Why I Quit My Job to Teach English Abroad
Written by: Eric Mercado
Was I having a mid-life crisis in my early 30’s? How could one simple conversation have me thinking of quitting my job, renting out my house and moving to a foreign country leaving behind all of my family and friends in the process? That was my thought process in December of 2014. Sitting in my office, on the Internet, reading over multiple articles and message boards planning my escape of the four walls that imprisoned me for too long! Now, six months later, it is no longer just a thought or a crazy idea. It is a plan in motion with a countdown, just 3 weeks left till departure.
Before we delve into my decision, let me explain how I got there. I currently live in St. Petersburg, Florida where I grew up, home of beautiful beaches and a large network of family and friends. I attended Florida State University where I spent a summer semester studying abroad in Valencia, Spain and traveled extensively throughout Europe while I was there. By the time I graduated college I felt like I had done it all and had led quite the adventurous life. From running with the Bulls in Pamplona, skydiving and canyoning in Interlaken, Switzerland to visiting the Coliseum and imaging myself being Maximus from the movie Gladiator.
I was however ready and excited for the next chapter in my life. After graduation I came back home to St. Pete and started working in banking before switching over to property management. I owned my own home, drove a nice car and had a successful career but something was missing. In all the years since graduation and all the things I had accomplished, the one thing I had neglected was the one thing I loved the most, traveling.
With only 2–3 weeks of vacation to take a year, traveling back to Europe became a near impossibility. Most of my vacation days were used on long weekends that I needed just to recharge my battery or to go back to Florida State for football games. Gone were the days of exploring new lands, interacting with new cultures and seeing things I had only read about in books. I was officially a worker bee, stuck in a Monday-Friday rut so many of us find ourselves in. Year after year, day after day, the same thing.
Then one day a seemingly innocent conversation awakened something deep inside of me that I thought was dead. One little piece of information sparked my curiosity that grew into a thought that became a plan which turned into a reality.
One afternoon my maintenance supervisor started telling me about his sister, and how she was teaching English in China. It immediately piqued my interest and I asked him for more information. He told me how much she loved doing it and some of the adventures she had. That even though she didn’t speak Mandarin, most of the schools preferred you didn’t speak the language so that the students would be fully immersed in the English language. And last but not least, that having a degree in teaching or any experience was not required.
The idea of teaching overseas intrigued me. I would be able to move to a foreign country, make a living while I was there and travel to new and exciting places. I started looking into it, slowly at first and then I found myself spending all of my free time researching it. I googled “teach abroad, living in a foreign country, gap year.” I read up on everything. After doing what I felt like was my due diligence I decided that this was not only something I could do, it was something I HAD to do. After that, things started to come together quickly.
Originally my plan was to wait a year before making this move, but the more I thought about it the more excited I grew about it and I couldn’t wait any longer. In a matter of months I found a language school to receive my TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), rented my house out, put my notice in at work, bought my plane tickets and shocked my family and friends with the news that I was moving away to Prague in June.
Follow me along my journey while I chronicle this major lifestyle change and all the bumps and bruises along the way. I’ll share experiences of living overseas, traveling, meeting new people, staying connected with all of my friends and family back home and of course all the exciting adventures along the way.