Before coming to York, I had exactly one stamp in my passport: Mexico. While I love beaches and margaritas as much as the next guy, a trip to Mexico from The States isn’t exactly a headfirst plunge into international travel.
When staying in a resort town like Cabo or Puerto Vallarta, everyone speaks English, signs are in English, and, in fact, most of the people you interact with in the bars and restaurants are American. In a place like Cabo, it feels as if you’re still in America, but with cheaper beer… not exactly an authentic travel experience.
I came to Fuzhou as a globe-trotting neophyte (landing in Shanghai was the first time I had ever left North America!). But, in the last year, York has given me the opportunity to visit five countries and see some of the most beautiful places on the planet. I have had countless unforgettable adventures – it is difficult to recall them all! In the last 12 months I have been to Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia (and China, of course!) none of which would have been possible if I didn’t work at York.
Now, people become ESL teachers for any number of reasons. They could want to work with kids, gain teaching experience, see what life is like in other cultures, the list goes on and on. For me, a huge motivation behind becoming an ESL teacher was the opportunity it would give me to travel and see a whole new world. For starters, York pays a competitive salary that allows me to live comfortably in Fuzhou while also saving money to put towards traveling. On top of being well compensated monetarily, York generously gives me more paid time off than most jobs would in The States. At my job in Colorado, I had ten days of paid vacation every year. I would usually use half of those days every year to fly home to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. After that, I would only have five true paid vacation days each year, just enough to go to one musical festival, or one road trip to a National Park. That was it. That was the extent of my leisure time for the year. Essentially my vacations would consist of a week of playing scrabble with grandma and a week of not showering and sleeping in a sweaty tent. But here at York, I get a summer vacation in August, a winter vacation for Spring Festival in January, AND ten days of paid holiday time in my first year. Just one of those holidays matched the entire amount of vacation time I would get in a whole year in America.
Another benefit that York provides for intrepid travelers such as myself is the location. Fuzhou is only a short train ride from beautiful, sunny Xiamen and a quick flight away from historic Hong Kong. And both cities serve as major international hubs. I have flown from Fuzhou to Bangkok for under $100. York’s location in Fuzhou makes it easy and cost effective for teachers to get on international flights and be anywhere they ever dreamed of being in the amazing South Pacific area within a few hours’ time.
The final and most significant advantage that York can provide to those wishing to travel is an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable expat community. Through this community I have gotten tips on everything from what clubs to go to in Boracay to which island has the best bioluminescent plankton in Cambodia. Other teachers are not only a wealth of information, but they make wonderful travel partners as well. Through the York expat community, I was able to book a house in The Philippines for a week with seven other teachers and make some beautiful, close friendships.
For me, working at York has been a traveler’s “dream come true.” I have the resources, information, and support to bring any travel plan to fruition. Teaching at York is truly a ticket to travel a whole new world; all you have to do is grab your passport and go!
Sam Quackenbush is a teacher from the USA, currently working at our Rong Qiao branch.