I’ve been dreaming of leaving this job since about 3 days after I started. I try not to think of anything as a “mistake” (because everything’s a learning experience, right?) but that’s certainly what it felt like here for about…oh, the first 12 months.
Yet now, as I sift through work files and school event photos on my laptop and start to Trash and Burn, I have a sudden rush of … feelings.
This is the second-longest job I’ve held. Not necessarily because I have a short attention span – sometimes I’ve moved on in a hurry, but general Life events have also played their part (study, travel, child rearing). My last job before this I stayed 3 years, and it was the first time I left a position because it was the right thing to do, rather than to escape a tyrannical boss or poor working conditions. I was wholly unprepared for how leaving would feel. In the past I had left under cover of darkness, or in such rage against the machine that there was no room for feelings of sadness.
Here is a little of the latter, but it has been a long period of my life. And there have been some great moments, and some fantastic people – coworkers, students, random old ayis in the street. It’s also my last school-based teaching job (although, never say never as my teaching college buddy always said). At least by choice. And possibly my last librarian job for a little while. In a few days I will officially be unemployed.
So it’s all a bit emotional. And it will be a bittersweet farewell to China and all who sail in her.
Falling behind with #blogjune but I have an excuse! We have finally found a way to ship some boxes of stuff to Spain. I’m not sure how confident I am it will actually arrive. All the stuff for shipping is slowly being stockpiled in the lounge room:
We are flying AirNZ to Australia (squee!). They’ve always been one of my favourite airlines, but sadly leapt out of my price range when they started emulating budget airlines with a ridiculous Seat+Bag+Meal pricing model. Somehow by stopping over in Auckland for a few nights en route we managed to find the cheapest flight home. Yes, I realise I will spend those $$$ anyway by staying in Auckland, but it’s been too long between NZ visits! Ironically, given price moan above, they are letting us bring 2 x 23kg bags EACH. What on earth? I’ve scoured the web to see if I can get this deal going to Spain, but so far nope. I even considered ditching the shipping and paying extra to fly AirNZ to Europe, but I have a hatstand and a rug and can’t see that getting stowed by any airline.
As we are backpacking south China for 2 weeks before we fly to Australia we’re going to leave our big bags in the apartment until we get back from our Yunnan/Guizhou/Sichuan adventure. Speaking of which, I haven’t kept up with blogging due to the pain of trying to book that trip. If only China had a rail pass for travellers! But as with everything, why on earth would they try to create new markets when there are already 2 billion people chasing the product?
People often remark how brave I am for travelling to far-flung lands, and taking my daughter to live on distant shores. I never understand it. I don’t feel brave. I mostly feel tired and irritated. The reality of travelling tends to equal days spent neglecting housework and Ms10 while I agonise over prices, times and locations, only to arrive and find the place down the road is nicer and cheaper.
I need to focus on being in the moment more when travelling. This would be easier with Tardis translation and unlimited funds. And a full time nanny.
I prefer travel when it’s spontaneous, but once I had a kid that became a luxury. I still struggle to book anything more than a week in advance. Who wants to spend ages pre-planning only to have it all fall apart? But it’s how you roll from the stuff ups that is character building.
I’d hoped I’d be more zen towards travel dilemmas by now, but I still struggle to remember that if nobody died, or got arrested it’s all good. Like today. We should be in Korea right now, but instead we are still in Qingdao because our driver was half an hour late to collect us, so we missed our flight. It’s Duan Wu festival and super busy, which means we can’t get another flight until Friday.
The China Eastern helpdesk did not live up to its name, and I felt myself teetering into the abyss, but I started talking myself through the worst that could happen, and in the calm was able to think of a friend I could lhone to translate, so we got new flights, the accommodation were very forgiving AND our errant driver came back to take us to a hotel for the night for free.
This is turning into serial rants about immigration, but speaking of expats and immigrants, the Brain Family case has once again come to the forefront in British (and world) media. Their case fills me with despair, and a teensy spark of hope. I could easily be in their shoes. I am in their shoes in some respects – in the same desperate, futile situation where my whole family life is in limbo because of ridiculous UK Immigration policy which fails to recognise central London and the back streets of Dingwall are two very, very different places.
If you haven’t heard of the Brains, it’s all over the web, but lazywebs This is an Australian family who followed the same path I planned to – move to Scotland to study and then gain a “Post Study Work” visa and repopulate an area in decline. They managed to get into Scotland a few months before I did (because I was giving birth). By the time I emerged from post-baby fog and started preparing my application, the rules had changed. I’ve spent every moment since 2005 trying to find another way back.
It’s the Daily Mail (ugh), but they’ve found another family (Canadian this time) who are in a worse position than the Brains. This family sold everything in Canada to buy a flagging local store in the Highlands and revitalise it, and are now being deported on a small technicality (we’re talking £8000 a year) because they cannot afford to employ a 2nd UK person in their shop. Despite investing over £200 000 already.
I completely and utterly understand their frustration. I can feel their tears. I’ve travelled through and lived in the regional areas where they are. I’ve befriended the locals, employed some of them. These areas are desperate for new blood.
The only hope is that these high profile cases will lead the UK government to alter their immigration rules, introducing points for people who migrate to regional areas, or get immigration devolved to Scotland.
This week. My goodness. I wasn’t expecting migrating to Spain to be easy. I’ve moved to enough places to know better, but I’ve been left completely drained by the immigration doozies we’ve had thrown at us this week.
Some of them I can’t mention, as I’ve heard horror stories of immigration authorities trawling the interwebs to find evidence of potential migrants and using it against them. I’ve heard of people being refused entry to the UK because they “seemed too knowledgable of immigration law”.
One thing I can vent about is that I discovered I could not ship household goods to Spain without my residence card and 2 copies of my personal inventory IN SPANISH CERTIFIED BY THE SPANISH CONSULATE IN BEIJING.
The residence I cannot obtain until I arrive in Spain. The Consulate is in Beijing or Shanghai – a 2 day trip, maybe 3, on a work day. Not going to happen at this point in my contract.
So now we have to cull everything, because I plan to travel by train through China, spend a week in Thailand and 9 weeks in Australia before arriving in Spain, and I was kind of counting on not having to lug my daughter’s laptop and our favourite frying pan with us.