Zachary Williams left his life in the United States behind him to pursue his dream of travelling the world. Even when things haven’t always gone to plan he’s never looked back, and instead embraces the unexpected. This is his story, as he left home to teach English on a journey which has taken him as far afield as Turkey and Vietnam, and now sees him studying- and always travelling- in China.
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In high school I came to the realisation I had to break out of the patterns and conformity which existed in American society.
Television and conversations all seemed to revolve around acceptance by one’s peers, and above all else money. Having grown up seeing my family not financially stable and friends graduating from university with huge debt and being unable to find work, I ignored the pressure from teachers in my school relentlessly advocating for the need to attend university. I rather turned my attention to finding a way out of this obvious trap being set. I already had some connections with the Vietnamese community and my plan to leave the United States as soon as I could developed from there.
I left to start a new life in Vietnam.
I got in contact with a Vietnamese community leader and Pho restaurant owner, we would sit in a booth at his restaurant looking out at the parking lot, sipping tea, and hearing him reminisce of his youth in Vietnam. Through our conversations we reached the conclusion that the best (and now obvious) way to move and live in East Asia is teaching English.
So, I took TEFL courses on the weekends while the rest of my classmates were preparing to take their SATs to attend university.
As they took their diplomas, I booked my plane tickets and two days after my high school graduation (which I didn’t attend), I left to start my new life in Vietnam.
I was still restless.
Although I achieved my goal of moving abroad, I was still restless.
I took off on my motorbike and drove around South-East Asia. I would work for a few months, then travel to the point where I was scrapping together what I had left to find a job teaching to fund future trips.
For years I travelled as far as from China all the way out to Turkey.
But since I did not possess a University degree, my job options were severely limited, and what jobs I did find I was being well underpaid.
I reluctantly decided to apply to school, but still was not willing to give up this wandering lifestyle which I had adopted.
After careful consideration I decided to start my schooling at Wuhan University in China.
The perfect opportunity to study and travel.
I have already taught in China in the past and had an interest in the language, but what attracted me more were the scholarships available for foreign students.
The university provided free tuition, boarding, as well as an allowance in order to bring in more foreign students. It was the perfect opportunity to both get my degree and continue to travel at the same time.
China is in a perfect central location to get to just about anywhere, and there are plenty of holidays and breaks from school which I can take advantage of to go out and travel.
I made a choice.
I have had many people tell me I am ‘blessed’ or ‘lucky’ to be able to travel to as many places as I have.
I absolutely disagree and cringe at any comment with this sort of message.
Of course, people mean well, but I made a choice. You made a choice to go to school, buy an apartment, get a new car, purchase the latest technology.
I chose to see the world anyway possible, take what money I get from teaching and hitchhike across borders, meet colourful characters, and live the kind of life that I wanted.
Anyone can have this kind of lifestyle, it is just your decision whether or not to pursue it.
You can find Zach on Instagram posting about life in China HERE!
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