Something happens when you choose to follow a dream…
My dream has been to live, work and create community in different countries; living everyday life and beside different people in a new and different culture. For me becoming an ESL teacher with EF has provided me the opportunity to fulfill my dream.
This living a dream comes with a whole host of life hashtags and realities. There are challenges when you leave the familiar anchor of family and culture. The challenges could include finances that tie you to a place and people… or familial obligations that are both right and binding… and the thought of one’s future and what jumping into living a dream means to that future. These are all legitimate and real.
There are also the real challenges of living and adjusting to a new country: the food and water there, the infrastructure of the country, the weather and climate, the cost of living, the politics and the impact and or correlation to your nationality and all that entails, the very real cultural differences that on the surface could seem insurmountable, and then if you work in a new country all the things that go with having coworkers and adapting to a company’s culture. The challenges are real, and they exist, but these sorts of challenges are a part of everyday living no matter where we are.
There are challenges when you begin living in a new and different country. Essentially you begin to do things again for the first time in a new language, with new currency (monetary and otherwise), with new customs, not to mention finding your way around a new place. That saying, “When in Rome…”, well it is true and adapting to new ways of doing things and how things are done, is no easy task. You learn a lot about life and living, mostly because you learn a hell of a lot about yourself in this process of adapting and adjusting and settling ‘in’ to a new place and space.
People are both and at the same time, incredible and challenging. Learning a new culture in community and in the workplace are equally challenging. When you actually live, set up life in a new country, there are a myriad of ways that a person is impacted. This includes learning to step outside your own little world, to broaden your thinking and to open your heart to the many different ways of being and doing any single thing. It’s hard to imagine and difficult to describe here, the experience of change that sharing space, realizing the innate gratitude of a people, a community that accepts your being in their space. When you look at it in this way, it is not an entitlement that one is taking, but rather a gift that is given to actually live in a new country.
Learning and becoming a part of a new community takes patience and sincere interest. Patience because the need to belong is within us all. The need to be acknowledged and to be able to do in community are things that some of us also need. These things don’t just come to someone, they are gradually gathered (not really earned, per se) by just living and being, by adapting and accepting what is.
I don’t mean to sound ethereal or vague in a wooohooo-ie kind of way. So, let me write more plainly. When you set up house, long term, short term, for any length of time, in a new country you are a guest. It’s really like staying at someone’s home for a visit. You need your space and have your personal requirements, but still you are a guest and you must abide and adapt to your hosts. It is very much the same living in a new country. There are the obvious laws and regulations you must respect, but more deeply there is a culture of the people in the community that you must learn and adjust to. If you are working, there is a culture and a way of doing business that you must learn and adjust too as well. What those are actually, are the gifts of discovery for you. It is in this discovery, at least for me, that I am finding incredible personal growth internally.
Culturally where we are from, our family, our country’s people, our country all leave an indelible stamp on our being, on our psyches, our way of thinking, our way of doing things, and impact the way we interpret others and the world. When you live in a new country, beside new people with a new and different way of being, of thinking, and of doing everything, you are forever changed inside in every way. You cannot help but being changed. And, if you are willing with an open mind and an open heart, the changes you incur will be incredible and profound.
I had the benefit to travel my whole life. I traveled as a child with my family. We lived for a time in another country with my father’s work and we traveled and saw many things. As an adult I was able to travel as a tourist to many places and to see many things. But for me, I always longed to be in each place longer, to know the people there and how they lived and what everyday living was like in these places; being a tourist though enjoyable, wasn’t really what my heart desired. For me, living here in this new place, setting up house, keeping pets, shopping beside my neighbors for my daily needs, working beside people that reside in my city, experiencing the joys and woes of everyday living with a whole new collective group, is far beyond being a tourist in life… it is truly experiencing living for me. It is an extended experience of being, living and doing in a different country.
Interesting, I realize that indelible stamp of my country and people that I mentioned earlier, is always with me – we never lose who we are or where we came from – ever. Equally, this experience of living and being and the changes and growth within me from learning to live well here in this new country, will forever be with me, too. Teaching English with EF has provided me with a meaningful reason to be here in China! Luckily for me the mission and values of EF mirror my own and allows my altruistic nature to be nurtured and my creativity to thrive!
Do it. Take a chance on you and live your dream. Teaching English to children or adults, is just one way to live and to see the world. There are probably millions of ways to live your dream. For me, I am wowed this morning, as I woke to a cool breeze on my balcony, I sipped a cuppa, with my cat sitting on the rail, the setting moon on one side and the rising sun on the other, I realized with deep gratitude that I am living my dream!
ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE LEAP?
Teach, travel and train with EF English First
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