“So you just graduated from college, right?” That’s what my ex-boyfriend said to me, at age 31, when I told him I decided to teach English abroad. No I wasn’t a recent post-graduate, as he well knew, but I was someone who was never really satisfied with the idea of only working and living in my own country. I spent my twenties assuming this desire would just whither away one day, but funny enough, it didn’t. Which is why I finally decided to teach abroad in my 30s. Here are some reasons I finally decided to do it:
None of My Previous Jobs Were a Good Fit
I worked as an administrative assistant, a copywriter, and did various jobs in the film industry. I whole-heartedly disliked working as a copywriter and administrative assistant, and while I enjoyed working in the film industry I resisted getting involved in it further because of the terrible hours and pay. While I wasn’t crazy about teaching English at first, especially because I had a rather crappy experience teaching English in Japan when I was 20, I had to admit that it was nothing like my previous jobs. It was so different in fact that I thought it was worth trying out. They say crazy people are the ones who do the same shit over and over again and expect the same results, so this seemed like a good bet.
I Was Waiting for the Day I’d Become an Entrepreneur and It Didn’t Happen
I’m not saying I’ll never be an entrepreneur, but you really need to know what you want to do to be one, and I just didn’t. I brainstormed so many ideas, but I wasn’t being honest with myself about what I really wanted. I kept trying to fit my interests into little marketable boxes which eventually lead me to give up on the whole thing entirely – because when you’re more concerned about how to brand yourself than in actually making something, you have a problem. This all being said, there are many people who simply don’t want to be entrepreneurs or freelancers. They want a stable income with the chance to travel. Teaching abroad offers that.
I Wanted to Be More Than a Tourist
In 2014, I did a four month tour through Europe. The whole time I kept wondering what it was like to live in the places I was visiting. I kept comparing my trips to major European cities to the day trips I would take to different places near my home in Philadelphia. Those casual short trips were always more fun than those well-planned out international excursions where we would plan our trips as if we’d never come back again. I like the lack of pressure that comes with shorter trips, and I loved the idea of settling into another country and taking shorter trips to really explore the region and its food.
I Wanted to Focus on What I Was Good At.
I feel like I spent my whole twenties being butt hurt about what I wasn’t good at. In my 30s, I was reminded of the fact that I’m damn good at learning other languages. In fact, I have a photographic memory. One day I finally realized that other people toil away at languages, constantly wishing they had the skills that I was born with, and here I was not using them. That’s like you being really good at marketing and not promoting your shit, while I hustle to get people to remember I exist. If you have bag of tricks, use it.
Doing Something Was Better Than Nothing
After a brief stint trying to become location independent as a copywriter only to realize that I didn’t care where I was in the world as long as I never had to write copy again, I felt pretty defeated and directionless. I desperately wanted to move my life in a new direction, and just thinking about what to do wasn’t working anymore. I just needed to do something, no matter how crazy it was. So I moved to Shanghai.
I Realized I’m More Lifestyle Oriented Than I Am Career Oriented
Back in my twenties, I used to make choices entirely based on the career I wanted. To be honest, I was kinda miserable in many ways. Sure, I did a lot of cool shit, but the highs that that cool shit brought didn’t last very long. I wasn’t able to enjoy my daily life because I was so insistent on being uncomfortable. I thought life had to be hard, I thought I had to work on my projects every single day even if they didn’t seem to work. I had this idea that life was a struggle and if you didn’t acknowledge that then you were just lazy and going nowhere. By the time I hit my late twenties, this theory started to seem kinda lame. I wanted to smell the roses and shit. This is what ultimately lead me to leave NYC in 2014 and travel throughout Europe, and later it inspired me to travel to China to teach English. I wanted my day-to-day life to be exciting. I thought maybe it’d be a good idea to enjoy my time on Earth. Funny enough, I found a career I liked in the process.
So that’s what lead me to teach ESL abroad in my 30s. Are you thinking of teaching abroad now too? If so, feel free to ask me any questions.