEOFL Certificate, but would then be making upwards of 60 and 90 k.
We’ll see where I am mentally, physically, spiritually, financially after leaving China. As much as I love Burning Man, and would relish the opportunity to go back home again this year… money and time are an excuse, it’s more about the desire to go. Part of me thinks I need the ridiculous intensity of the desert to remind me how precious and beautiful life in this world really is.
Month and a half down… three more to go.