What were your expectations prior to starting your role? How has the experience matched your expectations?
I expected ordering food, getting around and my job as a whole being difficult because I don’t speak Chinese. Working at Aihua has been quite the opposite. My supervisors and headmaster have made every effort to make sure I acclimatized to China as smoothly as possible. The transition has almost been too easy – I feel like I am already a veteran!
I was also surprised how delicious (and cheap) the food is. I had always heard terrible stories about Chinese food but when I came here I found that all to be untrue!
What do you like most about China?
Safety. Coming from South Africa it feels strange being able to walk around the city with your cellphone out or seeing girls be able to get home on their own after a night out.
I once saw a girl sleeping on her motorcycle in the city with the keys in the ignition, her cell phone in her hand and earphones in her ears! Madness.
What has taken a bit of getting used to?
Figuring out how to feed myself every day without going to a restaurant! I’m sure my mother would be disappointed I didn’t learn anything about cooking while I was at home.
What’s your accommodation like?
Amazing! I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The internet speed is the only downfall.
How have you got to know people socially (both Chinese and other ex-pats)?
Yes. It is very easy to make friends here as everyone seems to have the same mindset. Everyone is interested in where you are from and what you do. Chinese people are especially impressed if you can speak a little Chinese so meeting new people is easy with a little effort.
In general, nothing really bothers Chinese people. Things that would get under my skin in a second don’t phase the average local. They are not judgemental and couldn’t care less about what I am doing. This trait also causes them to seem inconsiderate at times because noise, mess and hygiene just don’t get to them!
What places have you visited whilst working? How did you travel?
Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou so far all by train.
What is your favourite Chinese food?
I know this is very western of me but kung pow chicken is always a winner.
Do you manage to save any money each month? If so, how much on average?
Not really as of yet. I have had to pay for a new laptop, cellphone, bicycle, Chinese lessons (in bulk) and go on a backpacking trip. I plan on saving a lot more when the summer ends.
What piece of advice would you offer to future applicants?
This is the most enjoyable, high-paying, stress free job I have ever had. I teach adorable children English through playing games for a few hours a day. This is a new experience and a great way to learn a new language. It’s a lot easier to like in China than you think!