Monday, September 16, 2013

Why I'm Here

Telling people that I was moving to Hong Kong afforded me a unique array of responses. Most of them fit into one of two categories. Some people were pretty geeked about it:  "Wow! Asia, that's so awesome! I wish I was doing something cool like that." And then there were those who were less enthusiastic: "Oh, neat. Wow, um, that's bold.  Why not somewhere different, like Spain."  As much as I appreciate everyone's input, it definitely made me second-guess about everything that I did.  As if I don't do that enough anyway or haven't thoroughly considered my decisions.

Let's start from the beginning. In the spring of my junior year of college, I spent a semester studying at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. At the time, I had plans of pursuing grad school right after graduation. However, I think it's a general principle of life that it never works out as planned. I realized that, when I was living with international students from all over the world, what the beauty of having a common language was. I have written about this before, but the main idea is that sharing a language allows cultures, heritages, and additional languages to be shared as well.  As English is currently the default go-to language in many regions in this day and age, it convinced me that I wanted to help aid this effort by teaching English.

Long story short, I started doing my research. Before I knew it, I was Skyping a representative from the International TEFL Academy when I was still in the Netherlands to see how I should best go about teaching English as a foreign language. With a lot of research and very little persuasion, I was sold. I knew that I wanted to teach English abroad for a bit after college and that I should get a TEFL certificate to do it.  Once I got home that summer, I enrolled in the few month class and practicum experience that would get me there.

Initially, I was pretty sure that I wanted to go to Spain. A major issue with doing this in Spain, though (as well as many other western European nations), is that it's very difficult to get a work visa to do so legally in these regions if you're not from the EU (European Union).  Not to worry! I found a program through the Spanish Ministry of Education to apply for that would help me bypass this minor snafu.

But then things changed.

While meeting with my study abroad advisor, I was introduced to a new opportunity: Hong Kong.  My advisor showed me a job that she had seen advertised the previous year to be an English tutor at a university in Hong Kong. My first thought? "No thanks."  My second thought? "Why not?" While I had no huge desire to go to Asia at the time, I figured it was an opportunity worth pursuing.  I didn't really know a whole lot about the region, so this was the best time to find out.  I had already checked out Europe, and was planning to study in Central America for the summer, so I suppose I was due for another, uh, corner of the planet.

The thing was--I knew I would love going back to Europe, and I didn't really what I could expect from venturing into Asia.  I thought I could at least pursue the job and then figure it out later. It wasn't until I got offered the job that I seriously thought of it as a real possibility. It had seemed so obscure up to that point.

Nevertheless, I made the choice to take the route that made me the most nervous. More than anything, I think I was trying to challenge myself and take advantage of a chance to explore another part of the world. Both jobs presented their respective pros and cons, but that's true no matter what you do. I guess you could say that Robert Frost says it better:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

So far, I don't regret it.  It has most definitely had its ups and downs, but I think I'll turn out better in the end for it.  If not, "if not." One way or another, it will inevitably be a growing experience, and it will lead me in the next direction towards a new adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Laura!
    I am pretty interested in teaching esl abroad, but I was wondering what did you major in? I'm still not sure about that part haha
    Thank you! I'll be following your blog!