Apologies in advance for the excessive length
My life right now is pretty good. I've got a decent-paying job with stupidly low taxes and good health insurance. This allows me to live in a nice apartment and have a cleaning lady come a few times a week. It has let me go on two big trips this year, to North Korea and Canada, and made it possible to buy my new Jamis. I'm also in a strong position to get a decent raise in near future.
But I've never felt more disconnected from a city and life in general than I do in Shanghai. I work long hours, and in the last few months have put in a bunch of weekends, too. By the time I get out of work, I'm too tired to enjoy my main hobbies: riding my bike, playing my guitar, and singing in a choir. Talking to my parents on Skype yesterday, they mentioned they hadn't heard me sound so low and stressed out in a long time (and I thought I was actually feeling OK when I was talking to them).
I feel disconnected from the people here, too. As a foreigner in China, this is inevitable, but it's worse here than Beijing, and it's really starting to get to me. At the same time, I find it difficult to relate to many of the foreigners I've met here, who are frequently obsessed with drinking, careers, money, and finding hot Chinese girlfriends. Not to say there's anything wrong with those, but everything in moderation. When expat social life revolves around over-priced and over-hip bars, moderation is hard to come by.
As for that good-paying job, it's starting to come apart at the seams. We've had a series of management shuffles, and many people I liked working with have left. I'm finding my work frustrating and unrewarding... it seems that my skills are well-suited to the job, but that I am not. In November, I will have been working here one year -- a decent length of time in the PR industry in China. Many of my co-workers have been working in their current positions for less than two years.
I've been thinking about a change, but part of me is reluctant. Taking up another job in Shanghai would mean staying in this city for at least another year, and I'm not sure I want to do that. In addition, none of the jobs I've found so far are as good (financially and for "career development") as the one I have now. Staying in my current job would provide financial security for the forseeable future. Moving somewhere else opens up a whole other can of worms, but is sounding pretty good right now. I wouldn't do it to run away, but rather to return: to Beijing or to Hong Kong, where I have a number of very good friends.
I do know that I don't want to be in PR for the rest of my life -- a former co-worker and friend of mine told me that he had never met anyone less suited to the PR business (in a good way, I think).
I think what I'm trying to say is: should I just shut up and be happy with what I have? Is it too much to expect a job to be interesting and fun? Should I just stick it out for another year to save up some money? No matter what, I'll be staying at this job at least through to the end of November and will look for another job if I leave.
The only long-term plans I have are attending a friend's wedding in Asia next September, and riding across Canada in Summer '09. Also, I'd like to go to grad school somewhere along the line. What would you/Foo do?
Also, if any Foosters are hiring, let me know . Portland is looking pretty nice right now .