Spring brings possibility and hope with the blooming crocus, the melting snows and the warming temperatures. We can depend on the change of seasons, which hold true for our lives as well. It sounds cliché’ I know, but it’s truth, too. We have this series of interviews and articles here on our EF Blog titled All Roads Lead to EF, about teachers from unexpected backgrounds teaching EFL. I’ve met a winemaker, scientists, a fashion designer, a biology teacher, and many others; our motivations for coming to China to teach are as unique as the individuals. Here is my story…
When I was in my 20’s I dreamed of traveling the world. My ideas then were to uncover the delightfully unique things about each place by spending a reasonable amount of time to uncover the cuisine, the industry, whatever ‘it’ was about ‘wherever’ ‘it’ might be. I did my fair share of traveling and seeing the world but as the typical tourist and not as in-depth as I had hoped and dreamed.
Speed ahead to my early 40’s and I found myself by choice, a single mother to two amazing young girls living in the most expensive area of the US. What with doing a whole lot of firsts in this new life stage, my dreams were on hold as I had to earn a living, bring up these two amazing children, and do a good bit of growing-up myself. I found I had a knack for sales and a keen interest in financial technology, so I began a decades long focus at earning money, raising my children, and losing a bit of myself in the process. It was also at this time that I began meditating and realizing my need and drive to be of service to others, and so in my free time I began volunteering. It was with this work that I also allowed my interest in travel to resurface and I discovered my desire to live and work abroad, and to build a community in different countries.
Working in the fintech industry for a couple of international companies, I really thought I’d find my way to working abroad with them, but drats if that didn’t work out for me. Alas, I took a position in recruiting for a company that specialized in technology and we both thought my background in fintech would be a good fit. I also thought I would gain some valuable experience that would allow me to work as a recruiter remotely, abroad. It wasn’t a great fit and my ideal wasn’t realized, but it was also at this time that I met a recruiter who would introduce me to EF and help me with my initial position here in China!
Going from working in fintech in highly organized companies, in roles that required intense drive, to beginning to teach English as a Foreign language, well there wasn’t a real connection at all and most everything is different. The work and business culture and living and working in China is vastly different from that in the US. I expected and welcome all the differences… even more I welcome the lessons I am learning about myself. I don’t mean to sound wooowhoooie, but truly living in a whole new country and everything that entails, plus add the work aspect and all it entails, and you’ve got to know that there will be things to learn!
I have a hashtag, #LivingaDreaminChina, and it holds true every single moment of every single day. I am living a dream, making choices every day based on different expectations and parameters than I would have back home and working in my previous field. The biggest thing for me is learning every day about living. Learning about accepting differences and letting things go. Additionally, I am learning about how ‘different’ is most often a good thing – when you accept and let go. I am learning to truly be of service to others, in putting others first and listening more and better. I am learning a different life tempo, which is much, much slower than what I knew before. This slower tempo has given way to more time for my writing and my art, for better self-care with meditation and exercise. I’ve learned that I am pretty good company for myself, too. Yes, you have permission to laugh out loud at this one! But seriously, when you arrive in such a homogeneous country you forever remain an outsider, and even though I have a circle of lovely local friends, I am mostly in company with myself, and that has been ok and a good thing.
All of this is worth doing, any time in life, but for me, here in the middle of my life, I welcome it all. Oh and I didn’t mention, I have also learned I love teaching English! So, I can add to my list here, that I have found a new passion and career, teaching English as a foreign language! Keeping my mind, heart and body agile at this second half of life is a pretty cool thing as I am #LivingaDreaminChina!
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Susan is an American woman living a dream — a dream to live and work in community in different countries! Several years in to her journey, she has found her home-away-from-home, while learning more about herself, more about the world, and building bridges through common language as an ESL teacher with EF Kids and Teens in Taizhou, Zheijiang, China. #Livin’aDreamInChina!
Click here to learn more about Susan