Felix Goodbody

There are thousands of reasons to move abroad, but I’m sure that one of the main things stopping people from taking the plunge is the prospect of disrupting the plans of a significant other. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic opportunities and advantages to teaching English abroad as a couple! Our adventure got underway in the summer of 2021 when we moved to China. 

It started with a bike race…

Our journey to China started in a slightly unlikely place: as a huge cycling fan, I noticed the stunning pink jerseys of the EF Pro Cycling Team while watching the Tour de France! I was curious to learn more about the organisation (and maybe buy a replica jersey) and read about the long history and ambitious mission of EF online. I had travelled a lot in Europe and South America, and the stunning images and inspiring testimonials from current teachers really got my heart racing. I was teaching graduate students from China at a university in the UK at the time, and was definitely catching the China bug from friends and colleagues! 

Turning dreams into plans

Let’s be honest, there are only a handful of moments during any career where a major pivot is possible. My partner Hannah and I were renting a house in Liverpool, the city where we met and enjoyed a fantastic quality of life, had loads of brilliant friends, and lots of opportunities and contacts. Would we really give it all up and head to the other side of the world to try something totally new? Luckily for us, an obvious opportunity was presenting itself: I would finish my Ph.D. in the history department during the summer, and Hannah was considering moving to a different company that would draw on her skills as a marketer and graphic designer. The ‘break’ in our career paths may not have been planned, but we knew that we didn’t want to miss the chance to set out on an adventure together.  

Finding a job and starting to prepare

Chinese friends and colleagues had been singing the praises of the Middle Kingdom for ages, but now that we were seriously considering the move it was time to make solid plans. Perhaps it was the thought of the bright pink cycling jerseys, but EF was at the top of our list when it came to investigating open positions! The company offered TEFL qualification as part of their training process, and we knew this would be a really useful skill to pick up. We had an interview with the brilliant Dan, who shared his fond memories of working as a teacher in Chongqing and directed us to the inspirational Sichuanese vlogger Li Ziqi (李子柒). The beautiful scenery and mouth-watering food in the wilder corners of China were enough to convince us, and we signed on the dotted line! We chose to work in Fuzhou, a tier-2 city on the South China coast, nestled within a cradle of verdant mountains and cooled year-round by an ocean breeze. We started to pack our bags ready for departure in a few months – or so we thought… 

The world turns upside down

The global pandemic has been by far the most devastating and disruptive event of my lifetime. As a historian, it’s been grimly fascinating to have experienced a truly historic moment first-hand, with all the worry and challenges that come with it. Hannah and I had already ended our tenancy in Liverpool, planning to crash with our parents for a fortnight before boarding a plane to China. That plan had to be abandoned last minute, and we decided to rent a small cottage in the countryside where we could lay low and see out the worst of the lockdowns. Our departure was delayed by almost exactly twelve months, and in the meantime, we had to get to work – Hannah had quit her job and I had finished my doctorate so we were both in dire need of income. With every crisis comes opportunity though; Hannah set up a design business and began attracting clients immediately, and I continued working with Chinese university students applying to higher education in the UK. It wasn’t part of the original plan, but we had bills to pay! In the meantime, I had found an excellent Chinese teacher and was intensively studying, in anticipation of getting out here as soon as the borders opened. 

Arriving in China

The last year has had more ups and downs than either of us could have imagined, but perhaps it served as the perfect example of why moving abroad with your partner makes sense. Are there going to be difficult moments, uncertain new situations, and countless misunderstandings? Definitely, but having the support and encouragement of someone you know and love enriches the whole experience. We arrived in China over a month ago, and it has been incredible to share so many new experiences already. If you are considering starting a new life abroad, pitch it to your partner! A problem shared is a problem halved, but an adventure shared is multiplied a thousand times over. 


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