The first time I landed in China was in early August of 2016. A short two months prior I had graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University and as with all fresh graduates, finding a job that I would enjoy working was the main challenge that was ahead of me. I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in an office somewhere, working a 9 to 5. No, I wanted something more exciting. I wanted to travel, to meet people, to submerge myself in different cultures, to taste the exotic food, to experience the world. Thanks to the Pioneer&Beyond team I was able to do exactly that and more.
I signed a one year contract to teach English in China, got the visa, the one-way plane ticket and my suitcase ready and embarked on a journey to East Asia, not fully knowing what to expect. A year and a half later I can confidently say that my decision to become an English Teacher in China led me to have one of the most wonderful experiences of my entire life.
Here are the three main reasons (drawn from my personal experiences) why you should seize this incredible opportunity and become an English Teacher in China.
Travel and enrich your horizon
One of the requirements for this job is for the successful candidate to have an adventurous and open mind. To the wanderlust-craving traveller, China has so much to offer. Enormous, technologically advanced and almost futuristic metropolises have a vibrant, neon-lit nightlife that can easily rival if not surpass that of Western cosmopolitan hubs.
If you are a traveller who is more excited by history and culture then fear not for in China historical and cultural landmarks can be found all over the country. Not only will you have the opportunity to visit the most famous sites such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall but you will also discover many more locations steeped in China’s rich and ancient history. Those same metropolises have neighbourhoods that to this day preserve the Chinese traditions in such a way that upon visiting them you will feel as though you have been transported back in time.
In addition, China is one of the most culturally diverse countries I have ever visited. 56 different nations call China their home, each with a different and unique culture. As you are travelling from province to province, you will feel the cultures shifting and changing around you as you discover to your amazement just how big China is. And for the food lovers out there, each of these different nations has their own cuisine with their own flavours and tastes. You will never get bored of trying out different Chinese food.
If nature is more your thing, then you are in luck. China offers breathtakingly stunning natural scenery. Ever-flowing rivers, deep forests, mesmerising lakes, golden deserts and colossal mountains; China’s geography has something for every lover of nature.
And the best part? You don’t have to choose, and you can see all of it. The monthly salary of an English Teacher in China will allow you to live a comfortable life and travel at the same time. For example during my one year in China working as an English Teacher I was able to explore the historical landmarks of Beijing, experience vibrant Shanghai, climb the mountains near Yingtan, get lost in the beauty of Hangzhou’s West Lake, walk the sandy beaches of Xiamen and these are just some of the highlights of my travels, all of which were funded with the salary I received as an English Teacher.
A rewarding and valuable work experience
Enough about travelling, what about the actual job you will be there to do? Before arriving in China, this was my biggest worry. I was a recent graduate with virtually no prior work experience let alone experience as an English Teacher. ‘How the hell am I supposed to do this thing?’, was the most prevalent question in my head on my flight from London to Ningbo, China.
Little did I know that being a teacher would turn out to be the most personally rewarding part of the whole experience. I know it must sound cliché, but it is true. Before I explain a bit more what makes teaching such a great job, allow me first to dispel some of the fears that may be lurking in your mind (as they were in mine) about becoming a teacher with no prior experience teaching.
Upon arrival, all schools will provide you with training. The school where I worked required all of their new teachers to undertake a 5-day Teacher Training Course aimed at equipping you with the necessary tools and skills to become an effective teacher. Furthermore, most schools will also have their new teachers teach some of their easier classes first before giving you the more challenging ones.
So what is it about being an English Teacher that makes it so great? Well, the answer is as simple as seeing the fruits of your labours blossom in front of your very eyes. There is nothing quite like receiving a 3-year-old kid as your student who can barely speak Mandarin let alone English and seeing that child begin to recognise words in English, learn how to speak those words and even attempt to form sentences with said words.
And there is also the fact that your students will be as cute as the ones in this picture:
Friendships, Lots of friendships
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly you will have the chance to form lifelong friendships with people from every corner of the planet. Before coming to China, I had never met anyone from China or the USA or Serbia or Colombia or Australia. Now I can say I have friends in almost every continent on this planet. Becoming an English Teacher in China will give you the opportunity to literary meet people from all over the world.
The other English teachers you will meet will be mostly young people who have journeyed over to China from different parts of the globe for similar reasons as you: looking to experience a different way of life. Plus you will also have lovely Chinese coworkers eager to meet you and make you feel welcomed in their country. Needless to say, prepare yourselves to make friendships and lots of them.
By Antoniy T. Georgiev