Word of Mouth June 30, 2011 – Guest Blogger Tara Ervin

June 30, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Blog | Leave a comment
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Word of Mouth – June 30, 2011

Guest Blogger Tara Ervin

This month’s guest blogger is Tara Ervin, MALM. Tara has spent nearly a year in China teaching while chronicling her adventures and misadventures in discovering the language, culture, people, and beauty of China. Tara shares with us how living away from the U.S. all this time has shaped her perspectives, and how, when facing a new challenge, the reward can be bountiful.

In 2009 I finished a Master’s degree. In August, 2010 I quit my job in the camping industry and moved to China where I now teach English. I live in a rapidly growing city of about eight million people in one of the poorest provinces in China. The number of foreigners has recently grown to about 5,000, one-third of which are Korean.

Living here in Zhengzhou (pronounced: juhng-joe) is an experience that has been undeniably theThe city of Zhengzhou is very polluted, and smog sunsets wrap the tall buildings most challenging in my life, and at the same time, the most rewarding. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from my West meets East journey.

#1 Know your purpose.

I didn’t come to China to teach English. I came to soak up the culture, learn the language, and challenge myself in new ways. 

Sometimes I feel frustrated by the education system here, but I remind myself that it is part of the culture and that the difficulties I face are opportunities to learn and grow. In this way I can clearly focus on achieving my goals and not get lost or frustrated in the process.

#2 When you need inspiration, go somewhere new. 

Since arriving in China my brain has been overflowing with ideas. I see potential everywhere and my mind has opened to entirely new ways of thinking. My previous knowledge and experience combined with such a drastically different landscape creates a melting pot of new concepts. 

Tara Ervin enjoys a hot pot meal as cultures come together#3 Be prepared. 

In any endeavor, you’re going to face unanticipated situations, but those will be fewer and less overwhelming if you prepare.

I spent a lot of time doing research before I came to China. I learned as much as possible about the culture and proper etiquette. I tried to learn a few words. I read blogs written by experienced expats. I downloaded a VPN and stocked up on familiar medicines.

All of it made a difference.

If you ever have the chance to visit China, I hope you do. It is an amazing country with a striking culture, rich history and kind people. 

Visit Tara's blog China Say What?!Tara Ervin holds a Master’s degree in Applied Leadership & Management from Arizona State University. Prior to moving to China, Tara was the Program Executive and Resident Director for the Girl Scouts in Arizona. She has a diverse range of specialties, from canoeing instruction to conflict mediation. Read all about her experience in China on her blog “China Say What?!” here: http://chinasaywhat.blogspot.com/



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