I just wanted to come on here to say to my peers in the US that you do not HAVE to stay there and suffer. You don’t have to fall into this belief system that incessant struggle is a necessary part of the journey. You don’t have to fall into the paradigm of the false hope of politricks time and again only to find yourself, no matter who is in charge, living from paycheque to paycheque with barely anything saved and crossing your fingers that you never need a hospital.
So, here’s another option. I hope this can be helpful, especially for the people who think I am here because of some sort of privilege and that it would not be possible for most people to do the same. The ultimate patriotism, in my opinion, is using your overly-hyped passport to get out of there until the powers that be value you, as a human.
I ended up in Asia because I couldn’t make a living as a teacher in the US, (surprise) after I graduated Uni with 30k in student loans. (Privilege?) With a little research I found that I could have a better quality of life elsewhere and I didn’t have to come out of pocket for any of it. I applied for a job, just like I would in the US, and with it came an agreement with many benefits. My flight was paid for, my visa was paid for, and I was given housing and medical insurance when I arrived. This is pretty much available to anyone from an English-speaking country, but especially the US and Canada. That’s the only basic requirement–that you’re a native English speaker. Some schools have since gotten a bit more strict and may require a TEFL or other license/degree for teaching. I had none of these when I started; only a Montessori certification, (paid for by money from a traumatic car accident), which is only recognised by Montessori schools. I went on teachingnomad.com , created a profile, and they did the rest. This website, and many others like it, helps to connect you to teaching jobs all through the world, but mostly in Asia. They also reimbursed me for the TEFL class (a whopping $200) once I took a job through their program. So, I basically moved across the world, and got certified, for free.
That being said, teaching is not the only way. And you don’t have to do it forever. But it’s a foot in the door. And once you get over here, you’ll find that you can make a living in many other ways that are more suitable to your career choice. Many schools will also give your child(ren) and/or spouse a visa if they hire you.
And this is not a sales pitch or paid advertising. But I think it’s as good a time as any to share this, especially since mama has given us all a timeout and we now have the space and the time to consider our life choices a little more and focus on what is valuable. There are places that can offer you a much better quality of life. I have experienced it firsthand. When I graduated university with my big ass expensive degree, my first paid job, in my field, working for a newspaper in Miami paid me $10 an hour! It took me 4 hours every day to drive to work and back. I spent 12 hours in this process of working, 5 days a week. For a $1300 paycheque. After a few years, with little improvement in my quality of life, I realised that this lifestyle of work, sleep, rinse and repeat was not for me. So I leaped, and the net appeared.
All it takes to do this is courage. I am not rich. I have never been rich. I am not special because I was able to come here and I didn’t come here because I’m carefree and unobliged. I am bound, just like many of you, by cumbersome loans that I took out to pursue a career I no longer follow because I couldn’t afford the price of higher education.
China was not the best place I ever lived, but it also wasn’t the worst. I felt 10000% safe. I had a higher quality of life, disposable income, time to travel, and got way more than I could have ever imagined in terms of exposure, awareness and a growing experience. I met some amazing people (like Arie and Ina,) had some truly invaluable experiences, and have a hell of a great story to add to my resume. If I could go back I would do it again a million times and I would also recommend it to every young person I know.
Getting abroad and seeing the US from the outside, in my opinion, is the only real way for us to save it. Because the truth is, everything that is constantly debated on the news over there, from generation to generation without change, looks a lot different from this side of the world. And the things we tolerate out of fear of change or out of ignorance of how things actually could work, we certainly don’t have to.
There are other options. I have never been a fan of accepting status quo or constant complaints or “working more” (like a good little field negro) to change my circumstance or settling because it is socially acceptable/normal. I understand this is just my perspective, and not everyone is this way. I also know that fear is a big driver for most of us in our decision-making, and I am right there with you in many ways. But this is where it becomes a matter of choice, not privilege.
I am not lucky. I am just brave.