Are you trying to decide if teaching in China is right for you? There are countless possible jobs, travel destinations, and opportunities out there. How do you know if China is the right place?
I have been back in America for over six months after teaching in China for a year. Now that I’ve had a little time back home, I can clearly see how my experiences abroad have impacted me in the long-term.
Here are six of the main benefits to teaching in China.
1. Experience an Eastern culture
When we travel, we interact with different cultures. However, going to China is much more of a culture shock than traveling to, say, Western Europe or another English-speaking country.
China differs from Western society in numerous ways. Off the top of my head, here are a few superficial differences you’ll have to get used to: chopsticks, road rage, weird foods, and squat toilets. Those last two often go hand-in-hand.
Then there are deeper cultural changes. Chinese people have different communication styles than Westerners. You’ll also have to pick up on gender expectations and conflict management techniques.
2. Be more than a tourist
Don’t get me wrong, I love booking a tour and seeing the main sights of a city as much as the next person. But there’s something to be said for moving past the tourist stage and entering the expat stage of travel.
Touring China, you’ll see those superficial cultural differences I listed above. But you can’t grasp those deeper cultural norms until you live in a place.
Flying to Asia from your home country can be pretty pricey. Once you’re in Asia, though, traveling from city to city, or even from country to country, is surprisingly cheap.
During my eight months in China, I traveled to Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and several Chinese cities. I could have explored even more, but I wanted to put money into my American savings account. (More on that later.) Some of my friends traveled to places like Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Even if you don’t explore other countries or regions, simply living in a Chinese city provides opportunities for you to get lost within the city limits.
4. Gain work experience
Honestly, teaching in China can be a cushy job, depending on your position. But you still learn valuable skills that will carry over into future jobs.
Teaching abroad is a huge resume-booster. Employers like to see that you can work with people and manage children. They are also impressed when they see that you break the mold enough to do so in an Eastern country.
5. Learn a second language
Mandarin is one of the top languages for international business, so learning it can also boost your resume.
If you aren’t in China for long-term professional development, learning a second language is also a way to understand the culture better. It is a fun skill to whip out at dinner parties and use to impress your next Tinder date.
6. Save money
Salary in China is decent, and related to cost of living, it’s pretty darn sweet. Companies usually give you a stipend for rent and other living costs, so most of your expenses depend on your lifestyle choices.
You might want to spend most of the money you earn on travel and experiences. In my case, I knew my husband was going to graduate school in America after one year of teaching abroad, so I chose to save money to take back to America with us. Together we took home $15,000 after eight months!