Leonora (Shanghai)

LEONORA MEANEY

 

I decided to teach in China for a year because I wanted to do something different before I went on to do my masters. I’d always been interested in visiting China and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to really see what China was like. I chose the China Teaching Experience because of the smaller amount of applicants they take compared to other companies and the personal touch that comes with that.

While living in China it really put me out of my comfort zone and made me experience new things like squat toilets (that I don’t think I will ever get over) and trying weird new food, some of which I still don’t know what I ate but it tasted fine. I have made some amazing friends while out here and met incredible people who have helped me adjust to life out here. Everyone out in China is so helpful and kind, it’s adorable.

You’ll learn new skills while you’re out here as well. Like how to cross a Chinese road. Not as easy as it sounds and you will be a pro at using chopsticks by the time you leave you’ll never want to use a knife and fork again. Haggling will become second nature and when you’re back home you’ll be walking into big supermarkets wanting to haggle. You’ll find things out here that you wouldn’t at home like new make-up and food and weird items that only somewhere like China would think are needed but then you won’t be able to live without them. Being laid back is something you have to do while out here as well. Everything is done so last minute, you can be told you have a holiday for a week or two the day before it starts or you can find yourself being the only foreigner in a Chinese lecture on how to plant plants for women’s day by accident. There’s always something happening and always things to fill your time with and do.

The actual teaching aspect isn’t as hard as you’d think and there’s always support if you need it. I have loved teaching my students and (as corny as it sounds) learning from them. They might not get British humour at first and be a bit reserved but after a while they understand British humour and they really do enjoy the lessons. Some of my classes don’t tell me the lesson is over because they enjoy the lesson so much and don’t want me to go. They like to ask questions all the time as well eve if they are a bit weird, for example in my very first lesson as a teacher one student asked me out of the blue if Top Gear would ever return to TV, I later found out he had called himself James May, so that explained a lot. Every now and then my students like to give me presents, sometimes they’re a bit weird like a hair bobble but other times I get food (massive bonus). The hours for teaching mean that you still have plenty of time to do some exploring and go out and see China.

I’ve really enjoyed my time out here and I would recommend that other people do it too!