More about China
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We obviously cannot give you an overview of the whole of China but we can start by busting some of the myths that you may have heard that might want you to explore the country further.

A geography lecturer once said, “Whatever you say about China is likely to be true”. This can be said with confidence because China is incredibly large and unbelievably diverse. It is very different from the West and has a mystical, eclectic feel about it.

China is misunderstood and misrepresented by many in the West. Our advice is to read, watch and listen to as much as you can before you go or go and be prepared embrace something new and exciting. Either approach works depending on your personal philosophy and ability to adapt.

Rob Gifford’s book China Road (published in 2011) is a good place to start for general information. As much as it helps though, it concludes by saying that there are few judgements you can make without experiencing it yourself.

Let’s get down to some myth busting!

Not all five-year-olds in China are encouraged to play the piano like Mozart.
Not every Chinese person works extremely hard. Many do but, just like people in the West there are many differences.
Although China has the largest army in the world, it does not feel like a militarised country – it is definitely NOT like North Korea in philosophy, structure or operation.
You can get Western social media like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter etc in China. You’ll just need a VPN (Virtual Network) which is pretty easy to get for people with a middle income, although these can be variable in terms of access depending on location and what the current government approach to VPNs is.
Chinese people tend not to see themselves as hard-done-by for not being able to easily access Western social media. The blocking of certain sites is often as much about protecting and developing Chinese technology as it is about censorship.
Chinese people don’t worry too much about accessing Western social media. It’s in English and most don’t speak English!
China is arguably one of the most capitalist countries in the world, despite many thinking that it’s still a deeply communist country. There is often a complex interrelationship between government and business, Confucius philosophy, capitalism and socialism.
China is multilingual and multicultural. No two provinces are run in exactly the same way. Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese and a myriad of dialects and local variations are all spoken to different degrees.
Mandarin, not English is the most spoken language in the world (although English is generally seen as the language of multinational communication).
We sometimes hear people say things like “yes, I suppose that’s because China is a religious country”. There is no state religion in China. Religions exist but not everyone follows one religion, nor is everyone religious and our experience and research would suggest quite the opposite
Contrary to stereotyping, not everyone in China does Kung Fu, and Chinese children are not all expected to learn martial arts. We suppose we have Hollywood to thank for that one.
In conclusion, it’s often thought that the huge culture differences are as much to do with embedded ways of thinking, processing information and communicating as much as it is about the more obvious things such as food, traditional clothes, dance, chopsticks and martial arts!

Our experiences (and those of virtually everyone we meet) are that the common, cultural thread throughout Chinese society is that the Chinese are very hospitable and extremely friendly and go out of their way to help.

Remember

As with any country, China has its challenges legally, politically and culturally. There will almost certainly be challenges during your visit and at times it will seem quite tough! Things may seem strange – sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating. People may seem unusually relaxed about some things that you might normally find important, and other times, Chinese will place importance on things that you might think are not that important.

The best advice is to try hard not to apply the same thoughts and feelings to China as they would back in your home environment. Chinese are different and there will be challenges. Acceptance of a different way of thinking, habits, protocols and lifestyle will help settle you in and give you great tales to tell when you are back at home. Our partners are very understanding of Western mindset and will always aim to provide support for you.

You will be around 5000 miles away from home living in a country with a population of 1.2 billion people, with cities that many people don’t even know exist. Your stay will not be an exact science – your age, outlook, and level of maturity is important – if you are ready for the next big challenge in your life, are ready for an adventure and have a strong sense of resilience – you will be fine.

However, we have found in the past that there is also a fragility in some people of a younger age. This is not to generalise, but we do advise that you go to China with a robust mindset. If you are experiencing difficulties, reach out for help and support, and challenges will be sorted quickly, and not left to get out of hand.

Teaching is exciting and rewarding, but – ask any teacher – some days can be tough wherever you are in the world. It will almost certainly make you tired and full of emotion – the energy is stirs up can be both positive and negative. We have plenty of tips for you that will help you enjoy your time in China and to deal with any emotional changes you may be feeling.

Spend some time considering why you want to go to China, and whether actually living among ‘real’ Chinese people, doing a ‘real’ job is the right challenge for you.

Things in China might not be as comfortable as things are for you back home. You will have to get used to a new way of life for a few months. We can promise you that you will meet interesting people and see interesting places. We, our Chinese partners will do whatever we can together to help you solve any problems you may come across and will support you with things like accommodation and food but there will be times where you may sometimes feel sad and you may have to work through those feelings until you’re feeling happy again.

Of course, support is only a ‘WeChat’ away these days, so please make the most of it. Though our aim is to help you to boost your skills, and our philosophy is more about empowering you to solve problems rather than solving your problems for you.


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