Life Decisions

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Saturday, May 25, 2013

 As of right now I have approximately 2 months until I go back to the U.S. I have a flight booked for July 24th into LA. I honestly can't believe how fast the time has gone by, a year is definitely a long time but I really don't feel like i have been here for 10 months, it is crazy. I am currently battling with all these life decisions that need to be made. The questions right now is "to stay in China or not to stay in China?". I think what I would like to do is stay another year. I can easily find a teaching job be it at my school, another school or an English training school (which pay pretty well), these jobs are very abundant and easily obtained. So I suppose I am not worried about having a job too much, at least I know I can stay and live a pretty comfortable life while I continue to learn Chinese. Over all my main goal for being in China is to learn Chinese, I will have been here a year and my Chinese is no where near conversational but it is improving. Secondly, I actually really like teaching. Not that I didn't think I would like it, I just didn't predict that I would want to do it for another year. The inner pull that is difficult right now is that I have sort of began a life in china, I have made new friends and connections, I have built a reputation at my school, I really like all my students and would hate to lose contact with them, I finally know how to use the bus system in Changsha, so right now I can't decide if I want to lose all of that. On the other hand there are many reasons why maybe I shouldn't stay in China, one major one is health. I dont feel like I am as healthy as I was before. Changsha unfortunately is somewhat of an unhealthy place from terrible sanitation laws to cigarettes in my face everywhere I go to poor air quality. Not to mention the health care system in general is unorganized, unproductive, and I hate to say it unhelpful (at least for me, though I have had more helpful experiences recently).  I have to work a lot harder to be healthy here and even then there are externalities that are out of my control.My hair has continued to fall out, I think a lot of you will be pretty surprised when you see me next. I am really struggling with this. I still really have no explanation other than stress.  I will just have to wait until I get home to the U.S. to  see if there is any other diagnosis for me. I am still pretty confident that the rate my hair is falling out now will probably result in me having to take some pretty drastic measures to look normal in the future, my ponytail is at about 30% of what it used to be. Everyday when I take a shower or brush my hair it is a bit traumatic to see how much hair is coming. out. Hair is a girl's beauty, hair defines women and I am losing this, it is a harsh reality but I will have to be strong enough to find a way to be happy with inner beauty until I figure out some way to resolve it. I just hope I can be strong enough because right now I feel pretty terrible about it and it has been going on for about 6 months.
Some days I can not handle all the attention I get for being a foreigner in Changsha (though some days I love it). Unless I am in my apartment, alone, I have very little privacy, if any at all. On the bus I have at least 10 pairs of eyes staring at me at all times combined with some little old man who is literally leaning on my shoulder (in my personal bubble) attempting to read my wechat(a very popular social media phone app) messages and pictures because he so curious about me. The same goes for the grocery store, the clubs, restaurants....everywhere. I am pretty understanding about the curiosity many Chinese people have about foreigners, I am very aware that most people in Changsha have rarely, if ever, come into contact with one. I try very hard to be understanding of this but man it can be exhausting. I constantly have to re-educate Chinese people and sway them from applying anything they see in American movies to actual American people. Just the other day I got in a very calm and friendly debate with a Chinese girl who was convinced, no matter what I said, that I am rich, my family is rich, everyone in America is rich....jesus it was like talking to a brick wall. From certain perspectives based how the dollar weighs against the RMB you could see how one might think that everyone is rich in America, if they could come to china and hold that same job! What they don't seem to understand is that I am NEGATIVE money after putting my self through college. If they only knew!
Another difficulty I have experienced in China is dating. Now recently i have had some priority changes in who I want to date, because that person whom I was sort of trying to develop my feelings for is no longer an option due to distance and me being away for a year. Now I am totally free to date with no reservations or comparisons. BUT dating in China for a white, blond girl is certainly not easy. You have your choice of foreigners (expats) and  Chinese men. The foreign men here generally just want to date Chinese girls, and the Chinese girls flock to them. So the foreign men are out, The you have Chinese men. Well I am certainly going to generalize right now, so dont get all crazy and think that I assume all Chinese men are like this, I know there are exceptions.Dating culture for the Chinese is much different than what I am used to in the US. The men start out very strong...overwhelmingly strong. Professing love and future plans, exhausting the phrase "you are so beautiful", paying for every little thing(and big things), carrying my purse, escorting to me to the bathroom to make sure i am safe and handing me paper towels to dry my hands after washing (WTF?)....this all happens in the first week to 2 weeks. They are generally very possessive, I always have an arm around me and It is difficult to interact with people other than their friends. My food is chosen for me, my plans are chosen for me....I felt like I was just there to be there and look pretty. The girls accompany the men places and then they just sit there on their phones while the men drink and get crazy. Now throw in the fact that I am foreign, the language barrier, and remember that usually these guys have never even talked to an American. They get so excited about the idea of having a foreign girlfriend, but in reality our cultures are so different and we cant have intellectual conversations, that these relationships just fizzle out after a few weeks.  So if the foreign men are out, and until I meet a Chinese guy that changes my opinion of Chinese dating culture, the Chinese men are out. What does that leave me in China!!!???? I am certainly not going to switch teams. I guess what I have come to terms with in the last week and the loss of my potential relationship back home is that I need to make myself happy. I need to find inner peace and stop having so many expectations. If you let your expectations with dating, friends, life, be neutral you are less likely to be let down. So my new plan, which I wasn't really doing before, is to find inner peace alone and stop trying to find it through others because I have been so let down by doing this in the past. I am starting hobbies, focusing on Chinese, organizing my life, being creative, and coming up with ways for my life to have purpose...all on my own. I have been waiting and waiting and trying and lowering my standards to try and have a man in my life and it is time to try a different approach. If I am happy alone and doing the things that I love, I will meet someone with the same values as me.
   What have I been doing to occupy my time? BASEBALL! I have been playing every other week with a bunch of foreign and Chinese guys. There are only 2 girls including myself and quite frankly I prefer it that way! No drama! We have talked about getting a league together in Changsha and this week the guys made it happen. They got 44 players, 4 teams and the games begin next week. This is  really special because baseball is not popular in China...It isn't really popular anywhere but America. The two universities in town each have a team and these guys LOVE baseball, they practice many times a week and have games on the weekend with no field and limited equipment. We have to play on whatever grass field we can find available and they set up some bases and off we go. Between the two teams we have enough helmets and bats for one team. I had to borrow a glove from one of my very good friends Maxmore who is a China native and the one who included me these games. I am so happy he did because I have been lacking a hobby. I realize how important hobbies are! I feel so much better about my life with a hobby. And  I played softball since i was 5 years old so it is really great to get back into a sport that I actually know well. All the guys really know their stuff when it comes to baseball, it is impressive. Needless to say I a having a blast playing baseball and hopefully this league will really take off and we can spread this awesome sport to new players.
     There is always plenty to do in Changsha. I have been having Chinese/English sessions with Bridget every Tuesday, going to Chinese corner on Wednesday, board game night on Thursday, getting manicures with my Chinese friends, playing baseball, going out to never ends. Right now at school we are preparing for exams so next week is a review session then I have two weeks total left of teaching. I also have a couple mini breaks as there are some holidays coming up. I am hoping to get over to some new cities in China. Today I got a manicure with my friend Keira (I named her this) she is the owner of the Milk Tea place right next to school, she is ADORABLE and so nice/generous/kind hearted. Right now she is getting her hair done and I am using the computer at this super nice salon. It is great, theygive you a super nice desktop to use while you are getting whatever service you need done, such a good idea. Tonight I head out to Sushi with my friend Maxmore and then we will head off to meet Lexi at hiphop show at a venue called 46.

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