I’m Becoming A Professional Panda Cuddler

Just kidding! I haven’t made another career change and left you in the dark!

Just an impending continent change.

As the cat was already let out of the bag, I figured that my return to the Orient and imminent departure from Europe warranted an explanation of sorts (even though I’m sure many aren’t surprised I’m returning to Asia). So, here goes.

While Asia is by far my favorite continent, it wasn’t my initial intention to return so soon to re-set up shop. As you may or may not know, I successfully passed all my exams over the holidays, and the next step was to secure a position in an international school, which took its time to secure, but secure it did! As any plan takes its course while developing, I first had my wallet set on Dubai (then I decided I wanted to keep my rights), then came South America (but alas, I’m too new a teacher to get any interest. Sad face), then I finally circled back to Asia (and HELLO interviews). While I can’t even give you a ballpark of how many schools the world over I applied to, I have happily accepted a position at Kang Chiao International School within their East China Campus’ Bilingual division. This means my third home-away-from-home is going to be set against the backdrop of Shanghai. That’s right – China is receiving me next, and I’d be a big fat liar if I said I wasn’t scared.

For starters, when I think of China, many unpleasantries come to mind, such as: trough toilets, gutter oil, yellow dust, dog festivals, the great firewall, fashion masks for hopeful breathing, and mystery meat.

However, while that pupu platter is scary, I’m trying to instead focus on those fascinating traits that originally caused Asia to flood my heart, and then get back to exploring even more! Even though I spent three years in Korea, the only countries I didn’t make it to in ASIA Asia are anything Chinese. I feel like a giant asshole having never been to the biggest part of the continent, but now is the time! And now is also the time to conquer the Myanmar, the India, the Hong Kong, the Mongolia, the Taiwan, and the Russia of it all.

The travel excitements go without saying, so some other whathaveyous that I’m super excited to have in my life are: Pandas. PANDAS! Cuddling a Panda in Chengdu is definitely going to happen. Then there’s noodles and FLAVORS and hot pot. I can’t wait to be back in a place where flavor is bursting all over the place (sorry Spain and your love of salt). Dumplings because, well, dumplings. In fact, there are already plans to venture to a new Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong sometime in September with my Korean Kookster in Krime soon to become China Chingu, Chrissy. I’m excited for Chinese temples, stepping foot on The Great Wall, spending a Chinese New Year IN China, and learning so much about a massive world power that I know nearly nothing about.

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The only thing I liked about the Shanghai Pudong Airport during my brief 2012 layover.

Oh, and of course while I’m not exploring and cuddling Pandas, I’ll be tasked with teaching even more cute little elementary hoishis Language Arts, and depending on their level, History, Geography and some other subjects as well. I’m leaving the co-teaching life behind to have my own students, plan all my own lessons, have my own classroom and full control. This will be a couple steps up from Korea, and a giant leap up from my job in Spain. It’ll be an adjustment, but I’m really thrilled for the new experience and responsibilites, and in a school that looks so incredibly beautiful and majestic on their website. The school is massive and there will be around 150 foreign teachers, 3 of which I hope are normal.

This position will also allow me to get experience in the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, provide many opportunities for professional development, and I’ll have a massive amount of technology at my fingertips.  The whole application process caused me a lot of anxiety once I started getting offers from schools in China, and I’m so happy with the decision I’ve made for the next jump.

Of course, as with when any chapter ends, I’m starting to get the pangs of sadness that go along with leaving a place that has been home. Even though Madrid and I never hit it off (as is demonstrated by this here blog), this country is exquisite and diverse beyond belief. I keep reminding myself to look up at all the beautiful buildings and perfectly crisp blue skies, because in 4 months those will be replaced by grey skies and communist blocks. I’m hugging my kids a little tighter, getting my brain and paperwork in gear for what’s to come, making plans to explore the still unexplored, and hardcore lighting the fire under my Greek Lamb’s ass to get his foot on the gas so we can have many more days of exploring and eating on a new continent together.

And voila! Have you ever visited, lived in, or taught in China? Do you have any tips for me, or any must-sees or abandoned places I must hit up? Do let me know in the comments!