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Teacher Testimonials

 

  Geoff West

I came to China five years ago because I wanted to see China in detail and experience living with the Chinese people, which I now do, I live in a typical apartment building and I am the only foreigner. I have of course visited tourist places of interest, like the summer palace and Great Wall, but China holds much more than these things. Being a university and industrial trainer, I also wanted to experience teaching Chinese students, I had previously taught Chinese students in England and found them to be excited by being taught in the "western way", I wanted to find out first hand what the "Eastern way" was.

I have travelled over much of China and have taught in many provinces, each province is a unique experience, with different customs dialects, and ideas. China is a colourful country and wherever you go it becomes an adventure. My favourite city is Shaoxing in the Zhejiang province, it used to be the cultural centre of China and has many interesting places of interest, many stories to tell and the people living there are possibly among the friendliest people anywhere. It's outlaying districts also hold a special magic and hold many secrets that the average tourist would completely miss, by intergrating with the local people and gaining many of them as friends, I have been able to live in remote villages and discover places that many Chinese people are unaware of.

One thing I have discovered is that there is no one "Chinese culture", with 57 different, distinct, groups of people, 23 provinces, and 31 regions, the cultures are many, of course some area's have mixed cultures, the west has also had a huge influence in some cities, whilst other cities remain somewhat unaffected by outside influences, one thing I can say is that each city is different and no two cities are alike in nature or peoples. The food is also as varied as the people, as are the languages, yes Mandarin is the language taught in the national curriculum, but there are an infinite number of languages with areas of distribution sometimes at a village level, so it would be impossible to ever be able to communicate by word of mouth to everyone you met, even the Chinese people themselves are unable to do this, however it is useful to learn at least a little Mandarin, which is not too difficult if you live here. It is pretty easy to get by without speaking any Chinese language, the people are friendly and are always eager to help a foreigner that appears to be friendly, I have had no problems since I have been here.

I have been to 39 countries and I can honestly say that I believe that China is the safest, yes you may lose your wallet to a pickpocket, or have something you leave behind stolen, as you would anywhere, (I have had my wallet returned several times when I have dropped it though, maybe this wouldn't happen many places elsewhere?), but you would almost certainly not be held at knifepoint, or mugged, I have walked in many city's at night, alone and in strange area's and have always felt comfortable. Once I was approached by a large group of "punky looking" guys, I felt a little intimidated, until they asked me where I came from and wanted to know about about "One Direction" and "Manchester United", they even helped a lady carry her shopping shortly after our chat, something I have never experienced elswhere.

I have always taught at university level and enjoy the interaction with the students, I have taught hundreds of students since I have been here and most of them are still very good friends that I talk to on QQ (an AIM) on a daily basis, I know that if I want to know something, or need a translation, or advice on where to go, or where to stay, I can call them at any time and they will help. I have taught many subjects since I came here, Engineering, Management, Finance and Economics, American and English Literature, Poetry, American and English History, European History and of course all the usual branches of English, every subject is always accepted eagerly and lapped up readily. .



Inga Dyra

Welcome to China! Greetings and smiles, a shining airport and suddenly you are in the middle of a world which is nothing like what you have seen before. I have survived here for three years already and I am still doing it. Why survived? Well, don't be scared of this word. China is not bad place, but living here requires moral strength.

I came to China after 4 years of studying Chinese in Ukraine. You think, I spoke fluently right after I landed? No. Totally opposite. I was one of the best students in my university, but after coming to China I realized that I knew nothing. I was trying to ask people how to get somewhere or so, they didn't understand me, and if they did, I could not understand their answers! So, I felt lost. But everything got better when I started to study in university here in Hangzhou. I met great people, I started to know the city, got used to Chinese life, well, more or less.

Before coming to China I thought that Chinese people are obsessed about fengshui, Buddhism and Daoism. I was reading a lot about all this, digging deep to understand Chinese culture, history, traditions. I expected to see the ancient country with good old traditions, great literature, but insteadwhen I arrived I saw that people care only about money. You know, even in Buddhist temples they put money first to the box in front of Buddha just to make their God to listen to them. So, no money - no help. However, there are still people who care about traditions, poetry, Chinese traditional art and calligraphy. I am friends with some famous painters and writers, also one great calligrapher. These people opened my eyes to a better China, not glassed buildings and fancy malls, but the soul of country. And, I should admit, I really love this China. I started to teach in China almost two years ago. English for school kids. I had such experience in Ukraine, so for me it was not difficult. Maybe, even easier beause Chinese students come to class to study, not because their parents pay money. At least, most of my students. Chinese kids are lovely, I love all my students, even the naughty ones. They can shake my soul out, but when I see the progress in their studies, I know it was worth it.

Now I am teaching dance in a public high school. I am lucky to have such adorable students and friendly coworkers. I go out from work even with more energy than I came to school with. Dancing is my life and I'm doing now what I really love. Isn't it happiness?

Hangzhou is my home now. I feel safe here, no matter what time I am out, I am not worried about anything. Driving bicycle in Hangzhou can be a little stressful because of the intense traffic and, I won't lie, because of crazy Chinese drivers, but it is possible to deal with it. About food as well you need to find your preferences. I like to cook by myself, but I also like to go to Chinese or Western cuisine restaurants sometimes. When I was studying in university, we had many tasty things in our foreign students' canteen. For example, steamed eggplant or chicken in sweet and sour sauce, mmm, finger-licking good!

Do I miss home? Who does not? But I am not homesick, just envy sometimes when my family celebrates something and I am not there. But here in Hangzhou I have another family, I have my friends.

China is a good place to be, it really is. Travelling around China is exciting; I wish I could see more. Working here so far is also good, sometimes even more relaxed than back home. I hope all of you will feel what I was trying to say through my small speech. I wish you luck and a good time in amazing China.


Rhian Williams

I first decided to teach English as a foreign language as I wanted to travel and living at home trying to save was nearly killing me. When I was looking for jobs, it seemed the best place for travel and to earn money would be China, so I decided to pack up and move there. Before coming to China I had no experience of learning Mandarin, but I was able to learn enough to get by, and making friends with locals, like your teaching assistant is a great help. I found one-to-one Chinese lessons for as little as $10 an hour, and some of my friends did a language swap. Also, often when I was out people learning English would stop to try and practice what they have learnt, even if it’s just a ‘how are you?

For the most part, there has been nothing that I have missed from home. Most of the brand beauty products are available, like L’orel or Maybelline, and there are brilliant alternatives in shops like Watsons, as long as you’re not too fussy, you can get everything you need. The main problem I found though was finding decent deodorant and some feminine care items, so bring a supply of them! Also, as a bigger lady I found it hard to find clothes to fit, but H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo are often nearby.

I love the food in China, which I found quite surprising as I don’t eat red meat. There are a lot of vegetarian options so that’s not a problem either. There are lots of western restaurants, which although not the same as home, often fill a craving. The only thing I missed was salt and vinegar crisps – but I soon replaced them with my new Chinese favourite…. Cheese and lobster.

The best part of being in China is that is a major hub for travel in Asia. While being here I have travelled to Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macao. Flights from Shanghai or Guangzhou are super cheap, I got return tickets to Kuala Lumpa for less than $150. I also travelled from Beijing to Kathmandu via Tibet, which has been one of the best experiences of my life. Meeting like-minded people who share a passion for travel has been one of the highlights, not just seeing Asia, but in China as well, from the Ice Festival in Harbin (at -35 degrees Celcius!), to the beautiful landscape of Guilin and Yangshao.

I have never felt unsafe in China. The main thing to look out for is the opportunistic pick pockets. As a female, I have never felt threatened, even in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

I’d definitely recommend teaching in China. I spent over a year and half there, left to travel for 6 months, before returning for another year. It’s a brilliant chance to see the world and experience a completely different life.