By Jessica Addington
Ever since I can remember, I have been a planner. I would plan my week ahead of time, plan my summer and plan my vacations. I find planning relaxing and I find comfort in knowing what is going to happen next. It was the same with planning what I wanted to do after college. Before I graduated university, I knew I wanted to teach abroad, so I enrolled in a TEFL course pretty much the day after graduation. I knew that I wanted to work overseas in Asia, but I had no idea where. A strange turn of events led me to China and I am thrilled that it happened that way because I am working and living in a country that is giving me so much.
Living and teaching in China right after University was the perfect plan and many other expats will tell you that they wished they had done the same. If you let it, this country can give you a worthwhile experience and some life lessons along the way. It gives you time to process your post-graduation plans while travelling the world, but that’s just for starters. Read on to find out all the amazing benefits of teaching overseas as a post university option.
1: It gives you time to process
College can be a stressful time, with writing papers, working and trying to become an adult all at the same time. You are so busy looking forward and being excited for the future, that when the future arrives, you are not quite sure what to do with it. By taking some time after university and using it to teach abroad in China, you allow yourself some time to take everything in and to process and think about your next move. Many of my friends back home rolled right into Masters programmes after graduation or moved directly into a job that they didn’t love. By moving to China, I was able to buy myself some time to really think about what I wanted in my career and decide in my own time, while traveling as well.
2: It allows you to truly experience the world
University is an amazing time in your life, four years of socializing, meeting new people and trying new things. Having said that, it is generally limited to that one sphere where you are studying, working and living a very routine life. This does not leave a lot of time to go out and experience different cultures and different people and this can feel limiting.
Before graduation, every adult I talked to said that I should get some life experience before I decided what I wanted for my career and they were right! I just happen to be getting that life experience a world away. Living and teaching in China forces you out of your comfort zone. You meet people who don’t speak your language. You travel to new and exciting places like Malaysia and Thailand. You try new things like cooking egg tarts or scootering! You truly get to experience all that the world has to offer. What an amazing gift!
3: It forces you to grow up
Living and moving to China after university is scary and thrilling at the same time; it also throws you into the deep end all alone. Unless, by some miracle, you know someone who lives in China before you move here, when you board the plane, you are alone for maybe the first time in your life. Sure, there will be friendly faces on the way and possibly an agency to greet you, but for the most part you are all by yourself. This can be terrifying but it is also a great opportunity. Teaching in China after graduation forces you to grow up quickly, to fend for yourself and to make decisions without the help of your parents, friends, or a safety net. It is a great feeling because you will feel truly like an adult who can face anything that life throws at you. Let me tell you, having experiences like navigating border crossings with no Chinese and a lack of correct documents will force you to grow up really fast!
4: It allows you to learn about yourself
Teaching in China after university will teach you so much about who you are as a person. University teaches you to function in the work place, but living in another country teaches you how you operate and exist in the world. Maybe you will find that you are not as organized as you thought or that you don’t like teaching kids after all. Let me tell you, nothing teaches you that you do not speak up for yourself enough than your school asking you to make lessons without a computer or expecting you to make holiday plans with only a week’s notice. These cultural experiences will force you to have lots of self-reflection and you will learn who you are as a person stripped of all your past experiences.
5: It humbles you
Moving to China will change the way you view the world, in a great way. Hopefully, through your experience, you will learn that other cultures should be appreciated, even if they are difficult at times. You will learn that the world doesn’t revolve around your own culture and that whatever you find irritating about another culture, they most definitely find irritating about yours. Living in China will humble you because you will know that you are living in a place equally as amazing and fascinating as the one you originated from. This is one of the greatest lessons you can learn.
So there you have it – if you are in any way uncertain about your next step after college, I strongly recommend you go teach in China…..you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
TFA has a wide variety of teaching positions in locations across China. For details of our roles teaching adults or teens, check out our featured job link: http://www.teachersforasia.com/exciting-teaching-positions/. If you’re interested in taking a TEFL course, check out our fully-accredited courses at http://www.tfa-academy.com/.