It’s not easy moving abroad, especially when you’re alone.
You’re getting used to a new culture. You are trying to figure out a different language (If you don’t speak the same language.) You are also finding out if the food you want to try or decide if you will just live on peanut butter crackers for the rest of your life.
When I first made the decision to move abroad I had a long list of pros and cons. This really helped me visually see what I was leaving behind and what options were available to me.
So of course I made a new list when I was considering the move back to China. This list, was different than the last because I already had an idea of what to expect. There are so many things stressful and difficult about living abroad, but I want to share three reasons from my pro list that had me saying yes to moving back across the world during the aftermath of a pandemic.
And three reasons that may cause you to say yes too.
If you’re not into reading today, you can skip to a video on this topic instead.
1. Work-Life Balance
It’s overwhelming as a teacher trying to run copies, grade papers, have interventions, meet with parents, and create lessons all during a daily 50-minute planning period. Don’t even think about eating or going to the restroom. A teacher’s entire workday is spent implementing lessons they’ve prepared for different students. Most of the time, they are unable to start prepping or get ready for the next go-round until after the children are gone.
One of my main difficulties with teaching in America was the amount of work in addition to my normal work hours. It was never-ending. And I never felt like I was doing enough. When everyone else was able to clock out of their nine to fives, I’d pack all of my things into my school bag (and sometimes three extra bags) and go home and work throughout the evening.
There was no balance. It was non-stop.
Teaching abroad is entirely different. I don’t even have a designated school bag. It also comes with additional prep periods. If you are hired at an international school, you are most likely going to have multiple times during the day where you can plan for your students, collaborate with colleagues, and hold parent meetings.
At my international school, I can complete tasks that need to be done daily, so when I leave I don’t take work-related stresses with me. This would rarely happen in America.
And you know what this has done? It has opened up much more time for personal growth. When you are not overwhelmed by a never-ending job, you have time to invest in yourself. Is there a creative hobby you only get to do every few months? Do you have a business you want to start but can never find time to set up? Are you running out of hours in the day to dedicate to a community event you actually want to participate in?
When you move abroad you have more free time to feed the aspects of yourself that get neglected in a job that monopolizes all your time.
Yes, I love my job. And yes, I am good at it. But, I also have my own life and personal goals that I want to achieve. Teaching abroad provides an opportunity for me to learn more about myself and where I want to be in life. With my additional free time after work, I get to explore a new city, experience a new culture, and learn a new language. Then share it all with you.
2. Peace of Mind
It’s 100% difficult being black in China. I’m not going to lie.
I am fighting people constantly to get their cameras out of my face. I am being shoved babies to take pictures with. People are always pointing and gawking. A lot of times I felt like a circus sideshow.
However, I have learned that I would sometimes rather deal with being that sideshow when it means I don’t have to be fearful of going places or of the split decisions that people make based on racial biases.
Racism in China is something that you will encounter. But even in the midst of all of the stares and the points and the glances and the whispers, I am not perceived as a threat. People are just curious.
There has never been a moment in America when I’m around particular groups that I don’t feel like I should change what I’m doing to make them feel more comfortable. I am always constantly aware of how I look, how I respond to things, and how my expressions or gestures can be interpreted.
And honestly, it’s liberating not having to do that every day.
Here, I can enjoy a type of freedom that I don’t get at home because I don’t have certain privileges. With it comes a newfound peace and carefreeness that I don’t want to give up any time soon.
I have also never felt safer than living in China. You can’t do anything without people knowing. There is always someone monitoring what is happening. And there are cameras everywhere. I know you might say, “I don’t want people looking at me all the time! I don’t want them knowing where I am!” But the upside of this is people are very concerned about not doing something wrong in public. Even jaywalkers run the risk of being called out on the jumbotron at intersections.
This only adds more freedom and a heightened sense of safety to the equation. I can walk in the middle of the night and not be afraid of someone that’s following me or wanting to cause me harm. It is very seldom that a female solo traveler can say that.
3. Cost of Living
Not many people are aware of the perks that come with teaching internationally. Let me tell you a little something-something.
When you decide to sign a contract as an international teacher, a lot of the schools are going to give you a certain package. Base packages usually include free housing. In addition to this, they cover your insurance and include a beginning and end of contract flight. They may provide lunch, or even breakfast, as well as a resigning bonus. If you’re at an established school, it is possible to receive an attendance bonus and yearly travel allowance to go home or elsewhere.
With so much covered by the school, you have very few living expenses. This means after taxes (if you even have those) your salary is 100% yours to do with as you please.
Go pay off those loans.
I don’t know about you, but I do not work hard every single day to not be able to enjoy my money. I’m going to get the food I want. I’m going to have tea every single day (Maybe twice a day). I am going to go on that trip. Even if I don’t have PTO hours. The flight is booked.
A lot of ex-pat teachers (and ex-pats in general) have saved money living abroad because everything is taken care of by their employers. So they can put that money into savings. In China, there are added benefits with having a lower cost of living. Living abroad has helped tremendously in my goal of paying off my student loan debt before I turn 31. It really does place you in a good financial position for when, or if, you decide to return home. My goal for the end of this contract is to pay off my loans and have enough put away for a sizable down payment on a house.
Weighing your options and determining if you are going to move abroad is literally a life-changing experience. It can be hard if you have no one to bounce ideas off of or if people just don’t understand why you would ever want to leave the amazing country you live in. I can help with that!
I am all about building a happy, fulfilling life with plenty of world experiences.
If you want to grab more control of your time, peace, or money, you don’t have to take a big step like me and leave the country. But if you are interested in the benefits, and negatives, that come with moving abroad, I am here to share all of my experiences with you along the way.
Have you been thinking of moving abroad? Maybe even to China? Leave any questions you have about pretravel preparation and adjusting upon arrival. I will be happy to answer all of them!
For those of you who have lived abroad, what are some of the reasons you think people should say yes to moving abroad too?