My job is tough.
There’s hours of screaming children, hours of raising my voice, hours of fake happiness, hours on my feet. I permanently have a rattly sore throat, from seven hour Saturdays spent teaching little ones, and a wonky pollution AQI isn’t helping.
I mostly like my coworkers, but after a long week of work I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of spending my two days off with them for a staff conference in nearby Huizhou. But I figured a free trip is a free trip, and climbed on the bus with everyone else.
My attitude quickly perked up when I saw the five star hotel, steaming hot springs, pool, and gorgeous beach. I’ve always thought resort vacations were excessive, just for lazy rich people. However, as I found, when it’s free and sponsored by your work, two days of switching from ocean to pool to hot spring and back again is bliss. Of course, as a work outing, this wasn’t all that was involved on our schedule. We spent our first few Huizhou hours on the beach, playing agonizingly useless teambuilding games. The afternoon ran like an episode of The Office, in that, as humans over the age of 11, nobody really wanted to participate in a potato sack relay on the hot sand while the ocean tantalized yards away.
I’ve always been a Very Good Girl for my whole life and have never skipped anything ever (I attended every single lecture and class in college) but the ocean called, and my throat has been sore for so long dammit, so I skipped the remaining training sessions and spent the free time reuniting with my day ones, the people from my induction group. We still hang out regularly in small groups, but it’s rare and difficult to get all of us together at one time.
It was thoroughly satisfying to laze with our feet in the aforementioned fish foot massage pools to spill tea and bitch about our jobs and all the drama at our respective schools. From what I’ve seen and heard so far, you have a 50% chance that foreign expats in China are weird/crazy/creepy/douchey and when you fill half of a staff with them there is going to be problems. In other words, I am deeply grateful that all my day ones and the friends I’ve made at my school, both local and international, are all cool and lovely.
In short: we love living in China. We tolerate our jobs. And a trip to a resort and a chance to air out some grievances with friends ain’t bad.
As one expat friend puts it, lolling in the pool with a beer, ‘This time last year, did you think you’d be doing this?”