What was I expecting before I moved to China? To be honest not that much, partly due to feeling entirely overwhelmed by the whole situation and partly because I had absolutely no idea what to expect. But now that I’ve been here a week I thought I’d reflect on what’s happened so far; what made sense and what took me entirely by surprise.
Let’s start with day one. This one hit me like a slap in the face, I think even research could not have prepared me. I knew that I would have to have a medical check as part of getting health insurance. Here’s what I was thinking would happen: “Do you have any pre-existing illness that are going to be expensive for us to insure. No? Okay, bye.”
Here’s what I was not expecting: “Lie down. Top up. Bra too,” and then having my chest covered in these little sucker things, for whatever reason. I was not expecting to peer into my empty womb through a sonogram machine. I was not expecting to see an xray of my lungs. Or have my height, weight, and BMI tragically discussed with a nurse. Nor was I expecting to have the woman who took my blood be so glad she wore a face mask as it came spurting from my inner-elbow.
My face when I came out each room must’ve been a sight, because the guy helping me from agency laughed harder and harder each time each time I slunk back into the corridor. At least now I know my lungs are healthy, which I gathered from a tap of the screen and a thumbs up from the radiologist.
I don’t particularly have a problem with any of this, I suppose it’s good to have a check up? It was just so … so unexpected.
Even as I boarded the plane to Hong Kong I still don’t think the move had actually sunk in, it was more like, “I’m moving to China lol.” The reality that this decision would lead to hadn’t ever seemed like a possibility. Maybe it was too good to be true? So I was utterly and entirely shocked when I found myself, alone, in my own flat, 16 stories up in the centre of Huihoz, watching the little ant people mill around below me.
I wasn’t expecting to be knocked so sideways by jet lag. And maybe that’s my own naivety, but I honestly feel like a zombie. With a hangover. On my second day I was taken to the school where I would be working, I was thinking it would be for a little meet and greet. But I was wrong, an apparent recurring theme. By the end of the day I was teaching a class on my own. So with absolutely no time to overcome the jet lag I found myself dragging myself from place to place, not really fully aware of what was happening. The fact that I was completely dropped in at the deep end at work did not help. Without having any idea what I was doing, I found myself planning, teaching and preparing presentations on my second day.
I wasn’t expecting to eat a fish eye on day one – I figured at least give it three days. Is that the appropriate amount of adjustment time to eat a fish’s eye? And I definitely wasn’t expecting to spit it out moments like when I found the pupil and the outer edge impossible to chew. Note to self; inner jelly = good, pupil and cornea = very bad.
But here’s what I was expecting that so far have proven true:
I was expecting to feel overwhelmed by the language barrier. Check.
I was expecting to feel homesick. Check.
I was expecting to feel the thrill of the unknown. To feel small in a huge country with so many possibilities and adventures that I could discover. Check check.