About the middle of January, my most recent school to teach for and I parted company over disagreements on how to teach. (That's keeping it nice.) We were given an option of showing up to the Exit/Entry Bureau and getting our Visa's changed to tourist until February 21st or do nothing and have them automatically expire in ten days. The school was also kind enough to let us stay in the apartment until the end of January. I tried to find other employment and had a few first and even second interviews, but nothing worked out. No matter what the outcome for work, we still had to leave the country to renew our Visa status to a Z-teaching Visa. We were waiting on our tax return money to come in so we could buy tickets to go home and visit anyway. When the end of January was near and we still didn't have the tax return, we had to have another plan. We contacted the US Embassy and they could help us with an emergency loan, taking our passports, and we would have to pay the loan back before they would allow us to get new passports. Before we followed through with this decision, my mother let us use her credit card to buy tickets to return home. We got tickets with a round-trip date of April 17th, in hopes that we would find work in time to do the correct paperwork to come back to China. We didn't have enough money to get our family dog home, so we found him a new home with a nice American family in Beijing.
We spent three hours going to the airport by subway carrying a dozen bags and a three year old toddler. After going through security and on the way to our gate, we were told that our flight had just left the gate. We had to return to the front of the airport, reclaim our checked bags and try to find out what to do next. After getting sent first one place and then another, we finally discovered we had to sleep the night at the airport and wait for the airline personnel to come in the next morning to find out what to do. The next day, we were placed on stand-by. There were only three flights going out to America and they wre all full. We were placed on the waited list for the last flight, because it had the connecting flight we needed. We were lucky enough to be the first of a dozen other people to get seats. We made it through security again and had to run for our flight. We left about 45 minutes late, but landed on time. We barely made to our connecting flight, only to find it was cancelled due to mechanical problems. This time, the airline put us up in a hotel with dinner and breakfast. The next morning, we finally made it to Little Rock from Chicago. My parents picked us up at the airport and gave us a ride home for the final hour and half. It had taken 64 hours from the time we left our apartment in China to get home.
The tickets for round-trip didn't cost anymore than one-way. With over ten weeks before our return ticket date, we are looking for work here at home to off-set some of our cost. We are also looking for work in Beijing with the hopes to find something before the middle of March. After that time, there would not be enough time to do the paperwork to return to China. Even though there are some good reasons to return to China, there are also some good reasons to stay in America. Our decision may be made for us. We will have to wait and see.