Staying Power: 5 Reasons to Stick It out in China & 1 Reason to Go

May 15, 2011

It’s that time of year again – time to decide what the heck I’m doing with my life!

My, my, how time flies! Doesn’t it seem like it was just a few months ago that I was blathering on about how I had no idea what to do with myself? (Umm, well, probably because it was just a few months ago. But, whatever. You’re not like keeping track of this stuff with your day calendar or anything, are you?)

You see, my current teaching gig in China ends at the end of June.

I could stay here another semester if I want.

Or I could move on to a new country and a new adventure. (And, yes, by “new adventure” I mean “new couch.” So I best find a new country that believes in the importance of a good couch. And I should warn any potential new countries out there that they have a lot to live up to – my current couch in China is quite The Couch. I’ve mentioned my couch before, right? Just in case I haven’t or in case you’ve forgotten about The Couch, I’m including a picture below so as to refresh your memory. Yep. I think we can all agree: The Couch.)

Of course, as is my usual, I have no idea what I want to do.

One moment, I convince myself I’m going to stick it out for another semester. I happily congratulate myself for finally putting on my Big Girl Decision Making Pants, and then march out to buy some Big Girl Housewarming Presents – like the Tupperware containers below. (After all, nothing says “welcome to your new home” like a plastic container with the word “screw” on top. Am I right or am I right?)

But then the next moment, I find myself applying for jobs in Kazakhstan. (Don’t look at me like that. I’m sure Kazakhstan is lovely in the winter! Besides, I’ve heard great things about their Tupperware!)

Usually when faced with a Big Girl Decision such as this one, I try to adopt a rational approach. I jot down lists of reasons for each option. I weigh all the pros and cons. I hem, and I haw. I write long, whiney blog posts about how hard it is to make decisions.

And then after hours of careful consideration and list-making, I make my decision.

Mind you, this Big Girl Decision is not based on any of that careful consideration or list-making.

Oh no.

Instead it’s usually based on a half a pitcher of margaritas and my online horoscope.

But, hey, at least there was some kind of rational thought involved in my Big Girl Decision-making process… you know, before the margaritas got involved.

So to help me make up my mind (well, at least until the tequila makes up my mind for me), I’ve compiled a list of all the reasons I should hang around in China (and one reason why I should go because, hey, I can’t just hand this decision to the tequila).

Reasons To Stay Put

1. To get in shape financially
So, you know how I kind of took that year “off” from employment? Remember how I spent the year working odd jobs and not actually getting paid in any cash-money?

Remember that?

Uh, yeah. So does my bank account.

You see, as awesome as it was to travel around and volunteer and meet all kinds of cool people, it was also kind of, ahem, expensive.

Like a lot more expensive than you’d think considering I didn’t actually do any of those expensive things that other people do when they travel around and volunteer and meet all kinds of cool people. I went on two group tours during the entire year that I was traveling. (Not that I have anything against group tours, per se. Okay, maybe I do a little bit… especially now, seeing as the two tours that I went on resulted in my being accosted by monkeys and my almost being blown up by landmines.) I didn’t pay for any of the volunteer programs I participated in. Heck, for most of the year, I didn’t even have to pay rent.

But somehow my expenses added up. By the time the year was over, my savings were also kind of, well, over.

My current job doesn’t pay me loads, but life in China is pretty cheap. (Especially in my neighborhood where nightlife consists of grilled meat on a stick and a bottle of cheap, room temperature beer.)

I have to admit, it’s nice to have a steady paycheck again.

It’s nice to not have to worry about whether or not I’ll have enough money for the month.

It’s nice to be able to buy myself something pretty… or, you know, buy myself something Tupperware.

And it’s nice to know I have a little extra cash for a rainy day. (And, yes, by “rainy day” I mean margaritas. What did you think I meant?)

2. To get in shape physically
So, yeah, back to my year “off” from employment — remember that?

Well, I also kind of took a year off from other things: like exercising… and eating like a reasonable human being.

As I might have mentioned before, the past year was kind of fattening – like a whole-new-pants-size kind of fattening.

Since moving to China, I’ve been getting myself back into a regular fitness routine. Luckily, what my neighborhood lacks in nightlife, it makes up for in parks and places to exercise. I’ve been walking and biking a lot, and I even started running again.

Now that I have a kitchen and can make my own meals, I’ve also been getting back into a reasonable-human-being-eating-routine. (Except when there are dumplings involved – there’s really no way one can be reasonable in the face of dumplings. It’s just the way things are.)

Given more time, more running and more reasonable eating (and, admittedly, fewer dumplings), I might be able lose the weight I gained last year. Heck, I might even be able to fit into my old pants again. Or, hey, I might get so skinny that I can just stop wearing pants altogether – you know, like the celebrities do!

3. To have more time to travel in China
The thing about China is that it’s big – like really big.

And it’s full of really cool places – like a lot them.

So far in the past three months that I’ve been here, I’ve managed to see three of those really cool places: Shanghai, Beijing and, umm, Wuxi (Home to China’s Third Largest Freshwater Lake! And me! That’s about as cool as it gets, people.)

If I stay another semester, that means I’d be in China until mid-January.

That’s like seven months or something!

Do you know how many really cool places I could see in seven months?

Probably at least three or four! (What? Were you expecting me to say more than that? Who do you think I am — some kind of Travel Superwoman? Just because the little cartoon character of me looks like a superhero, doesn’t mean I am one. And, I’ll have you know that cape is not for flying purposes. Trust me. Some lessons you learn the hard way.)

4. To have more time to do other stuff
Settling in to a new country takes time – time to figure out which buses take you where you need to go and which restaurants to eat in and which grocery stores to shop at.

It’s taken me three months, but I finally feel settled. I know which bus takes me to the train station and which bus takes me to the mall. I know which restaurant in the nearby village sells the best Kung Pao chicken. I know where to stock up on the essentials: milk, eggs, frozen dumplings and, of course, red wine.

Granted, I still have no idea where to find dental floss. Instead, I can only find these floss toothpicky things, which are just as dangerous as they look. The one and only time I tried to use them, I got the floss part stuck in between my teeth and had to walk around with the sharp pointy toothpick part sticking out of my mouth for twenty minutes until I could wrench it out. I swear I almost lost my eyeteeth… and an eyeball or two.

But, besides that, I’m good.

I’m settled.

I know the ropes (if not the floss).

Now I can use my time to do other stuff – non-settling stuff.

What kind of stuff?

Well, you know.


Okay, I don’t know what kind of stuff, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. I could spend more time working on my blog. I could finally start doing some freelance writing. I could learn how to communicate in Mandarin (rather than communicating through complicated hand gestures and pained facial expressions). I could take up knitting or kickboxing or teaching mice how to swordfight with those floss toothpicky things (because, Lord knows, I won’t be using them to floss my teeth!).

5. To have a home
My friend, Natalia, came to visit me last weekend for a few days on her way through China. She has spent the last six months backpacking through Southeast Asia, sleeping in hostels and eating street food.

When she saw my kitchen, she twirled around and clapped her hands with joy as if she had arrived in some magical land and my stove was some kind of fire-breathing unicorn. (Sadly, it’s not.)

I knew how she felt.

I felt the same way when I first got here.

And I still do.

I love having a kitchen again.

I love having big weekend breakfasts with pancakes that I make myself. (And I’d be willing make them for you too if you come to visit me!).

I love having houseguests. (Did I mention I make pancakes for my houseguests? And they’re covered in fresh fruit. And maple syrup — the real kind. And served with bacon. And they look like this.)

(Think about it.)

I also love having my place to myself so I can lounge around in a tattered sarong and ratty slippers on a Sunday… or Saturday… or during my lunch break from work (because, hey, one of the joys of home-ownership or temporary-home-having-ship should really be the joy of not having to wear pants — even if you’re not the celebrity type).

I love having a couch.

And, while I love traveling, I think I super duper love having a home even more.

I realize this makes me lame.

But I’m cool with that.

Reason to go:

1. To challenge myself
I have to admit, life is pretty easy here.

Like way easier than I thought it would be.

I get by surprisingly well despite my atrocious Mandarin skills.

I’ve made some friends.

My local supermarket sells good, reasonably priced, French wine (that tastes like wine and not turpentine and rancid meat) and at least two different kinds of cheese.

My commute is a quick 5-minute bike ride across campus.

My students are usually pleasant (if frustratingly more preoccupied with their cell phones and their hairstyles than, say, homework or, umm, showing up to class.)

My workload is manageable.

My colleagues are friendly.

About the biggest challenge I’ve had all month was that whole floss toothpick issue.

Oh, and there’s my couch. (Have I mentioned my couch?)

Yep, life is easy.

Maybe too easy.

Don’t get me wrong. I like easy. Heck, I love easy. If easy were a human person, we’d totally get married. (Because I have a feeling easy would really be into me, too.)

So, yeah, easy and I are good.

Which is kind of bad.

You see, as much as I love me some easy, it’s difficult that inspires me. Difficult fires me up and gets me going in the morning. Difficult makes me cry… but it also gets me off the couch. Difficult inspires me to write.

Difficult says, “You can’t do this.”

And then I do it.

Just to prove difficult wrong. (Because I’m like that. Just ask my mom.)

I know if I do stay another semester, I’m going to have to muster up a little more difficult to keep me inspired and on my toes.

I could start studying Chinese — like for serious this time.

I could train to run another marathon. (Or, uh, half-marathon. I mean, there’s no need to get all crazy with this difficult thing.)

I could do some volunteering.

I could learn how to cook something besides pancakes. (But, uhh, why? When combined with bacon, fresh fruit and maple syrup, pancakes are pretty much the world’s most perfect food!)

I could finally write that book I keep on telling myself I’m going to write.

Or I could move on to a new country and a new challenge.

Obviously, I’m going to have to give this decision some more careful consideration. (And, yes, by “consideration” I mean margaritas. What did you think I meant?)


I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On May 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm Amy said:

    Sounds like a great case to stay and a good reason to leave. Tough choice. Your time in China sounds great (and the couch IS fabulous), so I would say don’t move on until you’re done! 🙂 Stay, relax and feel comfortable until you’re done, then go on to somewhere else. The rest of the world will still be there, so don’t be in a rush to leave! 🙂
    Amy recently posted..Bring International Luck to Your Friday the 13th

    • On May 16, 2011 at 5:05 am Sally said:

      You’re right. I probably shouldn’t rush things if it doesn’t feel right to move on. I think I got used to moving on to new places every couple weeks or months last year so that it feels a bit odd to be stuck in one place for so long. But then I worry that I will get stuck in this place since it’s so easy– like I’ll be 80 and still hanging out on my couch in China (most likely covered in dumpling grease and cat hair from all the stray cats I’ve adopted). Uh yeah. It’s possible I worry too much.

  2. On May 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm clare said:

    great blog

    i looooooved china

  3. On May 15, 2011 at 9:46 pm MaryAnne said:

    Stay! For me! I was devastated to see I didn’t make the list. I can be that purveyor of mixed drinks! Yes, yes- if my unemployment works out as planned, I can be passing through Wuxi every month or so for a gin-based creative writing workshop on your couch! I’m thinking of asking Harlequin/Silhouette if they are interested in a series of Watermonster erotica/romance novels. I’m sure you could write something involving a lack of pants. Writing needn’t be painful. Or, if you need pain, I can help you to find some! Stay! Please!
    MaryAnne recently posted..14 Notes on teaching English in a Chinese university- in the middle of a quiet burnout and impending unemployment

    • On May 16, 2011 at 5:00 am Sally said:

      You know my code name for you is “Margarita.” I mentioned you like 5 billion times in this post! (And, yes, you definitely ARE one of the reasons why I would stay… but if I leave, don’t take it personally 🙂 )

  4. On May 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm Ali said:

    I know what you mean about needing a challenge & how easy it is to sometimes stick with what’s easy & comfortable. But if you’re genuinely enjoying where you are right now, not just that it’s easy, it might be good to stay for another semester & then move on to Kazakstan or wherever. I don’t know, I don’t think you can make a bad decision here. I like “new” as much as I like “easy” so I’d probably have lots of trouble making this choice too. I can’t wait to read what the margaritas tell you to do!
    Ali recently posted..The Secrets I’ve Been Keeping

    • On May 16, 2011 at 4:59 am Sally said:

      Well, there are definitely good things & bad things about my current situation (as with all positions, I’m sure, but I like to pretend moving to a new country will solve all my problems! It’s a fun little fantasy for me.). I’m not totally in love with my current situation, but it as, as I mentioned, easy and would allow me to get a number of goals completed before I moved on. The question is if I want to be practical (complete goals) or ridiculous (move to new country where my life will be magic… maybe… or not). Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at deciding between the two. 🙁

  5. On May 16, 2011 at 2:32 am Roy | cruisesurfingz said:

    Compelling reasons both ways. I know exactly how you feel Sally, except I don’t have a couch or tupperware or live in China.
    Roy | cruisesurfingz recently posted..Gatecrashing A Hen Party In London

  6. On May 16, 2011 at 2:43 am Odysseus said:

    Okay, we have to talk more about the pants. You have already admitted you need to put on your “Big Girl Decision Making Pants” in order to decide where you’ll live the next 6 months or so of your life, but logic clearly dictates you will never find ANY sort of Big Girl Pants while you’re in Asia. No wonder you’re so confused! The only solution to this, as you are probably already aware, is to opt for the pants-free lifestyle, like Jessica Simpson and me. (Shirt dresses and tunics can be VERY confusing.) This is a very liberating sort of lifestyle and less humiliating than buying size XXX-Large pants even though in the U.S., you might be able to squeeze into a modest size 6. Okay, so maybe I haven’t helped with your decisionmaking process in regards to where to live, but you know you can always rely on me for fashion advice.
    Odysseus recently posted..Cherry Blossoms in Korea

    • On May 16, 2011 at 2:49 am Odysseus said:

      Footnote to My Comment (which was not already long enough): The XXX-Large pants to which I refer may be found in the special “Big Woman Foreign Shop” or something similar that exists in the expat district of your nearest big city. Besides THAT, there are no Big Girl Pants in Asia.
      Odysseus recently posted..Cherry Blossoms in Korea

    • On May 16, 2011 at 4:55 am Sally said:

      How did you know I was a modest size 6 in my country? (Okay, so I’m not but this is what I’ll tell myself the next time I’m forced to buy XXXL pants.)
      Did you see the link I included about the celebrities who don’t wear pants? You should totally be on that list!

  7. On May 16, 2011 at 3:39 am Megan said:

    A) I will send you some floss. We have it in Bangkok.
    B) There’s this great expression: “No mud, no lotus,” which means that you have to get through all the crap to bloom into a beautiful flower. Yes, that’s way cheesy, but that’s what I thought of when I read about how you feel like maybe what you’ve got going on is (too?) easy.
    C) Decision time SUCKS ASS. I’m at the same point. DISLIKE.
    Megan recently posted..The Capital City Smackdown- BKK vs DC Part 1

    • On May 16, 2011 at 4:53 am Sally said:

      A) Please send floss ASAP. It’s been two weeks since I last flossed — I can actually feel new cavities forming. And, Lord knows, I can’t afford another root canal on my Chinese salary.
      B) Love the expression — but are you trying to say I should move to a muddy country? I’m not really sure if I’d like that.
      C) I know, I know, I know! How about if I decide your life for you and you can decide my life for me! That way we’ll have someone to hate & blame when things don’t work out (rather than hating & blaming ourselves because that’s just lame).

  8. On May 16, 2011 at 4:49 am Stephanie said:

    write the book! write the book! I’d be all over that like Chinese on rice.
    Stephanie recently posted..Friday Postcard- Prague- Czech Republic

  9. On May 16, 2011 at 4:55 am Tom said:

    I know what you mean about the con – things being too easy! I’m staying in Korea for another year or two, but at the same time thinking that it’s because I’m settled here…it’s not “challenging”.

    Yet, the pros far outweigh the cons – financially, I can save up to do what I want to do (travel, and then eventually open a hostel of my very own!), I’ve made a lot of great friends here, enjoy the lifestyle (no sitting down and devouring half a kilo of cheese in one sitting with a 2l bottle of coke in the other hand), and of course my boyfy!

    If I were you…based on your pros list, I’d stick with China for another semester, and then re-evaluate after that. There’s nothing wrong with being settled for a little while – and chances are that by then, you’ll be itching to travel again! ^^

  10. On May 16, 2011 at 4:57 am Cherszy said:

    Okay, this is really funny. Do you always go through this funny mode when you’re making a tough decision? That’s insane (in a good way that is)!

    China’s a great place, I think, except the whole thing about old Chinese guys spitting almost everywhere at the most random times. I still don’t get that, but oh well. Every country’s got something that’s weird which makes it interesting (or not). Yeah, looks like you have more reasons to stay than leave, so… STAY! Maybe I’ll bump into you when I visit China (which is I don’t know when).

    Hope you find the floss that you’re looking for! I know that’s a tough challenge, like choosing between the back seat and the front seat (and I’m seriously off-topic – blame Rebecca Black). Good luck! 🙂
    Cherszy recently posted..The Best of McKinley’s Prom Night

  11. On May 16, 2011 at 5:23 am Nomadic Chick said:

    Stay. There is clearly unfinished floss and business in China. You need to give my partial homeland more time, grace it with your presence.

    When will you have quite the same circumstances again to travel around or lie on that post-modern couch?

    Sometimes a bit of coasting can prepare you for the next “difficult” thing you seek, fist pumps and all.

    And besides, you have to let me visit and I’ll make you MY wonton soup. It is legendary among my friends and finding the ingredients would be much easier than in Kazakhstan.

    It’s not lost on me how confusing that is considering I’m a vegetarian, but it’s THAT good. The wonton beast has to be unleashed on innocent bystanders.
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..Same Destination Different Experience

  12. On May 16, 2011 at 6:36 am Lois said:

    I know how this feels. We will be faced by the What’s Next? question in a few months. It feels like a long way off but I know how time flies by so quickly when you’re traveling and having fun. Keep us posted..

    • On May 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm Sally said:

      What are your options? How about if I decide for you & you can decide for me? Sound good?

      • On May 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm Lois said:

        Option 1: Go home Option 2: take the job offer in chiang mai Option 3: find a job teaching english in china. What do you think Sally? We vote for you going on a new adventure. I’m sure you’ll find a nice couch again..

        • On May 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm Sally said:

          Hmmm… tricky. There are tons of teaching jobs in China, so I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem there but Chiang Mai is so much fun. Home’s fun, too, but I have a feeling that can wait. I think flip a coin for Option 1 & 2.
          Thanks for voting for my new adventure. Now could you let me know what country that new adventure should be in? Kazakhstan? Tanzania? Oman? Vietnam? Any other ideas?

  13. On May 16, 2011 at 9:06 am Richard said:

    Where ever you go, start writing your book already, girl! I can’t wait to read it. I know it’ll be a hit! And it’ll be turned into a movie and you’ll make millions. I mean it! (P.S. Brad Pitt already said he’d play my role in the move adaptation.)

    • On May 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm Sally said:

      Mwahahaha! Somehow I pictured someone a bit more, ahem, Asian playing your part, but Brad Pitt will do. Who gets to play ME?

      • On May 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm Richard said:

        If they could turn Keanu Reeves into an Indian guy in ‘Little Buddha’, for sure they could turn Brand Pit into a hunky sexy Asian me! (Just sayin’.) ;D So start that book already so we can make some big-time Hollywood movie money! (Breaking News: Drew Barrymore has agreed to play the role of your Mom and Paris Hilton has agreed to play your role!)

        • On May 17, 2011 at 5:24 am Sally said:

          Paris Hilton? I thought they’d pick someone a little less blonde & with a little more substance (and, no, I’m not saying “fat”). I was thinking more along the lines of a (slightly younger) Tina Fey.

  14. On May 16, 2011 at 10:24 am Annie said:

    Margaritas are the best aid in the decision making process, that’s for sure!

    Although I agree with the challenges of difficult, why not give yourself easy for a while? You can do all those things you mentioned (like marathons) to pacify (or trick if you prefer) difficult while you are actually enjoying easy!

    Besides, after your next semester, the world will still be waiting for you to move on!
    Annie recently posted..Cliffs of Moher- Ireland

    • On May 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I know, I should probably just chill out a bit… but we’ll see what the margaritas have to say. (First I have to actually find margaritas in Wuxi…)

  15. On May 16, 2011 at 11:40 am Jessica said:

    I just found your blog. China’s pretty awesome for us foreigners. I’ve been here for just over two years and my stay is winding down :(. Teaching in China is fun… Though sometimes it feels like I have to pull the English out of my students throats.

    I think we are neighbours, as I read somewhere on your blog that you are in Wuxi. I’m based in Changzhou. You definately need to check out Suzhou, Nanjing and Hangzhou (this last one is in Zhejiang province and widely recommended by my students). Summer in Jiangsu is a bit obnoxious when it comes to the heat.

    Well good luck and welcome to Jiangsu Province. 😀

    • On May 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm Sally said:

      I’m definitely hoping to check out the places you’ve mentioned SOON. I have a friend in Suzhou & have been meaning to get there for the past three months. I just can’t believe how I’ve been here so long without seeing much yet. (Okay, I can believe it… that’s totally how I roll, but still.)
      Where to next for you?

  16. On May 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm jill- Jack and JIll Travel said:

    Sounds like you’re not being ‘pushed’ out of China hard enough – or you’re not antsy enough to get back on the road. I honestly don’t think you’re going to regret any decision you’ll end up making though. Except for probably missing wontons in Kazakhstan 🙂
    jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted..Looking for imperfection in Guatapé

    • On May 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm Sally said:

      I think you definitely hit the nail on the head as far as not being antsy enough about getting back on the road — while I feel I COULD move on, the thought of actually moving on is giving me hives. Pack everything again? What? Agggh!

  17. On May 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm Heather said:

    Sally, when I was trying to convince myself that I had enough money to come visit you before I came home (we see how that turned out), you didn’t tell me about the PANCAKES!

    Like you, the last year took my travel savings while giving me some extra weight. I hope to start working on both of those…soon O:-)

    Good luck with the decision-making process!!
    Heather recently posted..Saying Goodbye

    • On May 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm Sally said:

      Oh, that’s because it seriously took me 3 months to locate pancake mix (apparently, it’s illegal to sell pancake mix in Wuxi — instead you have to go all the way to Shanghai… and, yes, I could make pancakes without mix but that would require baking soda which is also impossible to find… sigh!)
      But wherever I go, you’re welcome to visit me whenever you have the money & I’ll totally hook you up with pancakes… even if I have to do something illegal to get the mix.

  18. On May 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm Jessica said:

    Back to Canada. As for China I am headed to Hangzhou this weekend. I was notoriously lazy about traveling in China my first year so don’t worry about not seeing stuff. Which reminds me you should checkout Xitang (one of those ancient water cities but very crowded) in Zhejiang.

    I was reading some of the other comments about how you can’t find certain things I would suggest trying Taoboa (like a Chinese eBay) and then you would have the added benefit of delivery to your door (or At least your school).

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:29 am Sally said:

      Thanks for the suggestion on Xitang. I’ll definitely have to add it to my list of places to see before I leave (whenever the heck that will be!)
      Also, thanks for the suggestion of Taoboa — I’ll have to check it out. Does the website have any English?

      • On May 19, 2011 at 5:19 am Jessica said:

        If you have google chrome it will automatically translate it but you probably need a Chinese coworker to do the ordering for you.

  19. On May 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm Gay said:

    Yes, that’s my real name… Anyhoo, I vote for new adventure! We’re moving out of the Philippines and will be migrating to Oz soon. We reckon it’s for the best at this time. Money-wise. So we can fund our upcoming trips. But we’d have to deal with a new beginning with our baby.

    You’ll find another awesome couch!
    Gay recently posted..The GeThaiway

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:27 am Sally said:

      Yay! New adventure! Australia sounds really great — now I want to move there! Where will you be living? (Love the name, by the way. Some of my best friends are Gays!)

  20. On May 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm Ken C. said:

    Well, no new insights from this member of the peanut gallery…except to say that, a [mythical] rational person would glance at your pros/cons list and suggest you remain for another semester, and then reevaluate.
    But, a dozen readers have probably already said this.
    I’d also suggest you place a “parental advisory” on any future links to a pants-less Jessica Simpson [really, it’s early morning on the West Coast USA, and some people haven’t had their second cup of coffee yet]. I’m surprised that girl wasn’t tasered by the fashion police…at the very least, she could have put on some leggings (full disclosure: I’m an older guy, and I don’t know squat about women’s fashions).

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:25 am Sally said:

      Listen, you’re the one who chose to click on a link — I feel I warned you ahead of time that there would be a whole lot of not-pants-wearing going on.

  21. On May 16, 2011 at 5:39 pm Matt said:

    Haha, stumbled across your blog accidentally, so glad I did! Hilarious! I’m teaching in china too, Guizhou province! Coming up to the time of year when I decide what to do with my life as well…stay in the school where I am, which is amazing, or try something different hhhhmmmm! Very difficult to leave the amazing (although rather hard) bed I’ve got, along with the impressive collection of movies & tv shows downloaded onto the computer provided! Completely agree that life as a teacher in china is easy…really really easy, and so relaxed, fall into a comfort zone straight away…as you can probably tell by the posting of this at 1.45am I too am in love with my sofa and lounging!

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:22 am Sally said:

      Hey Matt,
      Thanks for checking out my blog. Glad you’re enjoying it!
      I forgot to mention my bed — my bed is actually pretty decent (not too hard & not too soft). And HUGE. Aggh, one more reason to stay.

  22. On May 16, 2011 at 6:45 pm Donna said:

    I suspect you already know what you want to do, you just need time to convince yourself it’s a good idea. I usually find the more ‘reasons’ I have to do something, the less I actually want to! But in your case, there’s that couch – I admit it, I have couch envy. Anyway, whatever you decide, it’ll all be good. And if you’re really not sure what you want to do, toss a coin. Not to hang it all on a coin toss, but if heads comes up and you wanted tails, your heart will sink and you’ll know…ok, I’ll do tails! xx
    Donna recently posted..Weekend Mission- Just for Fun

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:21 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! I think you hit the nail on the head with the whole “more reasons = less likely to want to do it.” I have too many options to toss a coin (not only is it China vs. New Country, but China vs. Vietnam vs. Kazakhstan vs. Whatever Other Country I Dream Up) but I did write all my options on pieces of paper & chose one out of the hat… the hat told me to stay in China. Stupid hat, what does it know? 🙂

      • On May 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm Donna said:

        Heehee – so staying put is out of the hat and gone. Now pull another one and see how you feel about what that stoopid hat knows! I’m a big believer that we usually know already what we want to do, we just need to convince ourselves (or others that it’s a good idea!). xx
        Donna recently posted..Weekend Mission- Just for Fun

  23. On May 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm Michelle said:

    I would say hang in there another semester. Reason #1 is a good one and you’ll have that comfort zone to lean on as you travel on from China. Being broke and in a new country, not so fun. Plus, what if you find some really cool Tupperware there and can’t afford it?

    Also, provided the world is still here past this Saturday (May 21), there will still be places to travel no matter when you leave. =)
    Michelle recently posted..Sunday Travel Reads for May 15- 2011

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:18 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I guess this whole issue is moot if the world implodes. (Although it better not — I’m almost finished with my midterm grading and I’d be mad if I spent my last days in the world grading 5 paragraph essays!)

  24. On May 16, 2011 at 9:16 pm Kat said:

    It sounds like you’re not done with China quite yet, so I vote stay. Commit to leaving at the end of the next semester, and really challenge yourself to accomplish the things on your list in the next seven months. That way, when you leave, you’ll feel like you really did what you wanted to do there – plus you’ll have some financial cushion for your next destination!
    Kat recently posted..29 things that have been on my mind since I quit my job

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:17 am Sally said:

      Such good advice — so sensible. And I KNOW it’s the most reasonable choice for me… but, uhh, I’m going to need a few more margaritas before I figure this one out.

  25. On May 17, 2011 at 2:39 am Juno said:

    It’s like a never ending story. I am still looking for a home, or a home to be, and need to challenge myself, way more. So I’ve decided to go (not sure where when how what though).
    But seriously, it’s unstoppable brain train.
    Juno recently posted..Runaway Food A-Z – A is for America

  26. On May 17, 2011 at 3:25 am Adventurous Kate said:

    At a similar crossroads at the moment, and I have to tell you that while everyone can offer good insights, only YOU can make this decision for yourself. But you know that. 😉

    I think you should stay — you’ve got a great thing going in Wuxi, and you could use your second semester as an opportunity to write that book and achieve your other goals. I’m doing something similar — staying put in Boston for a few months, as much as this city drives me crazy, to grow my online work so that I can become location independent sooner than planned.

    Just make sure that you use your second semester constructively. Use this time to create something great. 🙂 You’ll be amazing!
    Adventurous Kate recently posted..Songkran in Bangkok- The Greatest Festival on Earth

    • On May 17, 2011 at 5:15 am Sally said:

      Good advice, Kate. The problem is that whole word: “constructive.” I’m not so good at that. 🙂 Who knows, maybe if I do stick around that could be one of my goals: learn how to be a constructive human being. But I think that will take more than one semester…

  27. On May 17, 2011 at 4:13 am pam || @nerdseyeview said:

    I’m sure it’s not your intent, but reading this post makes me REALLY want to come over for pancakes. May I?
    pam || @nerdseyeview recently posted..Old Neon- Portland

  28. On May 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm Choi Kum Fook said:

    Girl! You shoud hold back at least one more semester in China unless you are jobless. You have not seen much things yet. There are a lot of interesting places to visit just nearby the city of Wuxi, like places in Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Hefei and Wuhan. May be, probably, I am inteaded to make a trip to China to see you around November. I hope the dream will come true! Being a English teacher in China, it seems quite easy and relaxing.Why not stay longer and enjoy it!? Why worry!? Ha! Ha! Great country usually gives you more inspiration to think and write! Am I right Miss Sally?

  29. On May 18, 2011 at 1:54 am Ceri said:

    1) I use those toothpick floss things. Haha.

    2) I’m soooo coming over to yours for breakfast.

    3) If I were in your position (and I probably will be in the future because I’m getting ready to teach English abroad too 😛 ), I’d stay another semester. Didn’t you only just arrive in China? It seems like only the other week! Heh. Maybe you feel like you need just a little bit more experience of the country you’re in at the moment but by the time the next semester’s up, you’ll be ready for you’re next adventure.

    Or … y’know, just go now. I don’t know. Just do what feels right to you.
    Ceri recently posted..Mexico’s Invisible Victims

    • On May 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm Sally said:

      1) I have nothing against the toothpick floss things. In fact, they seem like a lovely idea. But the floss part is really thick & I guess I have abnormally small spaces between my teeth… hence, my issue.
      2) I’ll start making the pancakes… when can I expect you?
      3) Agggh. I have no idea what feels right to me. That’s why I’m asking you people!

  30. On May 18, 2011 at 4:11 am Fiona at Life on Nanchang Lu said:

    Would you leave a country that makes ‘Screw’ themed tupperware?
    Would you leave a place that has the third biggest of anything?
    Could you justify going just when the locals are beginning to understand your facial expressions and hand gestures?
    Could you find hand-made dumplings or fresh shelled peas for two cents a kilo in some other place?

    And lastly, I ask you, isn’t it OK to take a break from ‘difficult’ for a while?


  31. On May 18, 2011 at 4:15 am Ruth said:

    I see what you’re trying to do – get us to decide for you. Geez it’s hard enough to make my own decisions!

    I recently had to decide whether to stay in Vietnam after my CELTA or move on right away (to China no less) and was really torn over what to do until one day as I was walking down my street I just realised: ‘I would miss this place’. And there I had my answer. Maybe this test won’t work for you, but how would you feel if you left Wuxi at the end of June, never to return?
    Ruth recently posted..Little things I love about Vietnam- Cheap Food

    • On May 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha, actually my evil plan to make you all decide my life for me has kind of back-fired. You see, I kind of really hate having people tell me what to do (I know, I know, I all but ASKED everyone to tell me what to do… but yet as soon as I get suggestions my initial thought is “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!”). So now that everyone’s saying I should stay in China, I’ve been thinking I should leave (and here just last week I was totally going to stay). Uggh.
      But, good thing, Vietnam is one of my potential non-China options. I’ll keep you posted! How long are you there?

      • On May 21, 2011 at 6:46 am Ruth said:

        Well that’s almost a decision in itself there! The old reverse psychology…

        I’m on an hourly contract so duration isn’t fixed, definitely for a few months yet though! Truth is life is easy here in HCMC and I think Hanoi too. Which is nice every now and then but unless you get out of those two, it’s going to be easier than China and not a patch on Kazakhstan.
        Ruth recently posted..Buddhas birthday parade

  32. On May 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm SpunkyGirl said:

    For myself, the China cons are the throat-clearing, pointing and starring. Both of those things drive me mental. However, I am in love with the country and plan to visit more later this year.

    China is a true yin and yang country in my eyes. If I’m tired or feeling grumpy, I stay inside until I feel great. Haha

  33. On May 19, 2011 at 12:11 am Lauren said:

    My contract in China is up soon and your pro-and-con list looks exactly like mine (minus pancakes and access to cheese- I’m jealous). No matter what you decide and as long as time permits, take advantage to travel more around China before you go. You already have a visa in the country and there’s so much diversity, plus traveling in China is a challenge in itself! Good luck with your decision, I’m sure you’ll make the right choice in the end.

    Lauren recently posted..Photographing the Botanical Gardens in Xiamen- China

  34. On May 24, 2011 at 3:07 am Torre (@fearfulgirl) said:

    BTW your couch looks like a man of leisure with two women on his arm, don’t you think?
    Torre (@fearfulgirl) recently posted..How To Overcome A Creative Block

  35. On May 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm Jerry said:

    Hi Sally,

    For the record, your blathery posts are wonderful!

    When reading, I often feel like I have stumbled onto some half-crazed yet brilliantly entertaining homeless street performer – Bravo! 🙂

    Another reason to stay a taaad longer is so we can get together with mutual friends and have a celebratory bottle of baijiu!

    For those who have not yet had the pleasure, see my Spirit of Chinese Moonshine on my blog or here:

    Good luck Sally!

    Jerry recently posted..Judgement Day Rapture! Good News- Bad News

    • On May 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm Sally said:

      “Half-crazed yet brilliantly entertaining homeless street performer”? Umm, I’ll take that as a compliment… I guess. I can definitely say that’s the first time I’ve ever been called that, that’s for sure. (Not that I haven’t been called half-crazed or homeless before… just not those words combined with the words “brilliantly entertaining” and “street performer.”)

  36. On May 28, 2011 at 12:10 am Jerry said:

    Yes, I meant it as a compliment. I know your affinity for improv and well, I am not really sure why it all popped into my head in that combination, but in my mind (at the time) it made perfect sense.

    Although I have not met you in person, your personality seems like you could be unabashedly uninhibited at times – just like a half-crazed homeless street performer (yet new, improved, and awesomely expressive as to be brilliantly entertaining.) ):
    Jerry recently posted..Judgement Day Rapture! Good News- Bad News

  37. On May 30, 2011 at 3:46 am Christy said:

    I’ve been going through the EXACT same thing as you! I think we both arrived in China around the same time (you were a few weeks before me I believe) and it’s definitely been a struggle. I’ve spent the past month trying to figure out what I’m going to do too. I’ve been dreaming of Bali, Indonesia, Thailand – places with letters instead of characters, restaurants where you can actually order food, and places with oceans and beaches.

    I also kind of tapped out last year and oh yeah, upped the pants size too. I do feel like I am getting a bit more settled in China now and I’m not sure if picking up and starting all over again is such a great idea. The plan changes every 5 minutes and the search continues! I do hope we get to meet one day! Christy

    • On May 30, 2011 at 5:06 am Sally said:

      Oh, I have the 5-minute-change-my-whole-life-plan thing DOWN. I was doing that every day for weeks! Even now that I’ve finally made my choice, I’ve started to think about what I’m going to do in January. Ahhh, life choices can be so fun… but I need to stop thinking about them so much!
      Good luck with your decision!


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