The only thing I did not know ahead of time and wish I had known is how difficult it is to get money out of China. I have some financial obligations in Canada and at the moment it is very hard to fulfill them. Again, Wook is helping me with that, but if I have one piece of advice for anyone coming to China is to keep no financial obligations in your home country whatsoever. Getting money out of China involves some crazy gymnastics that even Cirque du Soleil artists would struggle with!
Every weekday, I arrive at school at 7:20 am and have breakfast there (the kindergarten feeds its teachers). After that, I have about 20 minutes to get ready for the day.
At 8:00, the kids start trickling in until 9:00. At 9:00, we dance and then do the daily outdoor exercise, which I have to prepare, coach and supervise with the help of my two assistant teachers. At 10:00, it's time for our daily English lesson.
From 10:30 to 11:30, I observe the children and take notes for their parents as they take part in semi-guided Freeplay. At 11:30, the kids eat their lunch, we go for a walk and get them ready for nap time at 12:30. I eat lunch and have my office hours while they sleep until 2:30 pm. By that time, the Chinese teacher has arrived and I help her for an hour as she takes over for the rest of the day.
I leave school at 3:30 pm, usually satisfied, as the kids are absolutely adorable and I love them.
I am no spring chicken! I decided to become a kindergarten teacher after a 25-year career as a television host, actor, writer, researcher, and multi-media project manager. So my greatest fear was not China or going abroad, but being able to keep up with the kids, especially since I have never had any of my own!
The first two months were intense, and I must admit I was exhausted every single day after work. Keeping fit physically and mentally got me through it, and I'm adjusting. This being said, even though I didn't fear going abroad, adjusting to living in a completely different culture from your own is also very exhausting. Again, keeping fit and staying positive seems to be the secret!
I spent a lot, and I really mean a lot, of time preparing for this trip. I did research, I watched vloggers who have been living in China for many years to get some insight, I read books on Chinese mentality and culture, etc., etc. Now, with hindsight, I won't say this was time wasted, but I certainly could have done less. Why? Because nothing can prepare you for China!
Trying to get ready to come to China by doing research is like trying to prepare for your first sexual experience by reading books! You feel like you're ready, and when the time comes... you're not. So don't over-prepare, just go with the flow once you're there.