I will admit it: I never thought I’d move to China. For whatever reason, China never enticed me the way other countries and cultures have, yet here I am. Suspense building. Excitement bubbling. Impatience ensuing.
I leave for Dalian, China on Sept. 7th!
What’s even crazier is that I’ll be moving abroad for the second time. For those of you who have followed my journey, thank you. It means you care. Or maybe you’re simply interested in the destinations. Either way, I’m genuinely glad you’re reading right now.
Perhaps you knew that I left Fujairah, United Arab Emirates earlier this year. I’ll be honest. I expected more. I hoped I would want to teach in UAE for several years, but things (mainly my job) just didn’t go according to plan. Since then, my life has been full of unexpected twists and turns. My heart aches over the way my job didn’t work out because I really enjoyed the country itself, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s time to move on. As it turns out, UAE would lead to a move to Dalian, China. For that I’m grateful. Deep in my soul, I knew that UAE wouldn’t be the end of my time overseas.
So, why China?
I was offered a job! I couldn’t be more delighted to return to higher education. This September I’ll begin teaching. (The 16th of September but who’s keeping track? Okay, me–obviously I’m beyond thrilled). I’ll begin my position as Instructor of English Composition at Liaoning Normal University-Missouri State University in the College of International Business. The shortened version is LNU-MSU COB, for obvious reasons–what a gigantic name! This is a yearly contract with the opportunity of renewal–fingers crossed! The really great thing about this institution is that it’s an extension campus off Missouri State University in West Plains. Many of the administrators are from Missouri. I believe that somewhere around 23 faculty members are foreign. Awesome, right?
At the beginning, I spent a lot of time mulling over whether this move would make sense for me. I don’t want to continue job hopping, but at the same time, I’m reminding myself that settling for a job won’t make me happy. I’ve been playing to my adventurous side for a while now, and I know that life will be very different in Asia, but I’m confident that this is the right choice.
China might be challenging…
Dalian, China will be a challenging city for multiple reasons: the crowds, the censorship, the culture shock, the new job– to name a few.
Dalian is massive, like 5 million people kind of massive. I’ve never lived in a city quite so large, so I find that daunting. I mean, will Chinese people really push and shove to get places? Guess I’ll find out.
China blocks big websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, and Google. All banned. Luckily, loopholes exist, so I will be investing in a VPN (an app that secretly bypasses firewalls and grants me access to western websites).
The culture shock
I’ve lived in some pretty different cultures, but China will pose some new obstacles, like the language barrier. Confused? Don’t be. It’s confusing that I lived in UAE but never had issues with people not knowing English. China, oddly enough, won’t have as many English speakers. I was a bit lucky language-wise while living in UAE. Thanks to Tareq, I had an idea of what to expect in the Arab world. Moving to Asia will be my biggest culture shock, not having anything but Google to help assimilate me.
Despite the challenges ahead, I’m jazzed about my imminent move!
It will be incredible…
Dalian is a major Chinese sea port and seems to be a fusion of many cultures: Russian, Japanese, and Chinese.
The city was first colonized by the Russians, later the Japanese, and now it’s a blend of contemporary Chinese influences.
Did I mention… Dalian is only an hour and half flight from Beijing and Seoul! Flights are crazy cheap. I’m finally getting the opportunity to explore Eastern Asia: Japan, Taiwan, then Southern Asia: Vietnam, and Thailand (just kidding, Tareq–I’m not going without you!). Even local places like Tienanmen Square and the Great Wall are all within a weekend’s flight. So. much. culture.
Obviously the food will be authentic Chinese, and I’m not even sure what all that entails. Chinese buffets in Southeast MO haven’t prepped me for the real deal. Living on a sea port should mean great seafood. Or that’s what I’m hoping, at least. I’m a huge fan of white rice, legumes, vegetables, and noodles, so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding special local flavors.
I’m already fantasizing about waking up early, starting my morning with a hot cup of green tea, and hitting the park to gather with a hundred strangers to practice Tai Chi. This whole fantasy started when my aunt Alison and aunt Sue told me about their their Tai Chi classes in St. Louis. They gave me a five minute demonstration of Tai Chi in their kitchen, and I’ve been struck ever since! I cannot wait to soak up the fresh air and energy of such a wonderful tradition.
Maybe it’s petty. Maybe it’s dumb. But I don’t care; I am looking forward to walking to school. I already know that my apartment will be a 15-20 minute walk from the university. Moreover, none of my coworkers own a car. Public transportation in Dalian is such that I won’t have to rely on the automobile. Americans, I realize this is too much to take in all at once. I mean, middle America practically survives on the automobile. After years and years of hour-long commutes to work (both in Missouri and UAE), I think this will be a refreshing change.
I cannot wait to meet them! I’ll have about 100 students total per semester. My students will be Chinese nationals majoring in International Business. I’ve always had good experiences teaching Asian students, and I’m confident this will continue. About half of my students will eventually transfer to Missouri State University in their junior or senior year.
Did I mention that my composition classes have caps of 18-20 students? Talk about quality instruction time! I cannot wait to meet them! On top of all this, I will have a student Teaching Assistant (TA) for the first time in my teaching career. Having an extra hand to help me with all my administrative duties will certainly be refreshing.
Once I’m on the ground…
I’ll be writing more in depth. Thanks for following along! I hope you’re looking forward to an interesting journey ahead.
If you’ve traveled to Asia, what recommendations do you have? Places to see, stay, and eat are all welcome. Can’t wait to read them!