Having lived in China for most of the last 6 years, people always ask, why China?
What is it exactly about this vast land that makes it so appealing to a regular Brit like myself?
To be honest its a question I am still struggling to answer.
It could be because here, in China I am no longer just a regular brit, the attention from locals (wanted or not) can make simple trips to the market an experience in themselves. The fascination with foreigners stem from genuine intrigue and curiosity of the distant western world. When teaching, Classrooms of children sit before you; smiling and eyes twinkling, eager to decode this strange language that so often is the key to their future.
It could be due to the rapid economic growth China is experiencing and more specifically how the new Super Rich are pulling China kicking and screaming into her slightly twisted version of the modern world. The Chinese entrepreneurs are joining the rich list at an unprecedented rate, skyscrapers are flying up, the nightclubs are packed and the Chinese are enjoying a wealth they have never had before. This Dragon has very much awoken and on the street you can feel it, the country is buzzing.
It could be because I have found teaching here unbelievably fulfilling and somewhat addictive, I originally came here to learn Mandarin and build a business, but the satisfaction from making a whole class laugh and learn is something that hits some heart strings that nothing else can.
But for me Teaching English in China is a foothold, a way in. It gives you time to get to understand the Chinese way, learn some Mandarin, make the right connections and see where you want to take it. To say that China is a land of opportunity is an understatement, my only regret was not getting here earlier.
There is nothing I can really say to prepare anyone for their first trip to China, for me landing in Beijing for the first time now seems a distant memory and the experiences I have had since have gone quite some way to mould who I am and how I see the world today. This country is massively vast and hugely varied, its a massive challenge, and I’m loving every minute of it.