Hi, my name is Dave and I have been living and working in China exactly 5 years this week. The last 5 years have been the best 5 years of my life so far. I have met some extraordinary people and had the best adventures of my life being in China.
I graduated from The Robert Gordon University in Scotland with a 2nd class honours degree in Architectural Technology. Soon after working in a Jewish community care home, I headed to Canada to seek my dream job as an Architect. I gained employment at a prestigious firm in Vancouver, working 60+ hours a week for reasonably good money. I thought this was happiness. However, in hindsight, I was always at work and didn’t get to do many fun things while I was in Canada. My expat friends would always invite me out to go hiking or traveling but I always had to turn them down because of tough deadlines at work.
My world came crashing down when I received a letter from the Canadian government stating that my work visa had expired and I had to leave the country or I would be prosecuted. Avoiding a black mark on my passport, I wound up my Canadian life and jumped on a plane back to Scotland within a week.
When I got home, I felt dazed as I had come off a high pressure job with a fast paced lifestyle into the quiet sleepy costal town I was raised in. I looked at my options and wanted to get back into Architecture as soon as possible. I read that China’s economy was booming and they were building things faster than they could design them, so I contacted many Architecture firms there. They told me that I needed to speak a basic level of Chinese which I couldn’t at the time. I then thought to myself, I could teach English for a year while I learn Chinese and then I can apply for Architectural jobs.
Soon after applying with teach-english-in-china.co.uk I was given an interview and an offer from EF Wuhan. I had never heard of Wuhan before, so my friend and I researched what kind of city it was. I read it was famous for its “hot dry noodle” and hot weather.
I landed in Wuhan China at 8pm on July 4th 2012. There was definitely culture shock but I was surrounded by people who had been through it all before and were really helpful to me.
Within three months of teaching I knew this was what I truly wanted to do over Architecture. The kids were so much fun to work with. Even if my energy was down they’d always make me laugh and brighten me up. Words can’t describe the feeling of watching them develop and get better at English because of my teaching. It really is the most amazing way to leave your mark on the world.
My first year was probably the most challenging year but also the most fun. It was difficult getting to know a brand new job and a different culture, however I was out every weekend enjoying adventures and experiencing new things. EF Wuhan is a really supportive company which prides itself on developing and taking care of its staff.
After every week was over I would head back to my apartment to freshen up and then head out with my work mates for food and a few drinks. We never knew where the night would take us. We would always end up meeting other expats and going with them to house parties and other bars. Meeting so many different people from different places really made me understand the importance of listening to others and respecting their opinion of the world. I continue to learn from other nationalities around the world even to this day.
During the two and half years I was in Wuhan I met and fell in love with my now fiancé Nikka. She’s from the Philippines and worked in a different centre at EF Wuhan. We traveled all over China and Southeast Asia together.
After two and half years at EF Wuhan we wanted to move as we had hit the ceiling of development at our centres and had experienced everything we could from Wuhan. Fortunately EF is a large company so we were able to transfer to EF Chengdu very easily.
We both transferred in as senior teachers and within 10 months I had been promoted to Director of Studies in a brand new centre where I am today. 6 months after I was promoted, Nikka was also promoted to Director of Studies. This year I won the Star Director of Studies award in the city which made me very proud.
Everyday living in China is a blessing to us. We live a great lifestyle. We both work 40 hours a week while living a higher standard of what I lived in Canada and the UK. We are currently saving for our wedding on November 18th, and we recently signed new contracts to stay out here longer.
Moving to China was the best thing I have ever done with my life. If you are reading this and you want a change, get in touch with EF Chengdu right now.