I left Beijing a week ago, after living there for seven and a half months. I haven’t really blogged about what’s been going on in the last month, because I found myself under a lot of stress, and I was dealing with so many conflicting feelings.
While I’ve given China a chance, my ultimate goal is still to get to South America ASAP. And to do that I need some money, so I signed up to a nanny agency and after a few interviews I was hired by a woman in Saudi Arabia.
The job seemed amazing. I’ve always wanted to explore the Middle East, and the family sounded lovely. Plus, with no living expenses I’d be able to save enough money in one year to travel for two or three afterward. Not to mention, it’s Saudi Arabia. I could see myself wandering through souks, and although I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive (or even be seen in public with a man I wasn’t related to), it seemed like a grand adventure.
Unfortunately, while the woman I would be nannying for said she wanted me there by the 1st of September, the visa process dragged on for weeks, and as I had quit my job in anticipation of leaving I was burning through every cent I had.
In mid-september I found out that my visa application had been declined. While they want to try again with a different visa, I’m not holding my breath.
So I had a decision to make. Would I pay my rent, commit to at least another three months in Beijing, and go crawling back to my old job? Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely worse places in the world to be, but the truth is, Beijing isn’t a place I want to call home, and it’s a place that I often just tolerated.
In the last seven and a half months I’ve changed. Beijing hardened me up as a person, and I needed it. But I worried that if I stayed there I would become someone I didn’t like. Beijing is a hostile city, and foreigners aren’t made to feel welcome there. I was sick of being stared at, sick of being ripped off, and sick to death of being stuffed in the subway, which is a little piece of hell.
But I made some incredible friends in Beijing, and leaving was way harder than I thought it would be. The trouble is, I make decisions with my head, and don’t think about the emotional consequences until it’s too late, and it usually hits me as I’m heading to the airport that there’s no going back.
I always think that leaving the people I care about will be easier next time, since I’ve done it so many times before, and it never is.
This time it hurt a lot, and I bawled as I said goodbye to each of my friends, and then for half an hour as I waited to check in at the airport.
The truth is though, Beijing isn’t good for me. I was becoming someone I didn’t like. I found myself with a hair-trigger temper, hardly sleeping, stressing about tiny details, and I didn’t feel like myself.
The partying was great, but the easy access to drugs and the amount of alcohol I was drinking just wasn’t healthy, and I found myself spiralling. While I’ve always been the kinda girl who dances on tables, I was finding myself only living for the weekends and having hangovers that lasted for days.
The thought of staying in Beijing for winter was also intolerable, and I wasn’t ready to deal with the cold and the pollution, and the depression I feel when I don’t have enough sun in my life.
I’ve made a life out of being where I want to be, and my goal is complete freedom. So where’s a girl to go when she’s at a low point in her life?
Thailand of course!
Why? Because it’s easy. I can get some work done. The weather is much better than Beijing, and I’ll never take the clean air for granted again. The low cost of living is definitely a factor, and it’s close enough that I can go home for my mums birthday in February and then plan my next move.
I’ve seen and done so many awesome things in China, and I can’t wait to get a chance to write about them all. But for now I need some distance so I can appreciate the good times and the lessons I learned in Beijing, without being consumed by how hard I occasionally found it to actually live there.
While my time in China was tough at times, I don’t regret a single minute. I had a great job teaching English, an awesome apartment, and a fun, supportive group of friends who I’ll miss like crazy. And if there’s one thing Beijing taught me, it’s that when life knocks you down you have to come up swinging.
So bye bye Beijing, although I’m sure I’ll see you soon.