What do you like most about China?
Everything, The Food, the people, the Culture and the beautiful scenery.
What has taken a bit of getting used to?
The food at school is very tasty but is very filling. There are so many people here compared to my home town so everywhere is busy. Also I didn’t know about the toilets here. Over the winter the air pollution got worse and I now wear a mask outside.
What were your expectations prior to starting your role? How has the experience matched your expectations?
The actual job role turned out to be different. I expected to be teaching 20 hours of science per week. I was quite nervous about this but knew with my training I could cope. It turns out that I am teaching aural English. It took a while to get used to teaching this subject and I had to learn quickly to delivery the best classes that I could. Although different, I have found this job to be very suited for my first time abroad and an excellent first teaching job.
What’s your accommodation like?
Good but expensive. It has a nice view and is fairly close to my school.
How have you got to know people socially (both Chinese and other ex-pats)?
I got to know one good friend from the inductions that my school did. The other foreign teacher at my school had some friends and I have met friends in badminton clubs and at walking/ activity clubs. All the people here are very friendly and keen to help a foreigner out.
What have you found to be the major cultural differences? Have you made any cultural faux-pas?
Not that I know of. The way of life for Chinese people is very different. They work long hours and seem to never stop working, but it seems like they have a relaxed working environment.
What places have you visited whilst working? How did you travel?
I have been exploring around Hangzhou at the moment, I’ve been around the West Lake many times and went by boat to the island in the middle. There is also a lovely water fountain by the lake which is very pretty. Baoshi mountain has great views of the lake and the city. There is a 25km hike around the mountains that is very good but long. I went to Longjing Tea Village and saw lots of beautiful scenery of mountainsides with tea plants. I have been to the Qiantan River and the famous bridge. The wetlands are also very nice and peaceful. South of the West Lake is an ecological park that has a very good museum all about Hangzhou food.
There are lots of places to see in Hangzhou and I am still exploring. I plan to visit Shanghai and Suzhou soon.
What is your favourite Chinese food?
Everything! The baozi are very nice and the dumplings are great. I like hand pulled noodles and have been making my own. I love the rice noodles with egg and cabbage that the school does for breakfast. In Hangzhou they have many seafood dishes. I have crab legs, mussels,fish and snails. Over the holidays I had dumplings and made them with my sister in law and her family. The whole way of eating is different as well, they eat together and share the food together. There is so much variety with food that it is too hard to pick a favourite dish!
What piece of advice would you offer to future applicants?
Stay positive, have an open mind and don’t say no. There are plenty of friendly people that can help you if you have problems.
Do you have any feedback on how Opportunity China can improve its service for teachers?
Not really. Maybe provide some sort of language support.