Why You Shouldn’t Teach English Abroad

You Should Stand on Your Head
You Should Stand on Your Head


I’ve been working here at Aston for about three months, and I’ve had my heart broken, reopened, and put back together several times already.

But I am happy.

And I am in love.

So how is it possible that I’ve had my heart torn apart and pieced together again an endless number of times?

It is easy to love without the walls that once protected me from nothing.

I came to China.

Chicago, Cambodia, China.

I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with my roommates, I fell in love with my Chinese teachers, I fall in love with my students.

The weeks tick, passing by, and I start to to realize the truths of my wanderings, travelings, and repetitions.

China. Cambodia. Chicago.

The beautiful people can not stay. They come, they live this place out, they love the moments deep, and the adventures call them onward.

Dance, play, live. Soaking up the sun of Wuhan’s light as an FT, as a celebrity. Living the life of instant fame, luxury, defeat.

Dance, play, live and love.

Rinse, repeat.

But we live fast and we die hard. We live hard then we die faster. We live, we pass. We cherish, we continue.

And my heart breaks when you leave.

Keep on moving, teaching, loving, watching the children grow as they attach, reattach, detach, and grow. Because we are always coming, and then we always go.

Love, take, foster, thrive, dive.


Again another leaves, we miss you, and this passes. The kids accept, we move on, because you left and this is our job. Time to go again. Start for another round, begin for the third time in four weeks. We build our resilience, and we repeat.

Come, go, live, die. Rinse, repeat, love, dry.

Hang up.

We’re out.

Bye, bye, and we will see you next time.

Three months in, and I’ve lost count of how many times you have left, have come, have gone, and I wonder if someday that will be me, just rinsing and repeating. Forgetting about the love in order to move on to the money, or forgetting about the need to prosper, in order to follow the one who reminds me when to eat.

Will it be me who carries on in these moments that flash by?

What will I carry? What will we carry? Where will we go?

What if I forget to see all the seconds, these moments, those smiles, the faces and my truths?

I can’t forget the perspectives because the love of my kids keeps me going but your love keeps me sane. Their faces keep me smiling, but you remind me to breathe.

So please, come back to China if you never left.

Come teach, but stop breaking our hearts. Love us as if we were already your home, and your people, and the country that will love you if you love us back.

Or leave and keep going.

There is no moment that isn’t worth savoring, so be free.

But I believe in these faces, the smiles, the young embraces that pass by with sticky fingers and momentary Chinglish.

Who do you live for, my love?

Come. Stay. Leave. Come again. Be gone. Follow your plan, live the life you will pick, but tell me who do you live for?

Come to China.


Live for your moments.

But don’t break hearts.


4 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Teach English Abroad”

  1. I think you (you in general) should always teach English abroad. I recommend it to everybody. Doesn’t suit some people, there are certainly challenges to be overcome in China and anywhere else. But by and large, for me at least, the good has vastly outweighed the bad.


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