Until entering the final year of my English degree, life after University never really crossed my mind, or phased me. It was only after the relentless “so, what’s your plans for next year?” interrogations from friends and family, I began to contemplate the fact I had no plan at all. Upon much reflection, this became a very scary prospect. Life in my university bubble was about to pop and the thought of the ‘real world’ was a daunting one to say the least.
So, with that, my internet searching for a new career began. (Admittedly, it was a good way to escape writing my dissertation). I was looking at graduate schemes, full time jobs, masters courses, but deep down none of them really excited me.
I was scrolling on Facebook and saw an advert for a TEFL Course in China. I was naturally intrigued. Travelling and teaching are both things that really interest me and I saw the 10 months teaching in China as a new challenge; which is not only bound to make me more employable afterwards, but more resilient. With quite a lot of paperwork, a few leaving parties, and a graduation later, I was on a plane to Beijing. Announcing my plans to my friends and family triggered a mixed reaction, ranging from pure awe to puzzlement.
Now, I am four months into living and working in Shanghai. And, when people ask me what living in China is like, I don’t really know what to tell them. Less than half way in, I can’t imagine not living here, or going back to life in England. The teaching is enjoyable, I have made some lovely bonds with both students and teachers. Plus, the weekends become a terrific opportunity to travel around China.
In just a few weeks, the winter break begins, allowing me to travel to Vietnam, Bali and Laos with new friends. China is perfectly situated to (cheaply) make your way around Asia.
Undoubtedly, something like this is never the easiest ride. Of course, there are struggles. The hardest part of living in China is not the teaching, but living here. Frustrating or strange things are highly likely to occur. But these once ‘strange’ things form part of the everyday, and soon, China is normal, and everything else is alien.
I would whole heartedly recommend this experience to anyone who wants to try something different, or break away from the norm.
Written for The Fewer Things by Emily Aspinall - Check out Emily's adventure on her Instagram page @emilyaspinall