The Decision

Some people have asked me, why China? Well, for many reasons!

Coming to China was a big decision for me. I feel like I am someone who needs a stable and comfortable environment in order to function, someone who excels in life when I have a set routine, a core group of friends to keep me balanced, and a predictable future. I had toyed with the idea of teaching across seas since my final year of University, and I took the necessary steps towards the idea of leaving, like taking my TESL course, sending out my resume, and contacting the Chinese Embassy. But I never actually believed I was going until I got on the plane. It took a long time for me to realize that this was something that I wanted to do, and I don’t think I realized that its something I needed to do until after I arrived.

I think that China will be an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone for once, to really see how I cope and handle myself in surroundings that are (quite literally) foreign to me. I’ve left home before, but when I went to Ottawa I had the majority of my closest friends with me, and I also had family living a few hours away. They represented a huge safety net for me. This time, I’ve embarked on the journey alone, and this time I actually feel like I’ve left the nest, like I’m spreading my wings and am fully embracing this opportunity to view the world independently. The biggest lesson that I hope to take away from this experience will be the knowledge that I can survive and thrive on my own; that I will always be able to cope and be happy no matter where I am, who I’m with, or what the circumstance. I hope to grow up, to mature, and to establish a limitless mind-set that will benefit me when I return to Canada.

Also, there’s the fact that I am 50% Chinese. Growing up in Canada, I have never felt very Chinese (particularly when I’m mistaken for native so often!). I think that I take my Chinese heritage for granted sometimes, and it would be a shame if I didn’t attempt to identify with this exciting culture while I’m here. So I’m also taking this opportunity to try and connect with my Chinese cultural identity while I’m in my grandparents’ motherland.

Before I came, I made a list of personal questions that I hope to answer by the end of my year in China. Its nerdy, but I think that doing this helped keep me on track before I left Canada, when I began doubting myself (I know, I’m such an English major). The questions are as follows:
Why did you do it?
What was the biggest lesson that you got out of this experience?
Worst memory?
Best memory?
If you could do anything differently, what would you do?
Did you find the cultural connection to your Chinese side that you hoped to?
How has this experience changed you?
So if you’ve read this entire entry, you can see that I already have ideas of what I hope to accomplish and learn about myself while I’m here, but my year is just beginning, long ways to go yet!

I do want to throw this in though: The deciding factor for me to go was because I know that my mother would have supported me 100%. I had doubts before coming, and at times I felt unbelievably afraid at the thought of being by myself. But I thought about mom and realized that I’m never alone, that there are so many people that love and support me, and life is short: I had better see and do all the things I dream about before I can’t anymore. Sometimes being brave is all you need to make the best decision in your life!

So this ended up being a lot more sentimental and sappy than I had planned. I may as well sign off with a conventional travelers quote while I’m at it..

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” –T.S. Eliot.

xoxo

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lois Christianson
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 04:33:33

    Hi Stephie
    That was great!!!!
    Did you get all my messages and little things to use when teaching little ones.
    I will keep all these messages, and maybe you should put into book form, what interesting reading that would be.
    Harry Potter’s new movie is out to-day.
    Winnipeg has a new NHL Hockey team,, used to be Atlanta Tharshers.
    I admire you…sounds like you might be better like not ill.. Saw all your pictures on facebook.
    Your mom would be so proud.
    Love Aunty xxoo

    Reply

  2. Caitie
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 10:58:33

    I totally connected with this. Can’t wait to read more!

    Reply

  3. Alex
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 10:52:57

    So…what are the answers??? Can I have a follow up??

    Reply

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