A Pennsylvania man who was saddled with crippling student debt after graduating from college — but with no job in sight after four years – bought a one-way ticket to China to leave his financial woes behind, according to a report.
“I had to escape this debtors’ prison. It felt like there was no other choice,” Chad Albright told the York Daily Record. “That’s what America became to me, a prison. So I left.”
Albright began delivering pizzas right after high school to save up for college tuition before enrolling in Millersville University at age 25 as the oldest student in his classes.
He said it was tough to continue working full time as he balanced his course load while being ostracized by his classmates.
“I wanted that diploma, and I was willing to work for it,” Albright told the newspaper. “Everyone always told me it would be worth it.”
After graduating with a degree in public relations in 2007, at the start of the Great Recession, he found to his dismay that job offers were not exactly pouring in.
During interviews, he said he heard the same line from prospective employers: “Sorry, there’s someone who’s been doing this for 10 years and just lost their job. I have to go with someone who has 10 years’ experience.”
He recalled: “But the last thing they would say to me, ‘Don’t worry, your day will come.’”
The despondent man moved back to parents’ place in Lancaster, where he said he fell into a deep depression.
“I was expected to make a $400 loan payment every month, but I had no money, no sustainable income. College ruined my life,” he said.
“Two years of nonstop interviews and nothing. I was so done.”
Finally, while he was at the gym one day, he saw a woman on CNN talking about her job teaching English to kids in Hong Kong and a light clicked.
“She said, ‘I have no desire to return back home,’” Albright recalled. “That’s when I started looking into teaching overseas.”
With his parents’ blessing, Albright decided to make the big move in 2011, when he was $30,000 in debt, and began teaching English in the city of Zhongshan.
He only earned about $1,000 a month, he said, but it was enough to cover his rent and he was still able to enjoy his income because the cost of living in China is so low compared to back home.
“Things I never got the chance to do in America because of my student debt,” Albright said. “My life was so much better once I left. Why would I ever go back?”
Albright did eventually go back to the US, but only to visit his mother.
And after a few years teaching in China, he moved to Ukraine, where he now is a permanent resident and working in sales.
As far as that nagging debt, Albright said he hasn’t checked his student loan account in almost eight years.
“I hardly ever think about it,” he said, adding that his credit suffered after defaulting on his loan payments.
“I’m 39 years old and never even been able to buy a car,” he said.
And his personal life also took a hit.
“I’m happy to be away from my debt, but I’m lonely most of the time,” Albright said. “I don’t really have other options at this point, though.”
If he could do things over, he said he would have skipped the degree and taken a course online to learn about computer programming.
“I’ve accepted that this is my life now,” Albright said. “College ruined my life to the fullest extent, and my life is a constant reminder of that.”