Telling people I’m making a big move to China for a year results in a lot different reactions ranging from “Good for you, that’s awesome!” to “Now why the (insert choice of expletive) would you wanna do that?” It’s interesting because I don’t always know how people are going to react when I tell them. Once we get passed the initial shock, I end up hearing a lot of the same questions.
Moving to Shanghai: FAQ
What are you going there for?
To teach English to Chinese students.
How are you going to do that (or anything) if you don’t speak the language?
So I guess a lot of people don’t realize this but the students already have an understanding of the language. I am not teaching their first ever english class. They have Chinese English teachers that have been working with them already.
How long is your flight?
I have a connecting flight in Chicago which results in a near 15 hour flight from Chicago to Shanghai. It will be LONG but I have an aisle seat!
Wait, what did you go to school for again?
Okay, good question. My college major was Marketing.
How did you end up doing this, then?
Fair follow-up. I quit my job around the same time that Rachael announced she was signing up for an additional year. I knew I wanted to do one of two things when I quit: travel internationally or plan events. If I did anything else, I wasn’t going to be happy. So, I sent Rachael a message for more info. It didn’t take long to convince me this was a great idea. I had to get certified to teach English as a foreign language so I did that over the summer – my certificate came today!!!
Are you going alone?
Yes and no. Technically yes, but I know Rachael who did it last year and she has been super helpful. Rachael will be returning for her second year, arriving a few days after me! She’s also introduced me (virtually) to Lisa who arrives the day after me. Other than that, I’ve become Facebook friends with a couple of people from my certification course that I’m excited to meet next week!
Are you scared?
Weirdly enough, no. Maybe I’ll get scared eventually, but as of right now I’m not at all. It’s weird for me to think about because I used to have awful anxiety over the littlest things. I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve changed as far as becoming more comfortable with stepping out of my comfort zone in the last few years. My high school self and current self are worlds apart (literally).
What are you most excited for?
The language and culture. For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by other languages. Before I die, I want to be fluent in five. I can’t wait to begin learning Mandarin. I’m sure it will be far more challenging than French but I’m super eager to find out. And of course the culture. You have to appreciate that when you visit another place. There’s a difference between experiencing a place through the eyes of a tourist versus the eyes of a local. I can’t wait to immerse myself into the Chinese culture over the next year and really see what it’s like to live there.
What are you going to miss the most?
Hands down, my nephews and niece. I take pride in being an awesome aunt. You better believe these kids are going to be spoiled with stuff from my adventures!
How does your family feel?
This is a sort of gray area. I think they are supportive, mostly. I still think they’re expecting me to not go through with it. My oldest brother occasionally asks if I’m still moving to China by saying things like “So, what are you doing September 18?” implying he wants me to babysit and that I won’t be on the other side of the world. I know he’s just joking though. I think everyone has come to terms with it and are pretty supportive now. At first, it was a whole other story.
Will you come home for Christmas?
Unfortunately, no. It will be different, I’m sure. I plan to send home Christmas presents and still do my best to be a part of the holiday. It is my favorite time of year so it will probably be a little hard but we will manage.
Are you packed yet?
No. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t even started yet. That is the very next project I’m going to tackle as soon as I complete this post.
How will you keep in touch?
Skype, Facebook (when possible), iMessage, but most importantly WeChat! This app is my favorite thing and I plan on it being my main mode of communication with everyone from home. You can do so much with it!
At this point, I often get the response “That sounds absolutely amazing!! Good luck, but I could never do something like that.”
Depending on the person and how receptive they’ve been to the conversation, I sometimes want to ask them “Why? Why couldn’t you?” I understand how hard it is to step out of your comfort zone and pursue something that you’ve deemed unimaginable; however, I’ve become an advocate for expanding that bubble.
Maybe it doesn’t start with a semi-spontaneous move across the globe, but it has to start somewhere if you are actually interested in conquering that some day. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone and you’ll get there. This goes for all goals, not just travel. Don’t be afraid to dream big because it’s something you feel like you could never do. That should motivate you more to do it! Keep your head in the clouds, keep you’re eye on the prize, and never slow down. It’s your life, and as cliche as it sounds, you do only live once so create experiences that you’ll be proud to tell your grandchildren about!