Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In case you couldn't tell by my rambling entry from yesterday, my mental state is rather fragile right now. I just have had a lot of pent up frustration with my work situation. This whole restructuring effort has put a big question mark on my future. I know it's pointless to worry about things you can't really control; in the end I'm just going to have to wait it out. It's just that amidst all of these organizational changes, no one is really looking out for my best interests. I currently don't have a concrete plan, and that worries me since I'm supposed to go home in July. My worst fear is that they'll say, "We're going to have to extend your training. We just don't think you're ready yet. Given all this restructuring, we think you need more readjustment time here." 

Speaking of a possible extension, I actually got some "good" news today. I was chatting with a fellow coworker who came over with me from the US at the same time. Apparently they want to extend his training beyond a year and so he's been dealing with China work visa issues. There's a requirement that you need a minimum 2 years of work experience to qualify for a work visa. And that's a problem since he just graduated last year. (So in a way, we're in the same boat: if my training ends up getting extended, I'm going to have to deal with this as well.)

It's funny because all this time we've been staying here legally, but working here illegally. I mean we don't have a work visa; we just have a tourist visa. Technically we could be deported at any time! (And I didn't realize this until today when I took a closer look at the visa in my passport, LOL.) Thus it seems like extending or reapplying for another tourist visa is not a viable option.

So what does this all mean for me exactly? Well I'm assuming this means that I won't be able to acquire a work visa and thus my training won't be extended beyond July! I know that my friend's situation is not a guarantee, but I'm going to pretend like it is. Deep down, I just want to believe that my training won't be extended. I know this approach is nonsensical, but I need to pretend like it's the case to ease my mind. And at this point I'm willing to forego logic to cling on to something as simple at this.

I was reading through some old blog entries and I came across this tidbit:

"I know that when I come back in December I'll have NO regrets about my decision to take this job and come to China. I have no doubts about that. Right now though, I'm having trouble seeing through the fog and I'm just overwhelmed."

(Coming back in December? Yeah right! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine my training being extended another six months.)

The reason that I quoted from this old blog entry is that I'm amazed by how I find the last sentence to still be so relevant ...

Eight months ago it was tough...real tough. Honestly it was probably the hardest time of my life thus far. Fresh out of college, I was dealing with being an adult, living on my own, and taking care of myself. For a lot of people this transition is hard enough, and I was doing it in a foreign country where I could barely form a sentence! And at the same time I was trying to deal with some serious homesickness, culture shock, and loneliness.

And somehow, working six days a week at the factory didn't make things any easier. It wasn't even really about the 60+ hour weeks. It was the fact that I have NO idea what my job actually was.  I didn't even really understand what my hell my department manufactured. I couldn't understand why they sent me half way around the world because I felt like I had no purpose here. Everyday I would dread coming to work; I was always worried about not finding enough tasks to keep me busy. And I didn't even know what my long term plan was, i.e. when I'd be coming back and where my final placement would be. It really was like being lost in a thick cloud of fog.

I've come a long way since breaking down and crying in that bathroom stall. I feel like I've matured considerably since then. (Except for losing my wallet,) I've been able to take care of myself fairly well here. I'm learning to depend less on my parents and even manage my own finances (even if my Roth IRA mutual fund has dropped 12% since opening the account). I've also become quite accustomed to the lifestyle, food, and culture of China. In fact, I've reached a point where I can get around the city on my own with local transportation using only Mandarin. And as for work, I'm beginning to understand my responsibilities and role as a project manager. The best part is that I'm actually being given work. Although it's not much and I still have to find stuff to keep myself busy, it's better than nothing I suppose.

But at the same time I wonder about how much things have really changed. Sure I've become accustomed to working and living in China, but I still feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. And while I may be used to the lifestyle here, that doesn't stop me from going to Hong Kong just about every weekend (because it's "Western" and they speak English.) And while the homesickness is nowhere near as bad as when I first got here, but I still can't help but cry sometimes. (It's my catharsis to purge and release any pent up bad feelings.)

And then there's that whole work issue that I've been dealing with. Thanks to the recent restructuring effort, I feel like everything has been reset. At one point I was content with work, but now it's remerged as a point of frustration. I feel lost again without a purpose. And I still don't know when I'm going home or even where I'm going to end up! At this point people seem content with giving it all more time and letting it work itself out.

It's funny how some things never change...