Thinking about coming to China to live and teach, but not sure how suitable the lifestyle and culture there is for you? Based on my experience of living here for 5 years, here are some pros and cons.
1. In countries where the general cost of living is lower, you will get a stable income and can also save money. Living abroad and dealing with foreign currency will also teach you how to budget. Compared with other countries, bank fees in China are also very low, and it is very convenient to use Wechat or Alipay to pay daily shopping expenses.
2. When you sign up with a company that has a good reputation, you will get a stable job. This also means a big chance of renewing your contract if you want it this way.
3. Whether domestic or international, China is a good tourist base. Compared with many other countries, domestic train and air tickets are relatively cheap (except for Chinese holidays). China is also a good base for exploring other Asian destinations. Resorts like Thailand, Singapore and Japan are just at the doorstep of expat travelers, especially when they live in Shanghai. Other must-see cultural experiences include Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
4. Public transportation is great, so there is no need to invest in private cars. The subway is clean, safe, and extremely convenient. The buses are really cheap. Bicycles are shared on every street corner. The high-speed rail can even take you to the most remote cities in China.
5. There are many things to see and do. This culture has a history of thousands of years. The food in China is unbelievable, there is a great variety and overall it is great. China also has 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (as of 2019), including the Great Wall and Huangshan. I have visited both places and highly recommend them.
1. China's culture and society are very different from other countries in the world, and the cultural shock is very real. Many things need to adapt, from dealing with scooters from hell on the road to the general Chinese-style Stoicism that often gives a rude impression (and is often complicated by the hasty urban life in Shanghai). Oh, did I mention that Chinese men (and women) spit on the street? Not to mention the infamous Beijing belly
2. China is a communist country with very little freedom of speech and even less online freedom. If you want to access Facebook and YouTube, you will pay for a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which will enable you to pass through the Great Wall firewall in China. Make sure to pay attention to your public (and online) remarks about the Communist Party, and remarks about sensitive topics such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.
3. There is a lot of air pollution in some big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. However, in some small cities, the air is quite clean and the scenery is great. It depends on which city you choose to teach in China.
Living in China has its advantages and disadvantages like living elsewhere in the world. The key is to understand as much of the topics as I have written before you arrive. In addition, be prepared for the huge differences. Be prepared and open up to new experiences and people, which will make your time in China interesting and fun.