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My Life in China

Hello, my name is Sean, I am from Canada and I have been working in china alongside my wife (Brandy) for more than six years. Yes, long before “wechat”, “mobike”, “Meituan” and all the wonderful conveniences in china today. I have been here long enough to see china change an grow many times over and have been lucky enough to prosper in this country and at this company. This is my story:


The year was 2010 I was in college for a program called “Television and  new media”. I was studying to be a videographer. I dreamed of traveling the world and making documentaries. I was especially interested in china because although I was born in Canada my great grandfather was born in china. I knew that my ancestors had a part in building the magnificent “Great wall” in Beijing. I was so excited at the thought that I may still have living relatives there. I wondered who they were and what they did in china I wondered how I could track them down and find them should I ever go there. During my collage years I met the love of my life who was taking the same course as me shared my enthusiasum for travel.  We vowed that we would one day leave Canada and explore the world together.


 We graduated in 2011 and being a millennial, I could not have foreseen how the “great the economy collapse” in North America would affect us.  Jobs became suddenly hard to find. It didn’t seem to matter how hard we worked or that we interned for all the major companies, they would not give us a full time job and we ended up working a bunch of low paying jobs with long hours. We worked tirelessly. Day and night to pay down our lofty student loans while living in a dingy basement apartment that my grandmother owned because it was all we could afford. Even so, because of the high cost of living and the long hours we worked, my girlfriend and I barely got to see each other. Food was expensive and we often couldn’t afford a good meal. This put a strain on our relationship, our dreams seem to be slipping away and to say that we were just miserable was an understatement. One morning my girlfriend was reading the newspaper and pointed to an article she had circled. It read: TESOL certificate. Ten day course. Teach English as a second language anywhere in the world. I was ecstatic but a little worried that it may be a scam. “This could be our one shot to make our dreams come true” I thought hopefully.


We aced the course easily and were ready for our new world wind adventures in a new land on the other side of the planet! We had an interview with the company we were going to be working with and were overjoyed to hear them say we would be “perfect for the job” despite the fact that our knowledge of Chinese was very limited and the fact that we had never taught before. Our plan was to spend one year there and travel to a few countries during our holiday if possible. During that year the company was very helpful and even let my girlfriend and I work together at the same school. I was so grateful for this. I can’t imagine a single company in my whole country that would allow this.  Now we would be able to see each other more. I found out later that the cost of living was so low that we no longer had to work ourselves to death. I can afford a beautiful apartment here. But that was just the beginning. We get almost every weekend off work and we get a nice long holiday in the winter and summer. This far exceeded my expectations for travel that I thought I would have. As for the job itself, the students were wonderful. Three of my students were entered into the most prestigious English competition in china and two of them won a gold medal in Beijing. I am so happy to be a part of all that. To see them follow their own dreams and grow over the years has become a reward in itself.  It gives me hope that my ancestors are proud of me and it made me think about having kids of my own someday. Also the hours I work here are far less then back home. It sure beat working three jobs just to make the same amount. But I must say that the best part of being at my school is that the food is free. Free! I could hardly believe it. Breakfast lunch and dinner should I want it. I would never have to worry about being hungry again. 

It was at that moment that I realised how lucky I was. I have, to this day never felt so grateful in my life for such an opportunity. I couldn’t possibly leave. Our one year turned into 6 and I have no regrets. I was later promoted to supervisor. I received a nice pay bump and got to lead a team of other wonderful people just like me looking for new lives.   Earlier this year I married my girlfriend and together we had a beautiful son named Malakai. I have made a lot of new friends and I feel a sense of respect and comradery amongst the people in my community and at my work. I have traveled so much, seen so much and learned so much about culture and languages, So many things I could never have accomplished in Canada. And although I never did find my relatives yet, I live happily here in this place I now call home and I now have a loving family. My new dream is that my son can grow up here and learn the language. I hope that it will open up doors for him and that he will have a better start to life then I did. I can’t say this life is for everyone and I can’t say you will have a fairy tale ending, but what I can tell you from experience is that you will never truly know unless you take the risk and try.   

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