been to china for almost 8 months. although it’s only a couple of hours from clark to macau (another couple of hours from macau or hongkong to dongguan by bus), it seems like a different world out here. only a few can speak english which makes communication really difficult and even if they can, it’s hard to get the message across.
got here 1st of may. that was only a few weeks after my accident. i still got traces of my bruises and my scars were still fresh that time. apart from my will to stay alive when i hit the road last april 10, going to china is probably the biggest decision i have made in my life. leaving the philippines is something i have never planned. traveling is great but when you have to go there for the purpose of finding a source of livelihood, that’s a whole different thing. i didn’t even know where to start. it was only fortunate that i know a good friend here that’s why i was able to survive my first few months.
i wasn’t working for a month. maybe for lack of trying but mostly because it’s hard to get to different places without someone with you. even if you’ve got lots of info on where to go, it’s hard to venture on your own when the taxi driver would have the what-the-fuck-are-you-talking-about look when you tell him your destination. given the limited words you can speak, it’s hard to ask for directions and even if you have someone to consult with, he’s probably not chinese so he can’t tell the driver what you really want him to do. you’ll end up lost so better not go alone when you’re not sure. i wouldn’t mind not knowing the directions in manila but getting lost in a non-english speaking country is not something i’d like to risk.
it was tough but not exactly. i was introduced to really nice people that i clicked with immediately. it was quite overwhelming really. i expected it to be difficult but it didn’t turn out that way. at the beginning at least. there were “complicated” times but i’m used to complications so what the heck?
got a job after a month. ’twas great. i was the first foreign teacher – yes, i never imagined being one but here i am teaching english in china – so i had the opportunity to explore the methods to use. it is understatement when i realized, “what the fuck, i can teach!” who would have known? hehe! it was too good to be true. and it was.
after less than two months, i lost my job. or i quit. either way, i had to look for another one. it wasn’t bad really. work was easy. i only have to teach no more than 20 hours a week, sometimes as few as 10 hours or none at all. the students were great. they all love me. they tell me that i am in fact i am a good teacher. that was the best thing to hear coming from people expecting to learn from you. the only bad part is, which is the very crucial, the salary. could have been great. would have been able to save as much as P100,000 in five months if it worked out well even if i am paying for a house and maintaining an comfortable life. but then, i have so soon learned how vicious chinese businessmen are. they try to hold the salary for as long as i can and if they think they can exploit you, they will. the training center was good but the management was bad (much like the philippine governance i guess). true enough, several weeks ago, i have learned that they are on the verge of bankruptcy and have to refund ALL students of their huge tuition because of management issues.
i have survived with part-time work for 3 months, give or take. i only have to work a few hours a week which was great on one hand but bad on another. it means money can be scarce and life can be boring with only DVDs to keep me company. i must have watched more than a hundred movies altogether not counting 5+ seasons of Smallville, 2+ seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, 2+ seasons of Veronica Mars, 1 season of Kyle XY (if you’ve ever heard of that) and up-to-date episodes of Heroes. Oh yeah, there’s still Entourage and The OC. whew!
i am now on a full-time job but it doesn’t pay extraordinarily well. i live on a small-town with only a few foreigners. (forgot to mention the fact that when you are a foreigner, they look, uhm actually STARE at you as if they have never seen one. well, sometimes it IS the first time they saw one. they watch every little thing you do as if you would smoke or walk differently than they do.) the english training center i work for is not bad considering i don’t have to pay for the house or worry about the food (darn, i’m tired of eating chinese food!). all i have to spend for is the visa every 3 months and the overnight stay in the net bar. oh yeah, the smokes and the distilled or spring water. i know a little chinese but it wouldn’t be enough to understand or engage in conversations. if only i was a little religious with my free chinese lessons. but then i could handle being a teacher (i only need 10minutes or so to prepare for my classes) but i couldn’t handle being a student yet again.
*sigh!* i don’t know what else to say. i ran out of chinese cigs so i had to buy unreasonably priced P60-peso marlboro lights imported from vietnam. and now i stare at the screen wondering what other things i can say that would make sense.
life is tough in china but i can say it’s an adventure worth taking. it doesn’t have everything but it is well worth a chance. the best part is the reverse discrimination that you are given special treatment because you are not chinese, a foreigner that is and the worse part is you are not chinese so oppurtunities are limited to english-speaking jobs which are quite few when you don’t know how to work your way around. i have rants and raves about china but i guess that’s what the next few blogs will be about.