When I was younger, I never wanted to live abroad. Travel, sure, but live? Getting home would be hard. The food would be different. Imagine trying to live my day-to-day life in a different language! And forget about things like having a comfortable apartment or great quality of life. I mean sure, things would be interesting, but there’s a lot to be said for familiarity.
Then reality came knocking and I started to question if my comfort zone was really all that comfortable. Sure, I had a great job in one of the world’s top ten most livable cities, but the high rents were killer and made it difficult to actually go out and enjoy all the city had to offer. My job was amazing, but it wasn’t very secure. And, of course, the 9-5 grind was starting to get really dull. There wasn’t much adventure in the day to day details, and I could almost feel the years begin to slip away in an endless march of mundanity.
I’m a big believer in shaking things up, just a little, when they start to seem too predictable. So when the opportunity to work in China came up, I started looking into it more and discovered that it was a great way to ease out of my comfort-zone and give my life back the zest it was missing:
To the West when it comes to technology and brands. Sure, when you travel halfway around the world you want to know that you’ve arrived somewhere different, and you’re totally going to get that when you come to China. You don’t just step off the plane into a city of 20 million and feel like you’ve only gone one town over. But you can step off the plane and find things like Shake Shack, H&M, or yes, even Costco. You may never go to those places once you arrive, but somehow knowing that you could go there if you wanted to makes that first step out a little easier. It can’t be that different, right?
Even with those connections, it’s a whole new world and that gives every day the potential for adventure. I think that’s one of the wonderful things about working in China. If I’m having a day when I need home-comforts I can get those. But on other days, I can totally indulge my sense of adventure. Living here makes it easy to manage my comfort zone. I’ve gone hiking on mountain trails that are hundreds of years old, had a tea tasting ceremony in the hills where the tea was grown, and eaten food that I’d never heard of back home. It’s been incredible to know that after a day at work I can just step out and be a tourist, because it means that there’s always something new just around the corner.
Stepping out of my comfort zone became a lot easier once I realized what all I’d be gaining if I moved abroad. A lot of my career connections were already shifting to China, and although I’d be working in the education sector instead of finance, I knew that the experience of working in China would give me a competitive edge when I decided to go back home. I was even able to find an employer who sponsored me for the TEFL qualification I needed to teach, which was awesome: I was gaining additional qualifications and expanding my resume before I even started my job.
Another great reason to work in China is the cost of living difference to back home. My salary here goes a lot farther, which means I can afford a nicer place to live and a lot of perks like ordering in my meals, travel, and putting money aside. In China I’m able to have the quality of life that I wanted back home while also getting the adventure of living in a new place. It’s the best of both worlds.
Out of all the benefits of working in China, however, the one that sticks out the most is personal growth. Working with people from all over the world means that I get exposure to new ideas and different ways of doing things. Renting an apartment in a Chinese community means that I get to witness how my neighbors live their day-to-day lives. I know it’s changed how I look at the world, and people, for the better.
It’s all too easy to have your comfort zone slip into complacency and then, before you know it, life is passing you by. Be bold, live your best life, and experience all the benefits of taking your career in a new direction by teaching English in China.