Mathew Rees

Teach Enrich Empower

Make A Break For The East!

Hi, my name is Mathew Rees. I recently left my 9 to 5 and made a break for the East, no not Suffolk.. CHINA!

It was May 2019. I was cooped up in an office in The Hague, working for a pointless organisation. My days consisted of staring at screens, doing very little, as there was nothing to do. And that’s when it hit me. Burnout.
Usually, burnout is something that happens to us when we’ve overdone it. But this burnout came from the exhaustion of working increasingly pointless jobs as poor management and the march of technology proceeded to interrupt most of our professional lives and had finally taken their toll.

And it was then I decided: “I’m not doing this anymore”. I was 34 at the time, and I had had enough. No more offices, no more 9-5, no more putting up with awful bosses, no more tea rounds or sharing smelly communal fridges. It was finally my time.

Time to break free, time to do something meaningful with my life. I had completed a PGCE some years previously, but could never find a full-time position, so I decided that I wanted to teach abroad.
Most teaching jobs abroad, whether in Europe, Asia, or Africa require a Level 5 TEFL certificate as well as some requiring a bachelor’s degree. And after some research, I found the TEFL Academy. Reassuring reviews made me pick up the phone immediately and register for their online course.

“If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m too old” or “teaching English is for people who’ve just graduated”. You’re wrong. You couldn’t be more wrong!”

The process couldn’t have been simpler, and the online setup was easy to use. I had six months to complete the course which consisted of multiple-choice questions and three assignments. Within a month, I had passed with flying colours.

The TEFL Academy’s excellent World TEFL Factbook provided me with detailed country-by-country information about where I should spread my wings. I decided on China, as I’ve always been fascinated with the country.
After some much-needed recovery time at home with family, COVID-19 hit and I knew there would be some delay in getting to Shanghai, where I now live and work. But I persevered and the thought of escaping the west and its expensive cost of living to work in a country with a growing economy was all too tempting. Nothing could stop me!

I’ve been teaching full time since November 2020 and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I have even secured another job for the 2021 autumn term. The salary is excellent and I already feel like a Shanghaier.
If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m too old” or “teaching English is for people who’ve just graduated”. You’re wrong. You couldn’t be more wrong! Half the people I know here are just like me, in their 30s and older wanting to overcome burnout and get away from it all.

There is so much to see in China, and I’m spoilt for choice for country escapes and city breaks. There are next to no Covid-restrictions here and I’m living a normal life.
My advice? Take the plunge. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I finally feel like me, and I go to work smiling and leave smiling still.

Do something meaningful. Teach. And have an absolute ball whilst doing it. I know I am.

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