How Working Abroad Changed My Outlook on My Career
This week, we hear from Amy. She’s a New Zealand native who left Auckland with her fiance to teach in China. While living and working in Fuzhou, she traveled to Beijing, Taiwan, and the Philippines. After her contract was finished, her and her (now husband) Rob, backpacked through Southeast Asia, lived and worked in Italy, and settled back down in Auckland to further their careers. Now, they have moved back to China with different roles and career goals. Here’s her story:
I’ve never been a career woman. Work has never been the main determiner of my life. I have good friends and family who put work and career before everything. They’re great at what they do, they’re specialists in their fields, but that’s never been me. I have more of an impulsive personality, as long as I’m financially stable enough, I want to do what I want, when I want. Or at least, I was.
As I’m getting into my late 20’s, career, or rather, stability has become more of a priority. But I’m not ready to give up the impulsiveness just yet. I’m about to move to China for the second time, working remotely for a company based in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand. Let me tell you a bit about my journey, and my goals for this second round of working abroad.
I went to University half-heartedly, if I’m honest with you. I went because I didn’t know what else to do. I liked reading and writing, so I did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. It’s not very exotic or exciting, but it was the best I could do.
I’m also naturally very, very lazy. So after university I refused to do an internship, which meant that I couldn’t get the writing jobs that I wanted to get. I ended up getting an administration job at an insurance company and hating my life choices for the rest of the year I worked there.
It was okay though, my boyfriend and I wanted to travel and he suggested teaching English in Asia. So, a 20-hour TEFL degree and two months later we landed in Fuzhou, China. Just like that, we had lives we enjoyed. We had freedom and loads and loads of money. For those of you who don’t know, teaching English in China is a seriously great gig.
In that one year of teaching, we took three holidays; Philippines, Taiwan and Beijing, and we saved up enough money to be able to backpack for 8 months afterwards. It was truly the best job that anyone with little direction in their early 20’s could have asked for.
When we eventually came back to New Zealand after fluffing around South East Asia for three months, staying in Italy for two months, the UK for a month and France for a month, I decided that it was time my 24 year- old ass “got a real job”. Of course, that was harder than it sounds.
My CV was hardly enticing for any potential employer pre-China. I ended up getting another teaching gig at an international University in Auckland for a little stint, before being luckily enough to score a pretty good job for someone with my experience.
The funny thing was, this job is nothing I ever imagined myself doing. I studied English and now here I am, working for a database replication software company. I was employed as their first “Education Coordinator” and my job was to make educational materials for their customers.
Taking their boring, old user guides and making animated videos, and online courses. They hired me because if I could move to China and adapt to life there, then surely I could work for them and adapt to the nerd life of software. And I have, I’m now the Education Manager, and I determine which materials are required for the Education department.
As double-luck would have it, the majority of employees for my company work remotely world-wide, so when I started to get itchy feet again, they said “sure, you can work remotely from China”.
It seems weird to think that I will be going back to the place where my adventures began. The motivation for going is simple; more travel and saving money. I’ll still never be driven by career, but I do sincerely believe that you can create a career that works with your life style.
The most important thing to do is get out there and start doing, explore opportunities and see where they will take you. I never thought that teaching English would get me to where I am today, but the skills I learnt, combined with my educational background somehow managed to align so that I can keep travelling and experiencing. Without having to worry about financial security.