My name is Andrew Ho-Lung
I am from Daytona Beach, Fl, USA. After finishing my degrees in International Affairs and Geography from Florida State University, I decided to take a leap of faith and I ended up landing in China to teach English. I used to be (still kind of am) quite the shy person and always got nervous when being in the spotlight. That being said, I thought it was a good idea to become a teacher and stand in front of an audience 20+ hours a week. This is how I began the process of adapting.
I always knew that becoming a teacher would mean being in front of a class and having to perform and be creative on the spot. Knowing this and actually experiencing it are completely different things. I kept telling myself that I knew it would be hard but I would push through. I didn’t really know what it meant until I was on the flight across the Pacific Ocean heading for a foreign land. I kept asking myself, “How did I choose this profession when I am one of the shyest guys I know?” I’ve always liked to test and push myself and this became the biggest one yet. I was 100% in it and there was no turning back.
I arrived in the city at the beginning of the weekend so I had the opportunity to relax and explore before the work week started. My fears of the first day at work lingered in the back on my mind all weekend. Finally the weekend ended and it was game time. I went to the school to meet all of the Chinese staff and get acquainted with everything. I was immediately put to observe the teacher I was going to replace. His name is Alex, and he is from England. He told me that he would introduce me to the kids and I would just sit in the back and take notes. That day, he was teaching 5-8 year olds and they were pretty hesitant when he introduced me. When I took my seat in the back, they relaxed and played games with Alex. He assured me that it was nothing personal and that the kids would warm up to me eventually.
Taking the plunge
By the end of the first week, my boss wanted me to do an activity in his class so that I could get my feet wet. All I had to do was plan and execute a 15 minute activity and I was freaking out. What if the game flopped? What if I didn’t know how to explain it to all of the kids? What if I completely choked in front of my boss? All of these fears and questions were answered when I got up in front of the class and did what I had to do. I was very nervous but I realized that it wasn’t as bad as I expected. After all, I am a native English speaker and these kids just want to learn.
The following week, I took over half of Alex’s timetable and taught half of his classes. I was so nervous before getting up in front of the class. I quickly realized that I was building up my nerves way more than necessary. The thought of getting up in front of a class was worse than actually doing it. I found myself getting stressed out an hour before class and then being completely fine during the actual class. The next week I was on a full time table and was enlightened to the fact that I didn’t have time to be nervous anymore. I was so busy and in front of classes so much that it no longer plagued my mind. Of course, a few minutes before every class I would get nervous but I imagine that this is completely normal. Another valuable thing I learned was that every day was a gamble, a shot in the dark. You could be doing a great job but the kids are tired and the lesson could go sour. Each day is a constant roller coaster ride with highs and lows.
I learned that, like most other things in life, teaching wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be. The initial fears are put to rest when you are made to introduce yourself and prove yourself to every parent, staff member, student, and foreign teacher. Getting used to this job and lifestyle was quite tough but it was a very quick ordeal. From the very beginning, you jump head first into the whirlwind of teaching abroad and before you know it you’ve adapted and made it through the toughest of times.