LancerViews: Emily Conner ’12

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What is life like in China? What was your transition from Farmville to Weihai like?

AMAZING. I now have a different perception of the country than I did originally- I did a lot of research before leaving- and it’s honestly proven to be one of the best decisions. Weihai is a wonderful and clean city that has it all – mountains, the ocean, (we’re right on coast) it’s a great city to live in, plus I didn’t have too much culture shock either!

I worked in the Outer Banks in North Carolina at various restaurants and hotels, working my way up to Assistant Manager, but I knew I had to do something to different. Coming to China was big step for me, I put myself out there, and that’s something I’m going look back later in life and appreciate this experience.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Emily like?

When I said I wanted to be a teacher, my friends and family were confused at first- I’ve never worked with kids before, and to be honest, I don’t really like them either! For me to be a teacher was a little bit of a stretch, although I found it to be rewarding and life changing. I’ve learned a lot about patience and learning how to deal with children on a daily basis.

As far as my schedule… to be honest, I wake up late because my schedule is conducive to sleeping – I don’t start teaching until 2PM! So I’ll get up, (sometimes go to the gym) grab some lunch with my officemates, and head in to school.

On Wednesdays we do a Chinese lesson, where the Chinese staff gives the English staff an hour lesson in Chinese, and on Thursdays we do a demo at a public school (we’re a specialized private school) so we’ll do marketing and try to get students to come to our school.

Saturday and Sundays are my “long days” from 8:30 – 6:00, we use a system where the lessons are preset and I have to add in my own creative spin and some games!

Life other than teaching for me would be going to the movies, teambuilding with my fellow staff, dinners together, going to the beach (which I did a lot this summer), hiking, and traveling to different cities in China. I’ve even found time to volunteer at an orphanage on a mountain mountain nearby where I get to work even more with kids.

 

What is one scary moment and one exciting moment you’ve had teaching abroad?

Scary: Right when I got on the plane! I first had to travel from my hometown to DC to get to China, and I remember sitting in my seat, plane taking off,  thinking: “I just left everything that I know that’s familiar to me – my family, my friends, my pets, everything! Oh, and I’m going for a year, to a place I really know nothing about.” I look back on that moment now and kind of laugh at myself, my parents visited recently and didn’t understand the feeling I felt until they were in the same spot leaving the States. Other than that, I never really fear my safety in Weihai, which makes my family very comfortable.

Exciting: I hiked up to the top of this beautiful mountain with amazing views and I finally really felt satisfied with my whole experience – I could have left right then and my whole time here would have been fulfilled . I mean, I conquered a mountain – in CHINA.

 

 

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since graduating?

I liked my job in the Outer Banks after graduating, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life- and not that every job you take has to be! (Because China certainly isn’t my long-term goal)

Don’t let the 9-5 drag you down. As a senior in college, I thought  I wanted to sit in a cubicle surrounded by all my awards, and become this big great person I thought I should be, but now looking back, I don’t want to be confined. The world is so big, there is so much more to see than our little bubble.

To sum it up: your worth isn’t based on your title at work.

 

What do you miss most about Longwood?

I miss the feeling that I’m only steps away from my best friends, the beautiful campus, and Farmville always felt like home. I miss the people in my major, and my professors- I loved being a COMM Major!

What I miss most about college in general? That you don’t have to worry about real life stuff quite yet – savor every moment, it really is a once in a lifetime experience.

 

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