Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Don't Want To Go Too Far Away....

(ironically enough) - now that I'm on the other side of the world.

OK - so yeah I'm givin ya' TWO posts BACK TO BACK here ...
for the low, low price of ... "FREE if you wanna read em'"

I just got hit with a wave of anxiety. I've got butterflies in my chest creeping up into my throat. They started after reading a beautiful post about "beautiful Taipei" on http://www.myseveralworlds.com

In the 45 seconds it took me to read that post I realized

I don't know where I want to be.
I don't know what my next 'concrete' ( non-vacation-related) step will be.

Thinking about next year, like I said in my previous post - KNOWING that time is going to fly here in these next 6 months. It's all going to happen, and be over, very soon.

I kind of feel a little like Stacey from The Babysitter's Club (anyone in their late 20's to mid 30's reading this might remember this book series back in the 1980's-1990's) in that book- what was it "Stacey's Big Decision" or something? I forget... when her parents are getting divorced and she's trying to list the pros and cons of living in either NYC with her dad and her best friend Lane or in Connecticut with her mom ... and her other best friend Claudia and all of the rest of the BSC.

My situation is NOT THAT similar ... my parents are still married and I never had to make a choice like that when I was 13 yrs old. But still, right now, the feeling.... is similar. Deciding where I go next year.... is a big decision. I don't want to leave anything important behind.

I have personal vacation plans for my immediate future here - a trip to Chiang Mai Thailand to live with the elephants and the rest of the animal family here for a week here http://www.elephantnaturepark.org in January (I already put down a down payment and bought travel insurance). I'm going to spend a few days back visiting Hong Kong in February or March. Then a one week vacation to either Tibet or Phuket in March/April before heading home....

Then yes, I will go home in April 2012 and ENJOY my FAMILY and FRIENDS and my HOME. My HOME BASE ... NEW YORK in the good ol' USA. Then I anticipate coming back for my second year of teaching two months later, in June.... but where will I be coming back to?

Thinking of Lisa and how much work and time I want to put into this... I don't want to go too far.

I was talking to/emailing with my recruiter Carrie Kellenberger (who is the Global Director for Reach To Teach Recruiting and also the creator of the blog/travel website that I mentioned above http://www.myseveralworlds.com ) about living over here... and all of the cultural differences in regards to decision making and communication. It can be a little frustrating because communication is not as "direct" here as it is in the West. In my email to her I compared it to playing the improv game "New Choice". I also opened up about being a little lonely and wanting to find a bigger expat community and possibly a gay community. I had no idea what kind of response I would be given, but she was very warm and understanding. She is originally from Canada. She and her husband have been living in Taiwan since 2007 I think... and before that they were in China for a few years. Reading her email was like a breath of fresh air.

Here is the last email that she wrote back to me ( see below)

Hi Katy,

OK. I don’t have QQ, so I guess we’ll just have to rely on good, old-fashioned email for now. When you do get a home internet connection, please let me know. I’d be happy to give you a call anytime!

I’m glad to hear that you worked out the training issues involved with a new teacher at your school. It sounds like you’ve come to a very fair agreement with your boss.

I know exactly what you mean about your comment on New Choice. This is such a Chinese way of dealing with things. I actually wrote about this on my blog several years ago. I’ve attached the image here. I hope you get a bit of a laugh from it. This lady by the name of Yang Liu was born in China and she moved to Germany. She came up with a series of icons that explain the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. Anyways, my whole point with this is that almost every foreigner experiences the same feelings that you’re experiencing right now. I’m glad you’re reaching out and talking about this, and I really wish my blog wasn’t blocked in China so you could see what I’m talking about!

The image is Dealing with Problems and this is what I wrote as a quick blurb underneath it.
No doubt this one frustrates all Westerners living in Asia. I’m sure we frustrate Asians to no end with our own problem solving techniques.
Westerners tend to take the most direct approach to problem solving, while problem solving, decision making and relaying information in Asia is a bit more complex. Often the most direct approach is ignored, the information is never delivered, and sometimes the problem is never dealt with.

I really wish I knew of an online forum in China that you could join, but the only one I know of is on MiddleKingdomLife.com. The forums are here: http://middlekingdomlife.com/forum.html

The other thing I wanted to address in this email are your plans for June 2012. I can definitely help you find a position in Shanghai or Beijing. Both cities have large expat communities and you wouldn’t have any problems finding and making friends. With that said, if you’re interested in coming to Taiwan, we could certainly work something out for you here as well. The LGBT community here is huge (in fact, we’ve got our LGBT parade happening in downtown Taipei tomorrow with over 10,000 participants).

Anyways, now that my ‘chapter’ is complete, over to you! :) Just joking.

Have a great weekend, Katy!


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This picture above is the "East Vs. West Communication Styles" image that Carrie was referring to.
(The BLUE = THE USA, EUROPE, etc... The Western World. The RED = CHINA, JAPAN, etc. The Eastern World.)

At this point I am thinking of going to Shanghai. It's a little further north but still considered "in the south" of China. It's a big city with a big expat community and plenty of bright lights and distractions. It's not too far from Lisa.  Taipei is... a world away. I really want to say "Taipei" ... but to have a big gay pride parade and a ton of expats around you when you don't have the ONE person who you want around you.... when that person is a boat and/or a plane ride away... it's not worth it. (Plus I'm pretty sure Shanghai has it's own Pride Parade and scene anyway)

She- Lisa, is having trouble finding a new job here.  She's gone on several interviews in Foshan and Guangzhou -- but nothing has stuck yet. So if you are reading this and you are at all religious, if you believe in a higher power -please just pray that she be put on the right path and that she finds the job that she is meant to have. Pray that her mind be put at ease and that she is filled with a confidence and deep faith in herself and her abilities. Pray that her intuition is strengthened and that it guides her so that she intrinsically knows which jobs are worth pursuing and which ones aren't. Finally pray that she get all of the rest and good sleep that she needs. I know that she's been having trouble sleeping. I love her very much... I've told her before, early on, way back before she left Best Learning - that if she wanted to live with me next year, my door would always be open. I had told her that I would probably be moving to Shanghai. That offer still stands.

I can't go too far away .... not yet. Not on my own.

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