In 2008 I packed up and left my country with a one way ticket to China. I had no idea what to expect and had not done much research about the city I was about to move to. I had reached a point in my life where I needed to change something and landing a job at a kindergarten in Shaanxi province seemed to be a good opportunity to travel and experience a different culture. I had never even been to Asia before so it really was a big step for me to take.
After I landed in Guangzhou, I spent two weeks feeling overwhelmed by how different everything was. The scenery was stunning and I got my first introduction to Chinese cuisine and the friendliness of Chinese people – both are aspects of China that I quickly learned to appreciate.
After two eventful weeks in Guangzhou I set on a 24 hour train journey to Xi’an where I was welcomed by my new employer and some of my new colleagues. Headmaster Mr. Zhang didn’t speak any English so I greeted him with a few words that I had mastered in Mandarin. Little effort from my side seemed to go a long way as he was immensely pleased I was interested in learning the language.
Baoji is a small city in Shaanxi province and it was also now my home. It took some time to adjust to the new life but because it was so different from everything I had known before time went by very fast. During my first week there I went through an induction week to help me prepare for the start of the school year and then I was ready to start teaching! Children were adorable and almost always well-behaved. One of my favourite memories are the kids standing on a balcony and greeting me as I approach the school building by chanting ‘Hello, Miss Anda’ in unison.
I lived very close to the school which was really convenient. Additionally, I was amazed by how easy it was to meet new people. The city itself had a nice park, bowling alley, cinema, a few Western restaurants. I would often go hiking or visiting nearby villages on weekends.
Whilst overall I would not trade this experience for anything, I think it is important to mention that, especially in the first three months, adjusting to the new culture and the new way of doing things was a little challenging. I went in with the mind-set that I know what I am talking about and that ‘they’ should adjust to my way of seeing the world. It took a while for me to really become more aware of the cultural differences and to embrace them instead of fighting them. Once I learned to accept these differences, however, I felt I was able to have a much better experience.
This week Edvectus is celebrating China and featuring many vacancies by the top UK curriculum schools that are still hiring for September start. Having had the experience I did I am very passionate about helping other teachers to find their dream job in the Middle Kingdom. If you would like more information, please contact me or visit our website: www.edvectus.com