“It may be that the satisfaction I need depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone and come back, I’ll find it at home.”

The years of our lives that we spend on trying to educate ourselves, whether it’s with a degree or a diploma, are pivotal years full of growth, development, and understanding about ourselves and the world around us. It is in this time, in most often our younger years, that we flourish the most, we mature, and, if we are lucky enough, we can establish an idea of who we want to be. Though this description may paint the picture of this period of our lives being a light-hearted, positive, and welcoming one, it is not without hardship. These years often come with heartache, major struggles, and sometimes with great tragedy. I know I am not alone in this, as during the process of earning my undergraduate degree I had to suffer through some of the greatest personal losses a person can ever imagine to deal with. Again, I know I am not alone. As humans we will experience great joy and great grief in our lives, great triumphs and great pain. Only with these experiences can we move forward, learn from the negative, appreciate the positive, and ultimately grow.

Coming out of this time, and completing my education at UPEI, I still felt as though I had some growing to do. I had gained an inkling of who I wanted to be and what I wanted for myself, as my journey at university was geared to guide me to discover. What I managed to really know for certain was that I wanted a job I liked, after working four years at a part-time job that had me feeling dejected to clock in everyday. Also, I knew I wanted a good income, because we know after those two to four years of pricey post-secondary education, we all need to start tackling some bills. Lastly, I wanted to gain a better sense of who I was. I wanted to grapple this understanding of myself as a person and all I had been through. I wanted surroundings where I felt I could be myself. I wanted a role that was different from student. I wanted a life where I could find my own kind of happiness.

After graduating, I did what I thought I was supposed to do — I got on the job hunt. I wrote countless resumes and cover letters, took interviews, and considered offers thinking maybe they could give me a new role, a good income, and perhaps a chance at happiness. Then, before accepting a PEI job offer and not thinking much of it, I ended up taking the Global TESOL College course at the end of summer. I honestly never thought this course would give me all the things above that I was wishing for. Now with it being three months since I’ve received my certification, I can say that I have never been more pleased with a decision I’ve made before in my life. I am only a month into my journey teaching overseas now, but since that day I stepped in to Jim Pellegrini’s (TESOL’s eastern instructor) class, I have been changed for the better. Global TESOL College has given me all the things I had hoped for after graduating post-secondary. Everyday here as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher in Shanghai I learn more about a fascinating culture, about other people I meet and befriend, and more about myself. Everyday I change as I grow and develop a greater understanding of what I want for myself. Everyday I have the time to reflect on the person I am becoming, grieve for my past losses, celebrate my accomplishments and progress, and find happiness in my new life. Everyday I have so much to be thankful for.

After completion of high school, college, or university, I strongly state that teaching overseas is an opportunity not to be overlooked. My education is not over, as I thought it would be after walking across the stage last May to receive my degree. I am the teacher, to a few bundles of smiling faces I see every weekday, who are ready, willing and grateful to learn. I am also their student, however, as they teach me their language, their customs, and their meaning of life. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding work that you can enjoy, along with taking a breather sometime in your youth to experience a new part of the world and to find yourself. I am aware that jumping from school, to more school, to straight to a career that you will be cemented to for the rest of your life is urged upon us by older generations but it is NOT the path that we have to choose for ourselves. Everyday I heave a sigh of relief  for the fact that I did not give in to the pressure of those around me and chose this life for myself. Teaching overseas is a versatile solution for all graduates who are unsure as to what their next step should be. Whether it’s to earn a great salary and pay off student loans, to travel to a part of the world and discover that there’s bigger and better things out there than our own backyards, or whether it’s to feel sincerely valued in your career and feel happy going to work, Global TESOL college certification can give it all.

Life is about going after your dreams, and not lamenting never taking the chance when it is too late. TESOL certification truly does help people realize and fulfill their dreams, as I’ve seen it happen to myself and to my classmates. Life is fleeting and it is important to remember that sometimes taking even just a small chance can yield phenomenal results. It may seem scary, and at one point it was a nerve racking idea to move so far, being a small town girl myself. Now I laugh at ever being nervous, as I am living proof of how amazing and exciting this journey and lifestyle can be. If you don’t take the chance you can never know. Similarly, you can never grow in this immeasurable way without such experience. I took this course when I didn’t know how much I needed it. Now I am living out dreams I never knew I had. My life here is so thrilling, rewarding, and downright personally fulfilling. The wonderful friends I get to meet, the kindness I am shown by locals, the love I feel from my students, and the everyday lessons I am learning will fill my heart for the rest of my life. Travel is one of the best forms of education and the experience it gives you is invaluable. I am discovering happiness for myself, and I truly wish for more people to strive for happiness for themselves as well. As long as you have an high school, college or university education, you can live out this dream too!

There is one more Global TESOL certification course coming up in PEI on December 18th to the 21st. It will be held by instructor Jim Pellegrini, the man who landed me a contract in a day. Jim has helped countless graduates get jobs, travel the world. and change their lives. I urge anyone with questions about teaching overseas or how to get TESOL certified to contact me at vchew@upei.ca