light at the edge of the curtain

6 May

I have less than 2 months left of teaching, and probably about 10.5 weeks before I leave China. My brain almost can’t process this.

I’ve done less traveling than I intended to do, so far. Partially, that’s because I’m not in a convenient location for short visits to interesting places. And partially it’s because I feel like I haven’t had that much time.

In retrospect, I had the most time when I first got here…but during that first month to 6 weeks, I was kind of overwhelmed. I thought about traveling, but I felt like I needed time to settle in here in Jiujiang, and I spent my weekends exploring the city, finding the market, walking around my neighborhood. I didn’t really have someone to show me around; I had to figure most stuff out on my own. And, of course, I spent a lot of time on weekends learning how to plan lessons–teaching took up a lot more of my non-teaching hours, in the beginning. I had moments during those first weekends where I was bored, but on the whole I was getting in the groove of my life here. And I thought I’d have plenty of time to travel later.

And then I got busy. During those first few weeks, I was also building a life here, and I started having plans on weekends. Two weeks ago, I had a 5-day weekend while my students sat their midterms. My travel plans fell through at the last minute, and although I ended up spending time with friends in Jiujiang, I was a little bored with 5 whole days to myself. But, other than that, I’ve been busy.

It’s a tradeoff, I figure, because I’ve traveled less than I wanted to, but I’ve made more friends here than I thought I would, instead. I don’t have other foreigners to travel with and build friendships with. If I travel, it’s alone (unless I go visit a fellow American in another town). When I stay here on weekends, I can spend time with my friends in Jiujiang who are students, or who have families.

I think that the friendships are more of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity than the travel (although I still have plenty of opportunity for that). I can always come back–I can even find someone to pay me to do it! But I won’t ever live and work with these people in this town again. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a little bit sorry that I haven’t seen more of China.

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One Response to “light at the edge of the curtain”

  1. Kathy May 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Erin, travel is nice but relationships are not replaceable.
    This was a great opportunity for you to teach, something you now understand much better.
    Love you,
    Mom

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