An Easier Way: Work Visa

I did not go to Los Angeles over spring break for my visa. I found an easier way, one which I hope every expat teacher learns about far sooner than I did: an agency that is located in Los Angeles, taking my papers to the Consulate for me.

Although I am still waiting for my documents to be mailed back to me, there is already a palpable sense of relief. This has been a series of fiery hoops to jump through, and I’ve yet to feel as if I’m doing it quite right: such tiny things, like handwriting an application rather than typing and printing it out, can get you turned away from the Consulate to try again.

The company I hired to help me is China Visa Service Center. They have locations in cities other than LA, but because I am currently a resident in Arizona, the LA Chinese Consulate is the location I need to send my documents for authentication. With all costs for individual documents, what the Consulate will charge, and shipping fees to get my documents back home, it is less than half the price of a hotel in LA; that’s not including the money I’d have to pay for driving out to California, food and putzing around in the city for a week to wait for my documents to be authenticated.

I’d say that’s pretty good.

After I get these documents authenticated (for me, a teacher, I need a criminal background check and my teaching Master’s degree – both notarized and certified by the state of Arizona), I need to scan and send them back to my school in China. They will then fill out an application for me that will be sent back to me, and I will have to take that application back to the Chinese Consulate a second time to apply officially for my work visa. I am hoping that, if this agency is as effective as I want them to be, then I will be able to hire them a second time for my work visa.

My Next Adventure

I’m moving to Shanghai, China!

This upcoming fall, I will be leaving the States to teach at a middle school in Shanghai. For the first semester of this school year, I have been applying to various international schools and interviewing via Skype at odd hours. It’s been an interesting process, to say the least, but I’m glad that I’ve chosen this path.

This is something I have planned to do long before I’d even decided to be a teacher. My family and I moved around quite a bit, and I lived internationally as a kid; in a way, this feels like the natural next step forward for me.

Even though this is something that I’d wanted to do for so long, it was a surprisingly difficult decision for me at the start of the school year. I’ll miss the school I’m at now. I’ll miss my English team, all of the teachers, and my admin. Of course I’ll miss the kids. I’m in a good place now, and that’s difficult to give up. But this move is definitely right for me, and it comes at the right time in my life.

I’m incredibly excited about this next adventure, and I will be sharing different parts of the process for teachers who may want to consider a similar path. There is, I am sure, a long list of adventures and challenges ahead, and I’m looking forward to them all.

The Good Thing: Sweetwater Trails

Today was an awful day. Like, a really bad, no good, awful day. There was far too much discipline involved, because far too much discipline was needed, and so much of that discipline felt ineffective. Students were snarky and mean and totally apathetic. By the end of the day, holding in my frustration at defiant and disrespectful students (who were being that way while my principal observed me), I was shaking when the bell rang for dismissal.

I’d planned to go on a run after school, and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and not move. My friend, another teacher at the school, came by my classroom after school ended. We’d planned to run together, and after slightly exploding with frustration during our conversation, I grumbled that maybe I shouldn’t go on a run.

“Yeah, you should,” he said. “I had a crappy day too. We’ll feel better after the run.”


He was right. We went to Sweetwater Preserve, which is on the backside of Saguaro National Park, for a short run. It wasn’t my best run, and it wasn’t my longest, but I felt like something had washed clean from my mind when I finished.


Sweetwater Preserve contains a winding, continuously mixing series of trails and loops, and we took several of them to add up the distance. It was right on the brink of raining the entire run (which, in my opinion, makes the desert look just right).

Most of my day was frustrating and filled with pent-up tension. Less than an hour changed that. Note to self: Do the good thing. Whatever that good thing is for yourself, do that. Do the healthy thing for yourself. Especially when you’re mad, and always when you don’t feel like it.