“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” –Mark Twain
Have you ever considered working abroad but couldn’t pull the trigger on making it happen? If you answered, “Yes” you’re not alone. A lot of people are happy to kick the idea around but can’t muster the will or resources to make it happen. Maybe you’re also one of those people, but don’t fret; fear of the unknown is common. After all, there are many important decisions to make and questions to ask yourself before making such a life altering move.
“Where’s the best place to go?”
“Will I be able to adjust to the culture?”
“What if I can’t speak the language?”
“Who’s going to take care of my hamster?”
These are common questions (yes, even the last one!) – in fact, maybe you’ve asked yourself one or more of them when you were considering a year overseas.
Here are 7 signs you’ve moved past “thinking about it” and are ready to make the leap!
You’re looking for a career boost: One of the biggest advantages of working overseas is that it can offer a fast path to a senior-level position. People mired in dead-end jobs in their home country often find foreign employers are keen to put them into positions with greater responsibility. This can give you experience and training which will help you secure a better job when you decide to move back home.
You’re ready for a new challenge: There’s no better way to grow as a person than to do something that makes you uncomfortable. It’s nearly impossible to experience personal growth without getting outside of your comfort zone and suffering through the trials of learning something new. People who are able to take on and overcome personal and professional challenges are better at coping with new problems. This is why companies are so eager to hire people with international experience – people who have lived overseas for long stretches of time are usually able to make adjustments to difficult situations faster and are more open to taking challenging tasks. This is also why the happiest people have the hardest jobs.
You want to learn a new language: Less than 20% of Americans can speak a second language – this pales in comparison with Europe (53%), and most Asian countries require students to study English as a second language. This means Americans (British, Australians and Kiwis, too) are at a major disadvantage in a world that is becoming increasingly flat. Sure, English is the world’s lingua franca, but there’s no doubt that being able to communicate with people from other countries in their native language will give you an inside edge in business and social settings. Not to mention, employers often perceive people who can speak a second language as smarter – and they’re right. Learning a second language is said to improve your memory, fight off Alzheimer’s and help you with multi-tasking.
You want to learn a new skill or craft: One of the best parts of living overseas is the opportunity to learn a unique skill directly from the source. In China for instance, skills such as calligraphy, ink painting, gongfu (Chinese kung fu) and archery are disciplines that were passed from one generation to the next. Teachers of these ancient crafts are the masters in their field – it’s a rare opportunity to study from someone with that much experience and knowledge. Some people even take cooking lessons and return to their home country knowing how to roll homemade Chinese dumplings or other local delicacies!
You’ve never been outside of your home country: Many people site “Not traveling enough” as their biggest regret in life. Exploring a different country, observing the customs of the locals, trying new food, smelling new smells – these are all important experiences. Plus, people who travel more tend to have a more worldly view of current events and are more open to the opinions and views of others. For instance, the Chinese admire Americans because of our creativity and ability to innovate – people in the West admire the Chinese for their industriousness. The two countries have very different work cultures but could benefit from learning from one another.
You came out of the Great Recession underemployed: This was a common phenomenon after the chaos that followed the 2008 financial crisis. Many people came out of the ordeal with depleted savings and with a job that paid much less than the one they had before. Moving overseas is a great way to “reset” – the cost of living is much lower in Asia and finding a high-paying job is easier. While the economy in the west stagnated, China continued its blistering growth. It’s slowed a bit in recent years, but economists say 5-8% annual growth will be the norm. This means there’s still a lot of opportunity. Even if companies in the west aren’t adding to their payrolls, there’s good news: China is always hiring!
You have a bucket list: It seems everyone has one now – and if watching the sunset on the Great Wall isn’t on yours, it ought to be! China is home to 45 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From The Great Wall, and Forbidden City in Beijing to Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province – there’s a lot to see. It would probably take a lifetime to see them all, but a year or two should be enough to put a few more “ticks” on your Bucket List!
This list is probably not exhaustive – but its a good start. If you found yourself saying “Yes” to one or more of these, it might be time to start packing a bag and searching for cheap flights to Beijing!
You’ll probably want to work while you’re living in China – take a look at the ESL Suite job board for the best ESL teaching jobs in China!
Regarded as one of the two Paradises on Earth, Hangzhou is widely considered one of the best places to live in China. There’s an expression in Chinese: “上有天堂 下有苏杭” which means, “Above, there is heaven; below there is Hangzhou….”.
The UNESCO website describes West Lake as, “….comprising the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.”
A food-lovers delight, Hangzhou cuisine reflects the Zhejiang preparation style. Notable dishes include “Dongpo pork” (braised pork), clay-pot chicken colorfully named “Beggar’s Chicken” – plus a wide choice of fresh fish dishes.
Being a modern city of nearly 9 million, getting around, shopping and finding exciting nightlife are easy. Qing He Fang Street is the famous “Ancient Culture Street” and reflects characteristics of the Southern Song Dynasty.
Hangzhou is a transport hub with an international airport and connects with most major cities on the coast by train (both slow trains and high-speed rail). Within the city, taxis and buses are cheap and convenient, plus the newly opened Hangzhou Metro is easing some of the burden on the local transit system.
Our school was established in 2002 – since that time we’ve grown to include three schools in the city centre and serve over 1500 students aged 3-18. Our teaching team is composed of over twenty foreign teachers from four different continents plus nine local teachers.
Our schools are equipped with leading technology and all the resources needed to make both the teaching and learning experience outstanding. As we expand to include a fourth and fifth school in the next two years, there will be plenty of opportunity for career advancement.
There are not many places better for an aspiring teacher to start their career or for a seasoned one to continue theirs. We place an emphasis on professionalism and career development for our entire staff. A job here offers the chance for upward movement internally or transfer throughout the world’s leading private education organization.
We hope you too can join our growing family and become a part of our teaching team in Nanjing – apply today!
Position: ESL Teacher – Full time
Preparing engaging lessons for learners of various ages
Attending weekly meetings & training workshops
Delivering marketing demos
Performing placement examinations for new students
Must be a native English speaker from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the US or UK.
Two years teaching experience is preferred
Clean criminal record
CNY 8,500 – 9,000 per month (commensurate with experience and qualifications)
CNY 8,000 flight allowance
Shared accommodation or accommodation allowance of CNY 1,500/month
International Health insurance
Fully sponsored working (Z) visa and residence permit
Paid holidays and National holidays
Arrival support and full induction/teacher training
Ongoing professional development and management support
Opportunity for promotion within the centre
Anyone who is interested in learning more about this position can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the application form on our website: ESL Suite
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” –Lao Tzu
Many people spend too much time dwelling on the past or agonizing over the future. This is counterproductive since you can’t change the past nor can you control the future.
The past is useful for learning – if you make a mistake, take note of it and move on. Anything beyond that is self-inflicted punishment.
As for the future, I tend to like the notion that my actions today dictate where I will be tomorrow and beyond. Good daily habits and moving slowly towards goals will eventually lead you to happiness and fulfillment.
Don’t procrastinate when it comes to pursuing your dreams, no matter how bold. Start today by writing down the thing you’ve always wanted to do, then make a plan to make it happen – it could change your life. Whether your dream is to go back to school, learn how to scuba dive or go backpacking for a year in Asia – it’s never too late to take action.
I’d love to hear stories from readers about how they finally got the courage to chase after a lifelong dream!