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 Asia, I’m 24, and I come from Poland.
What made you want to come teach in China?
It was quite a spontaneous decision for me – I like going to distant places and experiencing a different way of life. I also wanted to test my skills as a teacher/public speaker and learn something new about the world and myself.
Is this your first time teaching/living overseas?
I lived abroad before, but it was still Europe, which is pretty uniform these days. China brings something different.
What was your experience like getting over to China?
Everything went smoothly, I was picked up, sent to my apartment, and soon started my career as a teacher.
Was there anything that surprised you during the process of getting over to China?
Bureaucracy, laws, and regulations changing every week. Luckily, I was spared the stress and everything had been taken care of.
What has been the most surprising part about living in China so far?
How quickly it became my home and how easy the Chinese language is. Collective lifestyle (especially in big schools) different privacy standards, good-heartedness and hospitality of the people, how important hospitality is and how exaggerated it may sometimes seem, along with general showing off of wealth.
Chinese students have it way harder than we do in the west. Kids of all ages have their time organized from dawn until late night hours and work really hard. It made me embarrassed about years of complaining when I was a student myself!
What do you like best about living in China?
Exploring a new way of thinking stemming from this ancient culture and the way Chinese language reflects it. Living in different places, seeing things for the first time, making new friends, traveling around Asia, riding an electric scooter and drinking good tea… the list goes on.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an expat?
Freedom in teaching, communicating with my students, understanding the culture and language, being thrown into a completely new environment and growing as a human being.
What has been the most challenging part of being an expat so far?
Not being able to blend in or disappear in the crowd. Doing anything without catching somebody’s attention is nearly impossible, but this doesn’t apply to bigger cities with a large number of expats.
Have you found it easy to make new friends in China?
Chinese people always offer their friendship, even if we can barely speak each other’s language. They are very helpful and open their doors to anyone. My friends here take me for daytrips and cook vegan food for me (new concept for most), and introduce me to their families. They teach me, I teach them.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to come teach in China?
Don’t be a control freak. It won’t last here. Things in China change too often! As a teacher you will probably experience last minute rewrites of all possible schedules, random special events, weekdays are sometimes treated like weekends. Keep your mind open, watch out when crossing the street, and don’t drink tap water. Be yourself!