…and I don’t have my visa. Not only do I not have my visa, but I was told on Wednesday that I may not be able to get a visa because I don’t hold the correct teaching certificate. Sheer panic! And confusion. And pre-emptive devastation as I feel this crazy dream of going to China slowly disintegrate…
I’ve jumped through hoops for the Chinese Embassy to let me into their country thus far, and ticked all of their boxes. After rigorous examinations my doctor has certified that I’m fit and well enough to go. Do I suffer from delusional psychosis? No China, but you do well to check. I’ve submitted off a clean CRB, which proves that I was never caught when I stealthily concealed a Dandy bar inside my Mizz magazine in the newsagents when I was 11 (and oh, how it’s haunted me). I sat the Chinese standard-issue TEFL course that my senders put me through, and now I’m feeling a little embarrassed at the gleeful pride I took in my overall score of 87% when I’d finished because it turns out this might have just been a Mickey Mouse course designed to re-educate me on homonyms e.g. there, their, they’re (the first example to pop into my head in what I can only assume to be desperate Freudian plea for comfort…)
I’ve had faint urges to write a blog every now and then, and now I wish I’d started writing all this down a little earlier because I’m now about to hastily re-cap the relevant parts of the last 2 years of my life. So…
July 2011 – Graduate from university with not a bad degree and feeling the same gleeful pride as described above. I can’t help it. It’s not a public revelry, but a little smile and a devil on my shoulder who whispers ‘don’t worry, you’re pretty much set for life now’. So, clutching little more than my degree certificate under my arm I venture out into the big wide world like Dick Whittington without the cat or the Dickensian name. First stop? Back home. Resume the summer job in the catering department hospital I’d enjoyed for the last three years when I could say ‘Full time? Oh no darling, I’m just here in the holidays, I’m actually studying for a degree don’t you know.’ But I don’t quite have Dick’s wild ambition. Without the armour of institutionalised education or any semblance of a career plan, that jolly retort was voided. I worked for a year at the hospital full time, spending my free time immersed in various Masters prospectuses and overseas volunteering opportunities.
June 2012 – Despite not having any real idea of what I want to do when I’m grown up, I decide that the best way to launch my career as a successful career woman is to get a job with a desk, and so I embark upon the search for a white-collar saviour. That saviour comes and I start a job working in customer services. I get my own desk, headset and TWO computer screens. Surely I’ve made it. And if I haven’t, surely I’ll rise up through the ranks of the company and be invited to become a board member before the year’s out. See earlier false hope pumped into me by degree certificate. But again, still not sure what I want to do – but a faint figure is starting to emerge through the fog, and it’s holding a sign that says ‘don’t work with the public ever again’. I remember hearing about the opportunity to teach in China when I was at uni, and I google the organisation. I send an email. I fill out a form and cast about for a few references, and before I know it I’m signed up to go to China.
So far my going to China mostly has been theoretical. It demonstrates the power of this brave new world of electronic mail that so much can be communicated, organised and agreed upon without ever hearing the sound of seeing the face of the person at the other end of the screen. When I printed off the contract my prospective employers sent me I was so excited. What beauty! A job and an adventure, and all it really took was a little help from Gmail.
But perhaps it demonstrates the fallacy of electronic mail. Was I hoodwinked into thinking I could actually go to the other side of the world? That monumental life decisions and plans can be made on my mobile phone whilst sitting on the toilet in work? Because, as of last Wednesday, I’m being told that the provincial government who are to send me a visa invitation actually demand their teachers have a world-standard Cambridge certified TESOL. My humble Mickey Mouse TEFL doesn’t seem to quite cut it with them. Neither angry gesticulations nor puppy dog eyes can be communicated to them via the medium of email.
So here we are. The nice lady in the foreign affairs office at the Chinese uni I’ve been speaking with (my ‘Waiban’, if ever I am to go), is undergoing talks to see if anything can be done. With three weeks before I’m supposed to fly to Beijing for a little pre-season warm up at a summer school, will I even be going? Am I panicking over nothing, or will I be sheepishly telling my boss it was all just a mid-life crisis, and can I keep my job after all? Who knows!