What do you like most about China?
I enjoy the people most. They are all so curious, and forthcoming. If you can get over the stares (and occasional laughter), the people are so pleasant and sociable.
What has taken a bit of getting used to?
Lots of spitting. I have no idea how they keep our town so clean.
What’s your accommodation like?
Our accommodation is very pleasant. We live in a housing complex, one subway stop away from the school. We have more than enough room and amenities to live comfortably.
How have you got to know people socially (both Chinese and other ex-pats)?
Yes, I am very fortunate to be part of a really interesting and diverse staff team. There are over 10 other teachers here from America, England and South Africa, all of whom have been very accommodating and willing to share their experiences. The local staff too have been amazing at helping us with little issues, such as ordering things online and setting up phone contracts.
What have you found to be the major cultural differences? Have you made any cultural faux-pas?
China is very loud. There always seems to be noise coming from somewhere, whether that’s fireworks at all times of the day (and night), or cars constantly beeping, it is never ever quiet.
What places have you visited whilst working? How did you travel?
So far I have visited Shanghai on multiple occasions, Nanjing, Wuzhen and all around Hangzhou. I also have upcoming trips to Vietnam and Japan booked, with lots of China travelling planned in between.
What is your favourite Chinese food?
Sweet and sour pork and tu dou si (shredded spicy potatoes.)
Do you manage to save any money each month? If so, how much on average?
So far, most of my money has gone on travelling and food, but if I wanted, I could easily save 2/3rds of my wages, and I plan on doing so in a few months.
What piece of advice would you offer to future applicants?
Learn some simple Chinese phrases before you come. Even if your tones and pronunciation is bad, it will help so much.
Do you have any feedback on how Opportunity China can improve its service for teachers?
Keep up the good work! Maybe a little more contact after agreeing to a contract, but you were always quick to respond to emails, and very informative.