Can you list traveling as something which you are passionate about?
Does this merely categorize and stick together a wealth of varied experiences into one descriptive word? These are the pretentious thoughts that fill my head; mainly whilst wandering pointlessly through malls supermarkets, in-search of the next salted snack or sweet to fuel my China journey.
These journeys have mainly consisted of wandering about, from the moment I landed in Guangzhou, China; I find myself staring into KTV karaoke booths, trying to decipher the ‘noodlese’ Chinese writing in dumpling restaurants and being laughed at by the locals.
Granted, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to eat and being bemused by the locals back in my hometown Swansea, Wales; but then, they do say that the Welsh are a little ‘weirder’ than majority of the United Kingdom; those last few months of bemusement were also charged with another feeling; the voice in the back of my head telling me; ‘Soon you’ll miss this experience..it will be impossible’ to feel like this for a long while, if ever again.’
As I stood on that last day, staring at the skyline of Port Eynon beach; taking the last significant photos with my girlfriend; I didn’t want to say goodbye, for what felt like the 50th time; we had a typical British ‘fish and chips’; making a secret pact not to mention the fact that I’d soon be disappearing from the U.K for 15 months.
So I got a little something in my eye at the airport…
I hauled my suitcase to check-in and said goodbye; leaving behind everything including an incontinent Jack Russell terrier; I’d worked as a supply teacher steadily for seven months in high schools, now it was time to prove I could also stand up and teach younger children, by waving my hands wildly around a classroom and jumping around a great deal.
Have I changed, or have only my surroundings changed?
Firstly: I’ve learnt to use sign language to explain say; the need for a prophylactic, as I have used to teach phonics in the classroom.
When you first move abroad; you loose the ability to communicate, you cannot eavesdrop into other people’s lives the same way; something that was always thrilling for me; your window into the world is reduced to a mere keyhole and even then; you have to squint to really get what’s going on.
To counterbalance this; you can learn the local language; maybe turn that keyhole into a slightly foggy window; I know how to ask for things; yet I don’t always get them; because ‘fin gallu siarad mewn Cymraeg’ (I can speak Welsh) my proficiency in Chinese is coming along okay and I’d be seeking to either do an intensive Chinese course at the end of my teaching position or gradually; take on lessons as the academic year goes on.
The thirst for adventure is greater here:
At home; I am always looking to meet with my friends; walk somewhere, climb something and try some new experience; so long as it doesn’t involve dentists or unclogging a toilet. In Guangzhou, one of the most crucial lessons I could learn is that not every weekend has to feature traveling to Hong Kong or even Beijing.
As great as it would be; I’d soon be so broke that I couldn’t pay attention: So instead; I sometimes bury myself in books and think about my lessons; dull right? Maybe…but this makes the trip to Hong Kong so much more valuable; I’m going to see the world; but I’m going to hold out for the big climax; You don’t start a love affair with a city, by getting it totally naked on your first date.
Not all those that wander are lost:
Thirdly; I am never nervous; even if I’m lost, what seems like six-hundred miles away; where people are selling extremely dehydrated seahorses and markets which should come with zookeepers; and why should I be? It’s part of the adventure! A frustrating; random adventure which will soon feature a visit from my mother; or what I’m referring to as ‘the day I make sure to clean the toilet’ It’ll soon be highly amusing to experience all of the things in Guangzhou with a partner-in-crime once again.
It’s made me full of whimsy: I should go to a hospital:
Oh foggy London town; how I miss you with your spires, your hipster bars and louche attitude towards…Pop…Up…Cocktail…Laundrettes? Hang on a moment; I’m from Wales; why on earth did I choose to spend a day in my final month wandering through London with a stupid grin on my boat race? Because I’ve gone soft for all things British! This is what I miss about Britain in no particular order;
Music in Pubs
Good Blue Cheese.
A Steak Pie
Dancing like your dad.
If someone were to ask you what single thing would improve the quality of your life; what would it be? For me; I’ve got an irrational desire to buy a push scooter and whizz through a few courtyards while I’m at it: That’s going to be my ‘one year in China’ gift; when I first arrived; while I had practice wielding a chopstick; it wouldn’t have been a crime to hang me a fork sometime: So I’ve put together an ‘Expat‘ quiz, which might help you think about your experiences abroad;
What do you most miss about home and why?
What do you really love about the country you are living in?
Do you keep a diary? Why?
What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced abroad?
What do you least miss about your own country?
When’s the last time you spoke to someone back home?
If you had to eat only one dish for the rest of your time in your adventure abroad; What would it be?
Describe your perfect day in your homeland
Who has moved you the most in your adventure?
How’s the weather outside?