I’ll never forget the day I announced to my family my plan to move to China to teach English. The astonished looks on their faces followed by the predictable question, “WHY???”, will stay with me for a long time.
One good friend was particularly supportive: “That’s a third world country, bro. Good luck.”
Little did they know the amount of research and planning I had done before I announced my bold plan. In fact, I had already gone so far as to finish a 100-hour TEFL course at UCLA.
My TEFL course instructor spent several years in China and Taiwan – he urged me to reconsider my original plans to teach in South America. His reason was simple, “Move to China and learn Chinese. That’s a language you’ll be happy to know in a few years.”
So I did.
Four years later I can say with confidence it was the best decision I ever made. I was 29-years old and had only been outside North America two times – it was time to go see the world.
I taught for two years with a great school in Tianjin then was lucky enough to stumble upon a job as a project manager for a growing Japanese company on the outskirts of the city. Two more years later, I established enough of a professional network to start my own recruiting company in China, ESL Suite. My “one year plan” quickly became four; four years will likely become seven or eight.
Now people ask me all the time: “What’s it like teaching English in China?”. I like to tell them, “It’s equal parts Indiana Jones and Mister Rogers.”
Admittedly, I’m probably more like 80% Rogers and 20% Indy (if that), but you get the general idea.
Now when I return to my hometown in Buffalo, my friends and family are thrilled to hear about the interesting experiences I’ve had. Their faces are just as astonished as that fateful day I told them I was heading to the Far East.
I’m not usually the type to say, “I told you so.”, but I never miss the opportunity to tell them directly to their faces, “我已经告诉你们我来中国生活就是个特别好的想法!”. (Roughly Chinese for: “I told you so.”).
Gratuitous self promotion:
If you’re the adventurous type and a native speaker of English, don’t hesitate to fill out our application form today! Exciting opportunities may be just around the corner!