There's no other country in the world where I would rather be an expat in than China. Teaching English in China is full of twists, turns, ups, downs and opportunities. The food is incredible, the people are great, and the cost of living is still low enough to enjoy life and have fun. Paul Chan has been an expat in China for over 6 years, and in this post, he'll share with you some of the benefits he enjoys as an expat in China.
At this present moment in history, China is on the cutting edge of technology (re: mobile phones, VR, LCD lights, 3-D printing, etc.), building and infrastructure, transit, genetic engineering (re: world's smartest babies), and you name it! It's undeniable that living in the country where so much is happening at such a fast clip is quite exciting! Not too long ago, I saw a 3-D printing exhibit at the Bao'An library in Shenzhen! There's never a dull moment in the classes you teach when you have so much material to tap into!
Have any family or friends at home that have never left their home country and have misconceptions about China? Wouldn't it be great if you could demystify some of these wrong thoughts of China as well as open their eyes to what a different and wonderful world China really is? Of course, that would require you to get acclimated to China, learning some Chinese and Chinese culture – but then what an amazing role you'll have in the future taking your mom and dad and friends all throughout China! I've seen so many people do this because they've got parents “that would never travel to see China on their own” but now that they're here, parents are so eager, and it's that much better that they've got their son and daughter to show them around. I did this myself, and it was nice to prove to my Chinese mother (who has lived 40+ years in the United States) that the streets of Shenzhen weren't filled with pickpockets!
If you're an expat in China, you're in a prime country to travel to anywhere Asia. It's so much easier to see other parts of Asia here than back at home – and the travel time is much less! In my time in China, I have been able to go many awesome places within China (Xi'an, Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Meizhou, etc.), Malaysia, and Thailand – places I never conceived I would go to when I was living in the United States. And it's only evident that I will go to other parts of Asia at the earliest chance I get!
Working at EF, you have a great opportunity to meet all kinds of people from all over the world from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures! It's such a privilege that people don't talk about more. In my school alone, you can work with people from all over China, not to mention people from different parts of the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.! Having this work environment is quite unique and fun because you have so many people to learn from! If there's a world news event, there is always someone who has insight into the matter – pretty cool! What is also worth mentioning is even if your colleagues or you depart from China at some stage, chances are you've made many genuine friendships for life (and reconnecting in another part of the world is also cool!).
It's so much easier to learn Chinese in China as opposed to being in your home country listening to Pimsleur audio, using websites like Memrise, and using apps on your phone. How do I know? I tried them all before I got to China and retained very little of what I tried to learn. It wasn't until I had the means to practice every day that I started “getting” it. It's much easier to learn and retain the language when you potentially have a Chinese teacher everywhere you go. To start you off, all you need is to point and ask a key question – zen me shuo? (怎么 说?). “Zen me shuo?” means “how do you say [it/this]?” And it never fails to work. I've learned so many vocabulary words and phrases that way – and it has kept building on itself.
Before you move to China, or when you finally get there, it's natural to feel intimidated. The country is huge, full of people and if you're not from a big city, you're likely to feel small. I'll finish this post with some wise words from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"A great man is always willing to be little." - Ralph Waldo Emerson