Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The End of One Chapter, The Start of Another

A few pictures from the last 12 months
While looking back at old photographs on my computer I stumbled onto my blog, and with a heavy heart I realise that I should write one last post.  I am surprised the blog is still here in all honesty, I thought by now it would have packed its bags and left to reside in a more blog-friendly home.  But I feel one last post will at least bookend what was probably the most important part of my life.  The reason for doing this?  Well, I unfortunately understand now that I am far too incompetent (or too busy, or too of them)  to continue writing about my life, and I would be kidding myself into thinking I could continue this blog as it once was.  You see, I blame China!  When the government in all its wisdom decided to block Blogger (and it's still blocked today, I checked), it really was a wrench to the system.  I loved, genuinely loved, blogging about my time there, and with a friendly following of readers it was a joy to share the ups and downs of China-life.  Sometimes I felt blogging was more of a therapy to me than anything else.  Living in China is like living in a bubble, a ridiculous, marvellous, occasionally frightening, but joyous bubble.  So once that link to Blogger was gone I lost an important connection to the outside world.  Yes, I could have moved over to another blogging platform but I was too worried China would begin blocking all blogging websites (or perhaps I was just too lazy, one of them!).    Before you ask, I did try proxies (used to bypass the Great Firewall of China), but at the time my limited knowledge and drastically slow Internet connection rendered the Blogger site completely useless --  I only managed to sneak one or two posts while stuck behind the wall.

So it wasn't until I left China to live back in the UK that I could access Blogger again.  It was a joy to read the blogs I used to follow and I hoped I could continue where I left off writing about all the things that occurred while I was behind the wall.  But writing things in retrospect compared to writing about them presently is quite a challenge.  It certainly changed what I think about reading autobiographies -- I simply felt I couldn't remember enough to make it seem genuine.  The beauty of a blog is that you can record events that occur in practically real-time, especially with microblogs like Twitter and Weibo.  My original intention of the blog was to be a diary of my time in China, something to look back on and re-read in the future.  It doesn't take much to jog the memory, but having the highlights ready to access on the blog is a brilliant thing to me.  This resulted in me putting a halt to the thought of blogging about past-times in China, so instead I thought I could continue writing about my life in the UK, adjusting back to life, starting my course in Hypnotherapy, Kimi coming over to live here etc.  It sounded like a plan, but it never worked out.  I think the main reason is this:  living in the UK is 'normal' for me, there is not much that I think is of interest to report because practically everything that happens on a day-to-day basis is 'normal' (apart from the odd life-changing event that is).  In China it was easy to blog about my day-to-day life all the time because I felt like almost nothing was 'normal'!  Sometimes I would walk outside of my apartment and see something that I would want to take a picture of and write about the second I returned home.  I can't deny that the greatest things in life have happened to me since I returned to the UK, and I wish I could have recorded some of those moments at the time, but these things were never meant for Diary of a Laowai in China.  I am no longer a Laowai or in China anymore, so the blog never really got on well with the concept of living in England.  Or I was just too busy, or of them.

For one last time here is a brief update on the happenings in my life.  It has been a busy and hectic year, but things are happening which I have never been more excited about in my life: Kimi is a permanent resident of the UK (and deciding whether she wants to become British next year or not.  Only one problem: China doesn't allow dual citizenship); we also purchased our first house which we absolutely love; and last month we visited Wenzhou and stayed with Kimi's mum which was a perfect holiday.  Kimi's visa and buying a house were two quite life-changing things that certainly didn't come without their fair share of extreme stress, but something amazing is happening which tops everything else....We are having a baby!  We haven't really told too many people about it yet and even now seems strange writing about it, but Kimi is well within the throws of pregnancy, and we are hoping that early next year we will say hello to our new baby for the first time.

I feel as a new chapter of my life is about to start it is almost perfect timing to end the post on this note, and also to end the blog.  I hope I can continue to write something somewhere in the future, but for now I say thank you for reading and goodbye, or "zai jian" (my Chinese has NOT improved in the slightest).

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Thank you for (still) visiting

This is just a quick post to say thank you for visiting, wherever you are from and for whatever reason you chose to stop by.  Unlike when I first started blogging in 2008 there is now a huge increase in spam, which I regularly have to delete, but a fair amount of visitors are still genuine.  There has been no recent activity on the blog for 9 months, so it comes as a surprise to see so many people visiting on a weekly basis from all around the world.  I wonder what Google searches my blog appears under?  Below is a picture showing the last 100 visitors to the blog from the past few weeks. 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Xin Nian Kuai Le/Happy New Year!

It's a new year, so time for a fresh look at all aspects of life.  One thing I have been quite frankly absolutely rubbish at is maintaining and updating this blog.  It is something that breaks my heart really as I loved writing this blog and used to greatly enjoy writing about my time in China.  I still blame the Blogger ban in China for halting the momentum with the blog, but really it is down to sheer laziness.  Alas, the routine of what is now married life with 2 jobs on the go leaves me with little time left to pursue on writing.

Since my last post (way back in March last year) Kimi and I got married in the UK, Kimi successfully got her residence permit, we moved into our first house together, visited Wenzhou to have a kind of unofficial 2nd wedding (very tempting to stay), and Kimi's mother even visited us for a month in the UK.   All in all 2011 was a very fortunate year for both of us, somehow everything worked out perfectly in the end.  Now 2012 has begun I am looking at pushing on with my Hypnotherapy business and possibly starting the degree in Counselling.  Kimi is looking for work in Manchester hoping to utilise her skills as a bilingual speaker.

A 2011 Collage
Another resolution I have is to write more, so hopefully another blog will be coming soon -- and by that I don't mean another year!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

This Blog is a Study Abroad Ambassador Award Winner!

Somehow my blog has been selected by the lovely people at eCollegeFiner as a travel website that provides "priceless information to students as they prepare to leave" to study in another country.  I suppose although this blog documented my life as a teacher in China rather than a student, the same principles of travelling and living in a foreign country apply.  I am extremely flattered to have been chosen out of the many hundreds of blogs about living in China to appear on their site.  I genuinely hope some of the ramblings on these pages give a hint of the ups and downs of modern life in China (and what to do if you fall in love and decide to move back home after 3 years!).

You can see the list of all 75 sites chosen here, including short passages of travel advice written by the winners -- including one from yours truly.    

Although my life in China is officially history, it will always be a part of me (thanks to Kimi).    

Monday, 14 March 2011

Kimi Got Her Visa

I have been hugely delayed writing this post, but a few weeks ago Kimi and I received the good news that the British embassy had decided to grant her a visa to come to the UK to marry me.  We had waited months for an answer to our weighty application, going through Halloween, Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year with no hint of an answer.  Finally in mid February, Kimi received a package containing just her sole passport, but with the new visa stuck inside.  That was that!

The application for the marriage visa was no small feat, the amount of paperwork needed for such a visa is quite astonishing.  It was something we had to study to get right (the first problem was which one to go for!), and we even paid an agency to help us on the way too.  Over the coming weeks I will be posting a step by step guide to applying for the marriage visa with the aim of helping others who may be planning on taking the same steps as we have.

What's next for us?  In one month Kimi will be arriving in the UK, and then within 6 months we will be getting married.  Once we have tied the knot, the time will have come to apply for the next visa....

Sunday, 16 January 2011

MINDSCAPE Hypnotherapy

As I mentioned previously, I have trained and am now qualified as a hypnotherapist.  For the past 5 months I have been slaving away on a website for my company, which has finally been completed (apart from the odd mistake I keep stumbling across, if you find one please let me know.  Web designing is not easy when you have to compete with so many different browsers, operating systems and screen sizes).  It is funny how things work out really, today was the day that not only did I finally get my website uploaded without any major disasters occurring, but I also moved into my new office.  I am renting a room in The Holistic Therapy Clinic in Manchester where I actually studied and learnt about hypnotherapy.  At the moment I will be balancing hypnotherapy work one day a week while I still work at my other job full-time -- for now anyway.

My new office, the chair is very comfortable

I am very excited, and really can't wait to get started.  If you have a second, take a look at my website here: 

On another note, I have also started another blog here which will be linked to the website.  I will be concentrating my efforts on that blog for the foreseeable future, but I will of course occasionally still post here.  Once I am an expert, I will certainly be posting tips and advice for visa applications and the progress of Kimi's move to the UK.

Kimi's visa status:  Still processing (almost 2 months of waiting now).

Friday, 17 December 2010

Neglect, Visas and Hypnotherapy

A few of the things Kimi and I have got up to during her recent trips to the UK
 I certainly feel very guilty for neglecting my poor blog of late.  The reason is not due to having a lack of things to write about with regards to China and life in the UK, but rather that I have been concentrating all of my energies into other things.

Since my last blog post a lot has certainly happened.  Kimi visited me in the UK on two occasions, the last time being in October.  We have also very recently submitted a rain forest's worth of paper-work to the British Embassy for Kimi's fiancĂ©e visa.  Once the application is successful she will once again be returning to the UK where we will get married (we're hoping for early next year).  We are planning on holding a ceremony in Wenzhou towards the end of next year too -- it saves spending a few thousand pounds transporting Kimi's huge family over to the UK, and it means I have a great excuse to take a holiday to my second home!  The visa process is an extremely difficult process, one which we could not have done alone.  Information on the internet is very sparse, with so many different versions of events that we had no choice but to hire an agency to do some of the leg work for us.  I think a possible new direction for the blog may lie within this visa process and how to be successful in applying for one.

In other news, I am now qualified as a Hypnotherapist.  I am just waiting for approval from the Hypnotherapy Association and my malpractice and indemnity insurance certificates to come through.   I have also managed to secure a room to do it from with my teacher and mentor.  It has been this that most of my time has been spent on over the past few months.  I have finally finished writing and designing a website for myself.  I had no idea it would end up being the most time consuming thing I have ever done!  As soon as everything is legal I will be uploading the complete website.  With this I will also be writing a new blogger blog which is linked to hypnotherapy and life as a hypnotherapist.  For now there is not much to look at, but here is my site:  MINDSCAPE Hypnotherapy.  I really fell in love with hypnotherapy throughout the course I took, and have never felt so attached to a subject before.  It really is amazing, and the changes that can happen are remarkable.  Stress, anxiety, lack of confidence, self-esteem issues, and addictions can all be resolved so quickly.  I know this because it has not only worked with others who I have helped, but it has also worked on myself.  I genuinely hope I can share this incredibly simple method of therapy with others. 

I am still continuing studies part-time in Counselling and hope to be taking the next module early next year.  It will take approximately 3-4 years to finish the degree at the moment.  The impatient side of me would rather get things over and done with much quicker, but due to financial restraints (e.g. all of the money I saved up in China ran out) I have had to find a full-time job.  Not only will this pay for starting my hypnotherapy business and ongoing studies, but it also means I will be able to support Kimi when she comes here.  The job I have isn't my idea of a dream career, but the money is coming into my bank account rather than going out, so it is ideal for now.

And that's me all up to date!  I'll be back when my new site and blog are online, and as soon as we hear any visa news.