Why You Should Move Abroad to Teach English

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If you had told me 18 months ago, that I would not be on a cozy graduate scheme in London and would, in fact, be living in a run-down area of Hong Kong, teaching, I may have laid down and cried. The most hated question of any English Literature student has to be, ‘Sooo… what are you gonna do with your degree? Teach?’  Society's lack of imagination when it comes to the career paths of arts graduates is something that has frustrated me since day one.
PR? Publishing? Marketing? Sure.
Teaching? Nope. No way. Not over my dead body. NU-FREAKING-UGH.
I have to say, standing at the front of a classroom, clapping my hands and yelling ‘NOW, CLASS…’ is perhaps the last place I envisioned myself. Ever.
Despite my fierce desire to excel academically, I was by no means a model student. I made no attempts to hide my burning hatred for standardised tests, was possibly responsible for my maths teacher’s premature balding, and refused to go to prom. And yet here I am, getting ready to jet off to Bali for Christmas, having completed my first semester teaching in a Youth College in the New Territories, Hong Kong. And wow, have I learnt a lot.
I arrived in Hong Kong with little besides 7kg of luggage after backpacking Thailand and a great deal of reluctance to commit to this whole thing. Even when I was training for 6 hours a day and flat-hunting in Kowloon for the other 6, it didn’t feel real that I was actually going to spend the next year of my life as far away from Western life that I had ever been.
Faced with the realities of handing over a third of my wage for a sub-standard flat in a place that doesn’t come equipped with real kitchens, or shower cubicles, left me with an irrevocable sense of nausea and dread. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my boyfriend snapping me out of it, I think I could’ve easily jacked it all in and gone home.
Moving abroad really lays bare everything that you don’t know about yourself and about how the world works in general. But what I did know about myself, for sure, was that moving to a city in the UK and getting a “real job” just wasn’t for me. Even if the realities of it made me uncomfortable, and terrified, this was something I knew I had to do.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t take a gap-year, or a year abroad, and spent every waking moment regretting it. I never really felt fulfilled from University and was aching for something bigger from life. I needed some time to grow, to really discover myself, and to do the things that I so far hadn't taken advantage of.  Basically, I just wanted to fill my life with as many wild, crazy and wonderful experiences as physically possible. Also, I wanted long enough holidays to tick off as many countries as my paycheck could allow.
So what better way to do that, than to sign a contract with your eyes half closed and move to Hong Kong?
But of course, there have been a lot of challenges. Homesickness is only the tip of the iceberg. The thing is, moving to a new place and learning how to adult as a graduate is freakin’ hard, never mind doing all of that with the added stress of not being able to speak the language of your estate agents and moving van guys. Thankfully, we had the help of our company to navigate us through the hard stuff and if they hadn’t sent someone to translate at our flat contract signings, we may well have signed over our souls and first born child.
But once the craziness all calmed down and we got settled in our apartment, I found myself falling in love with Hong Kong. Beyond the grime is a vivacious city where lights constantly blare in a whirlwind of pungent tea stalls, bustling markets, and rolling mountains. One moment you can be surrounded by the towering structures of Kowloon, then on a hike to a beach at Lamma island, or wandering through the exorbitant financial distract that positions Hong Kong as a hub of wealth and commerce. Riding the star ferry with the sky-line glittering or exploring the multitude of green spaces before spending the evening in another new restaurant reminds you of the limitless possibilities and opportunities that this place has to offer.
All of these experiences, however, are punctuated by a tonal language that, at times, can make you feel so far away from home. Sometimes you will find yourself intoxicated by the magic of it all, then you may be sat in Marks & Spencer, aching to go home.
Despite my bouts of homesickness, what I have come to realise is that despite the barriers of language, culture and history, our innate desire as human beings to communicate surpasses everything that distinguishes us as "separate".
I see this in the student who comes to me weekly, stammering, sweating, and shaking, as he desperately tries to twist his tongue around the alien sounds of English pronunciation.
I see this in the little boy who often gets my bus, who yesterday reached in his bag to give me a Christmas bauble he made at school, thrilled at the opportunity to practice his English.
I see this in the security lady who smiles at me every morning as we make a series of exaggerated body movements and try to communicate things about the weather or how much the elevator being out of service sucks.
In these experiences I have found “home” and an unexpected sense of belonging.
But perhaps most importantly, I have come to understand being an English speaker as an unsolicited power that simultaneously humbles and conflicts me.
As speakers of a language that remains, throughout the world, the marker of colonialism, power, and status; we are granted a privilege that we perhaps never recognised before.
Being an English teacher comes with a real sense of responsibility. It’s your job to bring the monotony of text book learning to life, to make it fun, and enable these students to experience the wealth of opportunities that speaking English (rightly or wrongly) can offer them. Often times you will have an entire room of kids glued to their phones, or fast asleep (yes, this regularly happens in HK), disengaged from the relevance of learning this difficult and tiresome language.
Teaching in a Youth College, where students have often failed high-school and dropped out of the system, at times can be exhausting, but the rewards are endless. Turning a class’s attitude from disinterested to laughing and smiling has become my new mission. Nothing beats the grin on a student’s face when they start to get something right, or realise that actually, they are much better and more capable than they initially thought.
You forget what the phrase “awkward silence” means when your questions are met with a sea of 30 blank faces.
You forget about the fear of public speaking as it all just starts to feel natural. Kinda like sleeping. Or burping.
You will also lose any inhibitions about making a fool of yourself, because this will comprise about 3/4 of your day.
If you move abroad to teach English, not only will you be able to earn money to finance your travels in the holidays, but you will become a better communicator, and all around a better person. I’m only 5 months into my experience here, and already I have learnt more about myself, and about life, than ever before. I've found an inner-resilience that I never knew I was capable of. 
You don’t need to be super brave, independent or even particularly smart to do something like this. 
You just need to be crazy enough to say "Yes".
If I can do it, anyone can do it. Trust me, it’s a decision that you won’t regret.


Is moving abroad something you would ever consider?
Lydia Rose,
xoxo
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Why I Quit My Blog: 13 Months Later

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This post is a long time over-due and one that I have re-drafted countless times. To tell you guys the truth, logging back onto Blogger has given me the creeps. This dashboard used to be the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing at night. I was so consumed by it all.

So why am I back here writing to you? I have no idea if any of you are still here, listening. But I want to tell you about the reasons why I quit my blog and why it has taken me so long to come back.

My last blog post was published in October 2015, after 2 years of writing LydiaRosexo on a daily basis. Propelled into the vortex of graduate life, I found myself just as I had expected; floundering, helpless, and unprepared. Despite getting a first in my degree, my graduation ceremony affirmed for me just how much I had fucked up and wasted my time at university. I had just ended a 3 year relationship and felt equal parts liberated and terrified. I had moved back to my parents' house in the middle of nowhere, unable to drive and therefore do anything independently.


With no University work to occupy my mind, I found myself for the first time in my adult life, inexorably alone with my thoughts. OCD had been brewing inside of me for years, but I had become an expert in filling every waking moment of my life with just enough distractions to prevent it from boiling over.

From the outside, I had won the Company Magazine Newcomer blog award, scored a coveted internship and was receiving offers from all of my favourite brands to collaborate. I didn't have to buy anything for myself, as everything from a new mascara to a holiday outfit could be covered with a swift PR e-mail. My local newspaper frequently featured me on the front page. I went to Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities and attended fancy events in London. I was constantly trying to climb the blogger ladder with the ultimate goal of making this my job.

 I was slowly paving my own way, with a strong following and a healthy number of monthly hits. I am by no means trying to paint myself as the epitome of success. I had no delusions about becoming the next Zoella. But I felt and believed in my bones that I was on my way somewhere. Blogging was my passion and my goal. I was going to make it work.


Then, in September 2015, my face broke out with a case of dermatitis that no doctor could understand. A prickly, hot rash raged across my face for 3 months, reacting to anything that came near. I couldn't wear make-up. It constantly felt like my face was on fire, not just from the rash, but from the humiliation of it all.  As a girl whose entire existence had become centred around my appearance, I literally couldn't cope. Why was this happening to me, now that I was free of my degree, and could finally pursue my blog?

I am fully aware that I sound like the definition of #firstworldproblems here - but this was my genuine thought process at the time. Without a security coating of foundation and false lashes, I didn't have a clue how to exist. I really do believe that this rash was the universe saying to me, loudly and clearly, "Something has to give".

Slaving over Uni work. Writing blog posts. Shooting the photos. Spending 3/4 of my day attached to my iPhone. Instagram, Instagram, Instagram. I realised that it had all been a distraction from the fact that my head was slowly becoming a minefield that I could no longer exist in. How many likes did my last photo get? How many retweets? How many comments?











I wanted everyone to believe that I had it covered. My friends didn't really know much about me but they did know about the products I had been sent that week. I never really had anything to talk about because everyone had already read about it on my Twitter. The sad thing is, that was all fine by me. I didn't crave friendships as much as I did someone to take my outfit photos at the weekend. I wasn't living for the moment but for the selfie at the end of it. 

My obsession with social media, and vicariously living my life through a filtered version of it, had utterly consumed my life. Quitting it all allowed me to rediscover myself. I didn't log onto Instagram for months. I gave the majority of my hoarded PR samples away. I stopped taking photos of everything. I started learning how to love myself without likes, comments and favourites.

Most importantly, I started CBT and have (mostly) overcome BDD, OCD, and depression. I gained back real confidence in myself, and finally passed my driving test, something that had been impossible when OCD ruled my life. Hell, some days I even forget to brush my hair.

So where am I now? I backpacked around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore before moving to Hong Kong with only 7kgs of luggage. I'm currently teaching English to teenagers in a college. I've found a passion for helping other people and seeing my students' faces light up. I'm working on writing poetry. You're also more likely to find me in a sweaty thrift shop than Vivienne Westwood. Shocker, right?


I feel so much happier and at peace with myself. I am able to laugh freely even if that means looking ugly in a photo. I've learnt how not to care. I've learnt to live for right now; something that can so easily be lost in between the tweets and 24/7 real time updates of our lives.

If you got all the way to the end of this post, then phew, thank you! The final thing I want to say is that I by no means believe that blogging is all bad. I'm so proud of the girls who I used to follow who are now doing this for a career and making amazing content. I feel that so many good things can be accomplished through social media - but only after 13 months away am I able to see that.

But what I want you to consider is this; it really a coincidence that so many hugely influential bloggers talk about anxiety and depression? I think everyone should take a moment to consider the negative effects that social media can have on our lives. Are you posting about the real you, or what you want people to see?  I will never forget the time that my boyfriend said, "No wonder girls are so messed up about how they look. I mean, Lydia - even you don't look like the girl on your blog'".

In some ways, I miss the girl who I used to be. I really do. The one who had a goal and a passion and who was going to do everything in her power to reach it. Which is why I am coming back to blogging. I miss being creative and connecting with people. I miss writing. I have so much to tell you guys, and I hope some of you are still out there, and will be with me on the next stage of this blog.

Thank you for reading,
Lydia Rose
xoxo

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NEW IN: Lee Stafford Releases

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When it comes to maintaining bleached blonde tresses, it's a tough deal. If I ever did get three wishes in life, being a natural blonde would be one of them. Somewhere in between a Malibu beach house and an endless supply of make-up, anyway. In my experience, eating heaps of spinach and using as little heat on your hair as possible are the keys to healthy hair and growth. But there are definitely products that help along the way, and Lee Stafford just gets it when it comes to haircare. So here are my first impressions of the new additions to the Bleach Blondes and Argan Oil range...

Tone Correcting Conditioning Spray* - Purple shampoo is my life saviour - so purple shampoo in a spray on bottle sounds pretty ingenious to me! This product is supposed to condition and moisturise whilst balancing out those orangey highlights to icy blonde shades. At first I wasn't convinced that this spray would really do the trick but I have definitely noticed that my hair looks more ashy than normal.

Nourishing Miracle Mist* - Argan oil really is a miracle in a bottle. I'm loving this so far as it gives my hair the glossiness which it lacks naturally. Plus, it genuinely is lightweight unlike a lot of sprays and doesn't weigh your hair down.

Argan Night Repair Serum* - Products that get to work whilst we sleep are always great for giving our hair the love it needs whilst being great time-savers. I haven't got around to using this yet but it smells like heaven and I'll be incorporating it into my weekend pampers.

Golden Girl Oil* - Oils are a daily part of my hair care routine as they can transform the mid lengths of your hair. This little bottle amplifies shine whilst neutralising brassy tones which is everything blondes need. I love applying this when my hair is still damp as it helps to keep my hair looking smooth and shiny.

Are you a fan of Lee Stafford?
Lydia Rose,
xoxo
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The Night Out Line Up

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I don't know about you, but my girl's night out make-up sesh is a real ritual. Nothing says girly time like spending hours getting ready, badly rapping Nicki Minaj and doing each other's hair and make-up.  Pre-drinks has always been an essential part of our night-out routine. At 21 we should probably be getting a little classier, but you have to love stumbling through your best friend's floordrobe and not actually leaving the house until 12pm, right? It never gets old.  For nights out, my fail safe look is a bronze smoky eye and red lips applied with products that I know will be sticking around until 3am. So this is what's on the line-up at the moment...

For my base I've been loving the new Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation. Flawless coverage that will hold up in a club? Check. I love this product as it gives a glowy finish but is semi-matte so can be worn without routine powder top-ups. As for concealer, the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection duo are staples in my clutch. Collection gives the coverage I need under my eyes whilst the NARS is the perfect formula for highlighting the face to tie your contour and highlight together.

Pacing your vodka before you get too tipsy to apply your make-up is an art form. One I have not yet perfected, which is why I never get too ambitious with my eyeshadow. The Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Palette is the perfect quad for a metallic bronze eye. The creamy formula makes it  super quick and easy to blend and smoke out. For false lashes, I've been obsessed with the Ardell Wispies for adding a bit of drama without looking too fake. My days of ridiculous, spidery lashes are a thing of the past, guys... A thing of the past.

Moving onto contour, you know the drill by now, I never go anywhere without my Film Star Bronze & Glow. The buttery ash-brown powder is your one-stop to killer cheekbones that can be built up for an ultra contoured look. But as for highlight, I can't get enough of the new Anastasia Beverly Hills Riviera powder, a beautiful rose-gold pigment that will get any highlight obsessive's heart beating. A full review of that will be coming soon!

To finish the look, red lips are back on my make-up menu and Lost Cherry, is the perfect fuchsia red. Finally, I always apply a spritz of the Urban Decay Setting Spray which is too loved (read: grubby) to photograph, to keep my make-up looking fresh all night.

What is your go-to look on a girl's night out? Have you tried any of these products?
Lydia Rose,
xoxo

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