I’m at that interesting point in my ESL career when everyone (including me) suddenly realizes I’m going home. It’s still two months away, but I know that it’s going to go fast. It’s weird how it happens all at once. For example, I had to book a flight to make it to my sister’s wedding. At the same time, students started trickling into my office to say they will miss me, or to ask if I’m coming back. A day or two later, Web made me an offer to extend my contract. I’ve started looking into going back to school and considering job options in Portland. I’m suddenly thinking about getting back into the swing of my “real life” at home, which now seems like a very distant memory. I almost feel like I will be traveling back in time, rather than starting a new chapter.

And I’m suddenly thinking fondly about the things I will soon be part of again at home. Fall in Portland is breathtaking and exhilarating. Suddenly, everyone is busy with school and work. Life becomes very full and the pace picks up. The football season starts and suddenly the air is crisper than ever. Everyone wants to grab hold of that last bit of summer before winter sets in, and I find myself wandering around Pioneer Square and Powell’s, drinking coffee, and just breathing it all in.

To be honest, part of me really wanted to stay longer, which is a bit shocking. I never thought I’d want to stay for a year. I got off to a rocky start with Web when they tried playing games and lying about the contract. Besides, the plan was always to work for 6 months and then get on with life and plans at home. I hate the lessons and Web’s approach to learning, but the students and the experience really makes it worthwhile. As I near the end of my time here, I can’t help but think that it would make sense to do another 6 months, make a little more money, and give myself time to work out the next step.

I was expecting Web to make an offer and I had a number in mind. It caught me off guard, however, when they made an offer for a full year. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but I really thought they would offer me something for another 6 months. Two contracts at 6 months each seemed logical since that would be like a standard year contract. The offer was close to what I had in mind, which would have been a good deal for 6 months, but was a low-ball offer for 12 month. If I was going to do a full year contract I could get much better offer in a place like Suzhou, which would be a very exciting place to live an work. I’m going to turn the offer down. Web is pretty desperate for teachers, so they might make a counter offer. We’ll see how it goes but in reality I think we might be too far apart.

I know that, whatever happens, the next two months will go by very quickly and there will be a lot of big changes. Most likely, I will be home and feeling a little confused about how to reintegrate. It’s a little scary. For now, I’m just going to work hard to get ready, and enjoy my time in China with my students and friends.


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