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Offered a position in China - July 2019

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by TexanTeacher2013, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    I'm super excited to receive a contract so early. Now, reality is setting in and I'm feeling a bit nervous and terrified. I am thankful to @hippo and all of the other amazing people here on Tes that aided in my decision. I understand the anxiety that I'm feeling is due to the unknown. People can describe scenarios and places, but I can't fully understand until I experience them myself. Until then, here are some lingering questions.....

    1. I hear everything about China is different than the US. How can I prepare myself for the cultural shock.
    2. I've lived in the city my entire life, but will teach in a rural area in China. What am I to expect?
    3. I'm very close to my family. Actually, we've never been more than 30 minutes apart. How do you cope with the separation?
    4. Did you abandon your US/UK credit/debit cards or did you hand them off for safe keeping?
    5. Other than the language/cultural differences are there other factors to consider?
    6. Is ut normal to second guess your decision. If so, what can I do to reassure myself? I considered writing a letter to the future me discussing my current excitement and purpose for moving abroad.

    I appreciate all of your comments!!
  2. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    You're welcome, TexanTeacher2013.

    Yup, China is a weird and wonderful place. Have fun! Mrs Hippopotamus and I enjoyed our five years in the Middle Kingdom.
    TexanTeacher2013 likes this.
  3. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    I have sent you a conversation thread
  4. 576

    576 Established commenter

    I can't answer all your questions but definitely keep your home bank accounts (or consolidate into one) and cards.
    And second guessing is fine.

    I'm in my 3rd international job and the morning I flew out here I felt sick with nerves.

    I think the key is to give everything time and don't expect everything to be wonderful.
  5. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Thank you, 576.
  6. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    I'm wondering what a rural area that n China looks like. I'm feeling it's probably not as rural as you think.
  7. blue451

    blue451 Occasional commenter

    I don't know China, so can't offer specific advice on that.

    But depending how rural it is, that might be the biggest part of any culture shock. I say this as someone who used to frequent a forum for british expats in Spain - so many want to leave a town or city in the UK and move to a nice finca in the country where they have their own olive or orange trees, but then complain about the lack of facilities/services.

    Other than that, heed the advice given on this forum about setting up phones and other devices to be able to use VPN services and access the websites you will want to access - some of that stuff needs to be set up before you go.

    Good luck!
  8. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    The HoD described it as a very remote location. 1-.5 hours from next "town". So much so, that food runs are offerred by the facility. That's pretty rural.
    Great information! Thank you.
  9. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    I'm in Beijing, so not rural. However:

    1. You have to go with it and accept that it's just different - people will be constantly spitting everywhere; they will push in front of you in lines; they will openly talk about you and want to take your picture - this happens in the tier 1 cites, where there are MANY foreigners or laowai, so I can only imagine that this will be magnified in rural areas, where westerners are even more of a novelty!
    2. Despite the above, the locals will probably be very nice to you. You will probably find many western items that are freely available in tier 1 cities (though at a price) almost impossible to get in rural areas. It depends HOW rural is rural?
    3. I know it's not the same as face-to-face but maybe Skype? Get family (as well as yourself) set up with We Chat then you can make free voice or video calls - though this depends on your internet connection. When I came here I imagined the internet speeds would be amazing, but, alas, not so! You'll need a VPN too - most of us in my school (and I expect others) use 'Express VPN'. Without it you won't have access to FB, Twitter, You Tube etc...
    4.Keep them, though bear in mind that in many places here western debit/credit cards will not be accepted. However, my western cards DO work in Bank of China, ICBC etc to withdraw money from the wall. I'm sure your school will arrange set up of a Chinese account, and you should get a card with this. 'Union Pay' is very big over here.
    5. See if your new school can put you in touch with any current western teachers there so you can ask them questions about the area you'll be in. They can advise what what you might need to bring with you that you can't get here etc etc.
    You will almost certainly need a few words/phrases of Chinese, especially living in a rural part of the country - try and learn not only pin yin (the 'western' way of pronunciation) but also some of the easier characters, at least as a start. Make sure you have a translator app like 'Google Translate' on your phone.
    6. I would make sure that your school has made things crystal clear to you about what to expect. You will need to apply for a visa - again make sure that the school tell you EXACTLY which documents they will need authenticating/ apostilising etc. Getting it wrong can cost a great deal of time - I speak from experience.

    Above all I would try and get in touch with staff from the school as they know the situation you'll be in exactly - China is so big and diverse and each province has quite different laws/rules/requirements and these are changing all the time. The area where your school is situated might not be as rural as you think.

    Hope this helps.
  10. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Extremely informative. Thank you. The school is located in Huizhou.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yep, the Great Dragon of Chinese Officialdom is indeed a most fearsome beast. Getting all of the bits of paper stamped and notarized and authenticated and Uncle Tom Cobbley and All seems to take forever. Make sure that you have the right kind of visa stuck into your passport and it ought to be the light blue Z visa (a working visa). You definitely do NOT want just a business visa or a tourist visa. Be very suspiciuous, mistrustful and even downright awkward with anybody who says that you do not need a proper working visa for China. Don't believe any twit who tells you, "Your visa will be sorted out after you arrive." That sort of thing might be okay for the Middle East, but not the Middle Kingdom.
  12. alvtes

    alvtes New commenter

    my experience 2 years in china in a similar city to huizhou.

    first year, i went and ate everything like a local. had food poisoning twice. once it was very serious (hospitalised for 2-3 days). i also developed appendicitis. had to fly home for surgery.

    second year i moved to a tier 1 city. it was better. no food poisoning however my apartment had some electrical problem. when i tried to flip the switch box outside, it exploded, right in my face. lucky i wasn't hurt. the plumping next door burst as well, and flooded the whole room.

    i also swallowed a toothpick because some idiot put toothpicks in nugget. i saw a doctor for that, did many ct scans, did two scopes etc.

    other than that nothing happened. i quickly left china.

    after i left, my stomach had gastric reflux. i saw a doc, etc. after i returned home for a while, it went away.

    with the benefit of hindsight,

    i would say just assume all food in china is polluted. it the raw materials (rice, wheat, meat are fed dirty water etc). that was probably what led to my appendificitis and stomach problems after i returned home.

    frankly i nearly died 2 times in china in just 2 years. hopefully there are no permanent health damage.

    within those 2 years, i did like 3 ultrasounds, 5 ct scans, 2 endoscopes, one major stomach surgery.

    for the past 20+ years alive, i have never been to the doctors once for any scans or scopes, not once....past decade or two back home in a developed country never had such health risks.

    i have returned home for a few years now and never had any health issues. i dont think i will return its just not worth the risk and money for me. maybe i will return but eat home cooked food or only western fast food.

    i met many nice people and stuff but still the country has too many lethal problems current;y
  13. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    ....and I lived there for 10 years and ate/cooked local a lot. One bout of food poisoning after having dinner at the Ritz Carleton.

    Lots of new culinary experiences though!
    grdwdgrrrl likes this.
  14. alvtes

    alvtes New commenter

    one of the issues of working in china is they got capital controls

    which means u will struggle to TT ur savings back to the usa

    the bank needs ur tax receipts, work contract, bla bla bla...

    so what some ppl do is they take all the cash and fly to hk/home annually to save it...

    china has some good local govt bonds offering 4% return over 90 days btw
  15. walkingfred

    walkingfred Occasional commenter

    I am in Beijing, but have explored quite a lot of China and some of my friends are in more rural places:

    1. I hear everything about China is different than the US. How can I prepare myself for the cultural shock.
    - Find out about local culture- read, watch films, learn a bit of the language, find out what is happening there politically, socially and economically. I have book and film recommendations if you would like some.
    - Try to get a buddy in your school who you can Skype or email with questions.
    - Listen to the advice/anecdotes of others, but be prepared to make up your own mind.
    - Check the weather/pollution information for your destination- bits of China are insanely cold in winter! Be prepared!
    - Load up on little luxuries from home so you can treat yourself on the inevitable 'China Days'.
    - Find your local ex-pat community and build yourself a support network.

    2. I've lived in the city my entire life, but will teach in a rural area in China. What am I to expect?
    - Rural China is really, really rural, to the point I wouldn't have thought they would be hiring overseas teachers- it is more likely you will be in a town or small city. They are still bigger than many US and European cities. Find out as much as you can about the location from staff already there.

    3. I'm very close to my family. Actually, we've never been more than 30 minutes apart. How do you cope with the separation?
    - Facetime is a wonderful thing! I speak to my family every day, and I get home twice a year.

    4. Did you abandon your US/UK credit/debit cards or did you hand them off for safe keeping?
    - I left one card with a parent for emergencies and I have the other on me here. Keep all your accounts open.

    5. Other than the language/cultural differences are there other factors to consider?
    - The cultural differences are massive, and for some, are very overwhelming. I have seen people leave in a couple of months as they are not coping.
    - Pollution is not as bad as it is made out to be in the press, but it should be a consideration, especially if you have kids.
    - Depending on the school, you might find your educational philosophies challenged. I have know American teachers struggle to adapt to the British system and vice versa, and lots of people from everywhere who struggle with the Chinese system. This is a fascinating insight: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/12/gaokao-china-toughest-school-exam-in-world

    6. Is ut normal to second guess your decision. If so, what can I do to reassure myself? I considered writing a letter to the future me discussing my current excitement and purpose for moving abroad.
    - Absolutely! But what a colleague said to me when I was considering moving abroad is to think how I would feel on my death bed; if I thought I would regret not going, even if I didn't particulalry enjoy it, then I should go for it!
    - Right up until I was on the plane, I was second guessing my decision!
    - There will be days/weeks/months, even, when you are actually in China going *** was I thinking, but that passes and you learn from it!

    Let me know if you want to PM! Good luck with all the paperwork and China is an awesome country!
  16. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Next you will need your packing list, I would start with;

    1,Shoes and boots.
    2,Over the counter drugs you use like headache tablets flu remedies and insect bite cream.
    3, Jungle formula mosquito repellent with 50% DEET. The local brand is **** and does nothing.
    5,Wifi router that you can install the VPN.(Dont buy digital equipment in China as it is all **** quality)
    6,New Laptop with English software installed, all computers sold in China have only Chinese language software and are **** quality.

    Sorry to say quality does not translate into Chinese and value for money products dont exsist. There is no middle market in China, its cheap RIP off fakes or bloody expensive designer brands!
  17. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    If you are going to be in a rural area, then presumably you'll be teaching only Chinese kids? And presumably many of your colleagues will be local teachers? If you're teaching primary or secondary (rather than EFL) be aware that the way kids are taught in China is very different to in the west, e.g. in China it's rote learning, chalk and talk, and the kids expect the teacher to tell them the things they need to know for the test (basically they remember stuff, rather than learning it; this means they struggle to apply it). They may not know basic subject terminology in English because the local staff will teach them in Chinese, even if teaching the US/Canadian/UK curriculum. Lots of Chinese kids like to sit there and not participate, so if you ask a question to the whole class no one will answer. Depending on which subject you teach, brush up on culturally sensitive areas - there are certain things it would be unwise to mention to Chinese kids, and things they are unaware of about their own country and its conduct. Humour and warmth go along way with Chinese kids.
  18. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    "which means u will struggle to TT ur savings back to the usa"

    It's a pain in the rear, but it is perfectly possibly. It helps if you go to a branch which is used to seeing foreigners.
  19. miss303

    miss303 New commenter

    Hi! I spent 2 years living in a pretty rural place in China. I hope you like wierd and wonderful experiences! As long as you have an open mind and don't expect anything to be like home, you'll be alright! You may find there are few expats in your area and you will stick out and have to get used to comments every day! It's never meant offensively, you will just be a novelty!

    If you are adventurous food wise, you'll be able to save a lot of money by eating locally. If you are less adventourous, there are KFC and McDs everywhere! Finding western things in the supermarket can be tricky but those in the school already there will have inside knowledge on where to find cheese and deoderant.

    Keep your international card but don't expect them to be accepted outside of larger cities. Again, your new colleagues will have the downlow on money issues in your local area.

    Keep an open mind, enjoy your experience and avoid stinky tofu!
  20. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Thank you so much. @miss303 pla pm me.

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