I realized yesterday, later in the day, that my expectations were unrealistic. Although I really, really wanted to hear: “We want to hire you!” directly, it was implied, and has been all along.
This entire process has been exponentially quick. I received the initial job description about 2-3 weeks ago, but at that point, I still really did not want to stay in the USA (I still don’t, but international doors are not opening, and more continue to shut because of the pandemic, which is again on the rise.)
Last week, whilst still in TX, the owner of the private teaching firm I started working with last December (remember the temp job in Beverly Hills with the bipolar Mom?), reached out directly and asked if I was in China or going to China and stated that this post in Palo Alto was a perfect fit. That was Thursday, August 5, while I was still in Texas preparing to drive to Fort Worth and then CO. Friday I responded, and we spoke about the job. The first interview with dad was the very next day and a second interview with mom on Monday. A virtual meet-greet with kiddo went well yesterday, Wednesday. The 8-year-old and I spoke for an hour, with ease!
The only reason they delayed the decision is because they had a previously scheduled vaca which began yesterday; otherwise, they would have flown me in to meet in person, and then the decision would be solidified. They’ve already told both my placement agency owner and me they are very interested and want to move forward, but they definitely want to meet first and see how I interact with their son. Absolutely reasonable!
In retrospect, I realize that my expectation that they even make a soft verbal offer was unrealistic, because we had not met in person—hiring a private teacher is a major decision for parents, as well as a major financial commitment.
My placement agent has already told them they need to decide by the end of August, and now, since I will meet them in person next week, after we have already had cumulative virtual meetings of totalling nearly 5 hours over the course of three meetings in the past 5 days, she has communicated that they will need to decide pretty quickly after our face-to-face. She’s already indicated that I am the strongest candidate (I love having someone as my cheerleader!); she has other teachers to recommend, but she has told them point-blank that none of them have the skill-set I do and match for them as well as I do.
Thus, I feel better today: less drained and disappointed-, more optimistic and holding a more realistic expectation of the timeline for this post. Isn’t it amusing how we (I) set ourselves (myself) up for disappointment when we have expectations that are not met—whether in relationships or with events such as this? It boils down to staying present, allowing, being confident in my skills (which I am), being patient, knowing the right job for me will appear in the right time (as I seek it out of course), and having realistic expectation.
Although I am still 98% sure I will get a job offer, I will respond to the queries I have received this past week, and continue to send out letters of interest.
Normally, when interviewing for a private teaching job, if one is not in the same area as the family, there would be an initial virtual meeting. If that goes well, then the family would fly you out to their city for an in-person meet. Lastly, the job offer (or not). The only aspect that has delayed the standard timeline of this sequence is the fact that their vaca falls right in the middle of all of it! For me, that means waiting an additional week for the in-person meet and job offer. Really, nothing is out of alignment, nor looking like I wouldn’t get the position. My agent has already stated that I am the only candidate they are looking at right now, and the family has stated that I am their #1 choice.
Back to a calm state of being patient.
Now, it’s time to respond to other interview requests and finalize a lesson plan for the demo lesson I’ll do with the kiddos when I meet them next week!
I am finding the constant relocations to be ungrounding. I cannot get back into a regular routine for healthy nutrition and exercise consistency. This adds to the already currently-high stress level due to the unknowns and flux of China departure and habitat situation. I've accepted a dog-sit in Round Rock for 2.5 weeks, which will give me at least that duration of stability. I cannot plan for nor accept a longer sit of one month, which would be ideal, because I have to be ready to fly out, even though I'm projecting 6 weeks at minimum. With a page-long list of To-Dos, it may seem like a lot, but it's mainly minutiae. The big tasks include buying a few items and having a box or two shipped over--the biggest task is selling the car I bought in February! I'm also going to look into getting my boxes and boxes and boxes of journals and writing digitized into editable documents, so I can begin the work of publishing those in whatever format. I also have a boxful of curriculum books to get digitized. It's not going to be cheap!
I'm still playing The Visa Waiting game (and stuck on Square #1!!):
1. Waiting on authentication stamps on two documents that have not yet been returned from Ch. Embassy in DC to my visa agent-- though I am supposed to receive them this week (damnit!) [July 16]
2. Then 2-3 weeks for HR Dept to apply for and receive my initial work permit. [Jul 30-Aug 6]
3. Then 2-8 weeks for PU Letter, which is special permission to enter Ch. for work, even though borders are still closed. [Aug 13- Sept 10]
4. Then 1 week for visa agent to apply and receive back my formal work visa that allows entry into Ch.
5. THEN have to determine where I can fly out and where I can get COVID tested prior to departure, which is determined by Ch. Embassy regulations.
The unknowns and the flux of all this is stressful, and I need to go back and use my tools to create resilience and adapatability (qigong, taiji, meditation, shaolin kungfu, running, walking, strength training, reading books on mindfulness and self-compassion). I know all this, but I don't always do it!
I want to change my pandemic-acquired morning habits of reading and mucking about for hours on end to return to my decades long exercise routine of running (or other) each morning. The sitting and being sedentary for hours has got to stop! I also need/want to get back to fasting regularly and being consistent with longer fasts. I've turned my excellent habit of reading into a bad habit of reading too long. I want to return to writing in the AM and PM which has been replaced by reading too long in the AM and watching movies in the PM. But sometimes there is too much stress and overwhelm with tasks or just feeling ungrounded or just not knowing where I'll be in two weeks from the present day. Everyday I continue to set goals and intentions to change though.
The irony of having so much time during the pandemic is that I have been so challenged to create a consistent schedule for myself. I've had too much time. But then again, I have accomplished much and learned much. I just wish I could get my exercise back on--for me, this really is the key to all the challenges I face mentally, emotionally, and physically!
Oh, and I still need to start the master's course for the CEU requirements! But I will have at least two weeks in quarantine in China to devote to those studies, so may put that off for a while!
Overall, I don't feel like I'm in a down-state or dark place, just not managing my stress as well as I would like with actions that promote well-being.
My biggest fear is that I will have invested and wasted 6 months attempting to enter China, not be able to, and HD won't honor the contract, which will result in me being unemployed and without income. I will have to start from scratch with the job hunt, and as most schools already completed the hiring process for the 2021-22 school year, I will be left with choosing "whatever I can get", instead of actively choosing a teaching position that is well-suited to me and my education philosophy.
The dealings with HR have been disappointing at best, and have left me with a complete lack of confidence in the department at worst. I have no trust in the HR Department because they neglected to give me a complete breakdown of the visa process, nor did they give thorough instructions; in fact, I received conflicting information on at least one occasion. This has left me with strong doubts and tue niggling feeling of my gut instinct telling me to walk away and look for another teaching position.
The fear comes from having to start the whole damn search process over; wondering if I'll be able to find a good position; and being faced with a continued lack of income, a car payment, and being unhoused in the USA. Not only will I have to begin job hunting, I will also have to continue house- and pet-sitting and spend time searching for those gigs as well as driving all over the damn country.
Age comes into play too as many countries have work visa restrictions based on age, which start at age 50. Many are 55 or 60 and schools don't want to hire someone close to that age because their work tenure is short. I'll be 53 in 2 months.
International teaching job opportunities, usually so abundant, are scarce this year due to pandemic-related entry restrictions. It's hard as hell to get into China without the pandemic issue. Now the entry requirements and delays due to Chinese Consulates in the USA being closed for in-person applications, along with strict requirments (direct flights only, multiple COVID-19 tests prior to applying and flying, 3-week quarantine on arrival, etc.), have made hell even hotter and harder!
I'm usually confident in my ability to find a good teaching job outside the USA (or even in the USA), due to my experience and qualifications. Not now. Not with limited opportunities and limited entry. I still do not want to work in the US due to the terrible pay and treatment of educators, as well as the high chance of being gunned down and the horrible education environment for both teachers and children. The school in Shanghai is such an excellent match for me, but the Universe keeps slamming doors in my face. Why open the goddamn door in the first place then? I've spent just about every single day since April dealing with the visa application process and just becoming more and more stressed at the roadblocks that are thrown up on a daily basis. It doesn't feel good nor right anymore. I am really second-guessing this decision and feel like I am at a crossroads of decision.
(unedited, unproofed, still in progress!)
California. LA. Santa Monica. Beverly Hills.
I've moved to Cali. I drive through LA while living in Santa Monica and working in Beverly Hills. Living in this area of So Cali is a unique experience: the population density is massive--as is traffic, even when most of the populace is not on the roads due to the pandemic; the amount of people living on the streets without homes is horrific; and the amount of litter and trash piled up along the highways and roads reminds me of India. All this, as I pass a Lamborghini and an Alfa Romeo passes me.
Enough about the cities; I want to talk about me! I've started working as a Private Teacher for a family in Beverly Hills. The assignment has been changing almost daily, and it's only Day 3 of school! In other words, the original job description is no longer useful. In a polite way, I'm trying to say that the original agreement about what the job would like like, and how the teaching was laid out no longer applies. More on that later. The important point is how I am responding to the stress created by an extremely fluid environment, where things are not playing out as they were meant to unfold. My nervous system and emotional resilience have both had the chance to heal, calm, and regrow over the last 9 months that I have been in the U.S.A. I've had the chance to do some deep work during fasting and not only have I had the wherewithall to move deep inside, but I've also began the hard work of learning how to be self-compassionate while being present with painful emotions of fear, loneliness, and sadness. I lost the capability to be kind to myself, be mindful, and manage difficult emotions due to the stressful events of 2015-16 and although I was making my way back to mental health and emotional resilience later, the challenges of living in China knocked me back down in 2018-19. I"ve been making my way back to my "positive, happy self" in 2020 and the events of this week have magnified that progress!
There's almost nothing worse than receiving a text message that something is off kilter. Why can't people call or talk face-to-face anymore? It's really hard to bear because it's nearly humanly impossible not to read been the lines to figure out what is the truth behind the sender's few sentences. One of don Miguel Ruiz's "Four Agreements" states: Don't make assumptions. After I received this text--which caused me great upset, stress, and a dizzying amount of fear--I sat on my bed to mentally and emotionally go through my feelings and this situation. What's amazing is that I was able to do that--sit with the fear, remember and use my self-help tools, instead of tumbling into the abyss of fear and the self-destructive actions that follow that enable me to avoid the terror created by the thoughts that begin to tumble in my head. I was able to harken to my self-compassion toolkit to recall the process of RAIN, repeat the Lovingkindness (metta) meditation and visualization, practice Mindful Self-Compassion, and apply The Four Agreements. Utilizing these skills that I have been practicing the past few months, enabled me to pull myself back from the edge of that black hole to act and think in ways that were caring rather than avoiding and hurtful. I am both proud of myself, happy, and relieved, for I realized that whatever happens, I will be okay. I was also able to recognize that there are aspects of this situation that are out of my control. My job is to protect myself--meaning increase my feelings of emotional/physical/financial safety and security in a scary situation, offer myself comfort since I have no one else to help me with that (this happened last night on the West Coast, when all my friends in other time zones were already asleep), and nourish myself in ways that enhance my health and well-being rather than the opposite. I'm doing it!
The other important aspect, is that in these type of stressful situations, I am usually berating and blaming myself: feeling less than, feeling disempowered, thinking I've failed and could have done better. This time, that's not the case--which is a huge victory! I know I've worked my ass off and done the best I can with the information I was given. Unfortunately, what I was told to do, and what was wanted from me, were entirely opposite. The big takeaway is that I am not feeling like a failure or that I messed up or that I am to blame in anyway. It's just a lack of communication and clarity; however, that lack may have detrimental consequences to my life and livelihood!
Now, I sit here, after I have communicated with the placement agency head and am awaiting her phone call, in a holding pattern. My next question, after asking myself "What can I do to care for myself in this situation?", is what action I should take? I just leased a car for two weeks after spending $360 for a one-way rental to Cali, and I have prepaid $3700 in rent for this spot through mid-February. I also spent $400 on clothes and other items necessary for school and living expenses. The Mindful Self-compassion tools remind me to acknowledge and feel the fear associated with such and outlay of money while not being paid yet, remain present, and care for my emotional, physical, and mental self. My first action will be to go outside and do Qigong in the beautiful Zen garden, then hopefully talk to a friend to decompress and get support, and then figure out the next step.
I'm okay. I will survive. I may be looking for another job soon. It will all work out for my highest good.
If I could live ANYWHERE, WHERE would that BE?
What would that place LOOK like?
What CHARACTERISTICS would it have in regard to GEOGRAPHY, CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT, FOOD, PEOPLE, etc.?
Where DO I REALLY WANT TO LIVE that I haven't yet lived?
Original Post April 12, 2020
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
Safety (low crime/violence, gun restrictions, non-violent society), environment (clean air, water, food, light/noise pollution, traffic, overcrowding), available activities (surfing, diving, mountains to hike), easy/proximal access to nature, ease of learning language and culture, social systems (trust in government, health care, retirement income, peaceful culture, neighborly, compassionate), affordability, resident visa, environment/climate/temps (warm weather, beaches, mountains), modern tech (cheap cell service, fast wifi to work online), COL, ease of getting residency/visa/land.
MY NEEDS: physical and financial security, healthy and hygge environs, social connections and sense of belonging, available recreation, ability to pursue creative endeavors, freedom.
August 2020 Update:
(In no particular order.)
Rating Scale based on my priorities, as defined by my requirements for a high quality of life:
0 - lowest (USA, Middle East, and other countries at war or high amounts of violence, high income disparity/crime, low kindness/peace, low trust in government, government corruption, lack of social welfare programs)
10 - highest (Scandinavia, Nordland, Oceania, Canada - opposite of above)
Ratings based on: Safety (low crime/violence, gun restrictions, non-violent society), environment (clean air, water, food, light/noise pollution), available activities (surfing, diving, mountains to hike), traffic, crowding, easy/proximal access to nature, ease of learning language and culture, social systems (trust in government, health care, retirement income, peaceful culture, neighborly, compassionate), affordability, resident visa, environment/climate/temps (warm weather, beaches, mountains), modern tech (cheap cell service, fast wifi to work online), COL, ease of getting residency/visa/land.
Pacific Island: Palau, Guam, Marianas...
Eastern Europe (??)
Central/South America (??) Islands (??)
SE Asia (??)
Kunming, Yunnan, China
Ganzi, Sichuan, China
Top Five List
The overall highest quality of life is found in Scandinavian/Nordic Countries, Oceania, and Canada.
"On the social side, as emphasized in several chapters of the report, including one focused on the perennial high happiness rankings of the Nordic countries, the key findings are that people like living in communities and societies with less inequality of well-being, and where trust - of other people, and of public institutions – is high. People in high trust communities are much more resilient in the face of a whole range of challenges to their well-being: illness, discrimination, fear of danger, unemployment, and low income. Just to feel that they can count on others around them, and on their public institutions, makes their hardships less painful, thereby delivering benefits to all, and especially those most in need." - https://worldhappiness.report/faq/
"In 2018, for example, it revealed that a higher degree of acceptance towards migrants increases happiness both among newcomers and the locally born. Last year, it showed that fewer social networks and more in-person social interactions greatly boost our individual sense of contentedness.
This year, the report focused on social, urban and natural environments and their links. On the social side, researchers say, people like living in communities and societies with less inequality of well-being, and where they feel they can rely on other people and public institutions. People in high-trust communities are much more resilient in the face of a whole range of challenges such as illness, discrimination, fear of danger and unemployment. The effects of misfortune and anxiety, the happiness experts indicate, are lessened by the strength and the warmth of the social fabric, especially for those most in need.
... With respect to our natural environment, the takeaway is unequivocal: people are happier when they are in contact with nature, especially when they are accompanied by family or friends. The happiest countries are also those that prioritize sustainable development policies and do more to meet the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations." - https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/non-economic-data/happiest-countries
A Song of Ice and Fire includes 5220 pages of schemes, murder, betrayal, and other violence. I began reading this voluminous series sometime in May, and will finally finish by August 1. Reading is my addiction and the storyline and character development are compelling, enthralling, and equally addictive! I knew better than to begin a 5000-plus page mythic series of 9 books, but at the time, I could not help myself. The writing is not the best, definitely not in comparison to other fantasy fiction writers such as Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; however, the characters drew me in to their warring worlds of betrayal set against naive bravery. I do wish the timeline had been better delineated, and the characters were hard to sort and separate for the first few hundred pages. By the time I had passed 4000 pages, sometime this month, I was ready for the end, even though the tale was still intriguing. In the 2 1/2 months it has taken me to complete this fantasy-history, I have set aside 10 other personal growth books and completely ignored the studying I should have been doing for state exams! That's just another item to add to my Gratitude List: the time and space to read and relax for enjoyment. And now, here I sit at the end of July, having read through age 4970. I sit at 2200m (6600 or so ft.) in an elevated mountain valley of Colorado. The heat of summer days seems to have passed, and cold winter mornings awaken me. Winter is coming!
I spent a couple thousand bucks to get to the U.S. from Australia, and over 40 hours of travel time! I can't imagine it was money or time wasted, but with the U.S. inanities going on during the pandemic, now I'm stuck here. Yogaville is closed indefinitely so who knows if I'll be able to return this year. I can't sit in Mississippi indefinitely, as I don't want to over-rely on my friend and impose too long. I need to get some kind of remote work going, preferably in the form of teaching. I can't teach ESL right now, as I need to do so on Asia time, which is the middle of the night here, and that would disturb my hosts. I'm trying to sort through my options in consideration that I might not be able to return to Yogaville, I need to have some income, and decide whether to return to teaching overseas full-time.
As per usual, I need to get my personal house in order (health and well-being) and create an online income stream.
It's difficult to maintain any stable habits in this new vagabond life I lead: constant upheavals and change, new environs, and differing routines continually end new habits I create. But I know what works, so it's always back to the drawing board to try again.
What works? Getting up and enjoying a cup or two of tea while reading something positive, life-enhancing, or knowledge-increasing. Writing for a while. Shifting into yoga practice within an hour: asana, pranayama, meditation to fully start my day with vigor and the anticipation that I Can Do It! I start of my I Can Do It! Day with a run or a walk after yoga. And then Doing It! by attaching myself to a desk for hour-long increments, dedicating my focus to writing or producing income online. When I break up these hour slots with 5 minutes of calisthenics and strength training, I become more productive, energized, balanced, and happy--add into that the physical benefits. Sticking to a healthy diet and following the Fast800 regime or IF (Intermittent Fasting) helps me lose weight, feel good about myself and my body, and increases my health. Moving throughout the day, regular exercise including yoga asana, and eating healthy is always the answer! I've been off caffeine for nearly one month now (Wow and Yay!), and I am still daily fighting the urge to soothe my heart with sugar and wine. Sometimes I Can Do It!, sometimes not. But I am still trying. Overeating and drinking is inversely proportional to my daily exercise routine; exercising regularly diminishes those cravings and I just don't drink or binge on sugary foods.
Writing daily increases my confidence in my ability, which spurs me toward publishing. Working online (or spending hours daily trying to gain income) ends the fear of running out of money. It seems my push in life is fear of one thing or another, and now--once again-- it's about money.
I try to stop the depressing cycle of thoughts that overwhelms me now and then. Everyone thinks I have this romantic travel lifestyle, and yet I get stuck again and again in negative thinking spirals that drive me toward depression and black thoughts, followed by overeating and overdrinking, which whips the depression into full gallop, always seemingly impossible to stop. My health is not in good shape; in fact, it matches my bank account and my attitude toward life. It is harder and harder for me to find my bounce-back; the emotional and physical resilience I need to pick myself up after a fall. Many times, I wish I could just stay down. Stay asleep. I get sick of the struggle. And it's always a struggle. The struggle has had no end for over 5 years now. But again, I'm trying to focus on what works, and I'm trying to pick myself up and carry-on. I just wish I could be honest with someone other than my Chromebook keyboard--that I could be completely vulnerable with someone other than this blog. It doesn't seem like anyone really understands what depression does and how neural pathways work, and how it's not always my fault or a lack of trying or a negative attitude. Few understand that sometimes, it's easier to sit on the couch and numb the pain. In fact, sometimes I cannot do anything beyond that because the fear is too big, the thoughts are too overwhelming, and I become truly paralyzed in all aspects. I am alone and lonely as hell and I don't know how to be permanently happy or content.
But what works? Writing gratitude posts, doing yoga, taking action, exercise, eating healthy, frequent movement breaks, breaking out of isolation, and trying to smile again. I'm going to go do some of those I Can Do It! actions right now: a bit of yoga to calm the overwhelm, a walk to get me energized, and some action to bring some income in and reduce the financial fears.
I Can Do It!
Getting the vacation bliss sucker-punched right out of me!
What a shit-storm and raw deal I have returned to in Cdu. I already dreaded the return to this vile city, and now I really, really despise this overcrowded, grey-weathered place. Truly, nothing goes well here for me. It started with being notified by the person with whom I was to stay 3 nights that it was no longer convenient for them. That's not a big deal, except that I received that information within 4 days of my arrival to this cursed, polluted, grey city. In the midst of travel, it's hard to make last minute accommodation changes, expecially in a city of 7-20million people (it's China, there are no accurate population stats--let's just say way too many people). So after spending hours trying to figure out the most central place to be, which would be near to my storage unit but still central to the other places I would need to be, I reserved a homestay for three nights. Well-- and of course, I find this out the day of my arrival-- the guy gave me the wrong address to the storage unit, so I am nearly 20 effing kilometers away from it! He gave me the main office address. When they originally moved my stuff to storage n July, he told me it was near to my house. Well, not true at all. Not only that, but I sent my carry on and another medium size box to my storage unit-- or so I thought--only it's at the main office. So now I get to go to the main office to pick up those items, bring them back to the hotel, then head to the storage unit to go through my things there and get what I need for Australia. Oh yeah, and the original place I was going to stay, I had to spend a few hours yesterday getting boxes I had shipped there too. I am feeling really effed by people right now. Having to move my planned "home base" to a hotel, and now being committed to this hotel, which I had to pay for in advance (it's also kind of shitty and not looking as shiny as it did in the advert). It doesn't sound like a big deal, except that I am lugging around numerous boxes and suitcases -- without a hand cart (that was an extra hour to figure out yesterday) -- 20 km all over this traffic-congested city, which takes 40 minutes to get anywhere, not counting the cost of the car service which is already adding up.
Needless to say, my anticipation in coming back and having a nice weekend before I left has diminished to nil. I just want to get the storage unit figured out, sell what I can, and GTFO. I cancelled the dinner party I planned with friends because I've got too much to do and no one to help anyway. I have lost my enthusiasm for being here entirely. Add to all that the angry I am feeling at the person who let me know last minute I couldn't stay with them, and the overall enui that overwhelms the people I know here. They aren't enthused either because both the city and their jobs drain life right out of them. So no help there. And the gd storage guy for that vastly effed mistake. That really effed me. So basically, being back in Cdu makes me feel effed by all sides. Just great.
And yeah, yeah, yeah I really, really, really am trying to be compassionate and retain the peace I gained during my two months away from this shithole. But damn, the circumstances and the nasty city just sucked it all away pretty quickly. I am trying to place my anger somewhere, like onto the personage of the city, to be less angry at the people involved. Or just be angry about the circumstances and forgive the people. I really am! I want to be compassionate toward myself, and do the best I can and not kill myself too much with all the moving and organizing and packing I need to do. Maybe I can just bust my ass today, switch hotels, get a massage and a pedi, and then only have a few details to wrap up tomorrow (I only have tomorrow anyway hehehe... I fly out Sunday). And what is all of this telling me? What is the lesson? I can retain my peace and happiness regardless of the whirlwind of chaos happening outside of me. I can send thoughts of compassion to the person who was too overwhelmed to have visitors, and I can be grateful that I found a storage unit in China that is trustworthy. Soon, I will have my Bose noise-cancelling headphones (heaven!), so I can drown out the screams and screeches of traffic, which will help calm me. I will figure out something productive to do as I sit in traffic for hours today. I will plow through the boxes and get what I need packed for Australia. Quickly, these last two days in Cdu will be over, I will be out of this hellhole and in the arms of the sunny port of Melbourne. From there, I'll figure out what to do with my stuff, so I can get it out of China and not deal with this insanity anymore.
It will all be okay. It will all work out. I'll get it all done. I can remain at peace and happy regardless of circumstances. I can remain in touch with my Higher Self. I will remember to stay grounded in the present moment and let go of both the past and the future.
After a weekend spent pondering and investigating, I have narrowed down theBook of Possibilities to a List of Possibilities. A long-term yoga retreat sounds wonderful, but would eat up the savings. I inquired about enrolling in the local Tibetan University (Southwestern Minzu Uni) to take Tibetan language classes, but missed the deadline. On the other hand, getting a PT faculty post there or at Sichuan U. might not be terribly difficult. They offer faculty housing, low pay, and a few other bennies like airfare. In order for me to work in China, I must have sponsorship by an employer to get the appropriate visa (http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/#top). They deport illegal and under-the-table teachers like crazy here; I don't want to be one of them. If I take classes at Uni, I can get a student visa which would settle the visa issue, and allows for restricted part-time work. The other options include working PT as a teacher or tutor, or staying on witth a tourist visa. The tourist visa parameters are ridic, in that they issue you a 10-year visa, but you are required to leave China every 60 days and then re-enter the country. Thus, very expensive and time-consuming, but perhaps worth it if I only plan to have Tourist status for a few months. Once my contract ends --in holy-crap-6-weeks! -- I can transfer to a 30-day Humanitarian visa. I believe it's named this because it is so humanitarian of the gov't not to kick you out immediately, but allow you 30 days to get your affairs in order, pack, etc., before departure. I've known some people who have had to plan relocation, pack, and GTFO, the day their work contract ends, so I am grateful to have learned of this option!
I definitely want to stay in the country; it makes the most sense logistically and financially. I will move forward with my trek plans, and perhaps extend my trek and make it less hurried. Hell, maybe I'll just spend 3-6 months trekking, work remotely (copy editor or tutoring or ESL), and write! If I'm in Kham, I can study and practice Tibetan easily through pure immersion, create a network and guanxi, even discovering job opportunites and living arrangements for the coming year(s) along the way! I need to remember that I can definitely get work remotely to cover travel expenses while trekking. In small towns in Kham, staying in a very nice hotel or in the best room of a guesthouse is 300rmb max ($43) per day, and I'd have to eat three 5-course meals per day to spend the equivalent amount on food. Those prices are on the high side, and don't account for the time I will be trekking (camping). Teaching online at the lower end of the pay scale would only require 15 hours each week to pay for lodging and meal expenses if I chose to stay in cheaper places in less luxury or sacrifice privacy and quiet at a hoste, although most hostels offer private rooms, so they are more like guesthouses or inns that offer hostel/shared-room arrangments). If I really want to go low-budget, student-style (I do NOT) I could probably get by on150rmb per day ($21US) for room/board.
During my trek, I will focus primarily on writing, my sparkly *NEW* podcast -- er, Jeenacast! -- (COMING SOON!), and ponder what to do in the fall. I am really keen on doing some volunteer work in small villages in Kham (or Nepal)! Even my small amount of research this weekend turned up a monastery in Amdo (Golok) that hosts an orphanage where I could teach. This idea came to me from the Sherpa Cinema video about the Sherpas who are trying to break the hereditary cycle of need to do the dangerous work of carrying the loads of rich foreigners to the summits of Everest and other Himalayan peaks. They can break this economic and caste cycle by getting access to education for their children.
https://www.apasherpafoundation.org/ The thought of helping a community by teaching in a local school, hopefully in exchange for lodging, a meal now and then, and local knowledge, appeals to me! In Kham I could do this with the nomad population; still giving me time to write and hike and work remotely part-time. Furthermore, learning more about local Khampa customs and culture could potentially pave the road for me to open a business that both benefits the local community and allows me to support myself! Whether the business is schooling, a cafe, a B&B, or some sort of community-beneficial enterprise that I fund through my Jeenacast patrons or Patreon... there are definitely opportunities out there for me to both help the local community and provide for myself, while continuing to do what I love: hike, write, and teach! The expiration date for teaching abroad will approach faster than I can imagine: the majority of countries will not issue foreign work visas beyond age 60. But if I can establish myself and my business as a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) in China, I will be able to establish longer-term permanent residency.
And yes, I would LOVE to remain in China as long as I can live in a somewhat remote mountain village/town. It may come as a surprise (or not), but I have dreamed of opening a B&B since I was in college and began to frequent Bandera, Texas. I would ride my motorcycle throughout the Hill Country of Central Texas on weekends, to hike and visit country-western bars, and fell in love in and with Bandera (that's a whole nother story!! -- in Texas, whole nother is an actual word. I've worked in hospitality, run my own business, have experience in the financial sector, and worked as a private Chef, so I can pretty much do anything -- especially build and maintain a successful cafe, B&B, or learning-enterprise. It all depends on how much I am willing to work and if I want to devote the time to building a business (at this stage, I am probably more inclined to build a virtual, digital nomad-type biz). To repeat, if I start publishing my work and get my Jeenacast and Patreon going, the need (and desire) for other options becomes moot.
The motivation behind my desire to volunteer in Nepal, and closer to home, here in Kham, can be found in the incredible video below from Sherpa Cinema. Speaking in relative terms, I have "a lot" of disposable income thanks to both China's low cost of living and the high wage structure for foreign educators (actually, high salary opportunities apply to much of the International school industry, if you are a certified and experienced educator). As an educator, I already do a lot of "volunteer" work, in the form of working at home in my personal time; although the situation of being overworked and underpaid due to so much "volunteer" at home lesson-planning is much worse in the US: the pay is already very low for US teachers. Teaching is a very altruistic and giving field, IMO. However, I have also wanted to do service work abroad in the field of medicine or education for a long time, and now I have the opportunity! I am in the position to assist people in raising their standard of living in a meaningful and substantial way. And I want to do it! And I am in a position where it will not cause me to move to a subsistence level because I can still work remotely to earn money!
*https://kingcon7.tistory.com/16 Last Holiday on Korean media site!
...Small actions in a dynamic system will trigger vast and unexpected changes