Teaching abroad is more and more popular every year, and the countries in which you can teach are numerous. However, China, in particular, offers a few special perks and advantages over other countries, which we’ll get into here.
Here are 10 unique things you can’t quite experience anywhere else that you will while teaching in China, both in the classroom and out.
1. Students Enthusiasm
While there are plenty of apathetic Chinese students as there are in any other country, many students are elated to get the chance to interact with a foreigner.
You will be walking down the hall and suddenly hear the cry of “Teacher [insert name here]”, followed by a small Chinese child grasping tightly onto your waist and/or legs and refusing to let go.
Expect lots of tears once the semester finishes and you take your leave.
2. Talent Shows
China is all about talent shows, and it is guaranteed that your school will have at least one or two of them during the semester.
The theme and topics are could be anything and everything, whether it a song and dance to the latest One Direction song, an ocarina recital of Howl’s Moving Castle, or a re-enactment of the end of Bruce Li’s Fist of Fury.
Chances are also high that you’ll get to participate in these programs along with your students, and even have a chance to direct one or two of them!
3. Teachers Day
Educators and teachers are highly respected in China, and as a result, there is a public holiday called Teachers Day that occurs every September.
On this day, the students will bring in a multitude of handmade crafts, sweets, and cards to show their appreciation for you teaching them.
Expect to have to bring a bag to school that day in order to store all the gifts that you’ll be receiving!
4. Parent Appreciation
Oftentimes the student’s parents are just as appreciative, if not more so, than the students themselves.
You’ll find that sometimes you’ll have to turn down exorbitant gifts from parents who want to thank you for taking the time to teach their son or daughter English.
Also expect to be invited to dinner with several students families throughout the semester, which is a rare and unique opportunity to get the chance to interact with a Chinese family.
5. Cultural Days
Since there are so few foreigners in China, you’re a rare commodity, and schools like to take the opportunity to have unique ‘Cultural Days’ during the semester to highlight new and unfamiliar cultures and countries such as your own to the students.
Expect to find foreign dishes and depictions of customs at these events that often have uniquely Chinese twists put on them!
6. Celebrity Status
As mentioned, since there are so few foreigners in China, you do tend to stick out and attract attention wherever you go.
This usually translates into very easily make a variety of friends amongst the local populace, from fruit shop owners to bus drivers and everyone in between.
Extremely nervous young Chinese students approaching you to offer assistance and try out their English is a common occurrence, as are people asking if they can take their photo with you.
Chinese food as we know it abroad simply isn’t real Chinese food.
Once you land in China, there’s not a fortune cookie or plate of General Tsao’s Chicken to be found.
Instead, you’ll have much more varied and interesting local dishes.
Every town in China seems to have its own local twist on the classics like beef noodle soup or hand-thrown noodles, and you may have to end up getting a gym membership to fight off the inevitable additional pounds should you choose to dive into the local cuisine with gusto.
Chinese are quick to point out their 5000 years of history, and for good reason; it’s a long time!
There are multitudes of hidden gems and fascinating stories within the countries epic historical background, and you’ll never tire of finding new and surprising tales buried within the tapestry of five millennia.
Being a good host is such an integral part of the Chinese culture that it’s unthinkable for them not to treat you well as a guest.
In their eyes, you have taken the time and money to come and experience their country, and they, in turn, must do their utmost to make you feel welcome.
This translates into nearly everyone you meet treating you well, and almost always being treated to free meals when going out to eat, amongst other things.
China is a big place, the 3rd largest country in the world as a matter of fact, and it may just be the number one most geographically diverse in the world.
You name it, China has it; arid deserts, lush rainforests, snow-capped mountains, vast open grasslands and prairies, tropical sandy beaches, sprawling urban metropolises with the latest technology and modern conveniences, and tiny remote villages with no running water or internet. It’s all here, waiting for you to come and explore it.
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