The romance of living abroad is one of the things that draw people into teaching ESL. Can you imagine waking up one morning, in another country? There’s new food, new people, and new adventure right around the corner. I’m not going to lie, it’s fantastic. Although there can be some “adventures” that are a bit more taxing than others. If you want to know more, check out these memes.
Paperwork takes forever
Living abroad, and signing papers
One of the reasons I started this blog was to keep busy while waiting for my Italian Work Visa to come in. As of September 10th, I will be working on this process for a year. There have been a few hiccups, both on their end and mine. But a year? I could go gray in that time!When I went to China, it was a simple matter of signing some forms, and people looking the other way (If it’s news to you, Chinese immigration is a bit… more “fluid” when the right “paper” is used)
Frustration 10/10: I’m an American, we don’t “Wait” well…
Difficulty: 2/10: I had to find a few temp jobs to keep myself afloat while waiting. Also, waiting itself is not easy. But it also won’t be the most difficult part of your job.
Go to China, You’re a Celebrity:
Living Abroad While “Different”
Lets be real for a second: If you’re just an average person, you can go outside your house and no one cares, right? You can walk down the street, and no one notices. Go to the store and buy something, and the clerk doesn’t give you a second look. You can go through your whole day and no one will even notice you.
That must be nice, that’s a luxury you may lose overseas.
See, as much progress as China has made in the last 50 years, they are still an incredibly xenophobic people. They don’t know what to do with people who are different. A day didn’t pass that someone didn’t take my picture. Once, and I swear this is true, I was handed a baby at a bus stop.
Let me make this clear: I was having a bad day, my hood was up on my jacket, and I hadn’t shaved in a week. I was the picture of “For your safety and mine, leave me alone.” Yet, the novelty of having a picture of your baby and a white guy was too much to resist.
Frustration: 8/10: It’s not bad at first, it’s kinda fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to live the life of a celebrity for a day? After a week, or a month, or a year, it gets old. Instead of being able to live life in peace, you need to be aware 24/7.
Difficulty: 3/10: Once you get used to the fact that it’s going to happen, you learn to adapt. Depending on the type of person you are, you can choose to engage, or ignore. It’s not a difficult issue, you just must get used to it.
There will always be something you cannot find:
Food While Living Abroad
What’s your favorite food? Unless it comes from the country you will be working in… good luck finding it. THe world is becoming increasingly globalized, so almost everything is somewhere. For example, In China, you can find cheeseburgers, and soups (My two favorite foods). However, in order to make a good cheeseburger, you need to know what it should taste like. If you haven’t had a good one, no matter how close you follow the directions, it will always be a little off.
Frustration: 5/10: Food is one of the things that makes us who we are. It’s not just for nutrients or flavor. Food carries our stories, and reminds us who we are. It can be incredibly disheartening to not have “your” food with you. That’s where good friends come into play. It’s easier to pool resources and make home-made food. That’s the food that will remind you where you came from, and where you’re going.
It’s hard living without your food. I’m not going to lie. But you will adapt. It sounds cliché to say “You’ll find new favorite foods.” But you will. Or you will find a way to create your food from local ingredients. In China, I learned to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, and fell in love with street food. It is rough at first, but it’s another part of the adventure.
These are just some things that living abroad is about. Do you have other ideas? Post them in the comments and let others hear about them!
Last week: 5 different teaching methods