Monday, August 1, 2016

Thailand - May 1, 2014

Hello there readers (if there are any after the terrible way I have been keeping up my writing):
I am currently in Bangkok Thailand after undergoing surgery for a rather large thyroid gland tumour. There have been some tense moments in the past few months, mostly due to that. When I announced I would be going back to Canada back in January, I had just received the news from the doctor that I might have cancer and that leaving the tumour inside me was not advisable.
So I went back to China intent on getting back to Canada and having surgery. However, since then I have discovered that it is faster, cheaper and better to get surgery in Thailand so I came here. What did I do with my son, you ask? Some very kind hearted souls in China have taken him under their wing in a team effort and he has been staying with colleagues and friends while I am away.
Good news first: It was not cancer! I found out three days ago, after the surgery was completed. Right up to the surgery, despite a biopsy, they did not know for sure. They found hurthle cells neoplasm in the tumour and couldn’t be certain if it was malignant or not until they tested the tumour itself.
I must say, this was, by far, the scariest and loneliest thing I have ever done. Travelling to a new country by myself to have surgery…terrifying. Leaving my son behind while I did it…well I don’t even think there is a word in English to describe that. It was awful. Scary. Heartbreaking. It was hard. Nope…none of those words are good enough.
So I have a dilemma and I don’t know how to decide. I have a choice between Canada and China for next year. The offer is on the table now and I have to decide fast. I have been tearing myself up over this again and again for months now. I do not know what to do.
On one hand: I love myself as an expat (free!) and I love being able to give my son these amazing experiences. I would love to bring him to Thailand next holiday and show him monkeys, bananas on trees, palm trees, fruit vendors, the lovely Thai people. I would also like him to see other things in the world and I hate for him to give up his learning of Chinese. This is the last year he could be in the Chinese kindergarten school and it is an opportunity lost. For myself…I would have a chance to get into administrative work in the school I am in. I would be able to learn a new job and even if I didn’t suit it, it would give me insight on schools and education that I cannot get any other way. The people at the school I am in now have been so supportive. People who barely know me took my son in and looked after him. We were treated as though we were family. I feel incredibly guilty even thinking of leaving after all they did for me because they are hoping that I will stay. Then there’s the money thing. I make a LOT more money here in China because the cost of living is so low. Technically…I could end the awful cycle of debt I’ve been caught in for years if I stayed for a while longer.
On the other hand: this other job I have been offered today is also an opportunity that probably won’t come around again. I accepted the job back in January when I thought I might have cancer and needed to have surgery. I am afraid that disappointing them may lead to me losing the opportunity ever again. It’s not necessarily the job I would be losing that bothers me, its the opportunity to have a job in Canada if I ever want to move back. Right now I’ve known that its kind of available and it’s comforting to know I can go back anytime I want to. Also…life in Canada is infinitely better in so many ways. I have a car there, my family is there, I could go running and breathe clean air, etc. Also, the job would require far less hours than what I have to work right now, leaving more time for my son and I to spend together. As for the job itself…it’s working with students who really need good teachers in a community where they accept you as their own once you are there. On the other side of this: China isn’t the greatest place to be. The air and country is dirty. I struggle to understand basic things almost everyday and my learning of Chinese is super slow. Also…this was the scariest, loneliest thing I have ever been through and I do NOT want to be this alone again.
There are a multitude of reasons why this job is good or bad and the same with the other one. It has been an impossible decision so far and now I need to make it fast.
People have offered the following advice:
1) “Do what is best for you and your son.” Okay…no problem. Priorities realigned. Now what’s best for us? Is it learning a new culture and not being ignorant people in this world or is it building cultural capital in my own country? Is it having halloween and Xmas or is it experiencing new places every few months?
2) “Choose the one that makes you feel the most excited/least disappointed”. I cannot use this criteria because how I feel about either one changes everyday. One day Im excited about building my life in Canada and the next I am excited about expat life in China.
3) “Where do you want to live?” I don’t know! Maybe neither of these options are good enough. I just don’t know.
You get the idea.
I’ve tried rolling dice. I’ve tried giving myself a set amount of time to make a decision. I’ve tried almost everything I can think of and I still don’t know what’s best. Neither of them? Both of them?
Anyway dear reader…I wanted to give you some insights into the struggles of expats.

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