To stay or go?


I mentioned in a previous post about fear and reticence and how I wasn’t going to let it drag on me in my search for a better future. Translated into actual action, I said that I was going to more actively look for and apply to jobs. I have kept my word. I have written many many cover letters, talked to people, gotten advice, sent my resume thither and yon. This effort has brought one startling and wonderful side effect. Lately, I have begun to dream again.

Instead of looking into the future with worry and wondering what kind of job or situation I could live with, I begin to think of all the wonderful ways I can really LIVE! The possibilities I could reach for! I have begun to imagine my life a year from now, five years from, ten years from now with a fresh mind. I am excited again.

So often the word “potential” has haunted me. What once was an inspiring word became a dirty word. It represented things that could have been done, but hadn’t, or things that could be done, but wouldn’t. I don’t know when “potential” turned into a dirty word, but it is beautiful again.

I could live here…

I find myself now, at a happy crossroad. After all the cover letters and resumes that I have sent, I received 1 interview this month. That interview turned into a job offer…in CHINA. A little over a year ago, I returned from a 6 month stint studying in Hangzhou then Beijing. I have since wanted to go back. I have invested a lot of my education in trying to understand China, but I will never understand it in a way that is useful if I do not go back and learn the language and immerse myself in the culture. Many people who find themselves in such a situation go to teach English. The job I would be taking would offer me the opportunity to interact with companies all over the world as well as about conducting business in China. If I wanted to go live and work in China, this job is one of the best opportunities to do so that I could ask for.

Though most days it would look more like this…

There are a lot of drawbacks of course, aside from the obvious strain and commitment of being on the other side of our planet from my friends and family. It is not the most wonderful city. It is VERY hot and humid and polluted, which is no small matter in China. It pays well enough to live there, but when translated into USD, I would be working for pennys. It would pretty much be an extended investment in education. I have toyed with the idea of going to a grad school in Nanjing, and working in China would bring my Mandarin up to the level I would need to attend. All the drawbacks would be small in relation to the experience and knowledge I would gain from working there.

So what holds me back? Part of it is fear. I am already jumping into an unknown situation: the world of self-sufficient adults. To do this in a completely foreign environment might be a little overwhelming. Another thing that holds me back is not a good reason, but something I need to be aware of. I am tired. Years of school/athletics has burned me out pretty bad. Living in a totally foreign environment where you are not completely literate is a real struggle. Rules are different, and they are much harder to understand when you can’t read. Normal tasks become a huge undertaking. It’s all part of the adventure. I CRAVE adventure, but without a break, I worry that my energy levels are a little low to embark on such a one.

The last thing that holds me back is after months of thinking and searching, I have found my “dream job.” Just reading the job description makes me tingly. I have not yet applied, but if I had an offer from them, it would be a no brainer. I am still trying to figure out, if I can’t snag that job, how many other positions are there out there, like it?

Both options here would be a bold move. On the one hand, I would leave the world I know and the people I love. With nothing but myself and a suitcase I would start a new life in a foreign land. I would forfeit pay, the security of a larger company, and the comforts that come from making a decent living in the US in exchange for ADVENTURE and OPPORTUNITY. Its a small and growing company, and there is room for me to take on a lot of responsibility and advance really fast.

To not take this job would throw me again into the abyss of uncertainly. I have a bird in hand already. To release it would be a great act of faith. No, faith is rewarded by another power. This would only be a gamble. However, the possible reward is the kind of job I’ve only ever dreamed of.

Happy crossroads indeed, but one over which I have lost a lot of sleep. Dear blogging world, if you have any wise words to share with me, I would appreciate it!

-J

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9 Responses to To stay or go?

  1. I left the West, 7 years ago (nearly 8 now, in fact) and have never regretted it. It’s not easy but it is rewarding. (Not always financially).

    My only word of caution to a woman going overseas is that some places can be very hard to find a partner in – though some are a woman’s paradise and man’s disaster too.

    Good luck with your choice, whatever you do – it’s your life, live it. 🙂

    • Love your blog! So you live in Shenzhen?!? That’s where my offer is. I have been reading everything I can on life there and am surprised I did not find your blog earlier! Do you have any Shenzhen-specific advice? Also, can I ask you a weird question that I’m having trouble finding the answer to? Can you give me a ballpark cost of a dental check-up or eye exam there? I know it is significantly less than in the US, but then again, my paycheck would be too, and there are a few medical things the company doesn’t cover. Sorry if that’s weird, but I’m trying to make a kind of quality-of-life analysis, and things like that figure in.

      • I know a couple of single women working out here – and they’ve both had a rough ride of it, whereabouts in Shenzhen would you be working? Louhu is manageable, Futian is good, and Shekou is fine too – because they are within reach of expat support networks (to be found in bars across the city) but if you’re going to be in Longgang, Bao’an or further out – you might want to think twice as you’ll be cut off at nights when the subway closes. (Many taxis won’t take you out there from Shenzhen either).

        Eye exams in China? Cheap as chips – however there is universal agreement that you wouldn’t go to a Chinese optometrist – you’d head over the border to Hong Kong where you’d pay about $30 USD for an exam, but you would also expect to get the job done properly.

        There are some good dentists in Shenzhen though and costs are around 1/3 to 1/2 of the West depending on what treatment is necessary.

        For medical services – China is a no go though, and if you’re ill and need a doctor – you’ll want to go to Hong Kong (which is expensive) – unless you believe that an antibiotic drop can cure everything from cancer to a broken leg, in which case Shenzhen’s hospitals are just perfect. 😉

      • Thank you so much for the advice. That was extremely helpful! I have put that option on hold for now, but its still at the forefront of my options. I would be in the ShangMeiLin area. I’ve tried mapping out the general layout of the city, but that doesn’t really tell you how it really is. Anyway, thank you so much for all your help and information!

      • Overall – there’s not much point in a quality of life analysis, your quality of life will be lower in Shenzhen than back home – it will be cheaper, but also not as good. A salary of 15-20K RMB, will provide a much better standard of living than most locals see in fairness, and leave you enough to get over to HK every now and then so you don’t go mad. Good luck, and if you have any other questions – feel free to let me know. 🙂

      • Great, Thank you so much!

  2. makeacrane says:

    I know you wrote this in February but thought I’d comment if the options/thoughts are still wandering about in the back of your mind… I taught English in China last summer (Learning Enterprises), and it was with a student from Nanjing University (you mentioned Nanjing so thought I’d mention him). That was a great experience–new places are always stimulating, especially for young writers like ourselves… The cities are more overwhelming than the countries, but also offer more in terms of employment of course. If you have any questions, I went to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Guangxi…

    • I do love Nanjing. I spent seven months traveling in China a little over a year ago, but I think my path is pushing me, for the time being, toward the US. BUT, and this is a big but because I am still waiting to hear back from my options, if nothing works out in the next month and a half, I may very well find myself teaching English. I have never felt more myself than when I was traveling, and I hope to return to China one day soon. Thanks for stopping by! When did you travel in China?

  3. makeacrane says:

    I traveled to China last summer and then a long time ago… Sure, I enjoy your writing. It’s nice to find a kindred spirit. The thing is, you would always be able to search for other job opportunities (and even with American/European/other companies) within China if you don’t like teaching English. There is such a demand… Or start an entrepreneurial venture… etcetera!

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