There’s nothing like a 10-year high school reunion to make you evaluate your life. Amiright?
You start thinking, “Have I achieved enough? Did I live up to the yearbook superlative, Most Likely to Succeed? Would that guy I had a crush on have a crush on me now?”
When I started comparing myself to classmates, I realized I had achieved a lot more than others, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. An undergrad degree from a great school, trips abroad and a master’s degree sure looked good. But my debt balance sure didn’t! Not to the tune of over $50,000.
At the reunion party in our hometown watering hole, I shared how I’d been thinking about moving abroad. Life in North Carolina wasn’t cutting it. The bills weren’t cutting it. All. Those. F*ckin. Bills. It seemed like I could never get ahead.
I didn’t have a husband, child or mortgage to really cause significant pause. I loved traveling. At this point, I had been to 9 other countries. Why not move away?
One great personality trait I love is once I get my mind set on something, I go for it.
That October in 2015—just a couple weeks after the reunion—I started volunteering with an adult ESOL class at a local community college. In December, I was an adjunct professor teaching 4 nights a week. I LOVED IT! In February, I started my online TEFL course. That’s when I learned China could be a lucrative place to teach.
In May, I accepted a job offer in China. In August, I quit my 9-to-5. On Labor Day in September, I sold my car back to CarMax to eliminate that loan and was on a plane to southern China less than 12 hours later.
My new life had begun!
Since moving to China in September 2016, I have:
– paid off more than $14,000 (26% of my total) in debt (medical bills, credit card debt, undergraduate student loans)
– saved more than $7,500
– paid nearly $6,000 for my teaching certification
– traveled to the U.S. twice, Thailand twice and Vietnam once
I’ve also met a lot of cool people and had kick-ass, priceless experiences in China and Hong Kong.
I asked folks on the ‘gram what they wanted to know about my experience. Here are answers to some of those burning questions.