Hello my name is Emanuel Ruiz and I currently live and work in Shanghai in China. As most teachers in America know, budget cuts and test results can take the passion out of the teaching profession. I felt overworked and unappreciated. The lack of job security loomed over me and I was expected to work over 40 hours a week with no compensation. Finding new employment was a struggle because the US job market was and has been in decline.
I worked so much, but still felt like it was impossible to save money. Every time I turned around the school budgets were being cut and our yearly raises were in jeopardy. I realized that teachers were not respected in the US and I was no longer fulfilled being an educator in America. I was told to look into Teaching Nomad and the teaching vacancies in China. It has been the best decision I have ever made. I have been in Shanghai for two years now and I haven’t looked back. Living in China has been a great learning experience and it has opened my eyes to a whole other world of opportunities.
Although I did not know anything about China, the Teaching Nomad website guided me and got me in contact with a friendly recruiter, whom I still keep in contact with. I asked about finding a job in Beijing, or a job in Shanghai. We went through a number of different job openings until we found a contract that was in my favor and that I was comfortable with. I chose a children’s school in Shanghai and I signed a one-year contract. I took a risk and stepped out of my comfort zone. I bought my ticket to China and have been on the ride of my life for the last two years. It sounds bizarre, but it was the best decision for me. I have had nothing but good experiences and I continue to grow here as a person on a daily basis.
I have been a teacher with my school for about two years and I continue to feel content. I feel appreciated and management makes sure that we foreign teachers are always happy. My students love learning English and I have learned so much from them. I realized now how stressed I used to be back home and how much better teaching is here. The cost of living is reasonable, so much so that I am able to save money and live more comfortably than in the States. I am able to travel, go out with friends, and buy most things I want without wondering if I will have enough money left over to last me the rest of the month. Most importantly, I feel appreciated as an educator and respected for what I do in a country that values education. I am in a world where what I do is new and exciting.
The great thing about Shanghai is that western luxuries are available throughout the city. When I am missing food from home, I can go to an American bar or restaurant. I can walk down the street and meet people from all over the world. There are so many doors here just waiting for the right person to open.
Shanghai is my new home and I don’t know if I will ever leave. I have fallen in love with the people, the language and the food. This place has everything. I can travel the world just by visiting different parts of the city. China has so much to offer and I am surrounded by beautiful places that are just a short flight away. I have visited so many Asian cities, islands like Thailand, The Philippines, India, and I have no desire to slow down.
I remember now why I got into teaching and I actually enjoy going to work. I love the Chinese kids and they love that they get the opportunity to lean from a foreigner. Living and working abroad is fulfilling and an experience that has changed me forever, for the better. Give it a year, life is short and a year goes by so fast. No matter what happens, it will be the experience of a lifetime. It continues to be for me.
Written by Emanuel Ruiz