By Daniella Djiogan
When I first decided to come to China, I thought it was a life’s calling. I had always wished to travel around the world, explore cultures, and learn new languages which will selfishly allow me to watch international dramas without subtitles. In the past, Europe was the travel destination for many, but recently Asia has taken over to become the overnight hotspot for vacations, job opportunities, etc. Perhaps the reason behind the increased interest in Asian countries lie in the fact that they are often destinations for cheap shopaholics like me, Kpop lovers, party animals, and overall low budget voyages. You don’t have to break your bank as you once did with Europe.
After I graduated from university (Texas A&M…WHOOP!), I didn’t know what to do next. I had studied my entire life without a break, and being done was exciting but also stressful. Like many college graduates as myself, I worried about what to do with my life. I wanted to find a job of course, but with the ghost of the 2007 economic crisis still roaming around the country, finding a job was challenging. Also, having a major such as economics didn’t make it any easier in my chose of a job. I even considered going to grad school, but I realized that if I didn’t take a break from school, I will inevitably have a breakdown. I needed to relax, enjoy life a little, and do what I always wanted to do as a 22year old. I didn’t want to wake up in my thirties and wonder what I did with my life. So, the best chose was to get away. Away from the U.S, away from my family, away to my independence and freedom.
I chose to spend a year teaching in China, because I was fascinated by the Chinese economy. I wanted to learn the language and most importantly, I wanted to experience life somewhere else. So, when I told my family about my decision, they started laughing. Of course they would all laughed at me for being a child that had always depended on them, one that had always being impulsive in her decisions, and the child they worried about the most for her ridiculous sense of directions. I could just hear them laughing while whispering “hahaha… how is she even going to take a plane by herself…..hopefully she wouldn’t take the wrong plane and get lost somewhere in China…lol.” They didn’t take me seriously but they Okayed my decision. The next week, I registered for a TESOL course, got my certificate, and prepared to come to China through an agency.
All was so fast and unexpected. It never did occur to me that I was actually coming here till the day I left home. On that day, my parents gave me a big hug and wished me luck. I got on the plane and while it was taking off, I wondered what had possessed me to make such a decision. I became even more paranoid than excited when I looked around me in the plane to Chengdu, and realized that I was the only black person. I thought……..Oh, crap! What have I done???