Some people probably think we are crazy, but we know that we aren’t the only ones who have done this. Liz and I have always loved traveling and exploring together. While on vacation, we would actually start planning and counting down to the next adventure. Sound familiar? But before we knew it, we were back in the rat race. Wake up early, work long hours, eat, sleep and repeat. And for what?
While we were fortunate to live the lifestyle that many people aspire to, we didn’t see the point in buying a bunch of “things” to fill our home…that’s not what makes us happy. In fact, research has proven over and over that people derive long-term, true happiness from experiences…and NOT from accumulating “things.” For us, the experiences that made us happiest were when we were out exploring the world together. So ultimately, our “normal” middle-class lives were just getting in the way of what we loved most.
We also loved working together on this website; writing and sharing information with others. It was our passion. And we found it a lot more fulfilling than 50 hours a week at a grocery store and Liz working in corporate life. For quite some time, we had talked about pursuing our dreams of living abroad and concentrating on other activities that made us more happy. But how could we see the world and support ourselves??? The answer, we discovered, was to be a Foreign English Teacher.
The Chance to Fulfill My Childhood Dream
This idea really got me thinking, and I couldn’t shake it. I had always wanted to be a teacher. In high school I was a “Granger Pal” and I would volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club and other local schools. I really enjoyed it, and I believed that I was good at helping others and impacting the lives of students. Since then, I had always wanted to be a teacher.
But, as things sometimes go, my life after graduating high school went in a different direction from where my heart initially wanted to go. So I never fulfilled my young dream of teaching, and changing careers at this stage of my life would have cost a lot of money, and many years of my life back in school.
Why Teach English Abroad?
A lot of people asked us the question, “why teach English abroad?” Well for us, we just wanted to see and do things differently, and our day to day lives were not cutting it for us. Living abroad was appealing to us because we wanted to experience a different life overseas, and be able to travel to new places in our free time. Back at home, on the weekends we could only go so far and we had already seen and done many of those things. Being overseas, we could spend our time off exploring totally new countries!
Living abroad is different from just visiting as a tourist, you have more time to really get to know the culture and experience things the way locals do. We loved the idea of being able to do this, and possible learn a bit of a foriegn language too!
However, it’s not easy to just up and move to another country. In many places, you need to actually have a job to stay there for quite some time. While there are ways to get jobs overseas, by far the easiest way is to be an English teacher. After all, we both have the skills needed for that — and many countries are looking for native English speakers for their students.
In addition, the salary of an English teacher overseas is more than enough to support yourself (and even save money – which we will talk about later).
Why Teach English in China?
Ah yes, this was the next question that our friends and family asked us after we told them of our plans. Well simply put, China has the best opportunities right now. For starters, it’s no secret that the country is growing like crazy. And most people realize that English is a valuable language to know, especially for doing business.
Being that China has such a large population, this means that a larger number of people have money, and they want to invest it in educating themselves and their students to help continue to improve their lives. So the demand for English Teachers in China has skyrocketed in recent years (and continues to do so).
Another point to make is about the compensation. While most countries around the world pay foreign English teachers a livable wage, China (and a few other countries) actually pay their teachers very comfortably.
Between the two of us, we can live in China at the same lifestyle that we had in the States…and continue to save a large sum of money! That combined with the chance to put include international work experience in China on our resumes, AND be able to explore this really amazing country really appealed to us.
We go into a lot more detail about this in our post Why Teach English in China, so be sure to click the link and check it out.
So Why Not Now?
We don’t want to live our lives with any regret. At the time of our decision to move to China to teach English, I was working 50 plus hours a week helping to run a local grocery store in Atlanta. It was exhausting, unfulfilling…and it was really tough on my body physically. I couldn’t imagine the thought of doing that job much longer, I knew my body would give out sooner rather than later. For Liz, she was working in the corporate world. While she had a great job with a great company, she was frustrated because it wasn’t her dream; and she was sick of having to deal with the narrow-minds, egos, and greedy selfishness.
Most people would think it is crazy to give up our solid middle-class, comfortable lives. But we never wanted to wonder “what if” when we got older. For more, see our post 5 Reasons to Travel the World Now.
Another benefit to us making the change to uproot our lives in the States to teach English abroad was so that we could spend more time doing what we love, which is writing and sharing our travels with our readers. We truly love inspiring others and sharing useful information with them to help plan their future travels. Working on the website along with our full time jobs, made it feel like we were working 2 full time jobs! Just thinking back on it drains me even now.
But as a foreign English teacher our hours are much more reasonable. Work weeks as a Foreign English Teacher range depending on the school, from roughly 25 – 35 hours a week. This includes a couple weeks of vacation time and quite a number of national holidays off. Compared to my old job in the States, these hours sounded great and would leave us plenty of time to explore and work on other projects.
Taking that First Leap
After making the announcement to our friends and family, we had a few people who scratched their heads. But mostly people told us “I admire the two of you for chasing your dreams. That’s so brave of you.” It’s strange, because to us it doesn’t seem “brave,” it just seems like a good idea. We can always come back if it doesn’t work out, so why not try it out to see how we like it?
After spending the first few months on the road traveling around Hawaii, Thailand, and New Zealand (with some short stops in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar), we were ready to make our way to China to teach English. Luckily, everything worked out perfect and we were able to find a job teaching English in China – just as we wanted!
I was very happy to land a job at First Leap, an after school program that teaches children English using fun topics such as art, music, and science. Liz is also doing exactly what she wanted, teaching adults and corporations. But for me, I really couldn’t have asked for a better school and better English teaching opportunity here in China. I really love my job, I feel like I’ve found the best teaching job in the world. And I’m so happy to be fulfilling my dream from so long ago, halfway around the world!
We are so happy that we decided to take this leap in our lives. It has been fulfilling for us in so many ways, and it’s great that we were able to go on this adventure together.