June 12: The big decision.

In case you didn’t already guess, the decision is: Do I renew my contract and stay in China?

A year and a half ago, I decided to apply for jobs working in China. Deciding which company I wanted to work for was relatively easy. I chose my start date. I chose my flight. I chose my roommates. I chose my apartment. It was all smooth sailing. But, for the past 9-months, I’ve been trying to decide whether I would want to continue after my year in China. My contract will officially end August 23rd, and it’s coming quickly.

On May 17th, my center director asked me if I wanted to stay. She gave me two weeks to decide. Instead of the two weeks, I put off telling her my decision for a month. Eventually, after a lot of thought, I decided that it is best for me not to renew my contract.

I’m not going to lie and say that this was an easy decision to make. By deciding to leave, I am taking a leap of faith that I will find a job. I will find somewhere to live. I will be able to get all of my stuff back. It also means leaving everything I can’t take back. Leaving this job means leaving my friends, my apartment, my kids (I did the math, I have about 320 of my own students), my coworkers, my favorite restaurants, everything. I would be lying if I said that my heart wasn’t breaking for everything I’m leaving behind.

Here’s why I’m leaving:

I like China. I really do. I like Shanghai overall, but it’s not my forever.

Most days, I like my job. But the days that are rough are really rough. I know that bad days happen at any job, but at this job, they just don’t feel worth it. I love my kids, and I love hanging out with them every day, but let’s be honest, I’m not going anywhere here.

Which leads me to the biggest reason I’m leaving: I’m not going anywhere here. My opportunities for growth at my company end with teaching English, and there aren’t many jobs in China that pay enough and are willing to hire someone who doesn’t speak Mandarin (or at least non-teaching jobs). While leaving is scary, at least I know that I’m going somewhere (both figuratively and literally).

Just like when I first came to China, I made a list of things I’m excited about going back to and a list of things I’m sad to be leaving.

10 things I’m excited for:

  1. Chipotle
  2. Seeing everyone at home
  3. (Hopefully) starting a job that feels like a step in the right direction
  4. Busch Lite (judge me, I don’t care)
  5. Finding somewhere new to live
  6. Not needing a VPN to access the whole internet
  7. Living somewhere where I feel like I can generally understand everything going on around me
  8. Easily accessible vegetarian food
  9. Clothes and shoes that aren’t fake
  10. Cheese

10 things I’m sad to leave behind:

  1. My friends
  2. Leaving another place I once called home
  3. My favorite Chinese noodles
  4. My apartment (as much as I may hate it)
  5. eleme (the food ordering service)
  6. My kids (all three-hundred and twenty of them)
  7. WeChat & Alipay, and the convenience of having everything on my phone
  8. Being able to bike anywhere, anytime
  9. Did I mention my friends?
  10. Oh yeah, also, my friends.

I’ll try to keep you all posted with what’s going on in my life leading up to leaving China. My one request is that you don’t ask too many questions. Due to a lot of circumstances and timing, I don’t know when exactly I’ll be coming back, I don’t have a job lined up, and I don’t know where I’ll be living. Believe me, I want answers just as much as you do.

Thanks for coming on my China journey. I’m excited to share the next phase of my life with you all.


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