My contract ended yesterday. Wow. I'm free! (and jobless and homeless... *ahem*)
There was a company end of year party on Sunday, with many speeches, talent performances, awards, eating and drinking and being maudlin. In Asia the end of year party is when you thank people for all they have done for you during the past year, usually accompanied by a drink.
Having recently drunk too much at a farewell party and been very unpleasantly ill, I fake-toasted at this party, but my tears were real. The night before, I had taught my last lesson, and now it was time to say thanks and goodbyes. I had a time adjusting to life in China, but I still made many friends along the way, and I will miss them. I hugged and thanked and wept until I was wrung out.
As parting gifts, I managed to get a photo with the entire staff of my school, had prints made, and put them into frames. I gave the principal of my school a sleek black square clock with 8 cutouts around the sides for photos, which I filled with various pictures from the school year of students, staff, events and classes.
The Chinese New Year (they call this holiday Spring Festival) holidays begin tomorrow, so have been running around like mad the last two days trying to get official business done while businesses are still open. Didn't get everything done, so some things I'll have to take care of when I'm in Beijing after the businesses reopen on the 10th.
Which brings me to The Plan, which some of you have been waiting anxiously to hear. I will leave Jinan on the 10th, which is the date I was given to vacate my apartment, and head for Beijing by bus with my cat and luggage. I will stay in a very nice hostel there for nine days, which gives the cat time to rest between travels, and me time to explore Beijing and finally see the Great Wall. On the 19th I will head for the airport and my flight home.