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 Post subject: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:43 am 
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I just got offered an ESL-teaching position in China (outside of Shanghai). The pay is great and the perks are many. My teaching hours would only be 15 a week but I get paid much more than I do in my current job in Canada plus I get travel allowance, a free apartment, etc... It's a really legitimate Canadian-run program where I work in a middle school and help prepare kids who want to go to universities in North America.

I have to decide by the end of the day if I will accept it. The thing is, I would leave SO soon. Like August 15th-ish soon. My husband and cat would likely not come with me but he would visit (cat because duh, husband because of cat). During the seven years of our relationship, I've always been taking off places (Vancouver for grad school, San Francisco for an internship...), and our relationship has only grown stronger, but this is freaking China. That's crazy far!

My reasons for wanting to go:
I took my TEFL two years ago and want to use it at least for one contract
I love travel and adventure
I think I would be a great teacher and I want to give it a shot
Good pay

Cons:
Missing my cat
Missing my husband
Culture shock
Quitting my job here (which I don't really care all that much for so...)

I am pretty impulsive with decisions so give me your thoughts please!


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:46 am 
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I am impulsive, too. If your lungs can handle their questionable air quality, I'd say, go! (If you do go, PM me -- I have friends who grew up there and still go home 1-2x per year.)

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:59 am 
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Do it! You want to quit your job anyway, you love travel and you can totally handle the culture shock. I've wanted to go to China for ages so I'd totally come & visit you!

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:13 am 
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They can get you a proper work visa to China that fast?? The rush makes me a teeny bit suspiscious of the program, but if you've checked them thoroughly and they're legit (and so is the school they'll place you with), why not!

Things to think about:
- How *outside* outside of Shanghai will you be? Location will have a drastic influence on your experience. Absolutely all sorts of environments exit "outside" of Shanghai.
- Have you seen pics of the apartment? Have you been in touch with the teacher who currently has your position, or others at that school?
- I remember a while ago you were looking for ESL positions in Japan, and then that didn't happen. What made you change your mind? I would personally pick a position in Japan over China, but that's a personal preference.
- Under that visa and that contract, will you have the opportunity to get a second job? To switch employers? Will you have those opportunities in your town? From what I saw of my ESL-teaching friends in Korea, those who had the best time were those who were not bound to a single employer - both because they were free to pursue cooler jobs, which came up often to those who looked, and because the employer couldn't blackmail them with their visa.

Overall, I think the ESL thing has been brewing for a while with you and given the right opportunity you should definitely do it. Just make sure this is the right opportunity.


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:13 am 
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If you don't like your job and you love to travel, it sounds like this is a great opportunity! I totally get the missing cats + husbands thing though.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:33 am 
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How long is the position for? Is it like "come for a year, do this, then go home" or is it like "stay here and do this forever and ever"?

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:54 am 
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Isn't there someone who could take your cat while you're gone so your husband could go with you?

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:01 am 
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it sounds weirdly toogoodtobetrue and too rushed to sound like something that will give you much flexibility/options (if you want to travel, if you are sick, etc). if I remember rightly, when pistachiorose did this kind of stuff, her employers seemed pretty strict about this kinda stuff.

I've heard of people that did it and had a great time though :)

- is the 15 a week like, 2h x 7 days (ish)? or 5h x 3 days? (ie how much freedom do you have to have adventures?)
- is it group teaching? one on one? (do you care?)
- what do people say about the program online?
- is it a fixed contract? if you get mad homesick, is there any penalty (or assistance!) for returning home?

if it all 'feels' right, then go for it. duh. if you're able to have fun there, go for it! just be careful :)

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:12 am 
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I wouldn't do it, but that's because I'd be suuuuper homesick! So don't listen to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:13 am 
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paprikapapaya wrote:
I wouldn't do it, but that's because I'd be suuuuper homesick! So don't listen to me.

home is just wherever you can access wifi and get on ppk duh

(which.....in China could be a problem!)

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:30 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
How long is the position for? Is it like "come for a year, do this, then go home" or is it like "stay here and do this forever and ever"?


This is key. If it's for a year, do it! Just to experience something so radically different. It'll be hard. It'll be exciting. You'll question why you did it. But it will give you a great perspective on your life in Canada, and provide endless rich experiences, new language, new culture.

I do agree with Aelle about finding out more about the location (how rural?) and apartment, and talking to someone who's had this post. If they really want you, they should be able to give you another day or three to sort through the decision-making process. Have you asked for another couple of days?

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:42 pm 
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I think Aelle brings up some good points to think about, and I am also wondering how long it's for. Definitely if it feels right and is only for a year or so, then do it! But I can't imagine moving away indefinitely from my significant other and cat.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 1:58 pm 
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I think this is the kind of experience that people either think is completely awesome, or horrifyingly far away from everything they know. You just need to decide which kind of person you are and there's your answer. The rest is in the details everyone else mentions--make sure you know exactly what you're signing up for. See if they'll let you talk to someone who's done the program.

Also, why are you automatically assuming you can't bring your cat? Are there strenuous quarantine requirements? You might be surprised, and while taking your kitty in the cabin on the flight can be a little pricey (~$175-ish last time I checked on United, though it depends on the airline) it may not be an impediment! And if that's the only thing keeping your husband away from you, I think you can find a way.

I've lived in a foreign country before, and while it was nothing like China obviously, I would prepare yourself for the following things if you haven't moved somewhere with a big language/cultural difference before:
- being an immigrant can be a real unexpected pain in the asparagus. Just simple things like getting a bank account or internet service or money exchanged can be silly hard. Your ATM card will probably work some places (I haven't been to China so I'm not exactly sure), getting more than a few hundred dollars can suddenly prove expensive and difficult. You will pay a penalty every time you transfer money from one currency to another. It's annoying. Every country has its own little random quirks, be they for visas, bank accounts, utilities, renting an apartment, whatever. It sounds like your program handles a lot of these, and people who have gone before you can probably give you a ton of advice, but be prepared: you will run into things that are a giant pain in the asparagus even though they seem like they should be simple.
- be prepared to occasionally hate it, that you'll blame everything that goes wrong on the country you're in, which at that moment does everything backwards and wrong. And then you'll get back to Canada or wherever and you'll have the same experience again.
- be prepared to feel incredibly isolated at times. Not only are you moving to a new place where you don't know anybody, there's a language barrier as well. There might be cultural barriers or differences that make people less outwardly friendly or harder to get to know. Expat groups can be a good way to get to know people; we were specifically discouraged by our program from being involved with them but I know a lot of people have made like-minded friends that way.
- learning the language will deepen your experience, and mostly improve it, though it won't be entirely positive. Once you can read the newspaper and follow TV you will realize that the politics and culture of another place are a lot more nuanced than a short visit somewhere will let you see.
- this will change you for the rest of your life. You'll get back and your friends will probably get sick of you starting every sentence with "Well in China, ...." for months after you get home. Just remember that secretly they're partly just jealous.


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:17 pm 
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I think u are crazy if you take it, only from a geographic bias of mine! I think you already live in the most beautiful place in the world and would just be losing out on that fabulousness every day you were gone. BUT like you day, surely adventure awaits in China. So. Yeah. Hard call. But I would not do it.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:40 pm 
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1strangegirlbygolly! wrote:
I think u are crazy if you take it, only from a geographic bias of mine! I think you already live in the most beautiful place in the world and would just be losing out on that fabulousness every day you were gone. BUT like you day, surely adventure awaits in China. So. Yeah. Hard call. But I would not do it.

it's pretty fun to bail on a place you love, I promise :) it makes coming back/visiting all the more rewarding, and you reaaaally learn a lot about what you take for granted. to me, that's important. I like to be thankful for all of those small things

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:17 pm 
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Thanks for all your perspectives. I really, really appreciate it because this is a crazy-small timeframe to work in and that does worry me a little bit. What happened (apparently), is that the school I'd be teaching at recently decided to expand the ESL program enormously and needed to hire teachers immediately. I went through three rigorous interviews and I got a good human feel from the owners and managers of the program. I felt like I was hired based on the quality of my performance/my education/work experience rather than desperateness on their part. I have seen their curriculum materials and they are fantastic.

I am leaning towards no, but I am so worried that I am giving up on an amazing opportunity. But then again, I got hired for this one, so there's no reason I should be doubtful that I'll be hired again.

I don't at all think this is a scam but having me have to decide in a day is a bit worrying.

I definitely couldn't bring my cat because the accommodations don't allow animals. I could bring my husband and they would assist in his visa process but honestly I would rather him stay here and take care of my cat (priorities, right?).


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:05 pm 
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do you know other ESL teachers? Have you went to Daves ESL cafe? You can get a lot of info there. I have taught in Korea and I loved it, but dont be fooled that you will only be required to work 15 hours a week--it ends up being a lot more. Just an FYI.. Close to Shanghai, I would totally go. If your relationship is strong, you can do it; there is skype, after all! Plus, if you are in Canada, Im guessing that once you come back from China, you can get a job teaching ESL there--?

Make sure your company is legit, and that you get everything in writing before hand. If you need help, I have contacts and will do what I can to help you (PM me). Good luck with everything. Also, make sure you have a sponsor or chaperone to meet you at the airport so that you dont get picked up by a crooked "private" taxi driver who will try to scam you for $$$ (dont ask how I know this). :)

Daphne


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:05 pm 
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Wow. Tough call. Unattached, I would do it in a heartbeat. There's still a part of me that thinks, "Yes! Adventures! GOGOGOGOGO!"

But I have a feeling that three months without DG and I'd look like a walking disaster area. No pants, shirt inside out, hair sticking out every which way with random parts of my head shaved, tissue boxes on my feet, stockings falling down, holding a one-eyed teddy bear whose head is half off, a glassy, thousand yard stare in my eyes...

Okay, maybe not, but still... I'd be a wreck.


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:19 pm 
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Daphne wrote:
do you know other ESL teachers? Have you went to Daves ESL cafe? You can get a lot of info there. I have taught in Korea and I loved it, but dont be fooled that you will only be required to work 15 hours a week--it ends up being a lot more. Just an FYI.. Close to Shanghai, I would totally go. If your relationship is strong, you can do it; there is skype, after all! Plus, if you are in Canada, Im guessing that once you come back from China, you can get a job teaching ESL there--?

Make sure your company is legit, and that you get everything in writing before hand. If you need help, I have contacts and will do what I can to help you (PM me). Good luck with everything. Also, make sure you have a sponsor or chaperone to meet you at the airport so that you dont get picked up by a crooked "private" taxi driver who will try to scam you for $$$ (dont ask how I know this). :)

Daphne

I do, and I'm familiar with Dave's ESL Cafe. I'm kind of a recluse, so I'm not at all worried about the isolation or lack of ex-pats to socialize with. They have someone pick me up from the Shanghai airport. Gah! Now I can't decide. I'm so worried about giving up an amazing life experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:38 pm 
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Sounds like you already know your answer. Better go pack! YOu will have an amazing time, and as long as your husband is ok with it, go for it.

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:39 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:23 pm 
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I say if it's for a school year or less time (6 months?), do it. It's rushed, sure, and it can be intimidating to have to make such a major decision in such a short period of time. But you know what, it will be such an immense experience, that even if it doesn't go as well as you hoped, you will learn and experience new things and you will never regret going.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:16 pm 
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Many good replies here. Given that you're still unsure I'd flip a coin. Because whatever answer you get you'll know whether it is the one you want or not!


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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:26 pm 
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vijita wrote:
. I'm so worried about giving up an amazing life experience.

To quote big Edie, "Everything's good that you didn't do". There's no guarantee it would be amazing or awful. You might also be able to find a different program to go with that gives more than 30 days notice. You might stay where you are and have 10,000 cat visitors next week who need your attention.
I would ask them for a few more days to decide.

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 Post subject: Re: Should I move to China?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:48 pm 
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Why are they only giving you one day? I would think they'd want to give you time to really think about it so that later on you won't pull out of the program and leave them without a teacher. It seems like it would be a better investment for them to give you some time to make sure you really can and really do want to do this.

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