I claimed to not have been affected by jetlag. Well, I spoke too soon! Holy moly! After the high I’d experienced on Wednesday and not being able to sleep that night (for my body-clock not knowing what day it was or what time it was supposed to be working on AS WELL as the excitement), Thursday was bound to be a day of confusion. And, me being me, I wanted everything to feel good and okay and fine and dandy from the word ‘go’, and seeing as though I wasn’t in that particular frame of mind – I pushed myself through the jetlag to get to that settled peace of mind… So I could continue… whatever it was I’d started when I was Ireland… huummmm….
I couldn’t click a switch from one life to another WITHOUT being affected by the changes that were happening. I can see now, on reflection, how I was passing through the motions. The days were unfolding and the ups and downs naturally came to pass. But, when it was happening (on Thursday) I wanted way too much than my frazzled, tired and confused mind was able to handle. I wanted to be teaching straight away and understanding the ins and outs of the company. I wanted my body already to feel fine with eating so many different foods at different times of the day and I wanted to sleep properly. I wanted to walk into a supermarket and know what I was buying and I wanted to be speaking Chinese… I wanted to be on top of everything, but my brain wasn’t allowing any of this. It wasn’t functioning at all… It was mush! It was overwhelmed with everything. The switch wasn’t clicking and I was almost unable to cope with this fact. Probably a good thing that I wasn’t teaching just yet… whaahaa….
But, this was only one day and this frenzied state didn’t last. Not when I realized there never would be switch to click and there would only ever be a ‘flow’. So, I managed to stay on top of it. After work I went for dinner with Helen, the teacher from New Zealand (who is fluent in Chinese!!!). We found common ground and I was able to put everything into perspective, effortlessly. And suddenly I had such clarity about what this Chinese experience is offering me and the future prospects can appear to be as big I want them to be. I’d only been in the country 2 days at that stage and, jetlag aside, I was calming and more determined that ever before to continue unfolding my life, as I had been doing, in Ireland.
Before arriving, I’d feared that leaving Ireland meant ‘things’ would stop. By ‘things’ I mean: writing, learning, connecting with people, reading and simply loving life as I’d jump in and out of bed every evening and morning in a happy state. I anticipated there to be a chance that all of these things would be ‘taken’ from me, by the act of up-rooting myself from a place that offered me so much potential to continue growing as a writer and instead committing myself to a contract and being an English teacher again. But since Thursday night I realized it’s coming together perfectly. I’m in a place surrounded by such good people. I feel like I’ve landed myself in a family – but it’s a company. I’ve placed myself amongst friends, who all look out for each other. I may be sitting in an office, but I’m in China. I’m here to teach, I aim to bring something extra into the classroom and to develop and express that other aspect of myself again.
I’m here to grow and it’s not only through teaching. I’m here to write and I’m here to set-up a new life as well as continue with what the ‘other’ life gave me… I’m here to become even more independent and I have the chosen the perfect Chinese city in which to do so. The pace of life here is easy. There are places where I can go, to be inspired. I’m already walking a gorgeous route every morning to work (everybody else gets a cab…but how can I observe and absorb life, if I’m sitting behind the glass window, staring at their ways, instead of WALKING with their ways?) There are coffee-shops I can treat myself to, on my days off, to write – just like I did in Ireland, in Rome, in India, in Australia, in Thailand... There’s a small community of Westerners, who aren’t working for the company, but who I’ll be introduced to by the other teachers. I’m in the office 40 hours a week, but if I’m not in the classroom and if I’ve done all my lesson plans and prepared my classes, I get time to be a writer.. Most of the staff-members already know about how much I need to write. I don’t know how this happened…!!! (I’ve already been asked to write pieces for other foreign teachers, who are considering moving to Jinzhou or China, to work for the same company - they loved my writing and are gutted I don’t speak Chinese… as that would mean I’d be able to write for them…!!)
It’s so strange… This doesn’t feel like anything I imagined it would. It feels like so much more. After 2 days, others were surprised by how familiar it feels to have me here and this was confirmation of my exact feelings. A group of Chinese teachers and office staff, with a few Western guys… The sleep will return, the grogginess will fade, the Chinese will start happily occupying me, the food will start to feel more familiar and the teaching will come naturally… I’m now gelling with everything and I’m so sure that aspects of my life will never ever leave me, no matter where I may be… Yes!