I’ve started a new Pinterest board. It’s called Shenzhen. I’ve anxiously and eagerly been adding to this board because well... in exactly 13 days I’ll be moving to China! YES... CHINA!
No matter how many times I type those words or tell someone about my move, it doesn’t quite sink in. It’s crazy to think that some of life’s greatest adventures haven’t even happened yet. I know I know, a gross cliché, but a refreshing way to look at things.
Regardless of how much we’ve already accomplished, there is still so much to uncover, so much to learn. I haven’t felt this hungry to experience newness in a very long time. You know that whole ‘be comfortable with being uncomfortable’ thing that everyone talks about? Yeah that. I’m so ready for that. I’m thankful that I started this space when I did because for the first time in a truly long time, I feel like this blog is going to help someone; it’s going to help me. This is one of the biggest transitions to date, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified. I get to use this space as a way to embrace the adventure, be authentic in my experience (not every day is gonna be as pretty as an IG feed), and push my own family and friends into a headspace that inspires them to go out and do things they never thought they could.
While brainstorming how I would share the news with all of you, it only made sense to answer the same frequently asked questions I’ve gotten whenever I’ve told someone about this adventure. If you're curious about how an itch to live and teach abroad quickly turned into a not-so-crazy dream of mine, keep on reading!
Believe it or not, teaching abroad has been something I’ve been wanting to do for years now. During my third year of undergrad, I began telling my parents how I wanted to do an exchange program, preferably in Australia. I had family there, and if I got homesick, I could visit them on weekends and eat some mean chicken curry. Unfortunately, with residence life taking over (and my not-so-amazing grades lol), it never ended up happening. When I was applying to teachers college, I knew that teaching abroad was something I really wanted to do. I was never set on a specific country or anything, but overtime, places like the UK and Australia no longer interested me. If I was committing a year or two of my life to living elsewhere, I wanted to experience it in place with a completely different culture than mine. For some reason, before I had done any type of research, I always gravitated towards South Korea. Little did I know, I’d be going to China instead. It's kind of weird how things unfold isn't it?
I went to teachers college straight outta undergrad, so that overwhelming need for change and adventure was the push that lead me to apply for this China position in the first place. What started as a “let me just apply, I have nothing to lose” moment eventually evolved into a “damn, this school actually sounds hella cool… I might actually do it” moment. And here I am now, with a one-way ticket to HKG.
Where in China are you moving to?
The school I'll be working at is located in Shenzhen, about an hour away from Hong Kong. I'll be looking for a place to live when I get there!
What did your parents say when you told them?
I always told my mom that after I got my B.Ed, I wanted to teach internationally before “settling down” (whatever that even means). I would throw out hypothetical scenarios ALL THE TIME. When things eventually fell into place, I don’t think they were all that surprised. I still hear the occasional “just find a job here!” comments from my dad, but that isn't entirely surprising. He said something similar when I told him I was going to Western lol. My mom on the other hand is quite excited and a lot more open to this idea. I sometimes catch her giggling while she tells her friends. In all honesty, I think she’s just glad that I’m finally doing something more productive with my time. Yes, I spend far too much time on Netflix...
Why go abroad if you can just teach here?
One way or another, I’m going to be teaching for a very long time. I think most of us can agree that work will take up a significant amount of our lives, no matter how much we want it to. One of the beauties of teaching is that you can do it anywhere. For me, teaching abroad is so much more than just a job. I’m going to be working for the rest of my life but right now, the circumstances in my life allow me to move across the world and find a job elsewhere. I’m not sure how the circumstances in my life will change, so it feels like now or never. I can find a teaching job here, but I want more than just a classroom. I want to experience a new culture, learn a new language, get lost, meet new people. Travel. I’m craving adventure and I need a true dose of it, and I know all of this will trickle into my role as an educator. Finding an international teaching opportunity isn't about an inability to find a teaching job here, but rather about me exploring my more adventurous and spontaneous side. I want to challenge myself professionally but more so personally and that is why I'm so adamant about teaching abroad first.
Will teaching internationally make it easier for you to find a job when you come back?
This is a question that my mom loves to ask. Who knows though. I like to think that every job comes with a set of skills that will indirectly help you with the next one. Although the process of finding a teaching job in Ontario is very different from an international one, there is an abundance of skills that come with moving to another country that I think can help anyone, no matter what profession they're in.
How long are you going for?
I'll be leaving on August 26th and won’t be back until July 2018! I do have a month off in January so J will be paying me a visit!!!
Are you going alone?
I’m going with a good friend from teacher’s college, and the coolest part is we’ll both be teaching at the same school. You’ll be seeing lots more of her soon (hehe)! I really can’t think of anyone more genuine to be sharing this experience with and I'm so thankful to be taking a little piece of home with me.
Aren’t you scared?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. You can plan and plan and plan, but there is so much unknown that comes with a trip like this. I haven’t been this far from my family so there will definitely be a huge adjustment period for me. I think as humans we can get accustom to just about anything. But, I’m really going to miss the little things like the way Oden greets me when I walk through the front door, and momma Shanthi's home cooked curries. It’s missing out on little things like this that I’m most worried about. I really want to make sure I'm in a positive headspace no matter what happens and look after my mental and physical wellbeing while I'm there.
What does Jay think of this?
Honestly, this question is the most asked and the fact that it is makes me chuckle. J and I have always believed that experiencing a life outside of us is important. Pushing each other out of our own comfort zones is something we take very seriously, and something we actively work on. The next two years is about us fiercly chasing our dreams, and wholeheartedly rooting for one another in the process. As much as this is a change for me, it’s a change for the both of us. Although change can be hard and unsettling at times, it's the one thing that allows us to grow. We really want to push each other, and motivate each other to be the best we can be even if that means doing so on two different time zones, a million miles apart. Don’t ever let a relationship hold you back from doing what you’ve always wanted to do. This doesn’t just apply to an intimate relationship. We really don’t give our loved ones enough credit - they will not crumble with a few months of distance. Of course we'll miss one another but this just means an upcoming Southeast Asia trip for JD+NK!
What grade will you be teaching?
Kindergarten! *happy dance*
What does this mean for your blog?
There is no doubt in my mind that the first two months will be utter chaos between starting a full time job and finding a place to live. But, one of my biggest goals for this year is setting aside time every week to update all of you on the ups and downs of this transitions no matter how busy everything gets. I want to use this year to focus on my creative side as well, so if there is anything specific you want me to touch upon during my time abroad, please feel free to leave me suggestions in the comments below or send me a message privately!
You all motivate me more than you'll ever know, and I can't wait to share more in the upcoming months. Here's to being utterly terrified, but jumping all in anyways!
A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.