Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I. Pre-China

Well I guess I should say what I've agreed to do here....

About a week ago I signed a one-year contract with a school called Wuhan University. Located in central China (specifically Wuhan City, Hubei Province), it's one of the top universities in the country.

Why? Well I'm never really sure of anything I do, so doing somethin crazy like this is no more crazy to me than continuing what I've been doing. I've been thinking about this for a really long time though, and there were a few big reasons why this made sense. First, I just needed a long break from being a student -- not only because it was becoming monotonous, but also because teaching others might help me reevaluate education and appreciate it to a greater degree. Second, I've always been interested in asian history, culture, food, art, language, etc., so it was exciting to think about immersing myself in it. Thankfully, my laid back nature has made acquiescence into the culture a relatively smooth process, but I still find myself freaking out a lot. Another plus is that it's a decent resume builder. Oh, and the fact that I've always wanted to do something like this, and that this is probably my last chance to do something crazy like this before I'm forced to commit to some crazy life-long desk job....

But what sealed the deal was that the whole process of trying to get this job was almost mystical. First, Wuhan is just like Pittsburgh.....except that it's in a developing nation, everyone's Chinese, and it's about 25 times bigger. But other than that, it's just like Pittsburgh. I mean, Wuhan is sister cities with Pittsburgh. It's also located at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han Rivers, two major rivers in China,

(tell me that doesn't look like an upside down, backwards Pittsburgh!)

and has a long history of being a major steel producing city. It's also well known for it's colleges and universities, and is home to one of the top medical schools in the country. But what made this job even more crazily mystical was this: I applied for the job and did the phone interview about 5 days later. Then, two days after the phone interview, I was golfing in New Jersey (visiting my grandfolks) and I was golfing with a really cool guy named Ning. Later in the round, I found out that he had graduated from -- that's right --Wuhan University. No joke! Anyway I forced this guy write me a letter of recommendation and that's probably what set me apart from the rest of the candidates for the job. (It apparently wasn't an easy job to get either -- I was told about 20 other people applied!)

So, thanks to an adequate resume and a lot of luck, I was offered the job. This gave me about three weeks to get ready to leave. In that amount of time, I needed to:

  • Get a tourist visa
  • Get a plane ticket
  • Reserve a hotel room
  • Sell my monitor
  • Get my security deposit back
  • Get 40-hour ESL certification
  • Learn as much Chinese as possible
  • Say the goodbyes
  • Uhh watch the olympics!
  • Ditto any Steelers coverage
  • Play as much golf with my dad as I could
  • Pack
  • Try to pay people back
  • Get a laptop
Those last two things I wasn't able to do really well (checks are on the way, I swear!); but needless to say, I was swamped. It was a busy time, but I worked hard so I could have one last really great throwdown weekend with the dudes and then head on my way...


Hey. If you're reading this you might be interested in the fact that I've moved to China. If not, feel free to not read this ever. I've set up this blog so I don't have to bother anyone if they don't want to be. If you wish to recieve updates, I'm pretty sure there's a way to have google send you an e-mail everytime the blog is updated.

I'm going to try to keep posts general, i.e. no inside crap., name dropping, etc.; the reason is that I would like a lot of people to be able to read about what I'm doing. It should be readable even (hypothetically) to people whom I might not know, but who might be interested in what it's like to live here.

Additionally, this is very much a sanity-keeping project, as no one here speaks English very well. Even my boss, who has lived in Toronto for 10 years and is the best English speaker I've met so far, has trouble understanding me at times. Anyway my point is, if you have a question or comment about something, put it up! I'd like to keep in touch with everyone as much as possible, and i think this blog could facilitate that.