Erica Fairchild

Have you ever thought about working abroad, but was not sure if it's for you? What about living in another country? To some, that might scare people off, but to others, it might ignite a fire inside of them!

We sat down with one of our international teachers who talks about his ESL teaching experience with EF in Shanghai, China. Join James in his 5-minute interview about what living and teaching in China is like.

James is from Scotland in the UK. He was a Physics major who studied in the Netherlands. Because he was exposed to this international experience of studying abroad, James knew he wanted more of it. His major was quite intense, and wasn't sure if he wanted to dive back into studying right away, so he accepted a job with EF English First in Shanghai, and has thoroughly been enjoying his life here.

Q) How long have you been teaching English in Shanghai and what do you love about the city?

A) I've been here for 6 months now. It's the halfway mark of my contract and I'm really starting to feel settled and know my way around the city. Shanghai is a convenient place to live. There's so much to see and do here; I'm always exploring parks, museums, and areas of the city on my days off. My roommate's parents live in Shanghai and they told me the cost of living is better than anything you can get in the West. They were right.

Q) What are some things you've done with EF?

A) I like theater and acting, and wanted to incorporate that any way I could in my job. I've dressed up like a chicken, astronaut, and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and it makes me happy to use my passion in my work.

Q) Have you done much travelling in China?

A) Not yet; I've been to neighboring towns like Suzhou and Hangzhou. And on my days off, I like to explore Shanghai as much as I can. In the upcoming months however, I a few trips planned! In June, I've booked a ticket to Taiwan. In August I plan to visit Thailand for a week. And in October for the National holiday, I plan to take a motorbike tour of Vietnam. Not too many people can say they go on 3-4 vacations per year!

Q) How does living and working abroad change a person (or you?)

A) You definitely become more open-minded. Sometimes, when I'm teaching, it hits me. I'm in the foreign country – meeting, teaching, and interacting with Chinese children that I would have otherwise never met in my life. It's surreal to have this heartwarming moment, and in these times, you learn to be appreciative of things. Me as a person, I'm more outgoing, and have said “yes” to a lot more things because of this experience.

Q) What would you say to people thinking about coming to China?

A) You have to adapt, because Shanghai, and China in general is a fast-paced, international, and busy city/country. But you need to adapt. The characteristics of the city, can change your character. You might have an expectation or connotations of China, but you need to come in with an open mind. Embrace the city, bite the bullet and accept the changes. This has been a fantastic experience, and you won't regret it. I've made memories that will last a lifetime.

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