As of an hour ago, today is July 29th, meaning I have only three days in which to assemble my life before flying across the globe to live and work for a year. My name is Connor. I’m currently writing from my basement bedroom in the small Pennsylvanian suburb of Carlisle. Three days from now, I’ll be writing from China. I’m spending the next year abroad in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shenzhen teaching gaggles of Chinese children the wondrous complexities of the English language. Basically, I’m fleeing the country in order to consider myself employed.
I spent the last year of my undergrad life having quarter-life crisis upon quarter-life crisis, all stemming from fear of the “real world.” The “real world” is the scariest thing my friends and I have encountered. We lived in the beautiful college bubble, a wondrous place where our only fear was making sure we had time to get coffee from Dunkin before class started. After graduating, caffeine is the least of our worries. Now comes the time where we figure out what comes next and make plans accordingly. Amongst my friends, three distinct categories of the post-graduate twentysomethings have emerged: those who have jobs lined up, those planning to return to school, and those still trying to find a job or figure out what they want to do.
This is why August 1st is such a weird, bittersweet time for me. I currently view myself as an amalgamation of my friends’ future plans. I have a job lined up. I will be employed through the Center for Teaching and Learning in China, not only as an English teacher, but also as my future school’s “foreign expert.” I’ll have a paycheck, finances to balance, and an apartment to keep orderly. Basically, an adult (“adult”). I also plan to return to school. I know that after this program at some point in the future I do want to pursue my Master’s Degree, and really try to position myself in a strong field. I’m planning on doing this upon my return to America, but nothing is set in stone quite yet. Finally, I’m struggling to find my place as an independent person and figure out what I want to do after my time in China is up. This last bit is a semi-lie. I do know for certain that no matter where I end up, I would love to work with people from all around the world, whether it be in America or if I were to live abroad. Right now I’m planning on trying to work on teaching English in a university setting via a Master’s in TESOL or Applied Linguisitcs, but this next year is a trial to see if that’s really my passion in life. I’m scared that after spending these past few months researching the field, committing to teaching for a year, and compiling all of my resources together to apply to programs, I’m going to get into the classroom and not love it. It’s something I try not to think about, but I know that I can’t ignore it outright completely. It’s a weird state of mind to be in right now. I know that this impermanent position could lead down so many different paths for my future that it’s a little overwhelming to think about where I could end up when this is all over.
I’m so sorry, I sound like such a Negative Nancy right now. I know that once I’m actually in China, I’m going to have a blast and a half, despite currently being consumed by the pre-departure jitters. It will be an experience that I know I’m going to hold onto for the rest of my life.
That’s where this blog comes in. I know it is such a cliche for someone going abroad to start a blog but I like cliches. The cowboy rides off into the sunset, the prince and princess lives happily ever after, the ex-pat blogs, etc. I’m documenting this journey for three reasons:
- To let my anxious mother know that I am, in fact, alive and doing well despite not being under her nurturing care.
- To have a permanent log of my travels and experiences.
- To document my growth over the next year and see where I end up and if I ended up learning something about myself after all.
I really do want this to be a legitimate publication of sorts (SECRET TIME: I might be using this as a supplemental material when applying to grad programs). In order for me to really commit to this, I’m laying down some ground rules.
- At least one post per week.
I need to make sure that I don’t fall behind on posting or else I’ll have spent this past hour figuring out how to get WordPress working on my Macbook for nothing. Plus, the people demand entertainment, and entertainment I shall provide.
- Don’t only write about food.
I’m such a food junkie, I really am. I promise I’ll try to diversify it as much as possible, but just be forewarned that there will be food pictures…so many food pictures.
- Don’t treat this as a journal.
I’ll obviously be documenting what I see and experience, that’s a given. But if every post reads along the lines of “And then I went here, and then I saw this, and then I ate everything, and then I went to bed the end,” no one’s going to want to read this. Listing the same kinds of things over and over is boring. I am not boring, therefore, this blog will not be boring.
- Don’t write specifically about China.
This might be tricky to explain. I’m obviously going to write about China, how can I not? But similarly to the previous rule, I’m not just going to jot down everything what I see and leave it as is. I’m going to try to convey the emotions going on in the moment, the differences between Western culture, and the impression things have impacted onto me. I’m going to try to make everything I experience as tangible as possible for everyone to understand. Along with this, there are going to be things happening in America that I want to keep up with, be it pop culture, current events, or my friends and family. I really do want to try and talk about a multitude of things. I really want to try and sharpen my voice as writer and try to make this site as multifaceted as possible so every now and then an America post might show up. Sorry ’bout it.
So let’s get going. Maybe I’ll write again before I go, maybe not. I’m excited to see where this will all end up and how everything will turn out. Spending the past hour writing this post has already made me feel much more relieved about everything than I was earlier this evening so I imagine that’s a pretty good sign I’ll keep up with this.
See you on the other side!