It was my passion to learn the Chinese culture, their traditions, and language by 2018. To fully immerse while teaching English was my understanding to achieve my goals. Instead, the experience led me to a deeper understanding of the Chinese and myself.
The Chinese culture only took months to understand while their traditions is still an ongoing process. So I decided to stay to 2020. The ability to be able to meet thousands of amazing new people from all over the world, i.e., Africa, England, Scotland, Philippines, Indonesia and France was advantageous. The hardest part of this entire process is learning Mandarin; meanwhile, the easiest part has been touring countrysides and cities learning their culture. Tough life, I know, to extend another year would only make sense, right? Right!
During my stay in Beijing, China I learned that the culture there is entirely different than the culture in other cities, i.e., Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Suzhou. From the pollution, traffic, and the overcrowding of schools, the other towns offer just the opposite to the expat wanting more. Where Shenzhen is my dream city to teach; Suzhou is my dream town to live. I have the best of both worlds. I live in Taicang just outside of Shanghai and Suzhou. A lovely place to call home for another year while I continue to knock on the doors in Shenzhen.
I travel back and forth to the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Indonesia for mini vacations or stays continue to remind me of my hometown again in Orlando, Florida. These villages, towns, and cities all share the same longitude of 81˚ 22′ 22″ West that gives me the comforts of home. I have learned that it is not so much the culture, traditions or the people that make one welcomed in a foreign land, but more so the memories of the people, places, and things that you left behind.
Travel lightly, my friends. Always remember the footprints you leave behind are for those who follow.