I have always had a desire to travel abroad and teaching English as a foreign language has allowed me to do so. I have been living and teaching abroad for almost four years. I briefly lived in Italy, France, Russia and Cambodia and I spent 14 months living and working in Hong Kong. I currently I live and work in Penang, Malaysia. I have been living here for six months and plan to stay until December 2016.
Living abroad has taught me to embrace different cultures and I have been fortunate enough to meet and get to know the local people, foods and customs. Malaysia in particular, is such a multi-cultural country, which celebrates all cultures and religions. There also seems to be a public holiday almost every other week and this has allowed be to have the privilege of attending a variety of festivals.
Being an expat in Asia has made me more confident and I have become much more attune to what I want from life. Before I lived abroad I was a meticulous planner and I always wanted my life mapped out and to know what was going to happen next. I now take each day as it comes and feel much happier just ‘going with the flow’.
Amidst all of the wonderful experiences I have had living abroad, there are some difficulties which have arisen over the years. Being away from your friends and family can be challenging and even with wonderful apps such as Skype and Facetime, it can sometimes be difficult being so far from home. One of the most challenging times I experienced was when I was living in Hong Kong. I woke up to calls and messages from my mum and sisters to tell me that my dad was in hospital and had suffered a heart attack. I didn’t know what to do and felt completely helpless as I couldn’t afford to just get on a plane and head back to the UK. Fortunately he made a full recovery but it was extremely trying being so far from him during that time.
My best experience whilst teaching abroad was doing voluntary teaching in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I spent only a few weeks here and I cherished every second of it. I was truly blessed to have the opportunity to teach such kind-hearted and beautiful children. It was very humbling to be around people who have very little in terms of money, education and material possessions yet they were so happy and engaging to be around. I took away lifelong memories and KIDTEA School will always have a very special place in my heart.
After I finish teaching in Penang, I am planning to return to the UK to complete my masters in TESOL, I am hoping that this will open up even more teaching opportunities for me. I would love to live in South Korea or Japan.
I would recommend living abroad to anyone. It is such a great opportunity to meet new people, experience different cultures and get to enjoy an array of lifestyles. Every day living abroad brings new experiences and challenges and it would be extremely difficult to return to the monotony of British life in the future, so for now, I am going to keep travelling and enjoying the sunshine that Asia has to offer.