I’ve been pretty silent on here for the last few weeks since my last post. Honestly, it’s been difficult to get my thoughts into order to convey how I’ve been feeling. A few days after my last post, I hit an all time low. I was ready to throw in the towel and give my one month notice. Over that weekend, one of my roommates decided to leave without telling anyone beforehand. I was the only one he said goodbye to and he only told me about his plans on the morning that he was leaving. That was a huge blow for me as it came so close after my own revelation of how miserable I felt here. It didn’t help that I was losing one of the few people (or maybe the only person) I had made a connection with. Standing there in my empty apartment was the loneliest I could ever remember feeling. I just kept thinking how I would miss the holidays with my family and that I didn’t want to be here. Feeling like I couldn’t stand it anymore, I finally broke down. The thought of being here for even another 4 months left me feeling completely hopeless. I was lonely, bitter, disappointed and felt like I completely missed why I was here in the first place. I was completely out of my depth and felt totally inadequate in every way. I spent the entire weekend shut up in my room, dreading for Monday to come.
But come it eventually did and I woke up more exhausted than I have ever been before in my life. I told Amy about how our roommate had left and how I wasn’t too far behind. I told her how I planned to wait until the end of October before I made my official decision, though I felt my heart was pretty dead set on leaving. However, as the day wore on, my Monday self was beginning to soften. Going home from work on Monday evening filled me with a sense of relief that I made it through the day. Maybe I could make it through another?
Tuesday morning came and brought with it some familiar faces from home. The director of my organization from Northwest University came and was touring the different schools in China that my Alma Mater is connected to and was visiting the teachers they had hired. I met with her and told her of my frustrations, struggles, and feelings of inadequacies and how I was considering putting my notice in. However, I wanted to give it time and another chance to turn things around before I officially decided anything. Reaching out and voicing my feelings definitely helped and she promised she would try to do whatever she could to help with my frustrations on the teaching side of things by providing extra resources and support. For the first time since I’ve been here, I felt hopeful that things could get better. Later that week, Amy, my supervisor, and I decided it would be beneficial to try to meet once or twice a week to discuss teaching plans and strategies and establish more teacher support between us. It turned out that I was not the only one who felt the pressure and so far having that support has definitely helped.
One thing I began to realize as the weeks have worn on was that maybe my roommate’s frustrations and negativity were beginning to impact my own perception of my experience here. That isn’t to say that the problems weren’t prevalent, because they definitely were and some of them still are. However, I believe that by constantly dwelling on the things that were wrong and being stuck in a cycle of pessimism and negativity, it became increasingly more difficult for me to adapt and cope with the culture around me. I feel like over the last few weeks I have finally been able to get into a routine and settle into life here. Although I wish my roommate could have found contentment here as well, maybe his departure was for the best for all involved.
I don’t think I can quite say that I have found happiness here yet, but I can say that day by day things are getting better. I’ve begun to put myself out there more, I have begun to form friendships with the people around me, and I have begun to open myself up to finding things I can appreciate about this place. I am beginning to feel hopeful that I can make it to the end of the semester and maybe even finish out the year. For the first time since I’ve been here, I feel like my contract is an opportunity and a promise rather than a burden. Life may not be perfect, but it is my life for the next foreseeable future and I am making the decision to find peace in that. The grass isn’t always guaranteed to be greener on the other side, but it will always be greener where you choose to water it.