You heard that right! I'm going to CHINA of all places!
I recently went in to have a long, frank discussion with my program director to address my family and friends' concerns about me going to the Ukraine. The original plan was to get reassigned to Moscow or St. Petersburg, Russia, but after talking with the other program directors and the native coordinators and whoever else, they decided that probably wasn't a good idea either. I'll admit when they first sent me the email saying their final decision, I was seriously bummed out. I've been researching and studying Russia for years. I'm certainly not fluent, but I can at least speak a few "get me around town in one piece" sentences and I can read and write a couple of basic sentences in Cyrillic. Bottom line, I was PREPARED AS SHIT for Russia, man! It's a good thing I haven't ordered my parka and boots yet...
After discussing all of my other options (such as Mexico, Thailand, Dominican Republic, etc.) my rep decided China would be the best fit. I do not know the first thing about China. I'm totally clueless. Whatever knowledge I have, I've gained from watching like...Mulan and Anthony Bourdain. I don't know the first thing about Mandarin, I don't know jack about the current culture, nothing. I tried to learn some basic words last night and I'm drawing a blank. It's not often I'm totally stumped by a language, but I think Chinese takes the cake thus far.
SO it's official. I'm moving to Weihai, Shandong, China for four months. Go big or go home I guess. From the little I've already read about this city, it's a spectacularly beautiful place. It's right on the coast, being situated on the very end of a peninsula and it's the closest port to South Korea (love love love South Korea. One day I'll see it myself). Apparently it's one of the cities with the cleanest air and beaches in China, it's known for having a bitchin' local seafood and homegrown vegetable farmer's market DAILY, and it's been awarded as:
Most livable city in China
First national hygienic/sanitary city
First national garden city
China's first model of environmental protection
First outstanding tourism city
Holder of the 2013 UN Habitat Scroll of Honor award
I've got my homework cut out for me, and right now I'm so excited and so terrified that I feel like I'm going to puke. I can't freaking believe I'm going there. It's so insane. If anyone has any tips about China, please please please let me know.
www.gofundme.com/peytoncook77 <<<there's the link to my gofundme page if you're feeling generous.