Stretched

Dears,
Yesterday marked the glorious one year anniversary for my existence in this country, and I felt it highly appropriate that it also marked the day of the arrival of my CUPL- successor from my alma mater: Hanna Andersson. Gurl, you need to hit up your homeboy for a get-together one of these days!
As the one year mark has come and passed, I am also experiencing my last week at the embassy. I am trying to make the most out of the short days I have left with my amazing colleagues in this dynamic part of town. As I am trying to pack everything, see everyone, work full- time until the very end, preparing for a new semester of school on Monday and figuring out what I will say when my boss officially bids me fairwell at the Friday assembly, I’m feeling a little worn. I can easily say that working 45 h/ week for five months straight in 35 degrees heat, WEARING A SUIT has taken its toll. I believe there is a reason why people take their vacation in the summer and that is because it drains so much more energy trying to think straight while you’re dehydrated and sweating like a pig compared to when you’re… not dehydrated and sweating like a pig.

I am also taking care of all administration which comes with issues of migration in this country; for example selling all my RMB cash to Swedish colleagues because Bank of China (Bajs of China) is extremely restrictive when it comes to laowais taking money out of China. This process was particularly enjoyable as I forgot my bank card in an ATM last weekend which inevitably freezes your entire account (Chinese ATMs will keep your card until you actively ask to get it back, making it very easy to think that your business is done once you’ve gotten your money). The Chinese banking sector is also extremely ill- coordinated: if you have- for example- Bank of China, you need to do all your BoC business at the same office where you first opened your account. You can’t just go to any BoC, becuase that would obviously be too easy. Kevin traced my card to an office in Zhichunlu (across town from work) so I had to miss the goodbye- lunch, courtesy of the Migration Board, for two leaving seniors to fix this last week. Without a Chinese insider, I would never have retrieved my card again: the ‘English’ cutomer service might just as well have been speaking Armenian, the internet bank didn’t work, there were 60 people in front of me in line at the closest office where I first turned for advice, and I was without any access to my account without my card: it did not matter that I had account numbers, card numbers, passport, passwords and usernames; my entire existence came down to a plastic card. I swear, that incident + my residence permit have knocked two years off of my life- expectancy due to indescribable stress.

I will write a more retrospective and thoughtful piece in the upcoming days, but right now, when I think of the fact that i will finish work on Friday evening, move myself and my 80kgs worth of belongings on a plane less than 20 h after, come home, have one day before I start school with a ‘diagnostic test’ on Monday in a city where my apartment still lacks all of my personal things, I’m thinking: put me on that plane now, please.

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