I still hold on to this dream, although much less tightly than I used to.
Turns out that saving the world isn't easy. There's a lot of people in the world who also want to save it. They probably watched the same Oxfam ad that I did and decided that donating money wasn't enough. We wanted to feed them with our bare hands.
I got my dream after my first trip to China back in 2004. I saw a beggar on the street asking for money to feed his baby. The baby was in an oversized crib with a head 6 times larger than proportional to it's little body. What I had seen was the result of the baby milk scandal where powdered milk had been sold to families in China that had no nutritional value, leading to the malnutrition of hundreds of babies. This left me upset and angry, even years later and made me determined to do something so that this wouldn't happen again. I started dreaming up my orphanage scheme, where I would buy an orphanage and provide the same level of care to the children as those who were born in to more fortunate cicumstances. I remember an assembly in school where one of my teachers had adopted a baby from China and she told us of the conditions that they were kept in. I had further read about even worse conditions where babies were not so much cared for but left to die.
I wanted an orphanage that was more than just shelter, but a home, where the children would learn the same values and have the same opportunities and education as a child from an average family. There would be nurses with full training, playrooms where they are encouraged to develop their skills and a house parent - much like a boarding school.
I visit this dream every now and then and happily plant it in the future.
Going travelling in retirement also wasn't an option for me. I saw travel as the portal to discovery. It would shape the person I am and teach me things that will be important for the rest of my life. Not things that I wanted to learn when it's already a bit late.
I also couldn't see a 75 year old version of myself going zorbing down a big hill or jumping off a waterfall.
I decided to do a CELTA so that I could travel the world and have a job that pays a little better than bar work. I compared courses in different places, and decided that if a course in London, living at home was going to cost the same as going to Krakow and living there for a month, I would go to Krakow. It was a no brainer really.
A list of some the things that I was worried about:
- It would be like China - a bit dirty and the people would be unfriendly.
- I wouldn't fit in.
- I wouldn't make any friends.
- I didn't speak the language.
- I didn't know anyone there.
- I didn't know where I was going to live.
- My living conditions would be really bad.
- I wouldn't like Taipei.
- What would my lifestyle be like there?
- What would I eat?
- What's there to do?
- What if I don't make enough money to cover my living expenses?
But, I'm a determined (and perhaps a little stubborn) person, so in the face of the fears I had I did my best to ignore them all and got very excited about living in a new country.
In the end I felt completely overwhelmed, gave up and went home.
Me: 0 Taipei: 1
The second time, I was trying to get to Ikea. I spent 3 hours on buses and metros going around, back and forth to a place that was supposedly 30 minutes away. I was hot, frustrated, lost and scared. I almost ended up crying. But I refused to give up and go home so I conceded and took a taxi. Someone had been nice enough at the bus stop to write the address of Ikea for me on a piece of paper so I could give it to the taxi driver.
Me: 0.5 Taipei: 1.5
But this is just part of the process of moving to a new place. It happened to me in Chicago too where there is no language barrier. Cultural perhaps but nothing to hinder you asking for directions. The lesson I learnt is that obstacles are there to learn from. Being scared is just part of the process. Don't be scared of being scared.
a) find another job in another field in Taiwan
b) study Chinese full time
They told me they would accomodate my studies.
So after numerous job applications in different companies without success, I enrolled in the Chinese Culture University and study Chinese for three hours every morning and work in the evening.
I was very happy doing this. I made new amazing friends and worked in schools where I was happy.
from this post) reminding me that I had to settle down at some point. That I need to meet someone soon if I am to get married. Get a career to be financially stable.
This didn't sound like an awful idea so I gave my notice in to quit my job and made plans to move to Hong Kong to study diplomas in Graphic and Multimedia Design.
My mind was full of what I should have accomplished, where I should be, what I should be doing.
I went to Hong Kong and started applying for office jobs. I wasn't even that fussy about what kind. I ended up going to interviews for banks, and going on training courses which essentially taught us nothing but told us how easy it would be to make money if we worked for them. I made some cool friends, met lots of people from Mainland China and had a laugh but I could feel myself having the inner dialogue. One where Angel Me is telling me how this is everything I didn't want, but Angel Ma was telling me that the money is good and that's important for my future goals.
I was confused and unsure. I didn't know what my path was anymore and I felt lost.
I didn't enjoy my time in Hong Kong. I found it very difficult to get assimilated and after 3 months of still not feeling like it was home, I started to look for jobs elsewhere.
Happy coincidence was that it was my mum's 50th birthday and I decided that if I could get a job on a summer school in England, I would go back for the summer.
Which is what I ended up doing.
The summer school I worked at was amazing. I met some really cool people - no weirdos. Other than a lazy bum of a Rec Director and David Brent-esq Fat Controller look-a-like Course Director I really enjoyed my time in Epsom.
I got Grade 2 students, so barely beyond starter level, but some of them were 16! It was very challenging for me to teach things that they said they all knew but I still had to go over it. I tried to make it as interesting and fun as possible by playing ball games and utilising the smart board.
This is the video they made:
All the picture quotes used are from Pinterest.