Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fortune Cookie #11 - Chinese Beauracracy

Sometimes it feels like our move to China is never going to happen. I know we will get there, but the process has been much more frustrating than I had anticipated. This was the first thing I thought of when I saw this fortune.

You will conquer obstacles to achieve success

The obstacles we have encountered mostly involve the mountains of paperwork required to petition the Chinese government to grant us permission to work in their country.

I am in no way an expert on international travel and employment, but I do know that the requirements vary greatly from country to country. In most countries, a foreigner will need a work visa in order to work there. You simply apply for a work visa instead of a tourist visa and you are good to go. However, China is harder to get into than the Playboy mansion. You must have an invitation.

We've had our fingerprints run for criminal background checks. We've sent our resumes to have them translated into Mandarin. They needed our marriage license, our original college degrees, copies of our passports, some new passport-type photos, letters of reference from the places we have worked to ensure the accuracy of our resumes and a health physical.

They have received everything they need from us except for two pieces of paperwork. My TESOL certification and the paperwork from our physicals. These papers have proven to be more troublesome than Ryan Lochte's account from his night out in Rio.

I don't actually have a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate and there is a reason for this. I shouldn't need one.

I spent two years going to graduate school to get my Master's degree in TESOL. This means I have a Master's degree. That is supposed to be an impressive document. The TESOL certificate can be obtained by attending some weekend classes for a month. It is a much, much, MUCH smaller undertaking. Having a Master's degree trumps having a certificate. No one would ask a doctor to see proof that he has taken a CPR course because he is a doctor.

Now, this may be frustrating, but I understand. Sort of. Things work differently in different countries. Paperwork and regulations vary from place to place and carry different weight. Add a language and cultural barrier into the mix and it can get quite complicated. Since their paperwork says I have to produce a TESOL certificate, if I can't do that, then I have not met their requirements. No amount of explaining (or tears) will change that.

Luckily, I went to the fantastic school Lincoln Christian University. I called them and explained my dilemma. Since I had more than met the requirements of what it takes to get a certificate from them in getting my Master's, they agreed to issue me a certificate. I love my school. I should get it on August 31.

The second obstacle has yet to be conquered. We are required to get a health physical. Anyone coming to work in China needs to be of reasonably good health and not be bringing particular communicable diseases into their country. This makes sense. However, getting this physical is not easy. It must be performed at a Chinese Embassy-approved facility and we must bring the proper forms to have filled out by the doctor.

These forms are nowhere to be found on the internet and even our employer in China has no idea where to find them. We also have had no luck in finding out where these embassy-approved facilities are. It's like a real-life Where's Waldo book. After literally hundreds of phone calls to the embassy in Chicago for the last six weeks, we are no closer to the answer than when we started. Plus, once I get all excited about getting naked in front of someone, it just has to happen before I can get a good night sleep.

I know these roadblocks will eventually be overcome and we will end up in China in the end. It has just been a very frustrating process. I'm sticking it out for the endless supply of fried wontons.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fortune Cookie #10 - Adventure Is Where You Find It

Time just gets away sometimes.
It has been 1,033 days since my last Fortune Cookie post. I've forgotten to write these for a while, but never forgot to keep collecting my fortunes. I will try to get caught up. It may take a while.

Since I have been saving my fortunes and not writing about them right away, they are not in very good condition. However, they are still legible.

Not according the the makers of Pokémon Go

I am a complete believer in the philosophy that "life is what you make of it", but adventure is within? I'm not sure I believe that one. Having an active imagination may be great for helping you pass the time during times of extreme boredom (while doing menial labor, sitting in a doctor's office, looking at a friend's vacation slide show, spending time with your children, etc.), but it is far from an adventure. Adventures in my head are just thoughts about adventure. They are not adventure.

Unless we want to redefine the word, adventure will have to include the venture part of the word.

Whether we are talking about the verb or noun, both definitions involve doing something and the only thing I do within is process food stuffs into an inedible sludge to be expelled the next morning. An extreme meat and cheese day may require much more effort to accomplish the expulsion part, but it is still far from an adventure. Adventure is outside. I don't care what the fortune cookie wizards have to say about it.

To test this theory, we left the apartment last weekend to visit downtown Indianapolis. GenCon was in town and we love to go nerd watching and be jealous that we aren't in costume also. However, before even getting there, the adventure of being outside found us.

The red car is the one I hit.
The girl is only crying because her Pokémon got away.

Due to me gawking at a motorcycle, I rear-ended the car in front of us when the car in front of her stopped suddenly. The sound of metal on metal told me immediately, "YOU ARE IN THE MIDST OF ADVENTURE!"

This sort of thing just doesn't happen when you are sitting at home having an adventure "within". I'm still not even sure that I know what that means. Real adventure is outside beating up your car, talking to police, driving up your insurance rates, giving you seat belt bruises, and traumatizing teen-aged girls in cute little red cars.

Ignore the fortune cookie gypsies. Get outside and have some adventures!