If you’ve asked us, “What’s next?” anytime within the past year, you’ve probably gotten a vague and confusing answer that changed within the week (or even the day). For a long time, we had every intention of teaching in person in a traditional setting. We’ve considered teaching everywhere from China to Mexico to Spain to Morocco to Turkey to Thailand to….. you get the picture. Well, the long wait is finally over – we have a plan!!! We have jobs, our tickets are booked, we’ve paid for our housing (yes, family, you can finally tell people where we’re going – It’s not going to change, for real!). So, where to? (Can you guess from these photos?)
Last week I wrote 10 things I’ll miss about living in China, so to keep it balanced I figured I should also talk about things I WON’T miss about living in China. This post could easily be renamed, “Things in China that drive Emily Absolutely Crazy,” but that’s mostly because it’s nearing the end of the school year and I’m ready to go home! Overall, Tommy and I agree that moving to China was 100% the right decision for us, and we’ve had an absolutely incredible year. So please, don’t take this post as me being a Negative Nigel (I really do enjoy China) – but do keep these less-than-awesome factors in mind in case you’re considering taking the leap yourself or are simply getting a little jealous after hearing about our 13-hour workweeks!
(P.S. As I mentioned in last week’s post, if day-to-day life in China posts are of interest to you, check out these older posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China.)
1. Missing out on things back home.
Thanks to the magical powers of the internet, we can video chat, call, or text our friends as often as we want! We’re so thankful to have communication (literally) at our fingertips, but as awesome as this is, it just isn’t the same as physically being with family and friends. Being a 16+ hour plane ride away for the past 9 months means that we’ve missed out on lots of family events and hang-outs with friends. We love hearing about them and looking at photos, but we can’t wait to see everyone and make some memories in person this summer!
With about 5 weeks left in China, I’ll be doing a little more reflecting on day-to-day life in our little mountain town. If everyday topics like this interest you, check out these earlier posts: food in China, housing & toilets, Christmas in small-town China, traditional street markets, and teaching English in China. We’re still not sure what we’re doing next semester (sorry to those anxiously awaiting news!) but will be sure to post here as soon as we decide.
1. FREE TIME!!!
This is, without a doubt, the number one thing that I will miss about living in China. To get just a vague idea of how much time we have off, check out Where We’ve Been – this has all been without asking for ANY vacation time. It simply comes from a lot of national holidays and school testing days. Even when we have a normal workweek, we aren’t actually working very many hours and have tons of free time. I am scheduled to teach seventeen 45-minute classes per week (a total of about 13 contact hours), but these are cancelled quite frequently. Thomas’s school is more demanding and he teaches twenty 45-minutes classes per week (about 15 contact hours) with very few cancellations. Of course, our classes are not consecutive, so we do spend a decent bit of time sitting around the office. Still, when you consider America’s 40-hour work weeks and lack of lengthy holidays, we are living the dream, my friends!
A friend of ours once called Phuket “ratchet Florida,” and the nickname couldn’t be more accurate – the “spring breakers” of Australia and the backpacker trail all gather here. The result is crowded beaches, over-the-top bars & clubs, and somewhat seedy local businesses. We only spent 2 days here, and I wouldn’t really recommend spending longer. We had fun checking out the crazy atmosphere – which was worlds apart from the laid-back, paradisaical Ko Lanta – but didn’t feel like we were missing out on much when we left. I’ve heard that the further out you go on in the city there are more historic areas and slightly more secluded beaches, but if that’s what you’re after you can definitely get better results on a different island.
For the last week of our month-long trip, we decided to just chill out in Thailand. Of course, Thailand is rich in cultural attractions and things to do, but we were ready to hit the beaches! Ko Lanta was the perfect place for this, as it maintains the reputation of being one of the last unspoiled islands in Thailand (i.e. it hasn’t been overrun by tourists and crazy parties). It was exactly what we were looking for! While the beaches weren’t exactly deserted and there were your typical Western restaurants for vacationers, it definitely still felt paradisaical. So for those of you slaving away and bemoaning how long winter was this year, let us take you away with photos of our tropical adventure!