Fiona Harris


What were your expectations prior to leaving the UK? How has the experience matched your expectations?

I expected there to be very few foreigners to socialise with, however Shenyang has proved to have a very vibrant expat community. I have made many friends here.

What do you like most about China?

I enjoy meeting the people! The locals are very friendly and really keen to accommodate and facilitate my attempts to learn the language.

What has taken a bit of getting used to?

Finding things and having to navigate; when I first had to find a pharmacy it took me a while. I learned that it was great to take pictures of familiar landmarks and write down as many places as possible as I gradually gathered up the language.

What is your accommodation like?

My accommodation is clean and comfortable. I have a separate lounge and bedroom and my company provides all of my utilities.

How have you got to know people socially (both Chinese and other ex-pats)?

I met other teachers through my school who introduced me to their friends. I enjoy the expat bars in Shenyang and listening to the live music, as well as playing badminton.


fiona and group

What have you found to be the major cultural differences? Have you made any cultural faux-pas?

Using chopsticks was fairly difficult, and I took a photograph while in a temple which is a faux pas!

What places have you visited whilst working? How did you travel?

While working I visited Dalian with my company. We travelled there by coach. I also flew to Shanghai with my friends.

How have you accessed the internet?

I have access to wifi at work and home – I visit the usual English websites using a VPN.

What is your favourite food?

I love dumplings – during Chinese New Year in the North of China people traditionally eat dumplings at midnight.

Do you manage to save any money each month? If so, how much on average?

I have not saved much money so far – I enjoyed my travelling instead!

What advantages may you have over other graduates when applying for future jobs?

I developed language and people skills; after experiencing a different culture I can empathise with a wider variety of people.

What piece of advice would you offer to future applicants?

Bring a dictionary or a vocabulary book with you. Make as much conversation as you can with everyone you can! I have learned most of my Chinese from talking to taxi drivers.

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