Before Claire Leaves China (BCLC)

Currently, I feel like a person jumping off a lovely, seaside cliff into the unknown… I gave my notice this week. As a result, my BFF Asia and I are making of list of all the things I need to do before I leave China.

Part of this list includes things like getting certain clothes made, getting some paintings painted, finding this secret street in Shenzhen proper that sells antiques… fun things. And then she mentioned the packing word.

This may sound weird coming from a person who travels, but I am not a fan of packing a suitcase.  I have probably mentioned this before, but not only am I not a fan, I literally would rather chew glass then lug all my junk around a foreign airport as I try to figure out where I check in or haul it into the ladies’ room for a quick pit-stop.  I’ve figured out the only real reason I want to be rich is to be able to hire a person to do all of this for me… or better yet, just have the clothes and everything I need at the next location and all I need is a very cute flying outfit, my iPad, and some headphones.  Heaven.

There were many reasons for my decision to leave and going into them really isn’t worth it.  The bottom line is that this place isn’t a good fit for me, but it is for others, so why complain?

Last year, several teachers angrily moved on from Shekou and one woman that is still here was likening living and working here to a prison and she is just doing her time until she can get out.  Really? I’ve learned so much from this experience that far outweighs anything negative. Plus, it just doesn’t seem worth it for me to get that worked up but that got me thinking about an encounter I had at a local art show.

One the same day of declining the offer to return, a friend of mine invited me to a French art opening here in Shekou.  I was a bit put off because several people I invited at the last minute didn’t want to drop everything and go… the nerve, right?  Anyway, it’s funny because I ended up going and had a very timely chat with a fellow from Canada (what’s up Jen!) that I probably wouldn’t have had had I gone with another person.  When I told him I had just quit, he gave me a funny look and he said something to the extent that to live a life of working internationally you really have to be okay with spending time with yourself, with choosing your own path.

I wondered if the people that left angry needed to get so worked up to justify the move. Since living here, I am convinced that a big factor driving people is comfort and predictability.  I am all for these things and in many ways; they are worth striving for and achieving.  However, in going after these things, does it have to lead to complacency or as I call it, a race to the middle? I think of the book Life of Pi and if I remember correctly, it described zoos as an ideal place for animals because they are safe, they can walk in predictable patterns, and they don’t have to fight for food. I wonder if they same thing can’t be said for some people, myself included.

I believe the Canadian sensed my trepidation in letting go of what has become very familiar to me because he said the best thing anyone could have said to me at that moment.  He said, ‘You know? You’ve done China… time to move on.’ Guess I have to get packing.


  1. Susan Wachowiak

    Sounds like good advice, Claire! So get packing!!!!! Upward and onward to new and wonderful adventures— wherever!

  2. Kate Freeman

    I have to agree with the Canadian man. “Next!”

  3. Christy Herrmann

    Your memories of your China experience will enrich as the years pass by. You’ll never be sorry you did this, and you’re an inspiration to everyone who reads your blog. Just promise me you will continue blogging on your new adventure.

  4. So, Claire, which enclosure at the zoo is most appealing to you?

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