Off to China!

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In case you’ve been living underneath a rock of late, I guess I should break the news that I’m moving to Nanjing, China for the next twelve months to work as an ESL teacher and return to the expat lifestyle that my two years in South Korea taught me to love so much.

Like so many things when it comes to employment in Asia, it’s been a case of slowly, slowly followed by the sudden, frantic period of GO GO GO GO GO GO GO! I waited and ummed and ahhed for a week or so wondering when I might get the call telling me I was expected in China, and then suddenly it was all happening around me.

This time in three weeks, I’ll be in a strange new apartment in a strange new city in a strange new country.

And I couldn’t be more excited.

The What

ESL classroom Korea
Alas, my Uni students won't be quite this cute 🙁

I’ll be joining a motley crew of fellow Aussies working in a university pathways program in the historic city of Nanjing (formerly Nanking) in China’s east. With a population of five million (eight million including metro), it’s slightly bigger than Sydney.

In doing my research I’ve learned a little about the city’s long and storied history, gasped in horror at the events of the Nanjing Massacre, and been pleasantly surprised to learn that the city actually boasts an Australian bar that sells meat pies and Aussie beer. Winning!

Maybe I won’t be without good pub food this year after all?

The situation couldn’t be much better for me. I’ll be working with older students who actually want to learn; I’ll be working with a group of expats; I’ll be getting eight weeks paid vacation; working less hours than I do now; and getting a chance to explore of the most ancient and fascinating countries in the world.

Oh, and they’re NRL fans – so I won’t miss any of what is shaping to be a banner year for the Newcastle Knights. And don’t worry about Facebook or Twitter – I’ll get around that…

The pay might not be what I’ve come to expect from South Korea or Australia, but I’m anticipating my cost of living will be much lower. More than enough for me to afford a few trips to South East Asia, Korea, Japan, or maybe even the US in 2012 if time allows.

The When

I tap this entry out at the desk that will be mine for only two more days. I’m back in on Sunday and then on Tuesday, and then it’s off to farewell drinks that I won’t partake in, but will still enjoy.

I may gripe from time to time about being fed up with customers or how my work hours detract from my ability to socialize, but I’ll genuinely miss the place. I’ve come to enjoy the laid back atmosphere and the cool people who work here, and the social scene has beaten out any I’ve experienced in any of my previous jobs.

Free cotton candy and popcorn
Free cotton candy and popcorn at work!

You can’t knock back a job that has, to date, given me free: donuts, fairy floss (cotton candy), ice cream, soda, pizza, popcorn, candy, cupcakes, massages, pancakes, sandwiches, pasta, Turkish food, bangers & mash, pavlova, meat pies, beer, jaeger bombs, Canadian Club & Coke, Red Bull, fruit, and basketball tickets.

And yet I’ve somehow managed to lose six kilograms since last July. Go me!

So, I finish up here on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning I’m catching the eight hour train ride from Sydney up to Ben Lomond so that I can see my family before I jet out. I’ve got an adorable nephew that needs hugging, brothers who I’m dying to kick a footy around with, a sister I’ll need to shoot the shit with, and parents I’ll have to get ample hugs off before I’m deprived of them for a year.

Less than a week at home and then it’s back to Sydney to submit my visa application, clear my stuff out of my house, and concentrate my life down into 20kgs and one pack.

I daresay I’ll find some room for a few last sleep-ins before I go too. 8am starts are going to be a real test on this here night owl.

The How

How did this all come about? Wasn’t I just talking about trips to Fiji and the US and ‘settling down’ to life here in Sydney a few weeks ago?

family photo
My family and I posing before I left for Korea in 2007

The Chris Walker-Bush is a capricious creature. He cannot be categorized or contained by conventional societal expectations. One day he might be daydreaming about a simple country life working at the newspaper in his home town, and the next he’s wondering how he’ll survive another day of humdrum ‘real world’ existence without fly-kicking some jive sucka.

A few months back Rob, an acquaintance from my time frequenting a rugby league forum, mentioned his school was hiring. I submitted my details and, lo, I’d been offered the gig!

Soon enough I was hurrying around printing out photocopies of degrees and passports; posing countless times for a visa photo that still made me look like a serial killer; and trying to explain to doctors why my medical check included checking for lepropsy and the plague.

You’ll all be relieved to know that I’m bubonic plague free since ’83. Take a number, ladies. I’m completely without buboes.

hairy man drinking from a coconut
My last visit to China involved beaches and coconuts...

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