Teaching abroad in China is an incredible experience. You have the ability to make money, explore a new culture, and challenge yourself to have the adventure of a lifetime!
However, making the move to Mainland China is definitely not easy. Whether you’re on the fence about teaching abroad, or you’re trying to choose between China and another country, these are my 10 main reasons why teaching abroad in China is amazing!
After five years of living and working in China, these are my top ten reasons why teaching abroad in China is an awesome experience.
#1 Experience a Vastly Different Culture
If you really want to challenge yourself and live in a place that’s just completely different from your home, China is the perfect place. One of the main reasons I chose to live and work in China is because I wanted to experience culture shock and throw myself into the deep end. I didn’t want my experience abroad to be easy, and I needed to explore a part of the world that would really push me out of my comfort zone.
China is often very misunderstood by the West, and most news stories that come out of the PRC are not positive. However, China is so much more than its government. I honestly think one of the best things for China-US relations is for citizens of each country to get to know one another better.
If you really want to try new foods, experience different cultural norms, have eye-opening conversations, grow as a person, and experience the adventure of a lifetime, China is the perfect place to go.
#2 Chinese Food is DELICIOUS
Most of you already know that I’m obsessed with Chinese food, and it breaks my heart when people tell me that they went to China and hated the food. How? Why??! Chinese food is amazing, and if you don’t come away from China raving about the food, you’re doing it wrong.
Firstly, China has so much regional variety. I can eat Chinese food for every meal and never get bored. Jianbing for breakfast, malatang for lunch, Xinjiang noodles for dinner… I could go on and on about my love of hotpot, dumplings, Peking duck, roujiamo… the list goes on and on.
If you are struggling with the food in China, I highly suggest signing up for a food tour. You can even do a food tour in the city where you live so you know what to order and have a great list of restaurants to re-visit! I myself did two food tours (UnTour and Lost Plate) when I lived in Beijing.
If you’re working in China you can also ask your coworkers (Chinese and foreign) to take you out to their favorite spots!
#3 Surrounded By Chinese History
Did you know China has 5,000 years of ancient history???!! (As everyone in China loves to tell you…)
No, but seriously, it is incredible to live in a place with so much history. Being from the West Coast of the US, our history doesn’t go back very far. But living in China, I could spend my weekends surrounded by some of the world’s most impressive historic landmarks.
When I lived in Beijing I hiked nine different sections of the Great Wall (including some wild sections). I visited the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Tiananmen Square, and even lived in the historic hutong district walking distance from the Lama Temple and Drum and Bell Tower.
When you live in China, you can take a visit to the Terracotta Warriors and see an active archeological dig excavating an ancient wonder. Visit the Mogao caves in Gansu to see ancient Buddhist carvings. Stroll through the Ming Tombs in Nanjing… You’ll never run out of history to explore.
#4 Teaching Abroad is a Meaningful Job
One thing that’s great about teaching abroad in China is the ability to have a job that actually makes a difference in the lives of your students if you take your position seriously. Personally, I loved having a career where I could impact the lives of my students in a positive way, and introduce a new culture or a different way of life.
I also loved many of the conversations I was able to have with many of my older students. Whether it was the intense pressure to succeed and ace the Gaokao exam, or a discussion about America’s politics and the US gun control debate, I was able to have such interesting conversations with my students.
I also realized that just being there to talk or listen could make a big impact in the lives of my students. I had more than one student come to me to discuss difficult conversations they needed to have with their parents, whether it was their dream to study at a small liberal arts college, or coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community.
In the right school with the right attitude, teaching abroad can be an incredibly meaningful career.
#5 Cheap Cost of Living in China
China is extremely affordable, and on a decent teacher’s salary, you can have a great quality of life! Grab breakfast for $.50 USD, or lunch for $2 USD! Taking the subway to work cost me less than $.50 each way, and if I was feeling lazy, I could hop in a taxi for $4.
Don’t even get me started on MINISO, the discount shop that’s basically a rip-off of Daiso. You can get so many cute things for your apartment or office there, and spend only a few dollars. I would buy Korean face masks, home goods, hats and sunglasses, basic electronics and ALL THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS here.
Finally, China has incredible online shopping and delivery. Once you discover how to use Taobao and JD.com, a new world of cheap delivery goods will be opened up to you! Ordering food on Waimai or Eleme can actually be cheaper than eating in a restaurant.
One time I left my glasses at home and hired a delivery guy to pick them up from my apartment and deliver them to my office for less than the cost of a 1-way taxi home.
#6 You Can Save a TON of Money working in China
If you make a somewhat decent salary, it is almost too easy to save money in China. I saved $40,000 USD as a college counselor in China without even really trying. That was with having a great quality of life too! Sure, a budgeted a little bit, but I also went out to eat, drank $8 cocktails on the weekends, grabbed Starbucks whenever I felt like it and took taxis home on days where I felt super tired. I also traveled a TON and took a trip anytime I had a few days off work, visiting places like South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and more.
Even on a super low salary of only $800 USD a month, I still managed to save $3,000 USD in a year! Sure there wasn’t much to spend money on in the middle of nowhere “Factoryville”, but I did take $10 taxis into the city on the weekends, and I traveled all over China during my breaks.
#7 China’s Amazing Job Market
I read a statistic that as of 2016, China needed 100,000 foreign teachers, but only had 30,000 legally recognized foreign teachers. Ummm… WHAT??!
Okay, so even if we take into account that this statistic is from 2016, and there are a lot of foreign teachers that are working under the table on tourist or business visas, this is still INSANE. What job market to you know that’s THIS GOOD. Think about it for a second. Even the tech market probably doesn’t even come close to this.
If you’re legally qualified to teach in China, you may notice that schools are literally throwing themselves at you. Especially if you’re young, well-spoken, and energetic… you’re probably literally drowning in job offers. This is because these schools are desperate to get their hands on a serious, qualified, foreign teacher.
Bask in the glory, my friends. The job market is literally never going to get any better than this.
#8 Super Easy to Travel in China
If your dream is to travel around Asia, basing yourself in China can be a great option for you. Firstly, it’s super easy to travel domestically in China. With a vast (and super affordable) train network, and plenty of Chinese airlines with flights all over the country, what more could you want? I used to joke that you could get pretty much anywhere in China on a sleeper train with 24 hours and roughly $70 USD.
Not only that, but China also has really good hostels with English-speaking staff and tons of amenities, so if you’re looking to travel on a budget, Hostelworld and Booking.com will be your friend. I even had my parents stay in a hostel in Xi’an and they loved it! We got a private room right in the art district, seconds from the city wall, and were able to enjoy a nice latte on the rooftop every morning. What more could you want?
China is also a great place to stay if you want to travel internationally around Asia. For all my holiday breaks I used to get on Skyscanner and check for the cheapest flight to “everywhere”. It was almost too easy to explore surrounding countries like South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines!
#9 Become a More Patient and Understanding Person
I can personally say that I’m not the most patient person in the world, but living and working in China has really helped me chill out a little bit. In China, everything is always done at the last minute. I’d get a phone call at 7 am asking me to be somewhere right now. I started my Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) holiday break NOT KNOWING WHEN I HAD TO BE BACK AT SCHOOL. Ummm, what?
Living in China, I also had to learn to deal with cultural differences, even if I found them ridiculous. Like, why do you have to watch an entire episode of Chinese television on the subway with no headphones? Why can’t you just say “excuse me” instead of literally bulldozing into my body? I will never know.
Sometimes things in China are out of your control. The government does what it does with zero explanation (hutong brick ups anyone?), all of the restaurants in the mall where you work magically change overnight, your school rearranges the entire schedule and then forgets to tell you so you walk into a class that’s already half-over with another teacher standing at the chalkboard.
But if you really want to grow as a person, challenge yourself, and become a more patient and understanding person, trust me, China is the perfect place.
#10 Living in China is an ADVENTURE!
When you live in China, every single day is a new and exciting adventure. Even just a simple commute to work or trip to the grocery store can turn into an exciting story to share. Yes, sometimes it is a whole journey to just get something simple done, but you have to remember that these are all stories that you can tell for the rest of your life!
When you live in China, you never run out of new or interesting experiences, and just when you think you FINALLY understand China… you learn something new!
Living in China isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely always interesting.
10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China! (Free Guide)
Have I officially convinced you? If you’re still looking at finding and landing a high paying job you love, be sure to grab my free guide 10 Steps to Landing a High Paying Job in China! This guide will walk you through the entire process, from discovering your dream job and grabbing that TEFL, to acing your interview, applying for your visa and more!
Let’s Hear From You!
Do you have any more reasons why teaching abroad in China is awesome? Any stories you’d like to share? Please feel free to leave a comment below and share this post with your friends who are considering teaching abroad in China!