SDE International - Shenzhen

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You can’t move to a foreign country without it changing your life.

My world wasn’t just different while I was in China. It was permanently altered. I left the country with new experiences, friends, and perspectives.

Here are four ways living in China transformed me … for the better!

    1. I got to see a new part of the world

      I’ve loved traveling since I took my first trip to France in middle school. But growing up, I was only interested in visiting Western Europe. As I got older, I added places like Australia and New Zealand to my travel bucket list. I took a brief trip to Africa, but I never really thought about returning. It wasn’t as comfortable as my time in more modern countries.

      After my then-boyfriend (now-husband) spent a year in South Korea, Asia started to peak my interest. Then we decided to move to China for a year.

      I finally got to experience an Eastern culture with extreme cultural differences from my own country. And in the end, I realized that even though the lifestyle was less comfortable, language more confusing, and food more exotic than most other places I’d visited, I loved it.

      Now I can’t wait to see more of Asia over the years. I’ve also added places like South America and Eastern Europe to my list! I even want to give Africa another go.

    2. It gave me more work opportunities

      I’m a freelance travel writer, so living and traveling around China obviously gave me a ton of material to write about. Now I’m an editor for a travel website and am able to support myself off writing and editing. But teaching in China also helped me get other jobs. While I worked on building my writing career, I worked in an office for a few months. My employer told me that my experience in China is what set me apart from other applicants.  I also taught English to Chinese students online with a company called VIPKID for extra money. There’s no way I would have gotten that job if I didn’t have experience teaching in China!Writer, secretary, and teacher. Those are three completely different jobs, but working in China helped me land them all.

    3. I made friends from all over the world

      It’s no surprise that I made Chinese friends during my time abroad. But I also made friends from tons of English-speaking countries. My agency employed teachers from all over America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.We may have all spoken English, but our backgrounds and personalities were all very different. Being around people with such different life experiences helped me think critically and view certain things in a different way. Never underestimate the power of meeting new people!

    4. It kept me from defaulting into adulthood

      My husband and I married a few weeks before leaving for China. Growing up, I pictured married people as responsible folks. They buy a dog, then a house. They go home to pay bills every day after their 9-5 jobs. Not an entirely fair idea of married people, but it’s what I imagined. I was afraid I would just settle down once I had a ring on my finger. Instead, my husband and I moved to Asia, learned a new language, and spent our weekends traveling. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made. No two married couples are the same. Moving abroad isn’t for everyone. But it’s important we all try things outside our comfort zones.


SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

About the Author:

Laura Grace Tarpley
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer and English teacher in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys tinkering with crossword puzzles, reading Bill Bryson books, and taking naps on her huge couch. Follow her travels on her Instagram and Twitter. Or you can check out her blog, Let’s Go, Tarpley!
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