It’s hard to believe, but we now have less than a month left in China. In fact, 3 weeks today we will be leaving Chengdu and flying to Shanghai for a last bit of exploration before returning to the UK and implementing our money-saving holiday ban for the foreseeable future.
Whilst I am undeniably excited to be so close to home time, as it draws nearer it’s starting to sink in that I won’t be back here for a long, long time and that makes me incredibly sad. I’ve harped on about the peachy lifestyle we have out here enough, but it’s not just the high ratio of lie-ins and afternoons off that I am going to miss. First and foremost, although it’s been a little removed from real life, Chengdu really has felt like a home. Despite rat dramas, utterly horrific neighbours and horrendous bathroom plumbing experiences, our little apartment has been the first home that Joe and I have shared. We’ve made it our own and whilst cosy and comforting may not be at the top of the adjectives list that I’d use to describe it, I feel strangely attached to our wooden bench ‘sofas’ and tiny-person-sized kitchen.
Thanks to the trial and error method of testing new restaurants to see if our digestive system can withstand the spice, oil and questionable hygiene, we’ve established a well-trodden network of local eateries and snack joints that help us feel less like clueless-tourists and more like slightly-knowledgeable-local-expats. And, take it from me, nothing makes you feel more settled than knowing where to get excellent noodles or dumplings and good beer!
So, what next? Heading home, the next year is mapped out for me – a Masters Degree and part-time job in Glasgow. Finding a place to call home should certainly be a whole lot easier in wonderful Scotland and with 18 months worth of gossip, new babies and general life news to catch up on, I hope to intersperse long days in the library and tedious temp jobs with plenty of friend and family dates!
Unfortunately, shirking full time work for yet another year to be a penniless student does mean a new set of restrictions are going to be in place for all these grand plans – finances over distance this time. Having already missed so many weddings, parties and big life events it’s not without a lot of guilt that I already know I’m going to be missing quite a few more over the next academic year. But at least I should be on the same landmass as all the people I owe a making-up drink to once I have an actual salary again.
Of course, being the type of person who constantly obsesses about the future I can’t help thinking ‘What next after the next chapter?’ At the grand old age of 31, when most people are expected to have essentially sorted their shit out, I’ll instead be graduating for a second time and most likely, unemployed. Whilst this may not be the start to my thirties that I envisaged 10 years a go, I cannot wait to have this fresh start, a chance to find a job that I actually like and live and work in a city (location still unknown but absolutely not London!) that doesn’t make me feel like I might actually be going a bit mental.
And of course, whatever the future holds one thing that I do know for certain is that I will be back to China – although strictly as a tourist only. This crazy and incredible country has been one of the best chapters in my life to date. So China, we might be on a break but it’s definitely not over forever!!