Claire in China, Personal, Uncategorized

Breaking up with China [p2]

As you guys have probably noticed, part one was a little long and emotional.

Since I arrived back in the UK on April 6th everything has been a complete roller-coaster.

I arrived late on Friday night, Tuesday was payday and I knew there would be a problem. Of course there was a problem. Despite being told that they would stick to the contract 100% in every matter, they 100% did, and have, not.

I’m going to keep this short and simple, so people can see why I left China as quickly as I did, and why I haven’t gone back.

My exboss asked me to take a week to think about whether or not I wanted to come back to China. On Tuesday when I asked him why I hadn’t been paid his response was ‘we haven’t been able to re-rent out your flat’. Now, as someone who hadn’t yet made their decision about going back, why was he trying to rent my flat when I’d only been gone 4 days? ALAAAAAAAAAAARM BEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLS.

In the following days, and weeks, I’ve had 3 different excuses as to why I wasn’t paid on April 10th.

I’ve had threats of being sued, taken to court, being reported to the police and foreign bureau.

I’ve had insults, nasty comments, lies and over-emotional, angry emails that were clearly written within 5 minutes of reading the email that I had sent. They were unprofessional, unkind and full of lies.

These people were making angry assumptions, putting words in my mouth and even copying their FRIENDS into these emails. People I didn’t know, people who didn’t even work for the company. It was ridiculous.

I had emails saying I had vandalized the apartment, broken the air conditioning on purpose, telling me I was a terrible teacher and that I should have no confidence in myself.

I had messages saying all I was after was ‘lots of money’ and free gifts.

Anyone who knows me will know I don’t do things for ‘freebies’ or ‘gifts’. I feel guilty when our canteen manager gives me a brownie for free, or if my students give me chocolate when they bring coffee to school.

In fact, people insisting I accept gifts such as coffee cups, dinners and whatever else only makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. Especially if said person is supposed to be a manager. I continuously felt as if I was being ‘bribed’ and ‘guilted’ into staying.

In China, I wasn’t actually having days off. Despite not working much at all, my phone was buzzing 24/7 and I was called into the school constantly for ‘paperwork’ or ‘meetings’ or other such things which could have been done on an actual work day.

On my sick day I was called 4 different times, despite being SICK and needing to sleep. Telling them I needed to sleep, my phone kept ringing. I ‘had to’ go to hospital. I ‘had to’ go and get my phone sorted out. I was dragged around the city for a total of 5 hours on my sick day, when I should have been resting. No chance.

I was mentally exhausted and rapidly slipping back into bad habits and it couldn’t continue.

I honestly didn’t expect things to turn out this way. I handed in a resignation letter and offered to work my 30 days notice, as any normal person should. I was denied this. The resignation was accepted and I was suspended immediately. I’m beyond shocked, but I don’t know why because you hear these exact stories coming from China all of the time.

I wanted to use my 30 days notice to figure out something different, a different city or just another option. They made it very obvious that wasn’t going to happen.

And as a person who went to China for the ‘freebies’ I have lost £4,000 in this process and still have not received my salary, actually not a single penny. Why is that? Because contracts in China are absolutely, completely, 100% WORTHLESS. There are some nasty people in the world and unfortunately it’s not always easy to figure out who they are until they screw you over.

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Claire in China, Personal

Pre-China Weekend

As my last weekend in the UK draws to a close, it only seems right to reflect on everything that I’m feeling at the moment. Wow. I am terrified.

Friday was the start of my ‘official’ goodbyes as I met up with a friend who I haven’t seen in over a year, and as soon as we met I instantly felt guilty for being such a rubbish friend to her. I had such a great time catching up and trying to fill each other in on our lives.

Just before meeting some students of mine I had a call from my boss / ex-boss to ask if I wanted to work one final day on Monday, and of course I said yes! So actually the next meet-up wasn’t a goodbye, it was just a really nice, relaxing few hours hanging out and eating burgers, talking about our families and cultures. It was lovely!

That meant my evening plans also weren’t ‘goodbyes’, they turned out to be a fantastic, hilarious, lovely Friday night of catching-up, listening to some great music and laughing at the crazy drunk people.

Saturday was lovely, especially as I had a lie-in! I had lunch with my parents, sister, uncle and my beautiful little cousin. We went to the beach and ate at a family-favourite restaurant called Vesuvio, in Westbourne / Alum Chine. Pizza, pastas, falafel burgers! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmyyy!  My cousin, who’s only five, is one of the smartest, coolest, kindest, funniest children I’ve ever known and I absolutely adore him. His eyes sparkle when he talks and he laughs so honestly it’s amazing. Spending time with him just lifts my mood instantly. The only down side is my instax decided not to work and our pictures didn’t come out.

Saturday afternoon was standard. Football, reading, coffee and a nap. Whilst contemplating packing but really not getting very far with it.

Sunday, today, was pretty wonderful.

My mum, sister and I spent most of the day in Winchester having coffee, lunch, shopping for new work clothes, browsing… The weather was absolutely gorgeous, but bitterly cold.

I watched football, of course, had a little nap and finally made a start on actually packing my clothes. I’m in 9kg out of 30 so far and most of my clothes are packed. Onto the heavy stuff now like shoes, books, make up etc which will take up far too much space.

Since it’s my last Sunday in the UK I decided to make myself a roast dinner, which is my favourite English / comfort meal and it was deeeeeeeeeelicious! Plus, we opened a really special bottle of Doennhoff wine, that my parents gave me for my graduation back in 2016. Oh my gosh. It’s like drinking magical potions. It’s absolutely fantastic wine.

Now I’m sat on my bed surrounded by suitcases, documents, clothes, random things I may or may not need to take to China. With only 3 full days left, I’m 100% not ready yet. I can only hope by Wednesday I have sorted myself out. I still have a lot to do and tomorrow will be an emotional, real goodbyes day.

Goodnight all.

xo

Claire in China, Personal

Checklist for China

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

IN SIX DAYS I WILL BE MOVING ACROSS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD TO CHINA.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Okay. Freak out over. Sort of.
I’m not even kidding when I say I AM SO NERVOUS.
Especially as I’ve had the worst stomach pains ever for 3 days running now and I have NO IDEA WHY!!! Why?! I just hope this isn’t going to continuously happen when I get to China.

This morning started off with us driving to Winton (a small part of Bournemouth) and dropped off EIGHT BAGS of clothes / stationery / random things. EIGHT BAGS. We took a trolley from Waitrose to push them round to the shop because they were so heavy.

I can finally see the floor in my room again!

And of course, being in Winton meant SMMOOOOOOTTTHHHIIIIEEEEESSSSS!!!!!

(The best smoothies IN THE WORLD!)

Next, I needed to stock up on medicine and flu stuff. Thanks to Boots I feel like I’m ready to take on my first cold in China! I’ll be like a walking pharmacy! But hey, I picked up some new, pretty clothes from New Look that I’ll be able to wear casually and for work, so I’m pleased about that.

My auntie made time to have lunch today which was awesome. My auntie is just amazing. Even though there’s not a big age gap between us I’ve always looked up to her and I feel sad that she won’t be ‘just down the road’ anymore. Still, it was great to catch up and say goodbye.

I BOUGHT SOME US DOLLARS! WOOOO! My last currency change was for Switzerland, but getting US dollars was weirdly exciting despite how totally dull the money actually is. Swiss money is kinda cool, pretty even. But no, not the dollars.

THEN. OMG. My parents, amazingly and wonderfully, agreed to lend me some money to buy a new phone. My iPhone SE is seriously giving up on life right now and it’s been driving me insane for weeks. I planned to wait until I arrived in China before buying a new phone but I changed my mind. As much as I’d liked to have spent £2-300 on a phone, not £700+, I wanted an iPhone. They make my life so much easier. I was originally deciding between the 7 and 8, but after looking at the cameras and talking to a few of the staff, I went with the 8 PLUS!

Aaaaaaaaaaah. My poor bank! Well, future bank balance. My current debt to my dad is ratherrrr a large number.

It’ll be worth it. I haven’t had chance to try out the camera yet but I need a proper case before I dare take it out of the house. I bought a shatter-proof screen today and then realised I’d applied it OVER the plastic sheet. How stupid can someone be? Ugh.

Anyway! The rest of the day was spent backing up phones / ipods etc and trying to relax. Not that I could since my stomach is still giving me so much pain, for some bizarre reason.

Then at 8pm we decided to do our weekly shop… wow is it nice shopping with no one else around. I stocked up on coffee beans to take to China, just in case there’s nothing decent in the town I’m moving to. And when I say town, I mean it’s a town by Chinese standards. By ours it’s probably a country. Ha.

And that’s it for now.

Less than one week to go and I still need to buy some insurance, decide what I’m actually taking and organise some sort of teaching materials. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK.

Stay tuned guys xo

Personal

When the teacher becomes the student.

Since it’s Monday, now’s the perfect time to reflect on the weekend, amiright?

Well, WOW.

I wish every weekend was as wonderful as the one just gone.
Since I’ve only got a week (ish) left in England, some of my students wanted to organise a day together as a thank you / goodbye for me.

I’m not going to lie when I say my anxiety kicked in. I thought of all the millions of things that could go wrong, such as, they’ll realise I’m actually a complete moron, I’m the world’s fussiest eater, I’m not at all funny, I’m really lame, I’m totally boring…

Thanks for that little visit anxiety.

I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

We met for breakfast in this tiny, but amazing, Mediterranean cafe and had huge plates of falafel, hummous, breads and really delicious tea! We sat for about 2 hours just relaxing and eating – I wish every day started off that way!

We took a bus over to Poole (it took an hour!) but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which meant walking around the town centre and along the harbor was just lovely! And much to two of the boys’ disgust, we went into the local museum. They weren’t impressed, which made us giggle like school girls.

I enjoyed it! But I’ve also been there before. It’s four floors of history about Poole, the harbor and has lots of artifacts and pictures – some of them are really, really, old!

Due to our trip to the museum we missed the last boat of the day, and that was probably the only disappointment of the day, since the skies were clear blue and none of us had been on a boat trip in absolutely years! Thankfully the boys rescued us with their AMAZING Arabic coffee – I’m completely in love with that stuff and really need to find out where I can buy some so I can make it at home.

We sat under one of the gazebos, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and laughing about the most random of things. It was such a calm, simple 30 minutes but it was perfect!

Since we missed the boat, and the guys didn’t want to play crazy golf, we decided to head back to Bournemouth so we could go bowling! I haven’t been in years and since the new place opened in the centre it made it really convenient. After Ahmed and I totally smashed the others at table football, we had two extremely competitive games of bowling!

Thankfully I won the first game (huge surprise! I’m usually terrible!) and the second game I was, true to my normal standards, absolutely awful. It didn’t matter at all because we all had some terrible goes, a few spares each, but mostly it was just such fun. We laughed almost the entire time we were playing, despite the obvious competitive streak some of us have!

It wasn’t late enough for dinner once we’d finished but we all agreed on one thing, we needed coffee. We sat on the balcony at Aruba for about 2 and a half hours just talking about everything and nothing. Families, football, travelling, languages – everything! 

I’m still processing some of the things I learnt that day. I learnt so much about Spain and Saudi Arabia and it’s all so fascinating – we could have talked for another few days about it all and it still wouldn’t have been enough!

Dinner was the same – we barely stopped talking! Pizza Express was extremely impressive and we all shared pastas and pizza – delicious food! We sat until nearly 11pm, until the restaurant was closing. I’d never thought it was possible to spend 12 hours with people without running out of things to say, but it is!

I honestly wasn’t ready for the day to end and I can only say how much I wish every Saturday was just like that.

For once, I wasn’t teaching (well, not really), I was listening, learning, being taught new things! I haven’t enough words to say how grateful I am for everything that happened on Saturday.

It’s been hard to socialize lately. Friends have moved away, or they work full time, or they’re not free until I’m finally home relaxing or without the car. Which made this day even more amazing that my students took time to plan a day out with me.

Plus Laura got me this adorable mug!

Thank you so, so much guys.

Personal, travel

China, are you ready?

SO after 8 weeks of waiting for my work permit to be issued, I finally received the email last Sunday saying it was all done and ready for me to apply for my visa.

With Chinese New Year on the 16th, I knew I wouldn’t have enough time if I waited until Monday, so I applied for an emergency 48 hour visa (£250!) and sure enough, I had my passport back in my hands on Friday afternoon.

WOW! This is it guys… I am going to China. For real this time.

March 1st 2018.

I need to pack…

health, Personal

Time To Talk – Mental Health Day

February 1st. It’s time to talk.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably have seen a few of my posts where I’ve talked about my depression and anxiety, or maybe you’ve seen my Instagram posts.

I no longer feel the need to hide or shy away from my struggles and I no longer feel embarrassed talking about the things I’ve experienced.

NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and cared for, to feel hope and happiness, love and laughter – especially on their darker days.

I don’t wait until February 1st to talk about this, I try and talk about it at least once a month because although each of us experience things differently, just one shared experience may help one other person in some way. However, February 1st is the big day to talk and it would be ridiculous for me not to be a part of that.


What led to my depression, anxiety and PTSD is nothing out of the ordinary, and in many ways I feel ashamed that it affected me so badly when other women have suffered far worse events that I ever did. Over time I have learned to accept that I was entitled to my suffering, because what I experienced was the worst thing I had, in my life, been faced with. You cannot measure how much suffering someone should endure based on what they are faced with. Some people are able to handle so much worse than others, some people crumble at the slightest thing. THAT IS OKAY. 

One thing you have to learn to do is do not compare your struggle to others’.

Your struggle is yours.

Your pain, your darkest days are not for others to judge or to comment on.

This is one of the toughest parts of dealing with my depression. Was accepting what had happened, accepting that yes, many people have dealt with far worse than I have, but that will not change the pain I felt or take away the experiences I had.


The most important thing about your mental health is not to suffer in silence.

I know what it’s like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Fake a smile. Push yourself into those social situations you’re completely dreading. Get dressed every day and pretend your life is absolutely fine, when all you really want to do is hide under the bed covers and cry for hours and hours.

You do what you need to do. If you need to stay in bed all day, eat pizza and doughnuts and cry, do it. BUT you need to be talking to someone. Whether it’s an online friend, someone on instagram, your mum, your best friend, a partner, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse. SOMEONE will listen. Someone will want to support you and help you through this.

The harsh part about mental health is not everyone is equipped to deal with it. Not everyone wants to be around the ‘sad person’ or the ‘party pooper’. But dyou know what we say to them? Fuck it. Fuck it. and Fuck you. If people don’t even try and understand or support you, stay away from them. You do not need that negativity in your life. Believe me.

Anyone who truly cares about you will support you, be there for you, try and get you through your darker moments. Don’t get me wrong, no one can be there for you 24/7, and they won’t be, because everyone has their own life to get on with, but that does not mean that they don’t care. 

I was extremely lucky, after 2 years of battling it out on my own, I admitted defeat and went home to live with my mum again. I stopped working. I saw a counselor. I took time for me. My mum went to work every day, and on her days off she cooked for me, we went shopping, we watched movies. We cried, we cried a lot. I was awful. Miserable. I felt like I was living in hell and all I wanted to do was end it all. Without my mum, I would have done. I would not be alive right now if it wasn’t for my mum’s never ending support.

And I understand that not everyone will have that, and that makes it worse. But, whether you have one person, or 10 people, you will have someone who will help you.

Please, please, please do not go through your dark days alone. Okay?

Promise me. 


I don’t like to say I’ve been ‘cured’ of depression and anxiety, because some days it hits me like a tonne of bricks. However, in the past year I fought with my own self to become a better, stronger and more capable person. I faced my fears of going back to work. I faced my fears of starting something new (a teaching career) and I faced my fears by openly admitting to my depression and anxiety on the days when I needed to care for myself. I learned to put myself first. Before my shame, before my fears.

The results were amazing.

I lost weight for the first time in 3 years (a lot of it).

I made friends.

I started reading again.

(P.S. Reading Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ made me realise I could have a life AND deal with a mental illness at the same time. This woman changed the way I faced my depression. I owe her big time!)

I started working. And I absolutely love my job.

(Although mental health in the work place, in general, is a huge issue. I may blog about this separately because it’s so important.) But I still get the ‘tuts’ and ‘eye rolls’ if I say I need a day off / at home / self-care day. It’s infuriating. 

I found a new enthusiasm for life.

I went on holiday alone.

I found a reason to feel alive again.


It isn’t easy. None of it is. Even without a mental health issue to deal with, everyone has bad days and none of them are pleasant. You’re not alone.

My message from this post is to please, please reach out to someone. Find the people you can trust, find a kind person on instgram (believe me, there are plenty!) and just talk.

If all else fails, I’m also here for anyone that feels like they want to rant, vent, talk to or share their worries – or even their positive vibes!

You are never alone.


#TimeToTalk


NHS advice for if you’re feeling suicidal here

Mind – A fantastic mental health charity that works nation wide to support people with mental health issues.