‘Every time I travel, I meet myself a little more. Sometimes you have to leave all your cities to fall in love.’ – Yrsa Daley-Ward
Exactly one year into being a graduate, I decided I had enough of adulting like I didn’t give a shit about poor credit and unemployability.
I was 23, perpetually broke, bored and creatively barren. Fresh out of career ideas, patience and confidence in my future – I was exhausted and over it, quite frankly.
Not only had I graduated from a good university and spent years doing a degree I later grew to despise, I would then continue to either receive rejection emails, when employers could be bothered to respond, or enter short-term unpaid internships whilst my peers, some of whom hadn’t even gone to uni, were doing vacation schemes or already 2-years deep into an entry level job earning them over £21,000 per year – I was devastated.
So, I decided after months of not even stepping near to a career ladder it was time to switch it up, weigh up more options and be a bit more open to the idea of leaving the country. Maybe London wasn’t big enough to accommodate me, and that’s OK. I would have to be a bit more creative, albeit out there, with my job searches.
My mum, being the provider of invaluable nuggets of information, would later plant the seed that would change the rest of my life. Seeing my growing frustration, she mentioned that my aunt did a 4-year stint in Mozambique in the 70s with the British Council.
‘Oh yes, they treated her very well, and she ended up learning the local language, too’ she said in her usual nonchalant way of saying things – and if memory serves me correctly whilst pulling out innards or scouring a grease stained Dutch pot.
‘Maybe you should apply for a teaching scheme abroad? Learn a language. Follow in the footsteps of your aunt and your mama’, she chuckled indulgently, and it started to become more credible the more thought I gave it. And then I found it:
‘English language assistants in China
Eligibility: To become a Language Assistant, you must be a native-level English speaker.’
You must be willing to accept any post offered to you. You will be able to register your preferences, but these cannot be guaranteed.
You will need to be available to complete the whole period of appointment for the country to which you apply.
You do not need a ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ qualification to be able to apply.’
Hallelujah! A glimmer of hope! The language assistant role only required you to have completed two years of university; you didn’t even need to know how to speak Mandarin, and from the looks of the requirements it looked like I’d be putting some of the things I learnt in uni to some use. I would have 2 weeks worth of TEFL training in Beijing before settling in another Chinese city for 12 months, my visa reimbursed upon completion of the post, my accommodation provided for (including bills), and most importantly to me I was going to get paid.
I applied and I never looked back. And even after passing all interview stages, receiving that confirmation email officially welcoming me as a Language Assistant it still took me a while to process it. Things like this never happened to me…here to download my guide to the Chinese visa application process]