Tomorrow is my official date of separation from the Air Force. Tomorrow is also the date written on my plane ticket from Seattle to Beijing. Tomorrow, everything changes. And good thing, too–I’ve been splitsville with this segment of my life for a long time.
Not to say that it didn’t have its wonderful moments. I just need to not wear a uniform anymore. And not live in Nebraska. And not have a job consisting of me staring at my email for 8 hours a day and drooling all over the keyboard.
So it’s over. Definite progress. But what lies ahead? What mysterious mysteries will be unfolded in my ten month contractual obligation in Tianjin (sounds exciting when I say it like that, doesn’t it?) Well, I decided to lay out a few expectations I have for the next several months.
- I will go crazy. At some point in the next few weeks, I expect to go completely bonkers (hopefully temporarily). I will get so sick of squat toilets, and people spitting on the street, and me teaching with next to zero direction from the school, that I will wonder why I went over there to begin with. Over time, I hope to see all of those things as quaint facts of life in China, but I know it will be a process.
- Major language gaffs. Sometimes when you mean to say “grass mud horse” in Chinese, you end up saying “fuck your mom.” It happens. At first, I think my vocabulary will be so limited, that I won’t say anything offensive, so much as awkward-sounding and confusing. But over time, I’ll probably want to “try out that cool new phrase” so much, that I’ll make the entire dinner conversation come to a screaming halt, to better give everyone an opportunity to laugh at the ignorant white girl. It’s OK, though. I’ll get to laugh at them whenever they try to speak English.
- Dance til the world ends. I’m not going to lie, I like to dance. These nerd girl moves need to be shown off to a wider audience. I’m not sure what Tianjin nightlife is like, but something tells me it will be at least as ridiculous and wonderful as it was in Xi’an. I think I’ll try to make out with fewer people though, just to keep things real.
- I will be mistaken for a boy. This happened so many times in Xi’an, I don’t know how it can be avoided this time around. It’s humorous at first, but when the same club bathroom cleaning ladies keep thinking you’re a dude, you realize that they could use a serious education in differentiating white people. Flash cards? Rapid rote? I don’t know, but they need something.
- Public speaking super star. I’m not an enormously talented public speaker atm, but I figure after having to coax dozens of young Chinese geniuses into speaking English every day, I should get pretty decent.
- KTV Master. By day, the best English teacher ever. By night, Karaoke singer extraordinaire. Oh, you want to sing sappy Chinese love songs all night? Let me hear the chorus once, and I’ll read along like a 3rd grade-educated Chinese child! However, I will avoid seemingly nice women who want to drink wine and KTV for two hours, then leave me with the check. For the record, that was lame.
- Oh right, classes. I will unfortunately be continuing my education with some online classes through American Military University. Why AMU? Because they take just about every credit I have, and start new classes every month. On a side note, remember that time when a Chinese university hired someone without a bachelor’s degree to teach English to university students? Ah man, that was awesome.
- Meet great people. On a more serious note, I truly expect to meet some wonderful people. Other English teachers, expats of all kinds, and of course, a lot of Chinese people. I hope that my Chinese skillz will improve enough, so that I can hold a relatively normal conversation with them. As it stands now, I can just ask what they do and explain how a crazy white girl such as myself learned some basic Chinese. And of course, since i am a 24 year old single woman of reasonable soundness of mind and body, I am open to the idea of meeting a special someone over there. Oh fates, be kind!
That’s a sufficient list for now. As my time in Tianjin goes on, I will look back at this list and cross things off one by one. In the meantime…. I need to say goodbye to Washington, to friends, and to family. But really, it’s only ten months. And I know it’ll go by in the blink of an eye.