Ali Mir Graduated from The University of East London in 2018 and came to China in October 2018 and teaches children in the Capital Beijing. I've been in China close to a year now and so far I have loved almost every moment of it. I came to China after finishing university. Getting to China can be an arduous process but in the end, was completely worth it. If you're thinking about moving to China you have to ask yourself one question “can I adapt to living in completely different country and culture?” if the answer is yes then congratulations - hopefully I'll see you in Beijing (lets grab a drink). Shedding some light on my time and experience in China can help you answer that question.
After finishing university I did not really know what I wanted to do next and always had an interest in going into teaching, so when the opportunity came up to move abroad and earn money by teaching came up I jumped at the chance. Living at home at University I never really had to worry about food and bills so moving to a place where I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know the culture and I was completely alone was a big decision but in the end when KKANDOO ENGLISH gave me the chance I decided that it would be an invaluable experience for me so I took it.
So I get to China and I was lucky and moved in with a great guy who openly introduced me to his friends and places in Beijing . It's fairly easy to meet and get to know people in Beijing, you'll either meet people through your flat, school or even just going to places in Beijing. You shouldn’t worry about meeting people.
Things to do before coming to China:
You need to get together a few documents before applying for your visa a criminal check, your degree, 120 hours of TEFL training, and various letters from your employers in Beijing. You may need some other bits and bobs but you'll be informed in more detail from the visa office in your country or by the company helping you.
After that, it's about bringing the essentials from home. China has what can only be described as extreme winters and extreme summers check the weather for the period you're coming to China and pack appropriately. Buying clothes in China can be super cheap so you can always buy yourself a new wardrobe when you get here. Make sure that you get adapters for all your electronic items as I came to china without taking that into consideration and it was a massive pain for a couple of days. Depending on where you work you may or may not be provided with a work computer but chances are it's in Chinese so having your own laptop can be super useful. For the love of god bring a memory stick it will be super helpful in transporting files for works.
Living in Beijing:
Living in Beijing is pretty easy. Depending on where you live there will be a number of different shops you can buy groceries and everyday items. Places like Wumart and Carrifor are two pretty common shops you can go to get what you need along with just smaller local places. If you can cook buy pots and pans as soon as possible obviously it's a great way to save some money to just cook yourself. Food is pretty cheap in Beijing so even if you eat out everyday you should be ok but honestly its a massive unnecessary way to waste money. You can find some pretty easy dishes to make online, I couldn’t cook when I got here and being extremely lazy decided to live off fast food for about 6 months until I started cooking making pretty simple dishes such as tuna pasta, grilled chicken etc. So if you can cook - great! A lot of places have international sections that have some specific items if you're lucky.
Housing in China is well different. There's usually no partition between the shower and the rest of the bathroom so be prepared for super wet bathrooms after showers. The plumbing and toilets are different! You'll soon get used to it. The apartments are generally nice and most if not all have AC. Matresses can also be a bit thin but you can ask your agency to get you a better one.
Travel in Beijing is also crazy cheap - buses are 1-2 rmb which is about 10p each way just make sure to tap in and out when getting in and off the bus. Trains are about 5 rmb per journey and it doesn't matter how many stations you change at or what time you travel. Other options are taxis and Didi’s - Didi is the uber of Beijing it's cheap and easy to use and you can get an English version of the app if you look online.
China basically runs on Wechat - its a messaging app on the surface but can be used for so much more such as paying your bills, looking at news, shopping etc but more importantly WeChat is used as a form of payment almost everywhere - some places only take payment through wechat so make sure to set that up as soon as you get here. Other useful apps in Beijing are:- Didi - taxi service (english version avalible) Metro man - an amazing app used to traverse the Beijing subway system seriously I can't praise enough. Maitiun - mostly used to find resturants and book movie tickets (movie tickets are crazy cheap) Amaps - basically google/apple maps but it's in Chinese. VPN- China's internet doesn’t let you visit most of your favourite sites so VPN can be essential if you want to stay connected. This is something I wouldn’t cheap out on- I use Express VPN myself and it will go down every now and again but in China, that's going to happen to all VPN’s during certain events so learn to live without internet for a few days, its pretty easy. Translator app- China doesn’t really like Google so look for an alternative is my advise. I have a Huawei phone which comes with an awesome app but I would have a look around.
Working in Beijing: Working in Beijing can be a big shift to what you're used to. Before moving here I was used to the work environment of the UK workspace. Things are a bit different and if you don’t ask chances are you won’t know so if you need to know something make sure to ask. Overall in the last year, I've worked at three schools one elementary school and two kindergartens. Kindergartens are young kids mostly ranging from 3-6 years. Hours tend to be from 8-5 with a 2-hour break (the kids sleep for 2 hours) and . Elementry school kids tend to be 6-11 and tend to have some sort of English book you'll have to plan lessons around. Lessons tend to be 40 minutes to an hour just plan some fun interactive lessons for the kids and if you get stuck ask your friends or have a look online. Kindergarten is a bit different you might have a lesson 15-30 min a day 1-6 times a day its really dependent on the school - your job here is to mostly just interact with the kids in English. Working in both I'll be honest I prefer kindergarten the hours are longer but if playing with your kids is your thing it's super rewarding. At the end of the day, its completely up to you're preference, A lot of my friends prefer working with older kids mainly because the work is a little easier. (again this all depends on the school you work for but it's pretty much similar)
Summing up So in short coming to China is a great experience, one that I would say take if its offered you. There is still so much more to tell you guys and if you have any questions I'm always happy to answer them as soon as I get the chance. So I hope this little look into working and living in Beijing has helped and I hope to see you here one day.
Metroman metro map
Thanks to Ali Mir for being our guest Blogger and sharing his experiences and tips on living and Teaching English in Beijing