Alexander (Beijing)

ALEXANDER THOMPSON

 

 

I decided to come to China after getting itchy feet at home. I travelled South East Asia and couldn’t wait to explore more of this side of the world and thought China would be a good start. What drew me to China, in all honesty, was how easy it was to come across here and teach. I had a friend who was over here already and so I asked about the different ways to teach over here and after looking around online and through a recommendation I applied through The China Teaching Experience. From the outset Andrew made me feel comfortable and confident that everything was legitimate and secure as I’d heard coming to China could potentially expose you to different types of frauds and scams but those doubts were immediately put at bay. He didn’t shy away from the subject and explained everything that needed to be explained, especially the additional security through the CEAIE. The Skype interview was relaxed and friendly and I had immediate confirmation that I had a place.

I’d originally applied to go to Shenzhen but Andrew advised that there were five other teachers from the programme being placed at a Middle School in Beijing (which was my second choice). I decided on Beijing and haven’t looked back. As I said, I’d travelled South East Asia so coming here wasn’t the culture shock that some of my colleagues had. As I’m writing this I’m leaving in an hour to go pick up my brother and dad from the airport who have never been to Asia in their lives, I can’t wait to see their faces. I love Beijing because it has a good mix of traditional Chinese culture but also has a heavy Western influence. If you’re having a ‘I hate China day’ (which you absolutely will at some points) there’s plenty of places to escape.

One of the absolute bonuses of this experience is the sheer amount of time you have free. I teach 14, 40 minute lessons a week and currently get paid £800 a month. There’s ample opportunities to do private tutoring and work which bring in about £25 an hour and there’s also work for companies that pay you £20 an hour just to speak in your mother tongue! I’ve been lazy this year and have just been enjoying the time off since I have been working 9-5 Monday to Friday for three years but next year (I’ve committed to staying another year here) I’m going to make more of an effort. We’ve also managed to negotiate a considerable pay increase next year as well. 14, 40 minute lessons a week is the amount I work when I am actually at work. We get a week off in October, time off during the Christmas period due to students having exams and then have an official month-long holiday at the end of January until the end of February. There’s also another week in April, followed by two months off in summer. I love the teaching but the teaching is honestly a small part of the whole experience.

During my winter vacation this year I went to Malaysia and Bali. I’d originally planned to do that when I travelled the rest of SE Asia but I ran out of money. I loved how it was so easy to get everywhere from here. Flights to Tokyo from Beijing come in at around £250 return.

If you were on the fence about coming to China I hope this has been of some use to you. If you have any questions I’m 100% confident Andrew will answer them honestly and thoroughly for you. We had an absolute nightmare with our Visas coming here (for reasons only China knows) and he helped us a lot through that. I’ve been surprised and impressed at the continued level of support Andrew and The China Teaching Experience gives not only before you come but while we are here as well. We received a message just before Christmas making sure none of our schools were trying to get us to work Christmas Day. Andrew said that if they were, he would sort it out. It’s the little things like that that can make a big difference when you’re so far away from home. So yeah, I’m looking forward to next year already; maybe I’ll see you in Beijing.