I flew to Xi’an, China in August 2010 to teach English part-time at Siyuan University for about 10 months. I had been to China before for one month but it was just for travel. I’m now at the end of my stay in China and about to continue my journey elsewhere. I’m going to really miss China.
Life was easy for me teaching English in China. For the second half of the semester, I was only working 10 hours a week and getting paid about 5,000RMB a month. The apartment was paid for. The only thing I had to pay for was electricity, food, and entertainment. Electricity was less than 100RMB ($15USD) a month, a meal is about 5 to 20RMB, and 100RMB can get me pretty far in a nightclub with a group of friends. The hardest part of my day was figuring out what to eat. It was a simple and easy life. Well paid and enough time to do whatever I wanted. That’s how I’ve been so productive on all my projects.
I’m going to miss the food. I’ve really explored the local foods in China. There have been so many times I’ve ordered randomly so I could get something new that I haven’t tried before. The amount of options there are for food in China is astonishing. Each restaurant looks as if they have a book of options instead of a menu. Even when giving the menu to a Chinese person, they still can’t decide because there are just so many options. Not sure how they are able to cook so many delicious dishes in such a small kitchen and with sometimes only one or two cooks.
There’s all these little things in China that I’ve adapted to. It’s normal to sit in a restaurant for a few hours and just talk with your closest friends. It’s normal to Karaoke with just a few guys. It’s normal to talk to strangers as if their really not strangers at all. I’ve adapted so well to the culture that I think it may have also added to my personality.
I have a routine here. I have my breakfast lady that knows me very well. I have a 10am break lady that I usually get a snack from. I have a variety of restaurants that all places recognize me at. Then for dinner, there’s a cafeteria where the entire place knows me. I frequently get extra food and bonus dishes. I have a milk tea lady that knows exactly what I want everytime. Even with my limited Chinese, they’ve been extremely helpful in recommending new dishes to me and helping me with my order. I’m really going to miss them.
I’ll really miss all of my students. They’ve helped me adapt and teach me as I was teaching them. So many wonderful discussions with them. During my last few days, I’ve been invited out for several good bye dinners, received gifts, and emails. In one of my last classes, I even had a student get emotional that I was leaving and wanted a hug.
I gathered up quite a lot of stuff here in my apartment. I decided to give it all away to my students which were mostly books and other small things but they were ecstatic about it like it was the best thing they’ve ever received.
Then there’s little frustrations in cultural differences between myself and the culture that I’ll even miss. The line cutting and overcrowded pushing can sometimes frustrate me but every time I look around, no one else is bothered by it but me.
I even took on learning the language. Although I may not have learned as much as I had liked, I think I’ve done pretty well at learning as much as I could while still keeping my other priorities. I can hold a basic conversation, and read and write a little in Chinese. Even after I leave China, I will still continue to study Mandarin and the characters.
I take off on July 5th. Xi’an, China will always be like a 3rd home to me and while I’ll really miss China, I think I’m ready to leave.
While I may have came to China to learn about their culture, it had also taught me a few things about myself. I hope to return soon but I think it’s time for me to move onto new adventures.
July 5th to July 11th, I have a stopover in Seoul, South Korea before returning home.