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 to conduct an ESL teacher interview 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 Marianne. I am 25 years old and I am from Boston, Massachusetts.
What made you want to come teach in China?
I am currently a student majoring in Elementary Education. I wanted to get a feel for teaching while also traveling. While doing research, I came to know more about working and living in China and found it as an amazing opportunity.
Is this your first time teaching/living overseas?
What was your experience like getting over to China?
My experience getting from the USA to China went very smooth. I did all my paperwork and visa work quickly. I reserved my plane ticket and within a few months I was landing here in Beijing.
Was there anything that surprised you during the process of getting over to China?
I was surprised at how easy the process was. For example, I thought for my visa I would have to travel to another state and was sort of freaking out for a few days about it. But then I found a travel agency in my state which would do the visa process for me and only charged me a small fee. I went to the agency and within two weeks my visa was ready for pick-up. This saved me a bunch of time and money.
What has been the most surprising part about living in China so far?
The most surprising part of living in China is that I find everyone to be very friendly. Of course, I expected people here to be nice. But on the other hand, people here are very helpful. My co-workers always help me when it comes to buying things, getting places, or even translating things. Just small things they help me with makes my day-to-day life here a lot easier, which I appreciate immensely.
What do you like best about living in China?
The price of living is great, things here are so cheap. From food to clothes to transportation. Everything here is immensely cheap compared to back home. You can buy a whole meal here for 18 RMB which is about 3 USD. I recently just bought shoes for 45 RMB or 7.50 USD. Taxi rides are about 20-40 RMB which is less than 10 USD.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an expat?
I would say meeting new friends and my kids are the most rewarding parts of living in China and being an expat. I love the kids I teach. Going to work is never boring with them. I have also made new friends from all over the world while being here.
What has been the most challenging part of being an expat so far?
Not knowing the language. I mean, it is okay coming here and not knowing it. I have learned some Chinese already and I can get by. But if I did know Chinese then my day-to-day life here would be 1,000 times easier. However, I think it would take away from the experience, so I’m not complaining, haha.
First of all, I will say that I came here not knowing anyone at all. But, I found it so easy to make friends here. Not knowing anyone made me try and get to know more people a lot more, so I made friends pretty quickly.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to come teach in China?
Research about things that you will need that you cannot find in China before coming here. I fortunately did, but a lot of my friends did not. So when they ran out of deodorant they had to search everywhere for it and after they did find deodorant, it cost them about 10 USD for one stick. So everyone make sure you get all your hygiene, feminine, and beauty products before coming here!