Kelsey Siegel

So, you’re considering accepting a teaching job in China? Right now, you probably have many thoughts and feelings circulating your mind that you can’t even describe. That’s normal. While deciding to live abroad might seem like an easy decision, it is always a good idea to think about what this entails. So, here are some things that may help you navigate your decision to take the leap into your next adventure.

1. Where will I be living?

Location, location, location. Before accepting a teaching job in China it’s important to imagine your placement city and begin picturing your life there. By now you may have a basic overview of what to expect, but don’t be afraid to ask the questions you believe are crucial. To name a few, you may want to ask how long you should expect your commute to work to be or what accommodations are provided to see if they are the right fit for you. In my experience, I was given the freedom to select my own housing accompanied by the help of housing agents. I found the perfect neighborhood that fit my personality (and my roommates). It was also equidistant to our centers and right next to a train station, an added bonus. So why are these things important to ask? Location can really contribute to your experience abroad because you are not just visiting China, you’re living there!

2. How does the visa process work…and what is it?

‘The visa process’ is probably a common phrase that you’ve heard a million times during your initial research, interview, and every phone call with your recruiter. So much so that you feel like you’ve already been through the process itself. But what does it actually entail and why is it so important?

After accepting a teaching job in China and before entering the country, you will need to get a legal working visa. You need to be able to prioritize and make the time if you are serious about the move overseas. While it can seem intimidating, the whole process is simply sending the right documents to the right places and completing a quick online TEFL course. Therefore, it is important to go with a company (and recruiter) you trust because they will be your main resource to help you through the process. With the right resources and connections, you will be set up for success.

3. What will my job look like?

It is common to get caught up in the excitement of the idea of traveling. So much so that you forget the entire purpose of moving. It’s to teach! An ESL classroom, in my opinion, is quite a drastic contrast from a traditional classroom. As an ESL teacher, your classrooms will be vibrant and filled with a stimulating energy. You will have the opportunity to tap into your creative side as you sing, dance and incorporate exciting activities rather than drill in a more lecture-style environment.

The schedule may also be something to consider when deciding on a teaching position. ESL classrooms differ in that they aren’t typically a conventional schedule. You’ll find yourself teaching in the evenings during the week and on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday). For my schedule, my days off were Tuesday and Wednesday which was quite different from what I was used to. However, I grew very fond of it! With this, I was able to save a lot of money since it is cheaper to travel during the week and a lot of my friends were ESL teachers as well so our schedules often aligned anyways.

4. How will this help my future development?

Maybe you are a fresh graduate looking to take a gap year, or a career changer looking for a little inspiration to jet set you into a new path. Finding a reputable company that will send you to China legally AND gaining the opportunity to develop sounds like a dream. While you might already assume that international experience and learning a new language is an incredible resume booster, you may also want to consider how it can be a catalyst for your future. The perks of working with a globally recognized, international company is the ability for mobility. For some, this may mean working your way through the ESL ladder with the hopes of managing your own school one day. For others, like me, this meant having the cushion of a terrific job to return to in Boston. It is always a good idea to consider what development opportunities would be a best fit for you.

Accepting a job teaching in China can be one of the scariest and exciting things you’ll do. This milestone is where you will completely yank you out of your comfort zone and hopefully teach you independence, confidence, and how to be open-minded. Being intentional about your decision abroad can greatly affect your experience. Before you go, know what questions to ask but don’t be afraid to take the leap!

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