Big decisions

Am I crazy? (What a dumb question.) I abruptly but not quite frivolously quit my job on Friday, handing in my obligatory 2 months notice. The Boss was pretty dumbfounded, and so was I. I explained that I love the office and the job. I love Hong Kong. But I keep feeling that I’m marking time. Without being at least semi-fluent in Mandarin all my aspirations for growth in Asia are limited. And I won’t attain fluency here in HK. I admit, there was a “catalytic incident” that inspired me to send the email: I got offended, deeply, and felt the situation was not worth enduring.

No, it wasn’t that bad, and if I wanted to stay in HK I would have just let it go. But, with my current state of mind, the incident shouted out to me, Why bother putting up with this? There was a non-incident on Friday, and my expat colleague blew it up into Mt. Everest. My Boss apologised for him and said this kind of behaviour was symptomatic of this fellow’s lack of tact. He kept telling me how good I am at my job, that I will not like Shanghai or wherever it is I am going, how HK is the place to be. It’s a tough one. I like my Boss and all the people, even my insulter (one of the best PR practitioners I’ve ever known), and I do like the job. But there really is no growth for me, and this painful episode just pushed me to make a decision that was probably inevitable. I am now investigating employment possibilities and language schools in Shanghai, Beijing, Taiwan and Singapore. Any suggestions?

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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