5 Reasons Why I Can't Escape China
I have been in China for almost three years now, and I can’t escape! It sounds strange, but it’s true. Escape isn’t a poor word choice, trust me. I know escape implies that I don’t want to be here, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The reason why I have chosen the word “escape” is that when I came here, I applied for a job Teaching English in China with EF English First with the intentions of only staying for one year. Two years later, I am still here, and I believe I am going to be here a lot longer, and here’s why.
NEW FOUND FREEDOM
Censorship seems to be an issue for many people who make the pilgrimage to China, but after a while, it isn’t such a big deal. Most of the restrictions are online, and there are a few requirements before you travel, but apart from that, you can live pretty freely.
I have found new found freedom by being able to look at the world in a different view. I am less restricted by the political dogma in my home country, and I am free to think more critically. Since moving abroad, I have seen two UK referendums, one UK election (with another on the way) and a US election. Without media influence, I have found time to weigh up arguments more and build a more informed decision.
The lower cost of living in China is probably the biggest freedom I have enjoyed. Fresh fruit and vegetables are really cheap. Eating out is way more affordable than the UK, and rent takes a much smaller percentage of my wage as well. I do still count the pennies, but I feel less pressure to make ends meet which is a form of financial freedom that I really enjoy.
MY NEW FOOD ADDICTION
Since coming to China, I have become addicted to what I consider one the best foods in the world, and I can’t imagine living without it. In China, there seems to be food for every mood. If you want some meat and potatoes, then try some food from the Xinjiang region. If you want a quick bite, then try some Baozi or Rou Jia Mo. When want to eat with friends, head out for hot pot. If you’re looking for some home-style food, then head to a Wall-Mart or Carrefour (in the medium to large cities) and pick up some import food and cereal. Not a day goes by without another craving for some fantastic Chinese dish, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Smartphones are king almost everywhere these days. No more is statement true than in China. If you want to pay for food, order a car, ride a bike, order some food, have a massage, shop online, go halves on a meal, find a date, read the news, send someone some lucky money, then there is an app for that. Amazingly, you can do all of those things in WeChat, but you can also use many of the other apps available online to do anything that you need to do in life. Delivery times are getting faster and faster, and there are malls and cinemas on every corner open while late. Gone are the days of travelling miles to the mall, or waiting a week for a delivery.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll probably be blown away by something culturally historical in China. Whether it’s the origin of your favourite dish, some amazing architecture, or even a folk tale or two, there is always something to see, try, learn or do. Since I started teaching English in China, I’ve learnt about the origins of Chinese new year, enjoyed the festivities and even travelled to different cities to celebrate.
HOP SKIP AND A JUMP FROM SOMEWHERE AMAZING
I suppose that this one is true of anywhere in Europe, but living and working in China means that you are never far from somewhere amazing. In a few hours, you can fly to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Laos, and a few other amazing places. What’s more, is that these places couldn’t be more different, and the cost is much lower than travelling around Europe. In my time I have met many teachers who have taken a short break in Japan or Korea. Much more who spend their hard earned cash sunning it up on a beach in Thailand, or backpacking through Vietnam. Yes, as a teacher, you do spend most of your time in class (which is not a bad thing by any stretch), but the rewards of travel more than make up for those days where you second guessing whether you should stay overseas.
There are many more reasons why I am a happy captive in China, but I run the risk of writing the world’s longest list. I’d say that if you’re thinking about completing your TEFL and teaching abroad, then choose China. You won’t regret it.
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