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Here's all 6,000 words of my Transition Report that I just finished writing. Happy reading!
How I Moved to China and Got Started Here
My transition to China is complete! So happy to say. This transition began around November 20, 2008 when I started getting rid of most of my personal belongings. Following my first trip to China in July 2008, and after selecting Chongqing as my favorite city, I had chosen to risk everything I had in order to make my life worth living. This was my ultimate chance. It was now or never.
At the end of November, I left my temporary menial part-time job to prepare for the move. By the first week of December, I had finished setting up the software on my new laptop PC, and gave my old desktop PC to my parents, along with some of my furniture and other items. That Saturday I removed most of the things from my Oklahoma City apartment and stayed at my parents' house in Edmond for a few days. I got rid of the remaining furniture and devices in my apartment that Sunday and Monday.
On Tuesday, December 9th, I cleaned up the empty apartment and handed in the keys to the office. I also transferred my car title back to my parents, because the car hadn't sold yet. I started packing my two large suitcases that next day (December 10th), and stayed at the Oklahoma City Marriott on NW Expressway to celebrate my final night of residence in Oklahoma. I walked on the Lake Hefner Dam late that night for the last time.
In late morning on Thursday, December 11th, I checked out of the Marriott and returned to my parents' house in Edmond -- driving my '97 Pontiac Grand Prix and listening to its huge sound system for the final time. (I had spent the previous 15 years of my life building up the sound system, and this was the third car I'd had it in.) I then went for my final walk as a resident of Oklahoma -- around my old neighborhood where I grew up. Afterward I finished packing, took a shower, and loaded everything into one of my parents' cars to head to the airport. Upon pulling out of the driveway at 4 PM (sitting in the backseat with my mom and dad up front), I waved goodbye to the house and my old car.
We arrived at the airport at 4:30 PM, checked in my two overweight luggage bags, and I hugged my parents a sincere and heartfelt goodbye. I passed through security with my heavy coat, my travel pouch, a heavy backpack, and a heavy laptop PC bag, and arrived at the gate with five minutes to spare before boarding began.
Departure was at 5:15 PM on Southwest Airlines, but takeoff didn't occur until 5:35. I relished my final look at the city as I flew off into the sunset. It would be nearly 24 hours until seeing daylight again.
I changed planes in Phoenix and headed to Los Angeles International Airport. I retrieved my luggage and had fun dragging everything I owned across the airport for the next half hour! I finally showed up at Air China's check-in desk, checked in the two overweight luggage bags, got my boarding passes for the next two flights, then went through security again with all my other stuff.
I had a fun chat with a college student while waiting at the gate, who was returning to Beijing to visit her family. She ultimately wanted to teach Chinese in L.A., and was delighted to hear about my plans to teach English in Chongqing.
Departure was on time at 12:40 AM, December 12th. I sat in the very middle of the front row of economy class behind a wall. The leg room was a bit cramped, but it was quieter than sitting by the window. Upon taking off around 1 AM, I looked toward one of the small windows and thought, "Goodbye, country!"
I then set my watch ahead to 5 PM for China's time, and prepared to get some rest during the 13-hour flight.
The plane finally landed in Beijing at 6 AM on Saturday, December 13th. I passed through the immigration checkpoint, took a train to another section of the terminal, and retrieved my luggage. While passing through customs, I asked if I needed to register or pay tariffs for my gold bullion coins, and they said no.
So I hauled all my stuff up a long escalator to the upper level and found a cart to put it on. It was 7 AM, and the flight to Chongqing wasn't until 12:20 PM. I also wasn't allowed to check in my luggage until three hours before departure. So for the next two-and-a-half hours, I sat with everything I owned and watched the sun come up. It was a brand new day, indeed.
I checked in my two large suitcases just after 9:30 and passed through security one last time. I ate a second breakfast and waited at the gate. The last leg of the 32-hour journey finally occurred, and I touched down in Chongqing around 3 PM. I picked up the luggage and met my friend Rosanna in the lobby, whom I'd met the previous summer.
We took a taxi and found the hostel along the Yangtze River, and I checked in. It was a simple accommodation and only the bedrooms had heaters, but the staff was friendly and helpful. I also retrieved a rented cellphone that had been delivered to the hostel.
Throughout the next five days, Rosanna showed me around town and took me to some of the public schools to inquire about English-teaching positions for the upcoming semester. All the public schools had no heaters, the bathrooms were gross, and they only hired foreign teachers through agents. But that Wednesday, I interviewed at a new private language school for children, called CocoPaul. It was located in the center of the city at Jiefang Bei. It was heated, the facilities were nice, and I was impressed. They invited me to come to their Christmas party that following Saturday at their children's clothing store, which I accepted.
On Friday (Dec. 19th) I was on my own to interview with an adult private language school at Jiefang Bei, and to search for another one in the area. The first place was Web International English, located in one of the towers. The interviewers asked if I could teach a demo class for 30 minutes later in the day. I replied that I would wait until February after returning from my English-teaching training course in Beijing. I wanted to have the confidence and skills in place first. They understood, and said they'd keep in touch with me.
So then I searched for the next adult language school, called Meten English. With some help I found it, and two staff members named Dianni and Sprina met with me. I was thoroughly impressed with the school and the staff, and also told them I could do a demo class after returning from Beijing in February. They seemed very interested in me, and promised to keep in contact.
Thinking I was finished for the day, I meandered the streets around Jiefang Bei for awhile. But I encountered a marketing tent that Web International English had set up beneath their building. One of the marketing girls informed me of another prestigious language school in that same skyscraper for children, called Owen Education International. So I rode up the elevator again and spoke with one of the administrators named Dave, who was from Seattle. He was really nice to talk to, and told me that as long as I could successfully do a demo class, the job was mine.
So I went home that day, feeling very successful. I went clubbing that night for fun, and attended CocoPaul's Christmas party the next day. At the party I had fun singing carols with the kids and the staff. The manager of the school spoke with me afterward, and said he'd like to hire me. I thanked him for the offer, but told him that I wouldn't accept any offers until after returning from the training course in Beijing. I wanted to know which group of students appealed to me more: children, or adults. The training course would give me a better idea.
When returning to the hostel I sent some thank-you e-mails to the interviewers I spoke with from each of the schools. They all replied to me within the next few days. Sprina from Meten said that she hoped to meet me again, and that she "believes I will be a good teacher." The rep from Web stated, "We hope you can become one of us."
Needless to say, it felt great to have one explicit job offer and three implicit ones after my first week or so in China!
I relaxed during the next few days and did laundry, and on Wednesday (December 24th), Rosanna came and helped me purchase my own cellphone, SIM card, and international calling plan. The hostel had a fun Christmas party that evening with about 50 people in attendance, and I sang a few pop songs for everyone. I told them that this move to China was a present that I'd given myself: a new hope, and a new life.
I spoke with my family on the phone the next morning. They were excited to hear about my success thus far, and missed me.
Later that same day, I received a call on my rented Chinese cellphone from the rental company. They told me to mail the rented phone to their U.S. office after I returned to America from my "vacation." I laughed out loud and explained why that wouldn't happen! So they gave me their Shanghai mailing address to send it to. The hostel staff wrote some instructions on a piece of paper, and I took it to a post office the next day to mail the phone. That evening I packed my bags to prepare for the trip to Beijing.
I left the hostel by taxi the next morning (Saturday) with all my belongings and headed to the airport. The flight was at noon, and landed in Beijing around 2:30. After retrieving my luggage I met the taxi driver that the hostel in Beijing had arranged for me.
The scenery on the 30-minute ride was enjoyable. Beijing was full of fancy, modern buildings, but had fewer skyscrapers than Chongqing. Everything seemed to be more spread-out. And the winter climate was very cold and dry, which I disliked.
The hostel was nicer than the one in Chongqing. It was heated, and more finished. I also enjoyed the fast high-speed internet in my room. That evening, I bundled up and browsed the streets, and found the building where the training course was. I also explored one of the main shopping streets, named Wangfujing Street.
On Sunday I prepared for class, and showed up at 9 AM Monday morning. I had fun meeting the trainers and other trainees. One of the trainers was an older gentleman from France, who spoke English just like a native British-English speaker. The other trainer was in his late thirties, from Australia. The course was called CELTA (Certification of English Language Teaching to Adults), which was sponsored by the University of Cambridge in England and accredited by the British Council.
There were 12 trainees (myself included). Most were young adults from all over the world. Some had prior teaching experience and others hadn't, but most wanted to find positions in East Asia.
Each day involved a morning of lecture, an afternoon of teaching practice and trainer/peer feedback, and an early evening of lesson preparation. There were two groups of 12 adult students whom we taught: an elementary level, and intermediate. (I taught the elementary-level group during the first two weeks, and the intermediate throughout the last two.) The course was *very* intense. I found myself averaging about five hours of sleep each night during the weekdays -- working on formal lesson plans and written assignments. It felt like a four-week war. My to-do list included 10 regular lesson plans, two activity lessons, and four written assignments. I often worked in my hostel room late in the evening and early in the morning to keep up with the class.
But overall, it was an *excellent* training course. I learned a great deal about how to teach English, how students learn, and built a solid foundation from which to launch a teaching career.
The final Friday finally came, and I was feeling quite relieved that the war was finished at last. I went out to dinner that evening with the other trainees, hung out at one of their apartments, then went to a dance club called Shooters (located in Beijing's Westerner-section of town). We had a lot of fun together. I then returned to the training office around noon the next day to retrieve an official letter stating that I had passed the course, and that I'd be getting my CELTA certificate in the mail in six to eight weeks. I then went back to the hostel to take pictures, do laundry, sample and download music on the fast connection, and pack.
I left the hostel at 9 AM Sunday morning (January 25th) and arrived at the airport around 9:30. I expected the place to be crowded because of the Spring Festival, but it wasn't. I checked in my bags, went through security, and waited at the gate for quite awhile -- while listening to the new songs acquired the night before. One of the tunes had lyrics that said, "You're probably on your flight back to your hometown."
Takeoff was after 12:30 and I landed back in Chongqing around 3. I picked up my luggage and took a taxi back to the Yangtze River Youth Hostel, and was happy to be back in my new hometown. I ate dinner in the lounge that evening with the staff and other guests to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival. Afterward I rode the cable car across the river and walked on Nanbin Road for the first time.
The view of the colorful city skyline was spectacular, and people were shooting off New Year's fireworks everywhere. I decided to make this my regular walking place in Chongqing. I later returned to the hostel and hung out for a short time. But around 11:45 PM, the fireworks outside started getting louder and louder. So I walked out onto the 4th-floor balcony area of the hostel with a good view of the river, and stood in absolute awe for the next 60 minutes. There must've been 300 people on both sides of the river for miles shooting full-sized fireworks simultaneously! It was unlike anything I had ever witnessed in my life. Midnight was the official start of the Chinese Lunar New Year, and it transpired with a........bang! It was a thousand times better than the best fireworks show I'd seen, and was at least 10 times better than the fireworks shows in New York City and London on January 1, 2000! It endured for a breathtaking 60 minutes or so, and I even called my parents and left a voice message. (It was so loud that it sounded like static on the recording.)
It was indeed a new year, a new life, a new hope, and a new chance at making my dreams come true.
I relaxed around the hostel during the next several days and put together my personal Year-End Music Charts for 2008. I also finished organizing a personal homemade compilation album from recently-acquired songs. That Friday I started to explore the city again, and took the monorail/subway train to Yang Jia Ping. It was a pretty shopping area, which included a huge tree sculpture made from 7-UP bottles. That evening I visited the Yikeshu Viewing Platform across the river, situated on a mountain, featuring a magnificent high view of the colorful metropolis. I explored Jiefang Bei during the next afternoon and evening (Saturday), and on Sunday, I took a trip to Chongqing's Public Security Bureau office to inquire about what was needed to extend my tourist visa for an additional 30 days' stay.
Also throughout those three days, I delightedly bought six Chinese disco albums -- each with three CD's apiece -- from different music shops. I paid 30 RMB (less than $5) for each of them, and gradually sampled and became familiar with them during the following week. Three of the albums were all in Mandarin, and the other three contained songs in various languages from all over the world. The music was awesome and I was in disco heaven!
Monday morning (February 2nd) arrived, and it was finally time to deliver my demo class at Meten English. I arrived at the school at 10 AM and was given 30 minutes to prepare a 20-minute lesson. The lesson plan was already laid out for me, and I needed to think about how to teach it. About 10 students and staff members joined me in one of the small classrooms at 10:30, and I began the lesson. The topic was simple banking and financial vocabulary. I executed my CELTA-acquired skills and the lesson went well, although my nervousness was apparent.
Following the lesson, the staff told me that it was "obvious" I'd had some "good training," and were impressed. Their only significant criticism was, "Don't be so nervous!"
They said they'd inform me within the next week if they wanted to hire me. So I left, feeling hopeful. The staff seemed very professional and I appreciated the excellent communication with Sprina (the foreign teacher assistant) throughout the previous five weeks by e-mail.
I went back to the hostel and contacted Web International English about scheduling a demo class. But they couldn't do it until the following Monday. So that afternoon I decided to open a checking account and a safe deposit box at Bank of China. I wanted to put away my Chinese cash and my remaining U.S. traveler's checks (converted to RMB), and needed to start using my old debit card from my U.S. checking account (at an ATM) to pull over some extra cash (also converted to RMB). I would need to show the Public Security Bureau that I had the required funds necessary to extend my tourist visa, so this was part of that preparation. Finally, I desired to put my gold bullion coins into a safer place.
So I removed my bag of valuables from the hostel's front-desk locker, donned my travel pouch, and took a taxi to Jiefang Bei. I entered one of the Bank of China branches there and spoke with one of the employees. But they told me that foreigners must go to the main Chongqing branch of Bank of China, located at Guan Yin Yan, west of Jiefang Bei. I took another taxi there and entered. One of the assistant managers spoke good English and was extremely helpful and friendly. His English name was Oliver, and when mentioning that I also wanted to rent a safe deposit box, he exclaimed with a big smile, "How long do you plan on staying here?"
I told him about my job hunt and he was very encouraging. He helped me get a Bank of China debit card with my new checking account, showed me how to instantly deposit money using an ATM, and helped me rent a safe deposit box. It felt great to finally put my beloved gold coins into their new refuge. The box's security was tighter than in the U.S., too -- with multiple "keys" of different sorts needed to enter the vault area. My new debit card's security was also better. When using it to pay for merchandise at a store, my pin number was always required, plus a signature.
I finally thanked Oliver for all his help and he gave me his business card. I took a bus back to the hostel afterward and called it a day.
I spent the rest of the week getting new passport photos, making copies of my passport page with the current entry stamp, transferring some extra money from my old U.S. checking account into my new one in China, sampling more of my brand-new Chinese disco albums, and exploring Jiefang Bei. On Thursday I obtained an official certificate from my new bank, stating my account balance. I then submitted all the paperwork to the Public Security Bureau office on Friday morning to extend my tourist stay. It was promptly approved, but they needed to keep my passport until the following Wednesday in order to apply the new visa to it.
That Friday evening (February 6th) was incredibly exciting. I was expecting a phone call from Winston Wu (the creator of the website HappierAbroad.com, whose site helped inspire me to explore the world outside the U.S.) But just prior to the phone call, I decided to check e-mail. Sprina from Meten English sent me a note, asking if I could sign a full-time teaching contract with Meten the following Wednesday afternoon! (The contract would begin March 1st.) I immediately replied, asking which location it was at. So feeling very excited, I received the phone call from Winston and had a good two-hour conversation. He seemed satisfied to know that he's influenced others to make positive changes in their lives by seeking happiness abroad.
Sprina replied to my e-mail late the next morning, informing me that the position was at the Jiefang Bei location! So after my late breakfast, I called her. I proclaimed, "Next Wednesday afternoon, you and I *will be* shaking hands."
She was pleased to hear my acceptance of the offer.
I called my parents next, who also were delighted about the news. Shortly after I hung up, Sprina called me back and requested that I teach some classes that afternoon and evening for a teacher who was out sick. I said yes, and although I was feeling eager to celebrate, was glad to get some extra teaching practice nonetheless. I taught a few more classes the next day as well, and sent some e-mails to the other language schools to tell them I'd accepted another job offer.
Monday and Tuesday were spent ripping my new Chinese disco albums onto my laptop PC, converting them to MP3, and copying them to my iPod. It was thrilling to finally have 299 new great songs on my iPod to take and play wherever I chose.
Early Wednesday afternoon, I retrieved my passport from the Public Security Bureau office (with the new tourist visa) and went to Meten to review and sign the teaching contract. The staff also informed me that they'd help me find an apartment within the next week, and told me about the procedures for getting my Chinese work permit visa, which would be completed by the end of February.
So I was very, very pleased that it was finally "official": I had a job in the heart of Chongqing!
I walked along Nanbin Road that evening to my new music and had a blast. I relaxed and did laundry the next day, and taught a couple more classes on Friday evening for a another teacher who was out sick.
I got up Saturday morning and read that my parents finally sold my car for a low price. The new owner was 18 years old, saw my online ad, came from Kansas to get the car, and was quite enthusiastic about the sound system. I then received a phone call (as planned) from a gentleman from northern California named Ernie. He had read about my move to Chongqing and was aspiring to do the same in the near future. We had a good conversation that lasted for about two hours. I went to Meten that evening to attend a Valentine's Day activity and sing some pop songs for the students.
Sunday afternoon came, and it was time to begin my furnished apartment search. I met Sprina at Meten early in the afternoon, and we walked five minutes to a nearby apartment building. The first room I toured was on the top (30th) floor. It was a studio room that was in decent shape, had no bad smells, included a Western-style toilet, and everything worked. But the view outside was extremely foggy and rainy. The Yangtze River and most other buildings weren't visible that day from the windows.
So my first impression of this room was OK, but it didn't wow me.
My next toured room was on the 27th floor. It also was a studio room, but with a large wardrobe that separated the bedroom section from the living-room area. At first glance it appeared very fancy, and the windows faced the center of Jiefang Bei. But the toilet didn't flush, the bathroom door was broken, the kitchen cabinets were messed up, and paint chips surrounded the perimeter. As much as I liked this room, it unfortunately was disqualified from consideration.
Following that, I toured two more apartments in a different building. One was on the 8th floor, and other on the 20th. They both were very fancy with separate bedrooms. However, they also had Eastern-style "squat" toilets with no standing water in them. They were directly open to the sewer line, and the bad sewer smells pervaded the entire apartments. When mentioning this nasty nuisance to the locals, they answered, "Oh...just leave a window open, and you'll be fine!" (Even though the outdoor temperature was 5 degrees Celsius / 40 degrees Fahrenheit.)
It took quite an effort for me to keep from laughing.
I visited four more apartments that next day (Monday) in this same complex. All of them were similarly fancy with separate bedrooms, but with the same problems, too. So I finally returned to the trouble-free apartment on the 30th floor of that first skyscraper from the day before. It was the only room that didn't have "issues." The fog outdoors also was less dense than on Sunday, providing me with a better view. So I declared to Sprina, "OK...I'll take this one!"
She spoke to the landlords on the phone and they agreed to meet me in the room at 10 AM the next morning. They would present me with the lease, and I would move in.
Feeling excited, I returned to the hostel for my final night's stay. I packed my belongings, checked out the next morning (February 17th), and loaded everything into a taxi. I then hauled all the heavy bags and suitcases into the apartment building and up an elevator to my new home. I met my new landlords in the room, along with their son who spoke some English. Sprina also came to interpret the leasing contract for me. The rent was a mere 1,000 RMB ($150) per month, and the view was *absolutely spectacular* since most of the fog had lifted. I could see the Yangtze River, hundreds of buildings, 20-story-tall bridges, and the Nan'An District from the south window. The west window boasted a gaze of hundreds of more skyscrapers (including my bank), plus the Jiangbei District in the distance. My landlords were very friendly and even took me out to lunch. It was a truly warm welcome and a great feeling.
After lunch I met Sprina back at Meten, who helped me purchase a set of bed sheets and pillows from a nearby store. We met Harry from Meten's IT office afterward. The three of us took a bus to an area called Shiqiao Pu, which was the electronics Mecca of Chongqing. (It was a miniature version of Shenzhen's Hua Qiang Bei.) There I got some good deals on a small home stereo set and a printer/scanner/copier for my PC, plus a small desk and chair. We rode back to my apartment in a minivan with the new equipment, and Harry promised to return to my room the next day to assemble the desk and chair.
The evening view from the windows was so brilliant and beautiful, that it was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Spectrums of bright, flashy colorful lights beamed from at least 200 buildings in a delightful display of dazzle! It lit up the Yangtze River with awesome luster and delved deep into my ecstatic emotion as I donned my headphones and played my latest Chinese disco tunes with the astonishing scenery from my wonderful new home. I simply could not believe this was actually my apartment. It kicked ass!
Harry returned around noon the next day with a handyman who assembled the new desk and chair. I later met Yama from Meten who helped me buy a juicer and air purifier from another nearby store, and in the evening, I shopped for some small kitchenware and other utensils. An Internet service provider technician came Thursday afternoon to set up a broadband connection.
I continued working on arranging the room, unloading my bags and suitcases, and putting my old posters on the walls (plus two new ones). By that Sunday, my move-in was complete. I had worked hard and was glad to be finished. It was especially neat to see my longtime "DiscoPro" poster and multicolored "dance posters" hanging up in illustrious China.
On Monday morning I met Sprina and took a bus to the north side of the city to undergo the national medical exam. It was one of the required procedures for obtaining a work permit. It was a bit humorous as I went from room to room while each doctor examined me and documented the paperwork. That Thursday I returned to the same building to retrieve the approval sheets, and to visit the Foreign Experts Bureau office in another place to acquire a Foreign Expert certificate. I finally traveled with Sprina to the Public Security Bureau to submit all the numerous documents (plus my passport) for approval. It was accepted, but they needed to keep my passport for three weeks in order to convert the tourist visa into a work permit.
I filed my U.S. income taxes online that weekend and was set to receive a decent refund. I also went to a dance club called Wan Jia Le and had a blast, and hung out with Rosanna and her boyfriend at my apartment. It was a pleasure to see her again for the first time since December.
My first regular week at Meten was very easy. It mostly consisted of training, and was largely a review of what I learned in the CELTA course in Beijing. By that first weekend, though, I began teaching a regular schedule. I taught all different levels of teenagers and adults, with usually one to ten students in each class. The lesson plans were already made for me, and I simply needed to think about how to teach each lesson (and made copies of materials). I usually worked in the afternoon and evening hours and on the weekends, with two days off during the week. I had 25 classroom hours per week, although some of those hours were easy "social talking" sessions, in which I'd simply chit-chat with the more-advanced students so they could practice their English.
I was still quite nervous during the first month. Sometimes the students would tell me, "Don't be so shy!" But I built a good rapport with them and they seemed to like me. They especially warmed up to me when I spoke a little Mandarin and revealed my intention to build my life in Chongqing "because it's my favorite city." They appreciated my compliments about the friendly Chongqing people, and were happy to hear that I wanted to make lots of friends and find a girlfriend.
As the weeks progressed, the flow of the lessons gradually became more natural and my anxiety subsided. I could sense an improvement in my teaching skills and was receiving positive feedback from the students and staff.
I also began to make new friends! After the first few weeks, three of the students started hanging out with me outside of work. We visited Three Gorges Museum and City Hall together, had fun singing at a karaoke place, and hung out at my apartment while we all danced to my music. It's been very refreshing and meaningful, and is only the micro-beginning of what is to come. It was practically impossible to find friends in Oklahoma who wanted to dance to my disco/dance-pop music, but in Chongqing, things just aren't the same! (It also isn't necessary here to choose exclusively between having good health, *or* enjoying a social life, which was commonplace in the U.S. because of America's extremely-processed regular food.)
I became friends with one of the other foreign teachers, too. He's an older gentleman who actually lived in Oklahoma for a long time, and has since resided in Mexico, the Philippines, and China's Guangdong Province. He's been married to a Filipino for quite some time, and they live together in my apartment building. He shares many of my beliefs about natural health, culture, and economics, and we sometimes hang out and talk. He also sends his milkman up to my door every few days, who delivers raw milk.
So in March, I began drinking milk again for the first time in three years. I finally had the freedom to relish the taste and health benefits of raw, unpasteurized, unprocessed milk -- full of living enzymes and unaltered, natural nutrients. The sale of raw milk to consumers is illegal in most places in America, but not in China! Ahh...the taste of freedom, freedom, freedom was lovely.
By mid-March I received my U.S. tax refund, and used it to purchase a magnetic mattress pad and two pillow pads on the Internet from the U.S., which arrived in Chongqing at the end of March. (These were impossible to find in Chongqing.) I also ordered some other natural health items not sold in Chongqing and had them shipped as well (such as organic virgin coconut oil and organic raw apple cider vinegar). I pulled the remainder of the tax refund over to my Bank of China account, which was converted to RMB.
At the beginning of April, I received my first full monthly paycheck from Meten (with less than 5% in Chinese income taxes withdrawn from it!), and my CELTA certificate finally came in the mail several days later. This certificate is my big "ticket to the world," which enables me to find a job in many, many places around the globe. But Chongqing holds a special place in my heart, and I probably won't be going anywhere else anytime soon.
At this point I officially declared my transition to China complete. I was settled, and was feeling relaxed and triumphant. After risking everything in a bold move to make my life worth living; my professional, financial, and social futures were still intact. I had an enjoyable job that wasn't constantly highly stressful to the point of burnout. It was possible to actually use my college degree to find a suitable career. I didn't need to own a money pit (otherwise known as a "personal automobile") in order to function in society. I could live *far* beneath my means without compromising my health: no more struggling to make ends meet, and no more worrying about money. I was able to finally resume my gold-bullion investment purchasing after a hiatus of several years. (I bought a 50-gram (1.5 oz.) Chinese gold bar in mid-April and put it in my safe deposit box the next day.) And last but not least...I was making genuine new friends who shared my musical passions and interests!
This was the freedom haven that I had sought so desperately, and had ultimately succeeded in uncovering. The future is bright indeed, with a new phase upon me now. I now will spend the next few years becoming acclimated to life in China -- particularly in learning the language, exploring more of Chongqing, and getting used to everything. And who knows...I just might find a compatible girlfriend after all, and then write, compose, and perform my own pop music someday!
Oh well...stay tuned, this is just the beginning.
Wow what a trip report. I should send it out to the list.
In China, do people have stern, solemn, strict faces like in Taiwan and Japan? Or is their face open and relaxed? In other words, do they look uptight and inhibited?
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"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne
In Chongqing, about 2/3 of the people have open and relaxed faces, and about 1/3 have stern faces. Sometimes when I see a cute woman with a stern look, I utter, "Can you smile???" in the local Chongqing dialect （â€œ你可以笑不？â€�） ("Ni keyi xiao bu?") and her stern expression suddenly turns into a humongous grin or laugh!
It's so much fun.
OK, here's my revised report:
I moved to China and got started here.
Then try skimming it.
Just wanted to say your writing style is fine the way it is. Keep it coming.
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- Albert Einstein