A week feels like a year, and summer is officially here. A little over a week ago, the last day of school came and went; I’m a few days into my job at a summer camp, and trying to find routine.
Yesterday, I received the most important email of the last year. My work visa for China has been approved. I read the email repeatedly, sitting poolside in the last few minutes of my summer camp shift, trying to absorb the information. It’s real. It’s really happening, and I’m really moving to China. This process of getting the work visa – a five month long, high stress process – is over, and the biggest task remaining is to buy a one way ticket to Shanghai.
Transitions will always feel strange, I think, though this one feels stranger than most. I remember conversations in Indiana cornfields with high school friends, listing all the places we’d planned to travel. There was a period in college, when I decided to become a teacher, that a slow understanding grew: I really could move abroad, and make good on those daydreams. There was the summer before grad school, when I took a 100-hour course to become certified to teach English as a Second/Foreign Language, and I dreamed of all the places I could go; and I watched several friends go to those places, while I finished my Bachelor’s and headed to my Master’s. I remember the feeling of defeat after months of planning to move to South Korea, during a politically shaking period between governments; I remember the color of the sky at dusk, in a friend’s front lawn, accepting the position of teaching English in a Tucson middle school. The conversations with a friend, en route to Senegal at the time, about how this shouldn’t be considered a failure but a detour. The painful experiences of teaching for the first year. The singular goal of finding a job abroad during my second year, the interviews at night and early morning, the constant searching, the second and third interview for a school in China, the runs around my neighborhood to think about what I wanted. The moment when I told my family, all at once, that I accepted a position in Shanghai, China.
This plan is almost ten years in the making. It feels sudden for some people who know me, but it does not feel sudden to me. I’ve thought about this, daydreamed about this, and planned this for several long years. Perhaps that is why this transition feels so different from others I’ve made in the past – to stand on this cliff, ready to take the leap into the real unknown, after such a long journey, is a singular experience for me. It feels like the next natural step. It also feels surreal, and a little frightening in the moments that I fully understand what I am in the process of doing.
In the dog days of summer, I will have one of the most odd and exciting transitions of my life. And as odd and exciting as it feels, I do think I’m ready. As ready as you can be to move to China alone, anyway.