In early March, Forsyth Tech graduate, Bradley Krae, met with students in the Humanities 120: Cultural Studies on China class. He shared his personal experience of life after graduation, traveling abroad and experiencing another culture. After completing his degree in 2015, Brad wanted to explore other parts of the world but did not want to accumulate debt while traveling. His solution was to enroll in the on-line program at TEFL Academy in Chicago (Teach English as a Foreign Language) where he became certified to teach English in over 80 countries. Offered a choice of destinations, Brad decided to move to Shenzhen, a city of 15 million, in southeastern China. It lies along the coast of the South China Sea and immediately north of Hong Kong. Brad first taught English to elementary students and, as he learned the Chinese language, taught more mature students.
This outgoing Forsyth Tech graduate encouraged current students to step outside their own familiar surroundings and discover new places. Through friendship and networking Brad continues to expand his opportunities. He explained, “If you open yourself up and make time to hang out with people, you can meet people from around the world and share ideas.” Through his contacts and connections, Brad has been in several TV commercials, teaches English through private tutoring and is currently exploring the import/export business.
Now a seasoned-traveler, Brad learned the hard way to prepare when visiting a new country. His first day in China, the airline misplaced his bag, his bank card did not work, and he did not have the correct SIM card for his phone. Originally placed in a small village outside the city without enough money to exchange, Brad could not purchase the bare necessities. But Brad was not discouraged, he embraced his adventure and persevered. He met other travelers and eventually moved into Shenzhen with two roommates, one from Australia and the other from England. As Brad explained, “If you have the will to surmount, eventually it will work out better than you thought.” His advice before departing on your journey is to learn a few simple phrases of the local language, research phone accessibility and understand money transfers between the U.S. and other countries.
Although Shenzhen is now a modern city, often called the Silicon Valley of China, Brad explained he does not need to go far to experience traditional Chinese culture. Alongside the modern architecture of the city, a journey down any alleyway can lead to a tradesman using centuries-old tools and techniques. Food delicacies include chicken feet with bone and little skin; and brains, which are a bit like scrambled eggs. Brad also shared the Chinese secret to longevity – hot water and sleep. In the West, doctors prescribe medicine for most symptoms, while the Chinese believe food will treat most ailments. For headaches or fatigue, there is a recipe for hot soup as a cure.
Inexpensive airfare and cheap hostels make traveling to nearby countries very affordable. During his time abroad, Brad traveled throughout Southeast Asia, Taiwan and South Korea. Admittedly unaware of the culture and history of these countries, Brad was struck by the intricately detailed temples in Thailand, the depravity in Cambodia due to the Pol Pot regime in the 1970’s, and the love of street performers and karaoke in South Korea. Brad observed that many American students are not aware of other countries. He strongly encouraged the class to learn about other people, their traditions and explore the world around them.
When Brad graduated from Forsyth Tech he was unsure where his next steps would lead. But with the right resources and his willingness to connect with others, Brad’s future is limitless.