Battling the Homesick Blues
I figured it would come at some point- the dreaded homesickness. I had been so busy since arriving that I suppose I hadn’t had much time alone to really think about missing home. During this past week it really hit me that I’m not going home for at least 15 months. This realisation, along with the pressures of my new job and responsibilities I was feeling, almost made me want to pack up and leave. Then I realised something else. I was looking at the smaller picture, letting little things get me down. By reminding myself of the reasons I chose to come to China- to move out of my comfort zone and work for something that I felt was far more rewarding in the long run- I was left feeling a lot more positive.
By taking a step back, and thinking about the reasons I was doubting myself, I was able to reassure myself that where I am right now is exactly where I should be.
It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges and worries of everyday life here. Taking on a completely new role as a teacher (something I had no previous experience in) is bound to have its challenges. But I am learning and improving every day- my confidence has grown and I am learning skills which will also help me outside of the classroom.
The change in surroundings is also something that has been hard to adapt to- although there are some very beautiful places nearby- when you are stuck in a city surrounded by concrete buildings and very little “nature”, it can be quite daunting (especially to someone who used to spend hours walking the dog in the woods most days). This is probably one of the hardest things for me to adjust to, but it also works as a pretty strong motivator to get out in my spare time and explore the surrounding countryside. I look forward to visiting all of the places that are relatively easily accessible to me- after all, travel around China is so much more affordable than back home.
Finally, there is the challenge of being an introvert playing the role of an extrovert. This is something that has been, and continues to be a challenge for me. Trying to keep a classroom of 6 year old's engaged for an hour at a time is extremely mentally draining for me, and by the end of the day I crave time alone. This can make socialising almost seem like a chore- particularly in groups larger than two or three. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that I am anti-social – I just find being around a lot of people in a high energy environment very tiring, and need time alone to re-charge. It is a constant battle between wanting to have company, and wanting to be alone to rest and regain my energy. Whilst I cherish my time alone, I realise this could become quite isolating- particularly in a foreign country where you don’t have the same level of daily communication due to the language barrier. I think overcoming this challenge will be about finding balance between spending time alone- recharging and making sure I don’t get teacher “burnout”- and dedicating time to socialising. This isn’t something I have had a problem with so far; and hopefully by reflecting on this I will avoid becoming a social hermit, achieve balance, and maintain a positive mental attitude.