Thinking About Next Year

March 8, 2016
So, soon I will be asked by my current school to sign a teaching contract for the upcoming school year... While I am interested in returning, I wish I could say that I was 100% confident in my decision.

PRO: I love my job--I truly do. The workload and my schedule are both ideal, my students this year are great, the parents are very reasonable, and the first grade team works well together. Best of all, I'm now good friends with another girl in 1st grade, so that is a major plus. It just helps to have someone who has your back, and we are able to remind each other about deadlines and special events. 

CON: I will possibly get a new co-teacher next year. I'd really rather stay with who I'm currently working with, but I don't know how much say I have. I can't say this from personal experience because I've never worked with the other co-teachers at my school, but some of them seem a bit...erm, difficult to work with. I just hope that I'll get someone good. 

PRO: I make more money here than I would in the States as a teacher. 

PRO: My accommodation is nice and it's provided to me for free.

CON: We must either live on our campus in the free accommodation that is provided or pay in full (with our own money) for an off-campus apartment. Living on campus is great because it's just a short walk to my school, but I can't help but feel that living on campus is not really what I want. I live in "apartments" in a building full of other foreign teachers, and it reminds me of college life in the dorms. Almost everything I've done this year has been with other teachers on this campus and I only have one friend off campus. Don't get me wrong, the free housing is so nice, but I guess I wish we were also offered a housing allowance so that I could experience Shanghai more. 

CON: One of the reasons why I'm having such a great year this year is because Scott, one of my best friends in the whole world is here with me, but he will not stay next year. We walk to school each morning together, meet several times a week for dinner, hang out every weekend, and go on longer trips together. We just "get" each other, have a lot of fun, and are almost always on the same page. I just don't think I'll have that exact same type of connection with anyone else next year. 

PRO: My really close friends Rachael and Lauren WILL be staying next year, and both of them are so much fun. There will be new teachers coming in, and maybe I'll really click with one of them. 

PRO: I set myself up to stay in Shanghai another year and work. It would be easy for me to stay another year. This summer I will be traveling for 37 days, and I honestly do not have time to interview before the next school year starts, so I don't really know how I would even go about getting a job. 

PRO: I think next year will be even easier for me because I know about the curriculum and expectations.

PRO: My Ohio teaching license is set to expire in June 2017, and I will have to take an online college course to keep it. I know that here I will be able to afford and have enough time for the course.

CON: The internet is so bad here that I'm worried about taking an online course! I will probably have to go off-campus a lot just to get a better connection. What if I am not able to submit my work on time because I can't connect to the internet?  PRO (within this con): My friend Lauren will also be taking online courses, so we can split the cost of a taxi and find places with good wifi. 

CON: The pollution...This is the number one reason I do not want to stay in Shanghai. When I first arrived, it wasn't bad at all. I wondered why people complained a lot about it, but then winter hit, and with winter the pollution levels skyrocketed. Everyone said that the winter months are the worst months for pollution, but it's March now and the AQI (air quality index) in Shanghai has been around 165 each day, which is considered unhealthy. FYI, I just checked the AQI in New York City, and it's 49. When the pollution gets really bad, I cannot stop coughing and my heart will race. I do have a minor heart condition, and I am certain the pollution is not good for it. 

PRO: I am able to travel a lot here because I make enough to be able to do so and because we get decent breaks. Rachael and I were already talking about possibly going to Hawaii next year during the break for Chinese New Year. In the States, I don't know if I could afford to go to Hawaii on a teacher's salary.

PRO: Shanghai is such a large city, and I'm always finding new things to do. I'm never bored here and love exploring in my free time. 

I will say that besides when I'm sick (mostly due to the pollution), I have been really happy here in Shanghai this year. I don't have any complaints about the school I'm working for, and I'm grateful for the lifestyle I'm able to have here. I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet with the pollution because there are just too many pros for me to leave Shanghai after one year here.

What would you do if a city you loved had toxic air?
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