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.


Depression always returns

Hey guys! I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting my China updates… the internet here is so unbelievably slow. Half the time I can’t even load Instagram or even my browser. I’m missing all the Instagram posts and barely keep in touch with people.

I have maxed out my hard drive and can’t upload photos via my phone because it takes too long and I don’t want to half-ass post about China.

One thing I do want to write about very briefly is how much I’m struggling here. I’m not even denying how difficult I’m finding it.

This city is so weird. It’s so small but the noise is non-stop. There’s nowhere to relax, nowhere to hide. It’s full on. There’s hardly anything to do here. One bar, one wine shop, two small malls which get boring after a few visits. Everyone points or stares or takes photos of me. Because I’m white. This place is beyond backwards.

I’m miserable.

All my depression signs are seeping back into my life.

I can’t eat. I don’t care about what I do eat. I’m not exercising. I’m angry and bitter ALL THE TIME. I cry at night. I cry randomly during the day. I’m so negative about every little thing. I’m utterly disappointed in myself for choosing to move here. It couldn’t be a bigger mistake. Why did I leave my lovely job back home? I hate being here.

I knew when I kept telling myself I’d beaten depression that it wasn’t true. I knew it would end up coming back to me somehow.

Now what the hell do I do? How can I beat it again?


Giving up


I’ve been here 14 days now and I’ve had enough.

I haven’t slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night, and the last 4 nights I’ve only had about 3 hours.

I am absolutely exhausted.

The noise level in every single metre of this city is ridiculous.

I can’t take it any more.

I just want to go home.

Claire in China, Uncategorized

48 hours in China

Mayday mayday… I’m homesick as BLEEEEEP.

I apologise for not updating yesterday, I’m using my UK SIM card for internet on my phone and it’s costing me AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE!! Thank god I left money in my UK bank account. Wow. So far £8 per day. My entire phone bill, when I finally get a China SIM card is only going to cost £11 per month for UNLIMITED DATA and UNLIMITED HOME WIFI!!! £11 guys!!

Okay I’ll back track a little,

Thursday morning we woke up in Ringwood to a fair amount of snow. Like, more snow than we’ve had in Ringwood for about 7 years. Bournemouth had more! My sister and I layered up over our PJs and went outside to take photos before we froze to death. 2 days layer there was about 2ft of snow in Bournemouth. It’s safe to say I’m quiet envious of everyone. ,y colleagues and students went sending me photos of the snow, snowball fights, classes were cancelled. I can’t believe I missed out!

On the hand… this is what I got up to.

My first flight was cancelled so they put me on one at 8:35pm, after my parents dropped me off at 1pm. I was 3kg over on my baggage allowance and I could see the woman wanted to charge me but after about 30 seconds of contemplation she just warned me about being more careful next time. If only she knew how much I had left behind already. My hand luggage was heavy and killing my shoulders, but thankfully UK security is always really easy and well organised.

I wandered around and around terminal 3 for hours, had some food, coffee, walked some more… I won’t lie, I hate terminal 3. It’s so boring. The shops are totally overpriced and pointless. Finally 7:20 arrived and I could go to the gate. Everyone was running around like headless chickens and at least it gave me, and the guy next to me, something to laugh about.

Luckily, I sat next to two lovely ladies who were on their way to Hanoi! And I had no one sat behind me! So the flight was relatively comfortable, even though I have always struggled with flying. I can never, ever sleep. I’m never comfortable. This flight wasn’t too bad. I watched Coco (it’s ADORABLE!! You have to see it!!) and my favourite, Walk the Line (I’m still singing the soundtrack now) and Wonder (with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) which was a truly moving film. I think I cried at least 4 times! Plus, ordering an Indian vegetarian meal was the best decision ever – absolutely delicious!!

Unfortunately we were delayed by an hour, which meant we landed AFTER my connecting flight had taken off. There were at least 10 of us in this situation and the minute we stepped off the plane there were about 5 different ground staff helping us. Each passengers name was on a big board and we had new boarding passes issued. I still only had 30 minutes before the next flight took off so I ran through the airport, getting totally lost as I forgot you go through a transfer security check in Hong Kong and absolutely no one was helpful in directing me on WHERE THE HELL I NEEDED TO BE. I was the last one on the transfer bus and finally made it onto the plane.

That flight was also delayed by 45 minutes and they had no vegetarian food, despite offering me the choice of pre-ordering it. So I had a salad and glass of Russian orange juice, which was bright luminous orange and tasted bizarre! I’m still alive though.

Once I arrived in Shanghai, it was all quite simple and I was pleasantly surprised, thinks ‘ooh this is easy’. WRONG CLAIRE. WRONG!!!!! My bags arrived very quickly and as I looked for the exit I felt something just shy of horror. A SEA OF PEOPLE. AN OCEAN. OH MY GOD. And what were they waiting for? Yes, the exit. But why the queue? A bag scan. At the exit. So everyone was queueing up to have their bags scanned before they leave the airport. In theory this makes sense, but it is NOT PRACTICAL AT ALL. There is one X-ray machine, one thin line and about 400 people all trying to push, shove and barge their way through. Twice I had my ankles clipped by some douche with a trolley. As if that’s going to get you anywhere faster mate! Ugh.

My boss’ stepfather in law (lol) was collecting me, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor did he accept my friend request on wechat (basically Chinese what’sapp) so I messaged my boss and his wife to see what had happened. 20 minutes later he finally showed up, it turns out he had been waiting in the car lol. Not very helpful, especially as I was hungry, tired and very cold. We took a taxi from Shanghai Pudong airport over to a hotel next to Shanghai Hongqiao airport, which took over an hour as we dropped one guy off in a different part of town. This was a culture shock, this drive. Ready for this? 1, they chain smoke IN THE CAR! Now for some people that might be normal, but I felt like my asthma was coming back after 20 years. And 2, they spit. All the time. With noise. With force. Oh my god it’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever experienced. I really, really hate spitting. I find it vile and offensive (you may remember my previous post on manners? Haha)

When I finally arrived at the hotel, the staff were rude. Their English was fine, I didn’t really need to use my Chinese but they were very short tempered and were happy to let another couple push in front of me WHILST THEY WERE CHECKING ME IN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No way. I don’t think so.

It took them half an hour and 3 phone calls to check me in. My boss was going to pay over the phone and they just weren’t happy with it. It was gone midnight before I finally got to my room. It was noisy. Kids were running up and down the corridor, people were shouting, etc. So I jumped in the shower, spent forever washing my hair and then ages drying it. Everyone else was making a noise so why not, right? I fell asleep around 1:30am, and had to wake up at 5:30 to get the shuttle bus to the airport.

TWO COUPLES shoved me out of the way to get on the bus. Not a single person helped me with my 4 bags. And this kid was jumping around and shouting. Talk about a painful start to the day. And at the entrance of the airport was that bloody X-ray machine!! Aaaagh it’s such a nightmare! It’s logical in theory but not at all in practice. Again, no one offered to help me, but they certainly didn’t mind shoving me or my cases out of the way!! Check in took ages and the place was like a zoo. I had to pay for excess baggage, which I knew I would. For 13kg over I only paid about £20! They charge £30 per extra kilo back home so I was ridiculously lucky. I barely had time to grab a croissant from costa before heading to the plane. Of course I was the only white person. And I had a window seat next to a rather large woman who was immediately hacking, coughing and spitting into a bag, all whilst shouting down the phone to someone. I was horrified and I think it showed on my face. The air hostess looked at me and said, ‘excuse me mam, would you like to sit at the front?’ YES I BLOODY WOULD!!!!!!!!! I could have hugged her, or cried. I did neither. But I did enjoy my flight in peace and with a little extra space.

The flight was less than an hour and weirdly, we had to have the blinds down and all of the lights off as we landed. Very bizarre. The airport was minute. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a small airport in my life. We were inside within about 30 seconds of stepping off of the plane. It was dark, dirty and very eerie I must say.

One of my colleagues came to pick me up, which was certainly appreciated, and the drive into the city reminded me so much of Phuket, except for the tropical island thing. It was run down, barren almost. People were working in fields, little huts were people’s homes. The traffic is as mental as I remember. No one follows any rules, everyone beeps continuously for absolutely no reason and you almost feel like you won’t make the drive.

We went straight to the school were I met my boss’ wife and some other colleagues, who all seem lovely and the school itself is amazing. So many lovely pictures, paintings and BOOKS!! The cutest book corner. After dropping off my heavy bags we went to Starbucks for breakfast, and later on I met my boss. I first interviewed with him 3 months ago, so we’ve spoken quite a bit since then but he is just as nice as I imagined. Very professional but a decent person, that’s already obvious.

The contract for my apartment had just been signed so he helped my take my suitcases over, and I finally got to rest. The apartment is awesome. There is so much space!!! I’m fully expecting people to come out and visit me, ok guys? I have TWO BEDROOMS!!! The only thing I find odd is the bathrooms in China, and I know Taiwan is the same, but a toilet and a shower right next to each other?? With no shower basin?? So the shower sprays aaaaaall over the toilet. It’s bizarre and I totally do not understand this! And my hearing doesn’t work at the moment, but that’s apparently because the remote batteries are dead. Even though the remote turns on. We’ll see what happens when I replace the batteries later. Haha. “This is China!”

So I tried to sleep but I was cold, hungry and didn’t yet have a kettle. Or any water. Which meant nothing to drink, eat and no hot water bottle. I had awful stomach cramps and really needed medicine and some comfort. But hey, I survived. Around 4pm Vivi, one of my colleagues, brought over some things for the flat and took me to try and get a SIM card, which didn’t work out, so I took a walk along the river and then a taxi to one of the nearby malls. It was awesome!

Wan da plaza

It’s brilliant. Loads of restaurants, some fresh fruit stalls, fruit juice, ice cream, whatever you’d want!

Plus, my favourite kind of stores. The stationery, random crap, weird phone cases types of shops. Of course everyone was staring at me or following me around, but I felt happy. I could buy things and not break the bank. Of course it’s not as cheap as it used to be when I first lived in China but it’s still much cheaper than the UK! Then went to the supermarket to buy a few essentials. Some girls asked if they could have my trolley because they didn’t have coins, I said yes,and they were adamant that they wanted to send me the 1 yuan (10p!) by the Chinese version of PayPal (more of less) and they were horrified when I said it didn’t matter. That was a funny, odd, experience. I also bought a stove kettle for £2 – hahaha! Who even uses those anymore?

The taxi home cost me £1! What a bargain hey?!

I couldn’t be bothered to cook so I had some koala crackers for dinner and made myself a hot water bottle. Out the new bedding on my bed, grabbed my hoodie and fluffy socks and jumped into bed.

10pm to 9am of sleep, with a 3am snack and quick chat to my mum.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I cried myself to sleep last night. The homesickness hit hard just before bed. Actually whilst making my bed. It’s the only household chore I hate and my mum almost always helps me do it, this was just another reminder of how far away she is. I didn’t think homesickness would really happen, and certainly not this quickly, but it has. It’s here.

I woke up feeling it. I’ve cried at least 6 times today and it’s only 3pm.

  • I cried when my jeans got soaked in the rain.
  • I cried when they couldn’t issue me a SIM card.
  • I cried when I heard despacito playing.
  • I cried when this kid pointed at me and called me American.
  • I cried saying goodnight to my mum
  • I cried because the ‘taco’ restaurant is actually a steakhouse.
  • I cried when I couldn’t find Starbucks.
  • I cried when I instagrammed about being homesick.
  • I’m crying now as I write this.
  • I’m crying stupidly now about how much I’ve been crying.

Dear god please make my brain realise that being here is a good decision.

I keep trying to remind myself that being here, on my own, without my ex, is so much better than if he was here with me. Being here in my own is 100% the right decision for me and my future. I just hope I am strong enough to stick it out, and not run home like a little baby.

So as I sit here in Starbucks, trying to feel a little normal, I realise I’ve been writing this blog post for an hour, and during this time about 40 people have stared at me, 5 or 6 have pointed at me. I realise that things could be worse. I could be out of a job, struggling for money, trying to get people to notice me, like me, talk to me. I’m certainly not short of the first and third thing here. Everyone’s looking, everyone’s trying to talk. Tomorrow I am meeting so foreign locals for dinner and from talking to them online they seem really nice! Tuesday is football day. I have a lot to look forward to, I just hope it works out.

On a side note, I took a weird electric tuktuk taxi thing to get here, thinking it would be cheaper, the bloke charged me more than double what the taxis do and then had a fist fight with a guy and wouldn’t give me my change…. are you freaking kidding me?!?

I’ll wrap this post up now, I want to head off and find some food and craft stuff. Possibly an extra jumper and a pair of slippers, as it’s only 5°C here!


I’m back to where I started this morning, all because no where in this city seems to have working wifi.


Ok so the second mall I went to was good fun, I already like it there. I managed to buy a sketchbook, FINALLY some nail files, after looking in about 7 different shops!! I got called ugly, by a woman who definitely wasn’t attractive, and then I cried some more.

I took a taxi home, thinking there was a cafe with wifi nearby. WRONG!! Then I walked to two different cafes and neither of them had wifi, so I kept walking, for 25 minutes just to use a western toilet and finally get to a Starbucks with working wifi. All I wanted to do today was talk to my mum. I can’t wait to get a working sim card so I can stay at home and talk to people.

Anyway, I’ve also decided to start a YouTube channel, please let me know if you watch it and if you have any tips! My username is gzxklair and I’ve also made a hashtag for Instagram #gzxklairinchina


Happy Sunday everyone and stay tuned!


Claire in China, Uncategorized

8 days until the BIG MOVE!

Moving to China? Yes, I am.

In eight days, to be exact.
I am absolutely terrified.

Last week I took three huge bags to the charity shop and threw out another two.
Today I have five bags for the charity shop and another two for rubbish.

The closer I get to leaving, the more I have to get rid of.
Why have I hoarded so much crap over the last few years? I really don’t know.

What I do know is, I’m ready for a new start. Terrified, but ready.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Book 20 of January.
Book 20 of 2018.

I picked this book up in Sainsburys for £3.99 the other day (yay for Sainsbury’s books!) because I’d seen it on sooooo many peoples’ book instagrams, in the shops and in the Waterstones newsletter. I couldn’t keep ‘not buying’ it, right?

I’m currently off work for two days with an on-going issue, so I’ve mainly been sleeping, reading on the sofa or eating avocados.

I started the book the night before last and really struggled to put it down when I needed to sleep. It had me laughing continuously for at least 70% of the book, even though I knew something disturbing was either going to happen, or be revealed.

Sometimes I feel like Eleanor. I feel like not talking to anyone for days at a time. However, I thought about it and actually, I’m not like her at all. I couldn’t possibly not talk to people for 3 days or avoid social interaction, or not buy new clothes.

Her quirky personality develops as the book goes on, and we grow to love her and her friendship with Raymond. Despite Eleanor’s inability to filter anything that comes out of her mouth, her slightly warped sense of reality and the severely disturbing relationship she has with her mother, there’s something oddly charming about her.

The last few pages had me thinking, ‘What the f***?!’ but I’m so glad I read it.

I loved the way it was written, the dialogue wasn’t forced and the characters had enough personality to them without being over-done or pointless. I felt like every word of this book was relevant.

I’d rate it 4 stars (out of 5) and strongly recommend this book for anyone looking for something a little different. It’s not crime, romance, or thriller, but weaves in elements of those three. And sadly, it could easily be a true story.