Two and a half months ago, I dropped the big “I’m moving to China” bomb on my boss. She stared at me for a moment, and started fumbling over her desk as if trying to grab ahold of the intangible words I had just spoken. I started to explain my decision, feeling as if I had just broken up with her, and as I was throwing in the old “It’s not you, it’s me” banter, she stopped her nervous patting, and gave me a stern, serious look.
“Are you sure you’re moving to China?”
In so many forms, this is the most common reaction I have received. Generally, the look that passes the faces of my friends, co-workers, and some of my family members is reminiscent of “Why in the hell would anyone want to move to China?” My guess is it probably isn’t for everyone. In fact– It might not even be for me, but I’m going to find out.
I’ve always wanted to teach English abroad. Everything about the idea of living and working in a foreign city, where I don’t speak the native tongue, excites me. There is nothing more invigorating to me than jumping headfirst into the unknown, and China is the furthest unknown.
Why China? Several reasons.
- Mandarin. I am thrilled that I will be forced to learn Mandarin, a fascinating, useful, and complicated language. I love languages and there is no better way to learn than plopping down in the middle of a city where English is a rarity.
- China offers some of the best programs for ESL teachers. My teaching company in particular offers a free shared apartment, mandarin lessons, opportunity for support, a flight allowance, insurance, etc. My original plan was to teach in Spain, but all the programs I encountered did not include living arrangements and yet you still had to pay thousands of dollars to ensure a job. The pay was also dismal. It’s a sad truth, but everyone wants to teach in Spain so assisting companies can get away with this. In short, as a noob to the TEFL world, I felt most comfortable going with a company, and China had the best offerings.
- China is a challenge. It’s 110% different than my world here in Germantown Hills, IL where I work for an ATM company, and everyone drives a lifted 4×4.
I would be lying if I said I’m not a little terrified. It’d be weird if I wasn’t the least bit afraid of the impending move from rural Illinois to Wuhan, China, a city 3 times the size of Rhode Island with a population over 100 times bigger than Peoria. At the same time, I am SO pumped for this move. Life’s best decisions are made under the coexistence of fear and excitement. We should all do things that terrify us, push us, and force us outside of our comfort zone. It keeps us changing, and this is how we know we are alive.
18 days and counting. I’ll never be prepared for this move, but I am so ready to take the dive.