Short stories & travel reports from a life spent living, working and exploring the globe.
Challenged In China!
In the summer of 2009 I finally called time on what had been a transformative four and a half years in Belgium. The economic crisis was in full swing, hitting my wife’s recruitment job pretty hard. S and I had never really loved Brussels and felt like a change of scenery would do us both the world of good. We had all the usual dreams of course: a home to truly call our own, kids, pets, all that jazz. But we figured everything could wait a year. S and I had never really travelled together, so we hatched a plan to pick a country, get English teaching jobs and see as much as we could in our off time.
I honestly don’t recall how we ended up choosing China. But I do know we totally underestimated the vast cultural differences and professional challenges that awaited us in Beijing. I remember being so cocky; after all, I’d lived in Qatarand Slovakia, I’d backpacked around India. I’d seen it all, right? Wrong!
My first year in China turned out to be an incredible assault on the senses. We explored Beijing inside out, meeting a bunch of wonderful and not so wonderful people along the way. I’m also pretty happy with how much of the country I got to see, with extended trips before and after our teaching contracts, not to mention the generous vacation days given during National Holiday week and Chinese New Year. It was a truly action-packed twelve months that spawned countless anecdotes and stories. In the end, I settled on eighteen tales from this period, so why not dive deep into my short story collection Challenged in China.