I find myself on the precipice of utility......

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
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Flag of United States  , Minnesota
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Alright, I'm at the jumping off point now where my last few wasted years are ready to be melted away from me like wax from a mold, leaving only the desired work behind.  I've got two weeks more of work, then one at home on the farm before I ship out.

Being my overly romanticized self I've kept a steady stream of epic type music pumping while I consider my life and get ready for my next phase.  It should be useful to note here that however often I seem to wax philosophical it's quite reduced from what it could be, I keep a journal that ends up with most of my incoherent ramblings.

So, one great idea for travel, write stuff on cards!  I'm planning on getting my phone once I'm in China so I won't have an app filled smart phone to translate things while I'm getting to my school and getting settled.  Enter the wonderful Google translator.  I don't know how accurate it really is; I've tried some words in there that were in some Chinese lessons I have, and the characters came out different.  I believe, however, that the point will get across.  What I propose is to have some cards, or small slips of paper, with phrases in Chinese on one side and their English translations on the other.  Think of it as a much more direct phrase book.  (One that doesn't depend on you and your language butchery skills).  I believe having single phrases on separate pieces of paper is best, even if it's a pain in the ass to make separate cards.  The resulting lessening of confusion will pay off any increased time you invest in a small "where's the bathroom" question translation.  I'm going to just print several to a page, cut them apart, and laminate them with some tape.

The passport and visa process turned out to be much more expensive than originally expected, with the combined total expense being well above $300.  Granted, if you have a passport that's valid for awhile, you won't have that expense, and if you live in a city with a Chinese consulate you also wouldn't have to hire the sheisty third party visa service to handle your documents.  However, with the life investment that's being made, $300 really isn't that bad.

I've got one more bit of overly simply advice before I end this little appetizer before the feast of travel tales begins.  You must be flexible and patient.   Every thing I've read, and experienced, so far has indicated that things are extremely fluid in China.  For example, it drives my plan and worry-crazy aunt nuts, but I have no idea what my apartment is going to be like.  The foundation doesn't provide the housing, but what is considered acceptable is in fact written into my contract.  I do not mean be flexible in what you will accept, I mean be flexible in that it may not come packaged as you expect.  Additionally, and perhaps more maddening to myself, is that despite my delight at being told I'll be teaching AP World History, I may end up teaching Econ for a semester, or even a year.  I can't tell you how much this would piss me off, but it could happen.  Seems like things are almost never nailed down until they are actually happening.

Keeping this in mind, I've planned my trip from the airport to the train station where I'm supposed to be met by an HR rep from Ameson down to the wire.  It will likely either be exceedingly simple, or I'll have to can the plan and just wing it, but in any case I am not relying on anyone to actually DO what they said they would, i.e. meet me at the train station.  Enter those embarrassing translated statements and questions.  You may look like a fool, but you'll get where you're going without ending up in a heroin den or a flesh market.   I suppose we shall soon see how this preparation has paid off.........
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