Weekend: Preparing for an overseas adventure

This is the first of a series of stories about the Slagleys and their adventures as Americans living in Shanghai, China.
When I got home from work one day and my wife, Tara, said, “Hey, you want to move to China?” it didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to shrug and say, “Sure, what the heck?” Some people have called us brave, some have called us crazy (and we’re probably a little bit of both), but with those four words, we set into motion the adventure of a lifetime.
The story of how we became employees of a division of the Walt Disney Corporation called Disney English and will be spending the next year in Shanghai, China, teaching English is actually quite anticlimactic. Tara happened to see the posting somewhere in the vast maze of internet pages about Disney; we applied and got offers.
As a career educator, Tara was offered the job relatively quickly. We realized that we would only be able to accept the offer if I found work too, so I contacted the recruiter who hired her to ask for advice. As it turned out, my experience as an adult leader with the Boy Scouts of America was the deciding factor and I was soon offered a job as well.
Since we accepted the offers, life has been extremely busy, as you might expect. Planning to move from one state to another can be a nuisance, but moving from one side of the world to the other is a sizeable undertaking. Not only did we have to do the obvious things like store our belongings, pack enough clothes, and go through all the government paperwork (both American and Chinese), we also had to figure out details like paying bills back home, getting a VPN to get around the Chinese web filter, and even suspending our cell phone contract so we aren’t paying for a service we can’t use.
You probably could have guessed most of that. Although it seems like in the days leading up to our departure, I thought of something else to do about every ten minutes, we haven’t yet come across any major roadblocks with the government or travel arrangements. In fact, the only confusing logistics we’ve encountered deal with our decision to take our two cats with us.
Fortunately, Disney English helped us with this. They have been incredible with helping to facilitate all aspects of our transition. Not only did they provide us with the training to get our necessary certification and learn their methods of instruction, they also provide a lot of cultural resources too.
We were given a resource through Rosetta Stone for help with the language itself, but even though neither of us speaks any Mandarin yet, we shouldn’t have much trouble communicating. As a city built on international business, there are residents of Shanghai from all over the globe and the vast majority speak both their native language as well as English. Even most local “Shanghainese” speak at least basic English from what we understand.
Though I am writing this column a few days before we actually leave, by the time you read it, we will have already made our way from Ohio to Shanghai with only our two cats and 200 pounds of luggage between us. There are lots of things we’re looking forward to, like trying to local food, seeing the Great Wall, and yes, going to work. There are a few things we’re nervous about, like the crowds, the traffic and language barrier.
Ultimately, we hope this year is full of fun, adventure and great learning experiences. Next stop, Shanghai!
Kyle Slagley is a graduate of Findlay High School and the University of Kentucky. You can also keep up with the Shanghai adventure on Twitter and Instagram at @eccentrislag and on WordPress at abroaderpointofview.wordpress.com.



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