When I first was told that my company was offering to send me to Beijing for three months, needless to say, there was only one answer I could give!
"Uhhhh..." I said. Then I sat there staring at the floor for a while with my head tilted to one side and my mouth hanging open.
Eventually my office director and creative director grew uncomfortable and left the room, leaving me with the freedom to ponder these thoughts:
3.) Seriously, China?
Don't get me wrong, I like to think of myself as a fairly open-minded person who is willing to try new things, but then I also like to think of myself as a lean, muscular George Clooney-type with an IQ of 180 and dazzling charm, so I obviously can't trust my opinion when it comes to me.
As a rule, I like feeling like I have some measure of control over my circumstances, or at the very least can get up to speed quickly. My complete lack of language skills makes that unlikely.
I like my familiar surroundings. I've never lived out of my home state of Minnesota, where I have friends from high school and a large, tight-knit family. I would probably be seeing somewhat less of them when living in China.
I have a great home life with a wife I adore; we've been married three years and together for eight. We haven't been apart for this length of time ever before, although she could come visit for part of the time.
On the other hand, dude, CHINA! Almost all expenses paid!
So I said yes, and now, two months later, the clenched fist of fear in my stomach has been replaced with a clenched fist of resigned worry. I've taken Mandarin language classes at a local community college, subscribed to Chinese podcasts, bought 'Chinese for Dummies' and borrowed a large audio language program, the result of which is that I can now tell any Chinese I meet in their own tongue that I, a 6'4", 220 lb. bearded Caucasian, am indeed not Chinese.
I can also tell them that I would like some beer.
So my May 10 departure is sneaking up and I'm starting to get ready. As often as possible, I will post discoveries and updates as I prepare to leave, and hopefully lots of pictures and stories once I'm in Beijing.
More to come soon!