As more fresh foreign teachers arrived our staff steadily grew bigger and, thanks to everybody’s combined effort, we managed to grow as a family and experience life in China together. We made jokes, debated and traded ideas at work, explored tourist attractions, grabbed dinner and drinks on a frequent basis, and participated in a wide-range of cultural exchange activities. It wasn’t always cloud nine, and I definitely encountered a few knuckleheads along the way, but I can’t stress enough how spending my first several years with a great group of people made my overall experience as an ESL Teacher in China all the more enjoyable.
Looking back on it, my one and a half year stint doing MMA from 2014-2015 is probably the best time frame that I’ve had in China. After all, I was having fun learning a completely new hobby while making new friends and challenging my mind and body 2x a week. I also became more optimistic, more confident walking the streets, more focused and attentive, healthier, and I took pleasure knowing that I had a fun activity to look forward to on a weekly basis. Learning and practicing MMA was one of the best things I’ve ever done while living abroad.
I bought my first E-bike just 8 months after I arrived in China and it completely changed my life, no kidding. It was 1900RMB, or a little over $300, required no gas, and it could get me pretty much anywhere in the city that I needed to be at anytime. To charge the E-bike, all I had to do was bring it up into my apartment via elevator and plug it up in my kitchen. If I ran out of juice while out and about, there were charging stations that can give my E-bike enough power to get home for a small fee. What’s more, I didn’t even need to have a license to buy one! How awesome is that!?
In 2014, I got a small tattoo dedicated to Capoeira on my arm at China Ink: Suzhou. I know that no matter where I end up in the world, I can always find Capoeira and know that it will bring with it the energy I’d need face any obstacles that life may bring. Salve!
I’ve watched and re-watched Black-led series from the US such as Atlanta, Power, Luke Cage, Blackish, Roots, Empire, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Chappelle’s Show, along with movies such as Think Like a Man Too, The Best Man: Wedding, and Ride Along. From them I’d get plenty of characters, situations, themes, and story arcs covering the African-American experience in the States, which covers everything from afro-identity, history, biographies, political perspectives, and economic issues, to slang, hip-hop culture, relationships, family drama, celebrity gossip, and urban and pop-culture references. I’d either grab bootlegs or download the movies/shows from Youtube, upload them to my PS3, watch them on my flat screen, and feel like I never left home. What a great way to stay connected!
Over the years, for instance, I’ve watched my cousin attain personal growth, popularity, and wealth as a health and fitness coach. I’ve followed another cousin as she published her first novel and won numerous awards. I’ve also learned that my oldest brother, a successful financial consultant, has decided to go the independent route and start his own business. Additionally, I’ve seen plenty of my friends become entrepreneurs, join blossoming relationships, get married, and have babies. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to chat with family and friends as much as I’d like, catching up with their success stories via social media has done good keeping me sane while living abroad.
It took about 2 years before I decided to expand my website and cover more of my travel adventures and experiences as an ESL Teacher in East Asia. Blogging was and is an excellent way to capture my journey, share it with family, friends, and strangers, and inspire others to take the same leap of faith I did by traveling abroad to teach English. And thus, I welcome to Don’s ESL Adventure!