Red. It's the colour most people would find synonymous with a Chinese New Year. In Chinese culture, it symbolises happiness and good fortune, especially so when celebrating Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. You find it on the walls, on the dinner tables, on clothes, on massive banners bearing dragons. You see it in the red envelopes given out during Chinese New Year celebrations, filled with fat stacks of red 100 Yuan notes.
The massive, week-long festival traditionally celebrated deities and one's forebears. This year, the Chinese New Year celebrations kick off the Year of the Ox. The festivities begin on the 11th of February and continue for a few days after.
Chinese New Year is an ideal time to begin teaching English in China, and here are five reasons WHY:
There is no other time when China could be more Chinese. Chinese New Year is a time when the country's patriotism is bursting at the seams, and this is evidently seen through their lavish celebrations. The air is alive with the smells of sumptuous Chinese cooking emanating from every house. You can hear the soft, beautiful tones of traditional Chinese music coming from instruments you've probably never seen before.
Chinese people are always welcoming and friendly, and even more so during New Year. Over this time you'll find yourself enticed by their open arms and hospitality. Since you will be in China over Chinese New Year, you may be worried about missing home. These fears will soon be allayed once a Chinese person inevitably invites you into his or her home to celebrate, eat, and drink together. And don't forget the spectacular, daily displays of fireworks!
Many consider teaching English in China after they graduate, but to step onto a plane and leave all that is familiar to you is a big step. However, for those who are willing to make the leap will find it an intensely rewarding experience.
Public schools close over Chinese New Year, which allows time for school holiday camps. The camps are an excellent opportunity to travel the country, see new and exciting things, and of course try the local cuisine; all the while getting paid to undertake this incredible adventure! The camps' locations are simply breath-taking, and working in places like these genuinely doesn't feel like work at all. It's truly a privilege to travel the country, whilst connecting with those celebrating Chinese New Year.
Whilst western food is widely available (Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Starbucks), it would be a terrible shame to ignore the rich cuisine of a country that is in love with food. That is not a joke; food is one of the most important pillars of Chinese culture. Whilst celebrating Chinese New Year, families gather daily to eat and drink as one. Whilst living in China over this period, it is quite probable you'll be invited to share in this mouth-watering experience. You will eat and drink until you can't anymore. Noodles, dumplings, or Niangao (a delicious, glutinous rice cake) will be eaten in quantity. And don't forget baijiu, the potent grain liquor guaranteed to make any event festive.
As with the locals, English teachers in China enjoy paid leave during the Chinese New Year celebrations. This is the perfect time to get to know your new surroundings, and maybe even travel the country further during the most exciting and festive time of the year. Thanks to the high-speed railway system, travel in China is incredibly convenient. This time off can be used to settle down in your new apartment, sample some local restaurants, and enjoy the atmosphere the during the rowdy celebrations of Chinese New Year.
The staff at English schools in China are sympathetic towards the big decision you've made to leave your home country, and they, therefore, offer you their full support in making the adjustment. They will provide, or help you find housing; give you a medical aid, and they will often advance your salary when you arrive to help you settle down. Rest assured you won't be alone - you will work with a team of foreign English teachers and receive full training when you arrive. The hours of work are usually quite reasonable, and you get to teach adorable Chinese children (with the help of a Chinese speaking assistant) for a decent salary!