As you plan your trip to come teach English in China, we know you’ve likely got tons of questions running through your mind. One of the questions I hear most often from potential teachers is what the experience is like coming to China and what they should be aware of while preparing to come over.
We’re always happy to answer these questions, but I think it’s even better if we can let some of the teachers we’ve helped get jobs in China speak for themselves. That’s why we started this series of interviews with our teachers, so you can get a feel for what it’s really like directly from teachers we’ve placed in jobs in China. These are their unedited opinions. Enjoy and feel free to ask the teacher questions in the comments!
First off, tell us your name, age and where you’re from:
My name is Brady Dyment. I’m 20 years old and I am from North Bay, Ontario, Canada. I arrived in China in April of 2014.
What made you want to come teach in China?
I have lived in Ontario my entire life. I felt like I was doing the exact same things day after day with nothing new in my life. Going to the same repetitive job and seeing the same people all the time can be exhausting and make you feel as though your purpose in life is minuscule. Being the person I am, I decided to browse the internet for ESL jobs overseas. I’ve always had a huge interest in world cultures as well as a dream of traveling the globe to experience them first hand.
Is this your first time teaching/living overseas?
Yes it is. Not only is it my first time teaching and living abroad but it’s also my very first time traveling outside of the province I was born in. Working two jobs just to live a comfortable life doesn’t exactly leave you much time for travel. My first time in a airplane was a 13 hour flight from Toronto, Ontario to Beijing, China.
What was your experience like getting over to China?
It was great. Besides a few little hiccups at the Chinese embassy, my overall experience was awesome. New Life ESL was there every step of the way to help me through the process and answer any questions that I had. Getting all the documents in order and planning for the big move happened so fast. Within 6 weeks I was packed up and ready for a whole new way of life.
Was there anything that surprised you during the process of getting over to China?
I think the thing that surprised me the most during the process was how fast everything happened. I couldn’t believe how quickly everything came together. I gave my notice at my place of work, moved back in with my parents for a month, sold many of my belongings that I didn’t need and put the rest in storage. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to China.
What has been the most surprising part about living in China so far?
The most surprising part for me so far is the how fast I’ve adapted to the way of living in China. I’ve learned to use Chinese products and eat the wide variety of Chinese foods on a daily basis. Every day I manage to learn and experience something new. Drinking hot water and eating with chop sticks are a new normal for me. Not to mention being able to go outside my apartment and find almost anything I could possibly need on the side of the road from street vendors.
What do you like the best about living in China?
I don’t think I can just pick one thing that I like the most. There are so many great things about living here. I currently live in Fuzhou, Fijian. The Fijian province is beautiful! It has hundred of mountains which are full of huge trees and awesome wildlife. The air here is so clean too. Being only an hour away from the east coast makes day trips to the ocean for beach time and swimming very accessible. Also, being so close to the ocean insures that we have some of the freshest seafood I have ever eaten. I have definitely had my share of octopus and oysters since I arrived in Fuzhou.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an expat?
The most rewarding part is the recognition that you receive from the locals. They always want to know your story. They’re so interested in where you come from and what life was like for you back home. Most people who see you walking down the street or in a grocery store will stop and say hello just because you are a foreigner. Some people even want to take pictures with you! After awhile you begin to feel like a celebrity. In any situation, you always have someone willing to help you or give you directions. Even the language barrier will not stop them from wanting to help you out!
Also being able to spend so much time with the children that you teach is rewarding. Everyday I wake up so excited for work because I love being with them and teaching them something new. (Think about the last time you’ve been excited to go to work everyday.) You really do start to bond with the kids and develop a relationship with them, as well as the parents. It’s absolutely wonderful!
What has been the most challenging part of being an expat so far?
Being away from your family & friends is never an easy thing. Not being able to invite my parents over for dinner or call my brother to arrange a night of drinks and music is difficult. After a little while you tend to adjust to life without them. Being able to Skype with them and receive little gifts in the mail make it seem as though they are not that far away. You really do begin to realize how important your family is to you when they are not close to you anymore.
Have you found it easy to make new friends in China?
Absolutely! Meeting other foreigners is super easy in China. You usually have a lot to talk about when comparing your experiences in China and your home country as well. It’s also easy to make Chinese friends. So many Chinese people love having friends who are foreign and learning from you.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to come teach in China?
I would tell them to not think twice. Just get your ticket and come over here. You really have nothing to hold you back but yourself. Don’t make excuses as to why you shouldn’t come to China. Just be spontaneous and DO IT! You will honestly never regret the decision to start a brand new life. You only have one chance to live so make the most out of it.