Let me explain

Let me explain again why I have no immediate plans to return stateside

1. NAPTIME

My new school requires an hour of rest time…you ain’t gotta sleep but you gotta be quiet which means 95% of kids fall asleep anyways. They have cuts, a nap area/pod, nap music, lights out, blankets and all. Yeah you going to sleep.

2. 90 minutes of outside play/inquiry

I haven’t seen this much dedicated to outside time expect in a research article. At best I’ve had 15 minutes.

3. 2 snacks and at least 30 minutes for lunch

Let me explain this lunch thing. I had 30 minutes for lunch but that included walking to the cafeteria, standing in line and walking back from the cafeteria. Which left the kids maybe 15 minutes to eat and really what are you eating and disgusting in 15 minutes. 2 snacks is amazing because kids play and get hungry and let’s face most kids don’t eat breakfast and lord knows when dinner will happen.

3. I have 2 additional teachers in the classroom

Wait, what 3 teachers in one classroom.

4. My class size will never go over 15.

So that’s 3 teachers and 15 kids….I am currently at 13 kids and one is on vacation until after December break. So its 12 kids. Do you know what I can do with that? Do you understand how much individualized attention and differentiation we can do.

5. I work with educators and just adults who speak English looking for a job.

This alone will keep me at my current school. I almost, nope I did, I lost my shit last year dealing with people who did not understand how NOT to teach using the curriculum and the importance of small group instruction.

6. I get planning time

I cannot stress the importance of doing your work at work. I have a child when I get home and I cannot sacrifice time with her to do work.

7. I am trusted and supported to do my job.

8. Let’s revisit the small class size and 3 teachers

We legit did nothing small groups one day. Each teacher had a table and we pulled kids to do an activity. We didn’t do large group until the end of the day. It was the best thing ever.

9. I have finally figured out the work life balance. I don’t feel overwhelmed like I did when school first started. I have found my groove and the kids are happy. I am happy.

10. Its a nice happy medium between Kuwait and the states. They take education serious without all the extra. I could stay in kindergarten a little longer with this setup.

First week of school

Day 1

Reduced schedule

Kids came in today from 9:00 to 11:30. THE BEST THING EVER. I wasn’t tired when I got home. We were able to get things done, see where the kids were and it was pretty chill.
My class: I have a total of 13 kids. One child will be on leave until December (I legit have no words for this one) I have more boys than girls. I am sure all my girls speak English my boys hung out with  each other so I do not know how many of them speak English. I share my class with a co-teacher and teacher trainee. I have a pod partner and we share a space with our kids. So essential we can team up with our kids and teach one big giant lesson or the whole KG2 team can team up and teach one big lesson.

Day 2

Reduced schedule again

I’m still claiming the best thing ever. We got so much done as a team and I got things done as a person. All my girls speak English and my boys understand English but will respond to me in Chinese. Okay that’s fine. I know what I have to work on.

 

Day 3

First full day with the kids. Oh how I have missed nap time. I only have one child who’s parents do not want him to sleep. Okay quiet activities for him. Here read this book and don’t bother those that are sleeping and don’t make no noise. I got work I can be doing. We eat lunch with the kids. This is one thing about kindergarten, we do not leave our area much during the day. Once we all get settled this should change or I will go stir crazy looking at the same area ALL DAY long. Another bonus we have 2 snacks and go outside twice, technically three times. With 3 teachers we each teach one lesson a day. AWESOMENESS!!!!!

Day 4

Got to leave early today to do what needs to be done for my residence permit. Look score another win for me.

Day 5

okay straight lost my shit today around 2:30. We got a last minute email stating xyz had to be done and sent home via email by 5:00pm. There are not enough memes to describe this nonsense. The whole school was involved in a CCA (co-curricular activity) Fair. Basically these are the extra curricular activities that will be offered this term and will be run by ALL the teachers. So 3:30 we needed to be in the Sports Hall (GYM)…. you see where I’m going with this right. So a few of us sat down and completed said document and got it finished. Some of us made the deadline some of us did not. It was by far the most frustrating thing that has happened.

Here’s the beautiful thing about working at a brand new school or working in general there are some hurdles you just can’t prepare for. Our parent communication system was to supposed to be up and running by now and all this would have not been an issue. However since it is not up and running documents have to be created to communicate with the parents who want to know what’s going on with the school and their child. I get it, I am a parent but my kid is 10 so somethings I just don’t focus on like I did when she was 5.

Bonus: my kids are ready to rock and roll. We can legit hit the ground running on Monday. They are ready to learn and have fallen into the routine. Which is super amazing. Even with all the hurdles this has been an amazing start to the school year. I have not gone home exhausted and ready to sleep from herding cats. I am exhausted because the days are long. I get home around 5. Which Kuwait had me spoiled. I was home by 3:16pm. The school day does not start until 8:45 but these kids roll up in here at 8:10 can we say free play until 8:45. I do morning meeting in English until 9:30 then we go outside for about 45 minutes. Come inside clean up and get snack. After snack they have their Chinese lesson. Clean up and have lunch. After lunch is rest time for an hour. Wake up they either do an activity, go outside, clean up and have snack. We have specials or an end of the day wrap BAM go home. It’s an “easy” work schedule it’s just I’m in the classroom ALL DAY. It’s only 12 kids so we have the opportunity to get TONS accomplished. I am excited for what the school year holds and to see how much they grow and learn.

Noticeable Differences

Let’s put this out there, I was spoiled in Kuwait.

Now that is out the way.

  1. no porters, no baggers….you are expected to bag your own groceries and carry your own luggage. No one is waiting on you hand and foot or jumping at the opportunity to assist you.
    broken heart love sad

    Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

    I will get over it.

  2. ORGANIZATION!!! Look I cannot stress this one enough. I have not heard “inshallah” yet. No one has said “I don’t know” It has been “let me get back with you” “wait a minute” and they actually go and seek the answer legit immediately
    grayscale portrait photo of shocked woman

    Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

     

  3. The food: okay I have said this before but I will say it again. AMERICA is killing you with the food. I went grocery shopping and I can only buy like 2 pork chops in one package, there is no family size. Bacon, yeah that’s only like 4 slices in a pack. I can still get a dozen eggs but it’s normal size none that medium, large, extra large (and why in God’s name are the eggs different sizes? hmmmm) Chicken yep normal not hormone induced and the best thing ever I can get the wings either the drumettes or the flats. Even the chips and cookies (biscuits) are snack size.
  4. English, look just go ahead and learn Mandarin. They are not an English friendly place you have to learn Mandarin or have a translator app. Honestly I ain’t mad at it. Mandarin in their native language and I am a guest here. So Mandarin I will learn.
  5. Chopsticks….yep never learned now I will
  6. School lunch….they legit cook it daily…never frozen always fresh. There isn’t even a real frozen food section in grocery store except for ice cream.
  7. back to food, no part of the animal will go to waste. I have not personally seen it, don’t want to either, but use your imagination.
  8. Wal-Mart, look I don’t care where you are it’s the same.
  9. IKEA, same thing. Except this is like a family event. Let’s go hang out in IKEA and use their displays. I honestly believe if they hooked up the stoves and bathrooms, it will get used.
  10. Delivery, EVERYTHING still delivers
  11. EVERYTHING is blocked. While there are ways around this it is still a challenge to deal wit

 

Let me take a moment to compare schools (this will be a combination of all the places I’ve worked)

  1. abroad you get help which is standard common practice. Last year it was me with a teacher’s assistant. This year I get a co-teacher and a teacher trainee. #winning
  2. numbers: this is important. Stateside there is usually no cap. Which means they will slam as many kids as they can into a given space….who can learn like that, who can teach like that. Last year the cap was 24. This year 15. Yep FIFTEEN kindergarten kids aged 4-5 in one classroom with 3 THREE teachers. They are gonna have pry me out of here kicking and screaming.
  3. Type of schooling: I have done public school and private school stateside. I have even done head start. Preschool private and regular. Abroad I did private school last year. This year I am doing international….this is whole different beast all together. I will update later what this all entails because I still have no idea other than I am teaching British English and not American English (deep and long sigh)
  4. Campus: usually schools stateside are divided elementary, middle and high school. Abroad it’s K-12. No problems. Last year the school was one building. This year look I need a map to get around and I have averaged about 15,000 steps daily and school hasn’t even started yet.
  5. co-workers: We are ONE is the running theme and we are truly one. I have not meet anyone that did not know what they were talking about or did not know what they are doing. That is fresh tall glass of iced cold water.
  6. Lunch: can I stress again it is made fresh daily. When you see people cutting up the fruit and juicing it, you know you have reached a level of greatness.
  7. Admin: this is first where EVERY member of Admin will teach a class.
  8. Every teacher and co-teaher received a MacBook and every teacher trainee received an iPad. This is big deal to me. I know some schools issue laptops and some don’t.
  9. Printing and making copies: look since I left public school this has not been an issue. I can print and make all the copies I want to and not one person will bat an eye and I never come out of pocket for paper.
  10. School supplies: I do not issue a school supply list for the kids and I do not come out of pocket for supplies. Praise Jesus!!!
  11. Dress Code: this has been all over the place in my career. Some schools have them, some schools don’t. Some cultures require certain things others don’t. Here we are business dress expect for kindergarten and PE. So yes men where ties, the jacket is optional. Ladies are in heels.
  12. Uniforms: kids wear uniforms but something that will be brand new to me is this whole inside and outside shoe thing for kindergarten. Along with the fact that we go outside in the rain. Not pouring down rain but drizzle rain, yep suit up and go out.

 

I will have pictures up soon. The school is still not fully finished and I won’t do a before and after. Just know I am happy for myself and Elise. This is an upgrade from last year and the states.

 

Day 3…. I think

Look jetlag is a real thing. We slept over 12 hours last night.

Today is medical day.

1. I couldn’t eat or drink

2. Up at an ungodly hour

We load up on the bus. Sit and wait on our name to be called.

I go to x-ray first

Sit on the stool and they took my x-ray. I didn’t change or anything….um okay sure.

Go upstairs.

I have my blood drawn. Then I am given a cup and vial. Wait in the entire world. Ooooookay. I find the bathroom.

Directions: pee in the cup and pour your pee into the vial and place it in a holder with the other 1400 vials of urine.

This sounds and looks like a problem and can’t be sanitary and who is say someone won’t swab my urine. Okay so we are on the honor system.

Next up ENT. Homeboy just looks me over and signs the paper. Asks me one number on the color blind test and in the dark. Looks into my eyes with no tools just his naked eye. Looks into my ears, nose and throat again no tools….ooooookay

Ultrasound I am still not sure what they are looking for because they were all in my kidneys and lungs. One paper towel and you are done.

I get fondled in another room as I get my spine checked.

An ECG is done and it’s over.

Next up bank card.

Go look at an apartment. The apartment I wanted, the landlord is being a jerk. I take Elise and we go look at the 4 bedroom.

Yep walked out with keys

No clue, It’s been a Week

Yeah I don’t have a fancy title.

So my first week in China has brought me close to tears at least once a day. I am frustrated with the language barrier. Finding someone who speaks English and Chinese outside of my school is next to impossible. I can pretty much catch a taxi via app. I can shop through pictures and numbers. The rest is causing my anxiety to go through the roof.

My goal was to daily updates….yeah NOT. Jet lag is still a beast and we have been busy from day one. So I will work backwards.

Friday August 17

Our first full day at work…let’s start the day with a TYPOON warning….which all this means is it is raining and the wind is blowing and the umbrella is for decoration. The campus is so big and open many were soaked. My shoes are still drying. It took 45 minutes to get a taxi to work this morning because of the rain.

First hurdle of the apartment, the washer does not work. The guy came to fix it and it is still not working. A WASHER IS ESSENTIAL!!! I have not washed clothes in a week. I need to wash clothes.

Get home and we need dinner. Still have no groceries. I just need to tackle one issue at a time. So I order dinner via app. I get frustrated and finally figure out what I need to do. I say a prayer that dinner arrives. The guy calls, yeah I don’t know what you are saying and you don’ know what I’m saying. He hangs up. I panic. What if he doesn’t come up with my food? What if we don’t eat tonight? Oh my God I am gonna starve to death in China!!!?!?!? Ten minutes later the doorbell rings and buzz him up Praise God!!!!! Delivery was a success. I feel it is safe to order groceries.

 

Thursday August 16

A day off from work. Praise God!!! I wanted to do nothing but ended up going to IKEA. I went with a co-worker. We live in the compound (new word for complex)

Wait before the IKEA trip I went to the mall. Not too bad of an experience. Pretty straight forward. I found a grocery store that sells things I recognize, so I will return one day.

That evening was the IKEA trip….WAIT FOR IT

Use my handy app to order a taxi.

Jump in the taxi

Taxi driver decides he doesn’t want to take us and legit drops us off not to IKEA. He’s pointing tell us it’s IKEA we are like no sir. He wants his fare. We pay and get out. Order another taxi and finally arrive at IKEA.

We end up lugging 3 large bags a piece across this mall to order another taxi….by this point I am over it. Yep I wanted to cry.

Get home, take a shower, and go to bed. I am done for the day.

 

Wednesday August 15

Move in day.

Panic moment number 1: the deposit money for my apartment has not hit my account yet. What am I gonna do? Will they let me move in? Can I pay tomorrow? I have already checked out the hotel.

Get to the apartment and they are fine with me paying tomorrow. GREAT and Thank you.  Xie Xie!!!!

Panic moment number 2 and 3: I go to Wad-Mart. Shop around. I am on a budget. I really just want towels and sheets for Elise’s bed. I will figure out the rest another day. Grab some towels. Grabs some sheet. Walk around to see what I can see. Go to pay. Cashier: we don’t take this card (I figured out what she was saying)  we take Chinese card Me: pulls out cash. ( I swear all of was-mart has stopped to look at me) See KFC go get some dinner. Cashier: we don’t take Chinese card Me: WTF (it’s your damn card) I pull out my phone and point to the apps. She points to which one I can pay with.
Look I need everyone on one system. Either we doing apps, local cards or anything. I can’t be doing this every time I go into a store.

Get back home, eat, shower and go to bed.  I am done.

Tuesday August 14

I sign my lease and get my keys to my new apartment. It was the one I actually liked the most but it was the furtherest out. At this point it does not matter because the landlord of the apartment with the amazing view was being an idiot and I just can’t deal with stupid people.

This apartment had a landlord that was willing to get everything I asked and then some. So I asked away and she agreed. COOL!!! Good for me. Good for you. Xie Xie.

 

SO I have a 4 bedroom. 2 bath apartment. TVs in 3 of the 4 bedrooms. The fourth bedroom is big enough (or small enough depends on how you wanna look at) to be an office and that is what it will be. Elise has an extra bedroom that will be her playroom. we have enough space to do what we need without driving each other crazy.

 

Organization=Smooth transition

Okay first full day in Wuxi.

We arrived yesterday afternoon (Saturday August 11, 2018) around 3pm. We left the airport around 6pm.

One the trolley for the suitcases was FREE!!!! Praise Jesus. However there was no one to get my suitcases for me. I know I will live.

From Shanghai airport to Wuxi was about a 2 and half hour bus ride….Look NAP TIME!!!

Finally got checked into the hotel. Took a shower and went to sleep. I was done and over it.

Sunday August 12, 2018

Breakfast: I am sure I touched on this in a previous blog post but it bears repeating, breakfast abroad is just weird. I’m trying here I really am but I need eggs and either bacon or sausage for my breakfast to make sense to me. I can over look the lack of grits, oatmeal, and biscuits but what you won’t do is convince me baked beans is a breakfast item. No more can you convince me waffles are a dessert item.

Next up check in with the HR department:

Look I cannot stress the importance of ORGANIZATION!!!! I am far from OCD and needing things in order or done a certain way but if I have a question I need an answer. If I have a problem I need a solution. If you give me a time you need to be there.

I go check in they were ready and in place. I get my transportation card for the metro and bus. I get my settling in allowance. I sign up for a Chinese bank account. I get a SIM card and all before noon.

12:30 I go apartment hunting. We saw four compounds (apartment complexes) The first one I loved the grounds and the location. The actual apartment was small. I have a child I would probably snap and Elise would feel it. So I did not take any pictures.

Second apartment

This was little further out but it had 4 bedrooms and everything was already in place. 2 bathrooms YAY!!! There wasn’t much I would have changed. I liked the furniture. I just didn’t like the location it is about 15 to 20 minutes away from the school.

Third apartment

Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. It was 3 bedrooms but the second bathroom did not have a shower…um what’t the point.

Fourth apartment

I fell in love with the view alone. It is right across the street from the park. YESSSS. 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms. One bathroom, the master bath, has a bathtub. DOUBLE YES. The other bathroom has a shower. Didn’t love the furniture so I asked could the couch be replaced. I asked about adding a TV to the main bedroom. Elise is gonna have to earn a TV in her room. The 3rd bedroom will be a playroom/work space. So I asked if they would take the bed out and add a desk and chair. I also asked for a bigger washer since it will be two of us that I have wash clothes for. The table and chairs I could live with. The kitchen I could live with. I also asked about a wardrobe for Elise’s room and if pets were allowed. I will find out soon if the changes can be made. Then I will sign off on everything and be done.

Uploading pictures for this flat have been a pain. Sorry

MEET AND GREET

First there was alcohol….WAIT, what don’t mind if I do. It was nice to meet the families and other staff members. Elise made some friends, well she played with some other kids which is always a great thing. I meet the drama teacher and I love him and his happy, spunky attitude. I am loving all these accents mostly British but I’m loving it none the less. The food was great. I ate ham, praise the Lord from which all blessings and pork flow. They love seafood here as much as I do but whatever that seasoning was has Old Bay beat. I legit did not finish my crab leg. I was like nope and nope that is too spicy and I love my stomach and throat. I am excited for the school year and I hope this excited continues the entire I am here.

The Waiting, The hurdles

Look getting my documents was the easy part

opened mouth black haired boy in gray full zip jacket standing on grass field taking selfie

Photo by Darcy Lawrey on Pexels.com

 

So I got all my documents turned in and on time by the May 31st deadline. Here comes July and an email…..your date of birth is wrong on my medical reports…..SOB!!!! So what can I do, I am no longer in the country and guess what I do not have health insurance here in the USA. So what are my options people??? Can you email them and have them reissue you a new one…..ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!??

toddler with red adidas sweat shirt

Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

It took some digging and praying but I got new medical reports with the correct date of birth.

In my panic and fear and worry I started applying for other jobs. Cause what we not gonna do is be jobless and homeless come August. I need my own space and I am tired of living out of these suitcases. So I applied to schools abroad and ONE school district in the states. I had an interview with a school in Vietnam…really people. It was a brand new school going into their second year. I swear it was sounding like my last situation. I could not go through that again. I needed a good fit for Elise. They offered me the job….now what DECISION TIME

man in white shirt using macbook pro

Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.com

I needed to tell them something as SOON. It’s late in the game. Teachers need to be in place.

gray double bell clock

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

I stopped and took a deep breath. I silenced the voices. I prayed to God. I dug deep into my faith and professionally declined the offer to work in Vietnam. I had not one regret.

Back to my China offer.

Now the letter of experience needed to state Kindergarten Teacher and not Homeroom Teacher….lady, people of the universe Let me whisper something in your ear….Kuwait does not operate like the rest of the world please stop asking me to contact these people and I have already left the country. I get hit with “no problem” and “inshallah” wish basically means “Go (bleep) off”

Got that issue fixed. Now to wait. I went on a cruise, a vacation during this waiting period. I have a separate blog for that.

FINALLY the email I have been waiting on arrives: YOUR INVITATION LETTER IS ATTACHED!!!!!!

Praise JESUS!!!!

yeah printed white board

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Now I sit and fill out the Visa form….look when I tell you I stressed and killed a small forrest in the process. First I typed it all in nice and neat…go back through it and see it needs to be in all CAPS…..okay fine. Go back through it. Then I had some dates incorrect. Then I had a few words misspelled. Then I was unsure of few answers went and asked co-workers what they did. FINALLY I was done. Took a couple of hours but I got it done.

Now I will be off to DC in the morning to submit the application and pray nothing else come up and there are no more hurdles. I have copies of everything and we are ready to go…OH wait I gotta pack

Went to the DC office. First go to the wrong office on the wrong floor. Make it to the right floor pick a number and wait. When I tell you I waited what felt like FOREVER. I got there about five minutes to 10, they opened at 9:30 I was number B260, they were on number B213. No seats were left. Standing room only. 12:30 a group goes to lunch, the pick up window employees go to lunch. A few others go to lunch. It’s now only 2 windows open. Number B250. I’m hungry. Elise is starting to slowly lose it. She doesn’t have anything to play on. Finally my number is called. I had to correct the number days to match my work permit, fine no problem. I had to correct the visa I was applying for, for Elise, fine no problem. Do you have a copy of this and that, sure do here you go. Please sign her form. Sure. It will be ready Wednesday. I was out of there before 1:30.

Word of Advice: HAVE EVERYTHING IN ORDER

  1. the form clearly states up top to TYPE in all CAPS, you better Type it. It’s on the website and you can type right into it. DO NOT GRAB A PAPER COPY unless you have access to a type writer. http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/  this website has the forms, fees, and what you better have with you
  2. make sure you have the right sized photo with the right requirements
  3. bring your patience and even some lunch you will be there a while
  4. there is an office upstairs on the 3rd floor that will print copies for a fee, take your picture correctly for a fee, whatever you need to get your visa done they can help BUT THIS NOT WHERE YOU SUBMIT YOUR VISA that is on the first floor.

 

I went back up to DC…I swear they need frequent driver miles…How can I earn points off gas for driving miles….anyways. Got to the Chinese Embassy Visa Service around 9:25am…..Yep there was a line. Here’s the thing about that line they had you wrapped around inside and you hadn’t gone through security. Now let me pause, why not just let the line be outside. Anyways. The security guard comes with his announcement, basically have your stuff together or get out of line now. Don’t waste people time. 9:30 the line moves and we are moving. I get my number D825. Basically I am the 25th person. 10:15 my number is called I pay my fee I grabbed our passport AND WE ARE DONE!!!!!

China bound in 6 more days.

 

Kindergarten Graduation

accomplishment ceremony education graduation

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Look as a kindergarten teacher this is THE NUMBER ONE thing that makes me want to change grade every MAY!!!

Look can we stop this nonsense already.

Dear Parents,

You are doing the most for the least.

Sincerely,

I need more support from you than a graduation program.

 

I will not see a parent ALL SCHOOL YEAR LONG!!!! but they will show up and show out at kindergarten graduation. I can’t retain your kindergarten child so there is a chance that your child will not be fully prepared for grade 1. Not because I didn’t do my job as their teacher but you didn’t help support me as their parent or because there is a delay in your child that you refuse to get checked/assessed and diagnosed. There will be about 5% of kids “graduating” from kindergarten that need to stay in kindergarten another year. Did that 5% grow this school year, yes but not enough that the summer slide will not hurt them. Their foundation is weak and shaky. I’m being nice by saying 5%.

I worked at a school this year that WENT. OVER. THE. TOP. There were graduation fees, yep you heard me. There were legit caps and gowns. There was graduation practice. There were performances, performanceS more than one. I lost so much last minute instructional practicing. Everyday for at least 1 hour we had to practice. Then the kids lost more time because they had to practice during their specials because they had performances for specials as well. So for about 4 weeks, yep 4 weeks we practiced. 3 classes with 24 kids each. Thank God we each had a teacher assistant but I’m telling you it’s too much.

I will make it my duty to get rid of kindergarten graduation FOREVER!!! Let’s just have cake and ice cream. We don’t need all the pomps and circumstances. It’s for the parents anyways. The kids don’t care. They are over it by the third practice. The teachers dread it because it’s a new song every year. It’s a new theme every year. It’s only so much creativity we have each year to do the same thing.

 

So admin, parents, students, educators,

Can we please nix these over the top graduation ceremonies and programs. Cake and ice cream will do just fine. We can even make cute certificates for your child. Decorate the classroom make it fun still but less stressful. Don’t take away my instructional time and then ask me questions, you won’t like the answer.

 

Authentication Nightmare

Look I don’t care what nobody tells you authenticating documents are a nightmare.

I am already abroad so multiple the nightmare to make it hell.

For Kuwait I needed my degree, FBI, clearance and Elise’s birth certificate. BAM and done….not really I paid someone to finish the work but still. I thought authenticating documents for Kuwait was bad….nope China is worse.

Two pages of instructions…..yep TWO pages.

So I started reading through the documents and started thinking breathe and don’t panic. I would need a background check either one from the FBI or local country if you have been there longer than a year. Okay simple I only need to do one here for Kuwait.

Next get the highest degree and teaching certificate authenticated. Okay no problem. Add Elise’s birth certificate that brings it to a total of 4 documents. Cool. Take some pictures. Get a physical no problems.

Wait new email, updated visa requirements. Reading over the same two page document and BAM!!!! here is the new change. I now need to complete a background for BOTH my home country and current country of residence. ALL documents have to be authenticated in my home country. WAIT WHAT!?!?!? I don’t live in the US and I won’t be in the US until June. UGH!!!

So now I’m asking around my school where can I go get fingerprints. I kid you not in a span of 4 days I got 6 different answers. The Chinese Embassy has the weirdest hours (9:00 am to 11:30 am) WTF!!?!? The US Embassy does not do fingerprints (seriously people I am a US citizen the least you can do is have a live scan machine here, whatever fine) Then I was told they don’t do fingerprints here because if you committed a crime you can’t leave. Okay yes I know that but can SOMEONE type up a document saying I didn’t commit a crime and I am free to leave. It’s not really that complicated. You have my prints from when I enter and exit the country anyways come man just give me my document. Then I was told I can do to the local police department and they can do the fingerprinting. Okay great, I just need the location and please tell me I don’t need a translator cause I really don’t feel like this extra. I go do some digging around via Google an low and behold there in info on the US embassy website….wait for it….. apparently I need a letter from China saying I need this document for a reason and not just because I have nothing else to do with my time. I swear with everything I got I have never seen anything more extra and bothersome.

LEGIT TAKEN FROM THE US EMBASSY WEBSITE

Where to Obtain Fingerprints in Kuwait:

To obtain fingerprints in Kuwait, please visit the Department of Personal Identification and Automated Search, General Department of Criminal Evidence, Ministry of Interior located in the Farwaniya-Dhajeej area, Airport Road 55, opposite the Kuwait Airways main building. Phone: 2434-6101. Fax: 2434-5790.

Each applicant must provide the following:

  • A letter from the local sponsor or requesting entity*
  • One recent front-view color photograph
  • Passport and one photocopy
  • Kuwaiti Civil Identification Card and one photocopy

*U.S. citizens and other individuals seeking fingerprints should obtain a letter of request from his/her local sponsor, or if seeking employment in another country, contact the corresponding embassy. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait does not issue letters of request for private U.S. citizens.

Kuwait Police Clearances

At times, U.S. citizens may need to obtain a police clearance from Kuwait. Please note that the U.S. Embassy does not intervene in this process and does not issue letters of request for private U.S. citizens. Once the Kuwait police clearance has been obtained, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait can authenticate the signature/seal from the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs if the document will be used in the U.S. Please see the notary services guidance for information. For use in other countries, please contact the appropriate embassy.

Where to obtain a police clearance in Kuwait:

Available only to those residing in Kuwait; age 18 and above must get the police clearance certificate if resided in country for 6 months or more.

A police certificate, or ‘Good Conduct Certificate,’ can be obtained from the Ministry of Interior, General Department for Criminal Evidence, Department of Identification and Automated Search located in the Farwaniya-Dhajeej area, Airport Road 55, opposite the Kuwait Airways main building. Phone: 2434-6101. Fax: 2434-5790.

Each applicant must provide the following:

  • A letter from the local sponsor or requesting entity*
  • One recent front-view color photograph
  • Passport and one photocopy
  • Kuwaiti Civil Identification Card and one photocopy

* U.S. citizens and other individuals seeking Kuwait police clearances should obtain a letter of request from his/her local sponsor, or if seeking employment in another country, contact the corresponding embassy. The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait does not issue letters of request for private U.S. citizens.

I am ready to scream! This is causing the most hassle. Let’s not forget to add my other documents. I have to get a service to do the authentication process for and everywhere is quoting me $600 for my documents. UGH

I have to get my passport renewed because I will not have the required 4, yes FOUR clean pages to enter China. So here I am with roughly 2 months left in Kuwait and I am ready to BOUNCE for so many different reasons and I have this to deal with.
I still have to get a physical and get some photos done.

PHOTOS!!!

Look this is not your average regular 2×2 photos EVERYONE else requires nope

  1. it must be have a white background
  2. Photo size: 48mmx33mm, width of head: 15mm to 22mm, height of head: 28mm to 33mm.
  3. neutral expression
  4. glasses yeah might as well take them off
  5. no jewelry (one time I wore earrings, thank God you can’t tell I have them on)

I probably would not care so much if it was just me and if I were stateside. Taking deep breaths and doing what I can do without screaming and losing my marbles.

FBI

okay life happened and I had to go stateside. This part of the process became the easiest thing I did and only because I had to return stateside. I went in on a Monday to the local police department. I mailed it off overnight. They would receive it by Wednesday at 3:00 pm. I received an email on Wednesday stating they have my fingerprint card and would process it in the order that it was received. Not even an hour later I received an email telling my results were ready. Praise him. Now I get to send four documents to be authenticated.

LOCAL POLICE REPORT

This is whole new circle of hell. Welcome to a new level of hell. First it’s not close to where I am. I was lucky enough that a co-worker is also going to China and she already did her good conduct certificate so she knew where to go. She was picking hers up and I was going to complete it. I was along to see what needed to be done next after I pick mine back up. It took all of ten minutes to scan my fingerprints. I have to wait a week and come back. Here is the new hell. We knew something else needed to be done before going to the Chinese Embassy. Problem is NO ONE else knew how to help. Three different people tried and no one knew. I had to return back to school. She continued on the hunt. Apparently it’s just foreign affairs and then Chinese Embassy. I swear nothing is online to help and these offices close at like 12. When they open at like 9. It’s not very conducive to people who work. Anyways. I sit here and wait a week. Go back and head to foreign affairs office and then the Chinese Embassy. One document down. Four more to go.

Authentication Service

This time I forced to use a service and I HAVE NOT ONE REGRET. This process seems so much more difficult. I’m sure it’s because I live abroad and I am changing countries. I sent my four documents off today…well my brother sent my four documents off today to be authenticated. I pray they get finished by the end of May or prior to the end. I received an email from HR stating I needed to submit the scanned documents by May 31. I am hoping it doesn’t take that long. Next up I need to get my physical and go back to pick up my local police report. The only thing I would need is a letter from my current school.

SURPRISE

Not done yet. I receive an email telling me that the service I am using are in possession of my documents.

YAY ! GLORY HALLELUJAH

But wait. They need an notarized authorization letter from stating that I give them permission to authenticate the birth certificate………………… And they need both parents to sign and a copy of both parents passport

Yeah see how that’s not gonna happen. I have a mild panic attack. I email back stating how there is not father listed so what we not gonna do is this.

She replies stating that I just need to day I’m the sole legal custodial parent in the letter and all will be fine.

I find a notary thing online. Praise God. Scan the additional documents and move on about my life.

Here is hoping there are no more hiccups between now and when I land in China.

Local police report CHECK and DONE!!!!!

It turned out to be a fairly simple process. Go get your prints done, come back in a week. I gave them two weeks because this is Kuwait and what we not gonna do is inshallah me and I have to take time off from work. Went to pick up my prints, then went to the foreign affairs office, spent 5KD for a stamp and signature. Then off to the Chinese Embassy. Make sure you have everything you need or you will not be seen. Dropped it off came back in 3 days well 5 because again I had to take time and as a teacher you have to strategically plan time off. Plus it was graduation time, add in Ramadan and well yeah okay….that’s a whole different post. So all in all it was about two weeks total from start to finish including wait time. Waiting on the confirmation email about my documents in the states. Then all I need is my physical and letter from my current school.

Went and got my physical. Yeah that cost me 56KD because my insurance did not cover 3 of the blood test required. I didn’t get the X-ray because it’s Ramadan and they were closed until 8:30 so I will try again Sunday.

Got the email that my documents are being sent to my brother’s house.

I just might get all my documents in on time for the May 31st deadline.

Physical done and over.

Waiting on my brother to tell me the documents are at his house. Gonna ask my school if they will give me my letter now so I get the show on the road.

ALL DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN SCANNED TO MY SCHOOL

 

So in short:

  1. pray your school sends you a detailed list and China does not change any of the requirements.
  2. FBI fingerprints need to be completed. You can go to your local police department and send the prints to the FBI https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks start here. I was also told that your state background check would do as well… I say go ahead and get the FBI one done just in case, unless you have time for errors
  3. Complete background check for any country you have spent more than a year being a resident. For Kuwait go to the Ministry of Interior, get a stamp from the Kuwaiti government, then the Chinese Embassy
  4. You will also need a full physical including chest x-rays, blood work, EKG, etc. Give them ALL the paperwork from your medical exam.
  5. Your teaching degree and highest degree will need to be authenticated. Go ahead and order an additional copy if you don’t want your original copy stamped or dealt with.
  6. If you have dependents, their birth certificate will also need to be authenticated. Yep go ahead and order a new one, this needs to be issued within the last 6 months of your authentication.
  7. get some pictures done. Check the requirements because it is not the standard size. https://www.visaforchina.org/SGP_EN/generalinformation/news/282849.shtml
  8. for my sanity I paid ProEx to complete all the steps for me plus I was living in Kuwait and dealing with the death of mother and closing out for the school year, I could not add anything else to my plate. https://www.goproex.com/specialized-services. You are more than welcome to complete the steps yourself or choose another company. It is definitely cheaper to complete it yourself.
  9. I should have mentioned at number one HAVE A PASSPORT you would think this is an common sense thing but you know just in case.
  10. oh there is a form you have to complete to accompany your documents and it has to be typed. I got my form from ProEx. http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/ this will help as well
  11. follow whatever your school tells you. I uploaded (scanned) my completed documents to my school and I waited.

 

As of July 9, 2018 I am still waiting on my letter of invitation so I can apply for my Visa however all documents have been turned in and I find my patient button and wait.

Mental Health

Let’s take a moment to discuss mental health

I don’t know why this is a taboo in our community. We neglect it consistently and it’s slowly killing us.

We as women are worse. We shoulder EVERYTHING!

I picked up one of many things from my mom and I am struggling to change one major thing. She passed on to me the idea of not being a burden to people. So I keep A LOT to myself. It took my mom passing away for me to realize I needed to take my mental health more seriously. I started seeing a counselor along with my daughter. Yep! I know insert gasp…..black people seeing a counselor???!!!! What about Jesus? Don’t you trust Him to see you through your trials and tribulations…..look let me stop you right there

red stop sign

 

Yes I grew up in the church and yes I believe in Jesus and all that jazz but let me drop this nugget you won’t sit around and pray a broken bone away, you take your behind to the doctor…. you have to put some work in behind those prayers. There are people, professionals who went to school and specialized in various things to assist you because you just can’t do it yourself. So going to seek help does not mean you lack faith. If anything it means you are putting your faith into action. It takes a strong person to say hey I need help let me go get some help. You were never built to do this life journey alone.

Now when reaching out for help or talking to people about your problems, you do need some discernment. You can’t go depending on everyone. You should have AT LEAST one person in your corner you can rely and depend on. Someone that whatever you tell them stays right there with them and the four walls. You don’t have someone, use a journal, write those thoughts down get them out. Shoot talk to yourself if you need to. They have counselors you can talk to online for a fraction of the cost. Research local support groups in your area.

We check our physical health from time to time. Yet we constantly neglect our mental health. I won’t give out stats and data because all you need to do is look within yourself. Stop and take some time and listen. Listen to your body.

backlit beach dawn dusk

Take five minutes out your day and just empty your mind. Start a journal. We have so much in our minds it’s ridiculous. We carry so much inside it is making us sick.

I know as a single parent. I feel like I NEVER have time to just have an emotional meltdown and feel all the feels. Well one day while tucking my daughter in for the night and after one “mom” too many from her. I just sat on the floor and cried. EVERYTHING I was holding in just came pouring out. My mom being sick, a recent break-up, being an expat, being a mom, being single, being a single mom, being a woman…all of it just came out. I knew I needed to seek help. I wasn’t crazy but I needed someone to help me process my life. I put it off. I didn’t think I could afford it. I didn’t think I could trust someone enough. I didn’t think I really truly needed it. I mean hey I could pray, I could write in my journal, I could take of myself by myself…..yeah, okay WRONG

My mom took a turn for the worse. She was released into hospice care. I came home and one week after I came home my brother and I were making phone calls telling people our mama had passed away.

Something about being in the room as your mama takes her last breath does something to you. The grief of her death was overwhelming. I cried for simple reasons. I cried for big reasons. I just cried all the time. I didn’t know what to do.

I started small and joined a Facebook support group….yeah I swear that made it worse seeing all these post of people who had lost their mom. I got my daughter into counseling with no problems. Me on the other hand I was scared. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I needed help. I didn’t even want to acknowledge that my mama was dead. I finally sought out help. I felt the world being lifted off my shoulders as I talked with my counselor.

She is helping me take care of myself. I take time each week to get a massage. I take time each day to carve out at least 5 minutes to myself. I have a mediation app on my phone with a reminder. I am slowly getting back into yoga. I have an adult coloring book. My mama always said “I have lived my life, you need to live your life”

Well I can’t live this life half-assed. I can’t live this life neglecting myself. I have a daughter watching my every move. I want her to see my happy, not grumpy as she puts it.

We have got to stop neglecting ourselves.

We have got to stop shouldering the world.

We have got to learn to let it out.

UPDATED

I started writing this thing weeks ago and never published it. I didn’t think I was fully finished and guess what? , it’s not. In the past week two celebrities have committed suicide and now social media is a buzz about suicide hotlines, how to help someone who needs help, mental health, depression….you know the normal hype social media does when the wound is fresh.

I had to stop and re-evaluate somethings.

adult art conceptual dark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I observe people a lot. We have lost the art of creating meaningful relationships. How many Facebook “friends” are your friend in real life? How many followers on Instagram are your “followers” in real life. We put on this social media facade. We post this happy life. It’s time to pull the mask off. Stop hiding behind posts, pictures, and tweets. Get out and have a conversation. Look at your friend and say “How are you doing, no really how are you doing?” Would you even know if your friend or family is hurting? Would you know that someone is struggling? So many of us smile and walk around like nothing bothers us. Then we go home, shut the door, crawl under the covers and wish to die or cry ourselves to sleep. We go through the motions called life but deep down we are hurting.

I remember the first time I knew someone personally who committed suicide. Shook my world to the core. I had so many questions but not one answer.

I know what it feels like to not trust people and afraid to open up. Look I am here to tell you re-evaluate your friends. If there is not one somebody in your life you can talk to, remove them or remove yourself.

It’s 2018 mid way through the year. We should not be afraid. We should not hurt in silence. The suicide rate should not go up. Depression should not be taboo. Seeking help should not be taboo. Mental health should not be neglected.

I encourage you to take a moment and unplug from social media for the day. Go out and talk to real people. Pick up the phone and check on someone. Just to say hey. When you are down and out, depressed, not feeling yourself, you are not going to reach out to people. Make some genuine friendships. So when you say “hey I’m here if you need me” they know they can pick up the phone and call. Drop by and say hey. Sometimes just being there means so much than spitting out all the cliches.