New teachers coming to China to teach at First Leap may have some questions or be seeking advice to prepare for the big move. Connie Lee, one of our new teachers at First Leap China has put together a lovely blog post for us to share about her experience coming to China, as well as her advice for new teachers.
Check out Connie’s story below.
** Original story was published on Career China – First Leap’s recruiting division.
Let me ask you something; are you happy with your everyday life? Do you wake up feeling satisfied with your life decisions?
These were the questions that I asked myself every day and that is when I decided it’s time to start my own stories, create new memories. Take a big leap of faith and move my life to China. So I’d like to share with you my experience about why I chose China to teach English, and my real account of how my journey has been so far after coming to China.
A Little Bit About Me
My name is Connie and I am from England, a usually wet and cold country but well known for its Royal Family. I have been living and working as a teacher in China for over a year now.
Before coming to China I worked in travel, always seeing dreams happen but never living them myself, I knew this had to change, I wanted my own adventures.
All I ever knew about China was that everything was made from there according to clothing labels and electrical. The Asian culture had always interested me from the colorful clothing to the Chinese dance. Once looking into the culture further I felt excited to see the famous Temples, the Great Wall of China (A wonder of the world) Why not China? It was definitely a place that was out of my comfort zone but also a fascinating country to explore and find myself.
Why Teaching in China?
My dream as a child was always to be a teacher but paths take their own route and I took mine, that didn’t lead to my original desire.
I wanted to make a difference, learn new things; not only about a different country but about myself. What a better way to do this then work and travel in China?
Teaching in China gives you the opportunity to learn new educational styles plus travel to surrounding countries on your days off. In the past year I have been to Hong Kong three times, Thailand twice and many cities in China.
My Experience in China So Far…
My first thoughts were a shock to the system, the pollution surrounding you like a fog when departing Beijing Airport, the crowds of people with no familiar faces, the lack of personal space and people spitting with no recognizable manners.
However, once settled into the daily life of China I found it to be a marvelous country. The people of China are at first reserved by your presence as they do not often see foreigners. Once they feel your sincerity they are eager to greet you and are interested in whom you are and why you are here.
I have honestly never felt so welcome and at home.
I love that every day I learn something new about this magical place and its people. It’s surprising at times; such as, a nearby park with a lake that I take walks in often have rows of billboards with advertisements for marriage. The information displayed on these boards have single local men with their age, their height, hair color, eye color, their salary, do they own a car and a house.
These are displayed by the men’s parents in order to attract suitable wives for them. The women’s parents call the number on these advertisements and arrange a meeting. This is known to be the parent’s choice of partner for their child and the young women are not to disobey their decisions. I found this odd as in my country we are given free will to who we date and marry and our parents usually respect our decisions.
Another shocking thing is when you go to a nice traditional Chinese restaurant, the décor is original, the people are welcoming and the food looks delicious. Exciting stuff but shockingly most of the meat on the menu is Dog. I look at Dogs as pets as most people do. Again this is Chinese culture and you must embrace their way of living.
I do feel that I am growing in confidence and knowledge every day, the culture of China can hit you like a bus on a busy road but with an open mind and a spirited soul you will develop a love for this Asian country.
Top Tips for Those Considering Coming to China
- When living and working in another country so far from your home it is important to stay in contact with your family and friends. It can get lonely here at times and hearing a familiar voice will put you at ease.
- Be open to new things, such as meeting new people from all over the world, the food and the way of living.
- Pollution – try as often as possible to wear a face mask, this will help prevent sickness. Drink lots of water and stay generally healthy, it’s not always easy to just go visit a doctor here and if you do you have to pay.
- Forget the exchange rate – when you first arrive into China everything seems so cheap because you are constantly converting back to your countries currency. Take it for what it is.
- And you will soon realize that you can get a lot more for your money if you are careful and live the Chinese way.
- Download a VPN as you won’t be able to access Facebook, Google and Youtube as these sites are blocked in mainland China.
Finishing My First Year in China!
I am now coming to the end of my first year in Anshan and to say the least it has been the most thrilling exciting year of my life. My adventures haven’t ended here though. I will visit home to see my family for one month then move onto a different city called Zhuhai, south of China. I will teach with the same company but get to explore a whole different city and meet new people.
Watch out for my next chapter. Hope you can join me on my next journey.