My Road to China

 A beautiful day on the Isle of Skye.
Why would you  want to leave?  Picture  whilst camper vaning on the isle of Skye – 2013

Leaving university to move home to ‘bonnie’ Forres in North East Scotland was a blessing and a curse. Spending the next two years living in my childhood home, getting to spend more time in an amazing area of the world, working for two great companies and spending priceless time with my family and friends was the blessing. Feeling a lack of independence, a degree of failure, an unsatisfied desire to push my boundaries and my unfulfilled yearning to explore the world was the curse.

With a career change in progress (from business development to secondary teaching) and a successful application to join the August 2014 PGDE course at the University of Edinburgh I found myself with a 6 month hole in my life that needed filling. Spending hours trolling the internet searching for inspiration took me to some very interesting places, one of which was teaching English overseas. I had heard of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) before but had never properly considered it. With my new goal to become a Geography teacher the opportunity to travel to exotic countries whilst teaching seemed like the perfect opportunity to see some of the world whilst gaining valuable experience. Now all I had to do was choose a country and find a job…

Packing for 6 months of work, leisure, hot, cold, dry, wet, working and living proved to be a challenge!
Packing for 6 months of work, leisure, hot, cold, dry, wet, working and living proved to be a challenge!

Having travelled in South East Asia in the past (Indonesia and Thailand) I had definitely caught the Asia bug but this time was looking for a different challenge. Being one of the largest, most diverse and significant countries in the world, China was an obvious choice. I felt drawn to the unknown, the opportunity and the adventure that China offered. Searching for TEFL jobs lead me to True China (www.truechina.org)– a native Chinese company operating in a number of major cities offering oral English teaching positions in local schools. After a couple of Skype interviews, lots of discussion with friends, family and my better half I decided to accept a position teaching in a primary school in the heart of Chengdu. At this point it was early November and I wasn’t scheduled to leave until early February leaving me three months to deliberate over every tiny detail of my packing. In hindsight this might have lead me to focus more on my preparations for China and not enough about what living in China would be like!

Star marks the spot: now you know where Chengdu is.
Star marks the spot: now you know where Chengdu is and more importantly where I am.

As the months, weeks and days pulled me closer to take off I found it difficult believing that I was actually going to be living and working in China. Many people tried to warn me that it would be a shock to my system but nothing could prepare me for the reality. Honestly, stepping of the plane in Chengdu was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life and as I would soon find out my adventure was only just beginning.

Postcard perfect: the type of China I dreamt about before leaving. Reality? I think not.
Postcard perfect: the type of China I dreamt about before leaving. Reality? I think not…
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