Speaking of bitches, China hits Jan. 20, 2016 a full twelve hours ahead of the US. In other words, we suffer through Inauguration Day before it even begins. To my jet lagged brain living in two hemispheres at once, the day where a Russian lapdog (not the good kind, like Svetlana Khorkina’s bars) is sworn in lasts two days. We try not to think about it, tell ourselves it’s half a world away, stick our fingers in our ears and scream lalalalalala
I visit my school for the first time and am introduced to a heavenly nest of angels. My future managers and coworkers give me oranges and water, tell me welcome and we’re happy you’re here a million times and not in a fake way either. The school director and principal give me advice on my apartment hunt, identify good neighborhoods, price points for me, even set me up with the realtor, all things I had been planning to struggle through on my own. A coworker agrees to show me around neighborhoods in the area to get a sense of what I want in my apartment. I thank her profusely on wechat, she responds, “Grace so happy you’re joining the Shenzhen family” with about twenty grinning emojis.
Since my arrival, my fellow new teachers and I have constantly bombarded people -managers, the local and expat teachers, and the team who dragged us through orientation- with questions, in person or on wechat about all the many infinitesimal details about starting all over in China. I usually prefer to feed my pride, struggle silently, try to fit the puzzle pieces on my own and crash and burn rather than ask for help, but when the airline has lost my suitcase and the operators ask me to find a friend who speaks Chinese, what else can I do? With these people, moving to China on your own isn’t being thrown to the wolves. Taking root in a completely new country is certainly a trek, but they are carrying us on their backs. I’m having my hand held and for my first extended stay abroad, I am 100% fine with that.
I don’t think about what’s happening in my home country, you’re in China now and you need a place to live and oh fuck it.
It’s not just the other American teachers. I’m in another country, surround by local citizens and European expats, and everyone is devastated about the American election.What did you guys DO.
I finish with Christmas morning, or the arrival of my suitcase. I wouldn’t have my suitcase if it weren’t for the graciousness of people who days ago were strangers. It’s small but in this moment it’s important. It’s cheesy but the world needs cheese. And emojis.