Taking the leap outside of your comfort zone by immersing yourself in a completely new and exciting culture - to travel to the other side of the world and teach English internationally - can certainly be a daunting prospect. Although the benefits of embarking on such an adventure - the opportunities for growth and self-development afforded to us as a result of leaping - are indeed profound and potentially life-changing, the restrictive clutches of comfort will continue to appeal to our narrow senses, and hold us back if we allow them to.
Often, we require a little encouragement: a gentle nudge disguised as a nugget of wisdom from a loved one, or a sign from the universe, that feeling of synchronicity that resonates with our being and informs us that we are indeed, on to something.
It's important to remember though, that teaching abroad is a journey that may require some inspiration to go with that gentle nudge, and if you know where to find it, you are half way there.
Encouragement can manifest itself in the form of language; inspirational stories that speak to our soul, touch our heartsand open our minds to the beauty of life itself. Books have the ability to inspire us, take us to places where we never thought existed; beautiful word patterns on the page that speak to us on a deep, spiritual level, and force us to look within and ask questions of ourselves. There is something quite powerful about a book that has the ability to alter our perception and change our thought patterns; a book that ignites a burning desire within.
Below you will find a list of books that fit this very description. I should warn you though, that after reading these modern-day spiritual masterpieces, you may be encouraged to make some drastic changes. You may even find yourself teaching English internationally. One day you could be sitting cross-legged on the other side of the world, guzzling soju under the night sky with a group of Korean ajusshi's, contemplating life while looking up at the stars, as the sounds of clinking glasses and shouts of 'Ganbae' whistle in the breeze. Or something along those lines.
In this beautifully written memoir, Mitch Albom recounts the time spent with his 78-year-old sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was diagnosed with ALS. The two are reunited after Mitch becomes aware of Morrie's terminal illness. During Morrie's final months, they meet once a week to ponder life and the meaning of it, discussing core values such as love, happiness, acceptance and openness. It also paints a beautiful picture of the student-teacher dynamic.
A charming and intriguing story about modern life told through the eyes of a competent young psychiatrist named Hector, who cares for his patients, but finds he can't do much for those who are dissatisfied with life. The thought begins to trouble him, and when a patient tells him he looks in need of a vacation, it sparks him into action. He decides to take a trip around the world to find out what makes people happy, a journey that takes readers around the world and into the soul.
One of my all-time favourites. Paolo Coelho's enchanting novel has sold around 65 million copies worldwide, and as of August 2016, reached its 408th consecutive week on The New York Times' bestseller list. The central theme of this book is of finding one's destiny. The story follows a young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels to the Egyptian desert in search of his personal treasure, thus embarking on a spiritual journey, the tale of which has inspired a generation.
“Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist
I sometimes think back to that young and naive graduate who reluctantly shuffled out into the real world. How he hummed and hawed and hesitated before taking that initial decision to break free from the shackles of his comfort zone to teach English internationally. To even attempt to articulate how grateful I am that I took the plunge, is beyond my capabilities.
That being said, your experiences will be your own. And as deeply profound and mind-expanding as they undoubtedly will be if and when you do decide to take the leap, they will be unique to you and your journey.
I would simply like to ask you to consider the possibilities; what may seem like a daunting and scary prospect could turn out to be an incredibly significant moment looking back. A turning point, if you will. How exciting. Perhaps there may even be an inspirational story to tell at the end of it all, especially if you take a job in China.