What were your expectations prior to starting your role? How has the experience matched your expectations?
My expectations were full of apprehension, and quite bemusing. I thought I was going to love it, and at times I thought I would hate it. I guess I had very realistic expectations. I didn’t know how well the English was of the Chinese staff, I didn’t really know too much about the teaching curriculum before I left. Since arriving, I would have to say that I’m glad I made the decision to come to china. I love the job, the people, the company. I love China.
What do you like most about China?
The best thing about China, for me, is a mixture of many things. The history, the beauty of the landscapes, the food, the people, the evidence of strong traditions. But if I had to pick one thing out of all of that…the beauty of the country. The traditional buildings and mountains, rivers…I don’t really realize I am in china sometimes due to some similarities of cities in England….so for me, seeing mountains and beautiful rivers and old traditional Chinese buildings puts a smile on my face.
What has taken a bit of getting used to?
Its strangely surprising how quickly you adapt to living in a completely different country. I think if you have an open mind and thoughtful of the people and their customs then I think it is very easy to fit in here.
What’s your accommodation like?
The accommodation is quite reasonable, definitely a nice place to go back home to after a hard days work. Very safe and secure in a friendly locations. Accommodation is in very local areas close to many shops, bus routes, and other things so there is no worry about being stuck in the middle of nowhere.
How have you got to know people socially (both Chinese and other ex-pats)?
Rightly so, I now have more Chinese friends than ‘foreign’ friends! It is very, very easy to make friends here. Naturally the foreign staff all become friends anyway as it gives you an immediate group of friends to relate to. The more you work, explore and go out the more friends you find. Most Chinese people love having foreign friends and the people are extremely lovely so there is no worry on the ‘making friends’ front.
What have you found to be the major cultural differences? Have you made any cultural faux-pas?
Fortunately I haven’t made any faux-pas, as of yet! For me the one thing I find difficult to deal with is the queuing system or rather the lack of. It might be me just being incredibly British but I do love queuing and it can be quite annoying when queuing only for someone to walk in front and cut the queue….but that is about it! Relatively minor come to think of it.
What places have you visited whilst working? How did you travel?
I have been to a few places that are still within the province of Sichuan. I plan to visit another city very shortly for an upcoming festival. It is extremely easy to get about both in the town and between cities…expect long journeys on trains if you want to see other cities as the country is just too big. But well worth the journey!
What is your favourite Chinese food?
Simply an unanswerable question as I just love ‘the food.’ All of it is just too good to pick just one thing. The street food, the staple foods like dumplings, all of it is just an experience that needs to be tried.
Do you manage to save any money each month?
Saving money is incredibly easy as the cost of living is so low, as I’m quite strict with my saving; I save over half of my monthly wage. As the food is so cheap you can afford to eat out every night if you wanted to. Even travel is incredibly cheap. You would be amazed at how much you could save if you really wanted to.
What piece of advice would you offer to future applicants?
Definitely bring some home comforts with you. Be open minded, be adventurous, be brave, and most of all do not worry! It is scary af first but those feelings go away so quickly once you realize how safe you are, how supported you are from other ‘foreign’ staff and also the Chinese staff. It would be extremely helpful to you but not entirely necessary to learn mandarin before coming out. From my experience I was always with other foreigners who knew their way around, knew the best places to go for food and to relax and to have fun so I found that I was in very safe hands…so that will no doubt be your experience to I’m sure.
Do you have any feedback on how Opportunity China can improve its service for teachers?
From my experience it has been great. Helping me get in contact with teachers that were already here and also continually checking in after I arrived…so just keep that up with future teachers and it will be great.