That time I impulsively took a job in China

My friend Michelle who writes over at Bod for Tea wrote a comment on my last blog post which reminded me of my time living in China some gazillion years ago, before baby and bills. Actually I had bills back then, but I also had parents who were willing to help cover them and good credit which allowed me to get a loan out to cover some expenses in my absence. Good times. Moving to China was nothing if not completely impulsive and unplanned. There was a month if not less between the idea being dangled in front of me by a tutor at my uni and me landing in a very hot, humid Harbin Airport.

During that month, I had to run back and forth organising jabs, health certificates, letters of invitation, flights, visa runs, clothes shopping and telling my often confused friends that I was flying to the other side of the world to teach English at a top military and ship building university a month after completing my bachelor’s degree in a subject that had nothing to do with either teaching, English or Chinese. Whilst others were getting excited about their upcoming graduate placements, I was getting excited about the chance to test out my new teaching skills, courtesy of a one month intensive CELTA course.

I think part of what made my time in China so exciting and memorable is the lack of pre-planning. The spontaneity of the move and lack of knowledge of the region meant that every day was packed with a new surprise, a new life lesson and in some cases, another shock to the system. Talk about a sharp cultural and career learning curve. I learned how to ski, went on my first hike, ate my first fried egg with a pair of chopsticks and made my first international friends, many of whom I still talk to nearly a decade later. I also graduated in Shanghai which was amazing! The University had a large Chinese alumni so they preformed a separate ceremony there so that the student’s family and friends could all be present. I was the only non-Chinese student graduating which was quite amusing. My parents flew to Shanghai to see me graduate and the whole experience was the stuff of dreams.

Teaching was a great addition to my skills set. I was responsible for people other than myself, it was sometimes quite unnerving, knowing that if I didn’t teach my students well enough, they stood the chance of failing their English proficiency tests (IELTS) and not being able to carry on with their chosen paths of study which would include a year in either Australia or the UK for their sandwich years. Luckily, I turned out to be quite a good, if not slightly unconventional teacher. My students did well in their tests and it filled me with pride to mark their papers. I think having a teaching job in China on my resume was a positive for employers too.

Do I regret moving to the other side of the world straight out of uni without a single word of Mandarin under my belt? Not at all. If any thing,  I regret not staying there longer. My move back to the UK was just as impulsive as my move away from it had been. It probably would have been a good idea to get another year of teaching under my belt or to follow up on the job opportunity to interview and travel which had been serendipitously offered to me thanks to a recommendation from a fantastic friend I’d met in China.

Sometimes throwing caution to the wind and just going with your gut can be the making of you. I think my time living in China still ranks highly amongst my favourite life experiences. If I’d listened to any of the many naysayers telling me it was a rash choice, that people don’t just get up and go to other countries, I’d have missed out on some incredible experiences and many wonderful friends who still shape me and make me a better person till this day.

Do you travel on impulse? Where is the most impulsive place you jumped up and went to? I hope it all worked out well for you, and even if it didn’t, I hope it was memorable!


Linking to Share The Joy


  1. I love this post, how wonderful to have seized such an opportunity while you could!! I have never travelled on impulse like that, but I did study German and Russian at uni (the Russian part being completely unplanned!) and so did a fair bit of travelling and working/studying abroad. Like you, if anything, I wish I had spent more time abroad and maybe taken the chance to travel more while I had the freedom to, as it has been 6 years since I went abroad and 3 years since we really went anywhere in the UK thanks to commitments and no money these days! What fantastic memories you have though of your time abroad, that’s something to tell your family for years to come 🙂 #sharethejoy
    Amanda recently posted…Life’s Big Questions – A Philosophical LinkyMy Profile

    • Glad you liked it Amanda. German and Russian? How awesome! I hope you get the chance to do some more travelling very soon!

  2. What a beautiful adventure for you! I love that it was all on impulse. Sometimes that’s the best kind of decisions to make. Traveling on impulse has been a dream of mine, and someday I’d like to visit any place in the UK and immerse myself in its culture for a while. Someday…
    Maria recently posted…The One on Why Procrastination is NeccessaryMy Profile

    • Thanks Maria, I hope you get to go on your impulsive UK trip very soon! Would love to show you around xx

    • I think that the changes in location you’ve taken are incredibly brave and impulsive, though I guess you can’t move to the US with three kids completely on impulse – I can imagine some serious logistical planning went into that move!!!

  3. Oh Tinuke I’m so glad you’re writing about your time in China and love, love, love seeing those pictures of you in Harbin! As you know we have similar experiences here and I spent 4 years in China after a pretty quick decision to move there with the husband. I really must write more about it! Thanks so much for linking this up at #sharethejoy sweetie xx
    Michelle Reeves (bodfortea) recently posted…Share the Joy link up #14My Profile

    • You really MUST write more about your time in China, particularly after I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some of your amazing stories in person!

    • As a way with dislodging a lot of the build inside your keyboard, switch off your portable computer, open up the screen then turn it inverted.Being financial levy personal injury attorney involves adequate expertise about the legislation about taxes mainly of which this individual is not going to become restricted on the process connected with which represents the clientele in the court intended for offender or maybe civil cases nonetheless his or her endeavor as well extends up to giving useful guidelines to opportunity seekers.Does your corporate policy demand passwords longer than 7 characters?

    • What i do not realize is actually how you are not actually much more well-liked than you might be right now. You’re very intelligent. You realize thus considerably relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!VA:F [1.6.5_908]please wait…VA:F [1.6.5_908](from 0 votes)

    • , relatives WHO own a dog as a favourite are healthier than those who don’t. Researches interviewed 5,900 people about their exercise habits — 2,170 of those people were canid owners. The result: 60 pct of dog owners were in much better health than the ones that didn’t have a pet to take for a walk. The reason: nearly partially of the dog walkers interviewed exercised 30 minutes a day At least five life a week. In the meantime, only a third of the people interviewed who didn’t own a dog Powered by Producer : Xinhua Tidings Bureau

    • GTOMR,Okay, I will try to tell you the names. As to this map, please double-click the map of “Corea” and you will get full information about them – Broughton Bay and Sea of Japan. (Argonaut (-), Dagelet (+) as Matsu-shima, Liancourt Rcoks (+) as Liancourt Is.)

  4. Love this – didn’t know you had started this blog. Looks great and I can’t wait to see more. I LOVE travelling and have been to a fair few places but so many more to see – including China which is on my list.
    ebabeelikes recently posted…The best sunscreen for the face?My Profile

    • Thank you, I thought this would be a great incentive to make sure I travel more, rather than just talk about doing it, which is what usually happens with me!
      Oooh where have you been? Or at least, where was your favourite destination?! I hope you get to go to China, I loved my time there.

Submit a comment

CommentLuv badge