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Don't teach English in China if this describes you
2018-03-28

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I previously told you about a few reasons why you should come teach English in China immediately. While I still believe that this is one of the best decisions you can make in your life, I feel like it’s important to be fully honest with you. You see, there are certain types of people who just aren’t cut out for living and working overseas – particularly when it comes to teaching English in China. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement with the descriptions below, it’s best if you just don’t teach English in China, or maybe any country!

You Don’t Really Want To Teach

You might think this one goes without saying, right? Well, you’d be surprised by the number of teachers that are teaching English overseas that have no interest in teaching English at all. Most of these teachers are simply working as an English teacher to pay for their drinking and traveling habits.

If you want to travel the world and get drunk and party all the time, I certainly can’t blame you. It’s a fun way to spend your time, but it shouldn’t be your priority if you want to teach English overseas. You are doing a disservice to your students if you’re going to show up to class hungover every morning without as much as a care given to the impact you’re having on future generations.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the best parts of living overseas is getting to have fun and party with the locals and other expats. Just give yourself a reality check and make sure you’re teaching because you truly want to, not to pay for the ever-increasing tab you’ve built up at the local watering hole.

You Refuse To Try New Things

Have you ever met that person who is so stuck in their ways that they refuse to try anything that might take them outside of their comfort zone? If you’re thinking that description hits really close to home, it may be best if you don’t teach English in China.

You see, China is very different from your home country. In fact, almost everything about China is going to be completely different from what you’re used to. If you’re not the kind of person that is open to trying new things, you’re going to have a very hard time living and working in China. It’s going to make you depressed and it’s going to make people around you not like you very much.

One of the most exciting things about moving to a new country is getting the chance to open yourself up to entirely new ways of living and thinking. Make sure your mind and heart are open to these opportunities before you get on the plane, or it’s probably not going to work out for you.

You Can’t Roll With The Punches

Are you the kind of person that flips out immediately whenever something doesn’t go your way? If so, it’s definitely best if you don’t teach English in China! When you’re living overseas, things are going to go differently than you planned pretty often. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

Rolling with the punches is part of being an expat overseas. There will be lots of little moments where cultural differences or language barriers get in the way. However, if you can keep your cool and just learn to smile when things go astray, you’ll have no problem adjusting to life in China.

The experiences you have as an expat will give you a valuable new lens to look at the world through and make you truly understand how to be a patient and forgiving person. You’ll never get the same experience and ability to grow by staying safely in your home country.

You Think Your Country/Culture Is Better Than All Others

There are few things more annoying than meeting the expat who wants to constantly talk about how things are done back home and why everything there is so much better. This annoys me as an expat, but it annoys the locals even more.

If you’re going to live and work in another country, it’s important that you respect the locals and their way of life. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned living overseas is that other ways of living are not necessarily right or wrong by default, they’re just different. Come with an open mind and you will learn a lot about yourself and even remove some of your cultural programming in the process.

If you come with a closed mind and a superiority complex, you’re quickly going to alienate everyone you meet and you’re going to get very little out of your experience. Teaching and working overseas should give you the valuable experience of deeply understanding a different culture, but it will only happen if you allow it to. If you’re not ready for this, then just stay at home where it’s safe.

You Have No Interest In Learning About A New Culture

The Chinese culture is thousands of years old and has endless wonders for the new expat to explore. However, lots of people go overseas and have no interest in learning about a new culture. While I’m not saying you need to have a PHD level knowledge of Chinese culture, refusing to learn anything will make things very hard for you during your time in China.

Learning the cultural norms and the way to act in social situations is something you absolutely must do if you choose to live in a country. While the locals may let you get away with a lot as a foreigner, you don’t want to be one of those disrespectful jerks that makes Chinese people look down on anyone from the West.

Think of yourself as a cultural ambassador when you’re over in China and you will have a far more valuable experience than if you close yourself off to everything that doesn’t fit within your cultural framework. You’ll have an awesome opportunity to pick up a language that is rapidly becoming more and more valuable as well.

You’re Not Ready For A Challenge

While teaching English in China is certainly a lot of fun, it’s also going to be a challenging experience. It is challenging for different reasons for different people. You may be teaching for the first time. You may have never left your home country and might be shocked by day to day life in China.

You can’t predict what might challenge you before you go to China, but you can be confident that there will be some challenges along the way. 

The most important tool for success is a calm demeanor and confidence in yourself that you can deal with challenges. You won’t find any challenge too big to deal with in China if you come ready and confident that you can adjust to life in a land far different from home.

There are many expats who have adjusted to life in China after struggling at first. You’ll learn things about the world that you never learned in school and you’ll likely find yourself on the list of people that never want to leave China once you get past the initial struggles of adjusting to life in a brand new land.

You Can’t Live Without The Comforts Of Home

Look, I can’t emphasize enough that things are going to be really different in China. If you’re expecting to have all the comforts of home, it just isn’t going to happen. People that move overseas and try to perfectly recreate their lives back home either end up frustrated, or broke – sometimes both.

If you intend to eat Western food for every meal, you can certainly do it – but you’re going to quickly run out of money, since a premium price tag is fetched for Western food. Why would you limit yourself like this with delicious Chinese food everywhere for a small fraction of the price you’d pay for a gross burger from McDonalds?

If you’re going to live overseas, you need to have the mindset of learning to appreciate all the awesome things that you can have in your adopted home that are nowhere to be found – or incredibly expensive – back in your hometown.

You’ll be surprised at how many awesome things you never knew existed in the world once you get to China – but only if you’re not too busy trying to recreate your life back in the West while living in the East.

You’re Not Ready To Have The Time Of Your Life

Despite all the challenges that come along with moving to a brand new country, you also get to have an experience that few people in the world can have. You’re going to have more fun than you ever knew was possible – even doing things that would be horribly mundane back home.

When is the last time you had a blast going to the grocery store and checking out the products in various aisles? When was the last time you were shocked and delighted by a dish found at a local hole in the wall restaurant?

When you live overseas, every day is a constant adventure. Teaching English is incredibly rewarding and you’re going to have so much fun making a difference in the lives of Chinese people. If you’re the kind of person that hates fun, you should stay far away from teaching and living in China.

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