Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Farewell to China

This last few days of classes, when I'm saying my goodbyes to my students, I'm having them write down their questions so they can ask them anonymously. They're shy about a lot of stuff, so this gives them a way to get the answers they want without mortification.

One of the things I get asked a lot is if I will come back to China, and the answer is no. I'm glad I came here and the people have been wonderful, but my impetus for student teaching here was never a love for, or really even an interest in, the Chinese culture. It was a test for myself, in several different ways. One, I wanted to plan something that actually came to fruition for once. I know I've mentioned it before here, but I'm really bad about saying I'm going to do stuff, then... not. Two, I'm thirty-two (in response to the question "How old are you?" I answered "Thirty-three" today. Then I really had to think about it), and had never been out of the country. Three, I wanted to see if I could do it. Could I go to a country where I speak little of the language and get along? And I did. Of course, I was not alone at all (the "Can I go to a country alone and survive?" question will have to be answered somewhere like France where I know some of the language), but as homesick as I was, I never seriously entertained the idea of coming home.

And I have been homesick since we got here. Some of that is normal, but the intensity and duration of mine has to set some kind of record. I didn't lock myself in my room sobbing when I wasn't teaching, but I had to really lecture myself some days to enjoy China while I'm here; in general I try really hard not to wish my life away, but this trip really stretched that ability thin. I think eleven weeks away from home is too long for me.

I lost a friend on this trip; I suppose some relationships weren't made to withstand lack of constant exposure to another person. It's not as if I hadn't known this friendship wasn't ideal, but no one likes to receive an email full of judgments that clearly had been germinating for some time. That's life, though; some friendships have lifespans.

I was going to get a QQ (the instant messenger program the students here use) so my students could IM me when I get home, but they have my email; to spend time IMing them strikes me as living in the past.

We will be traveling for about 24 hours once we leave Shenyang, and I know that's going to be exhausting, but I look forward to it. If there's one thing this trip has taught me, it's that China is not the place for me. I'm 100% glad I made the trip, but I'm 100% glad it's drawing to a close.