Rebecca Nugent, teaching English in Beijing, gives her perspective on making the move from Ireland and settling into teaching and travelling in China.
Putting aside the Barry’s Tea and Tayto crisps withdrawal, settling into life in China is really not as hard as it’s imagined to be. Moving from a small town in Co. Kildare, Ireland to Beijing, just one week after graduating, to become an English teacher seems very far-fetched. However, it is so possible; all that’s needed is passion, bravery and of course, a TEFL. It is the best thing I have ever done.
Travelling became a huge passion of mine during the exchange year of my Commerce and Chinese degree in UCD. I was terrified leaving home as I’d never been abroad without my family. I went with three of my best friends and it couldn’t have been a better year. We studied in Hangzhou for the first semester and Beijing for the second semester. In between the two semesters, we had a one-month break. I originally had a flight home to Dublin booked, which I quickly extended to June, and decided to go travelling around South East Asia.
As a result, not only did I find my love for living in China, I also found my love for travelling. Nearing the end of the second semester, much to the displeasure of my family, I postponed the June flight until August. I went travelling around China and Indonesia for five weeks, before returning home after 11 great months.
As the old Irish proverb says, ‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin‘, which means there’s no place like home. Although there truly is no place like home and I was delighted to be back, I had caught the travel bug. I knew that could not be the end of my travels. In a class full of very ambitious classmates, it was hard not to give in to the graduate job pressure of final year. But I was certain about moving back to China, taking a few years to relax, enjoying life, meeting new people and figuring out what I want to do. I completed my final year in UCD and graduated last September. One week later I was on a plane to Beijing.
And here I am. Three months back and I’m settled and ecstatic. Even though this is my fifteenth month in total living in China, I am still learning so much about the country, the culture and myself. I often find myself walking down the streets in Beijing, whether it be on my way to or from work, or just wandering, and I find myself just smiling at something I’ve seen or noticed. I just have to look around and take a moment to appreciate where I am and how lucky I am to be on this adventure in this beautiful city and I’m smiling from ear to ear.
My main goal in coming back to Beijing is to ‘perfect’ my Chinese and travel. It just happens to be a bonus that I adore teaching English. From being immersed in the culture and the language, my language skills are improving day by day and I actively study new words or phrases about twice a week.
I work in a public school. I teach primary, middle and high school students, with a total of 24 classes a week. Although teaching all of these age groups means a lot more lesson plans, I love the variety of the ages. I’m more like a friend to my high school students than a teacher, in that we all just chat and they feel comfortable using their English with me. My primary and middle school students are the brightest and most energetic bunch, and I leave the classroom buzzing. It is a really rewarding job.
For me, one of the biggest perks of working in a public school is the holidays. In total, we get about three months holidays a year. So if I stay here for three years, I’ll get about nine months travel done, my Chinese level will have greatly improved, and last, but by no means least, I’ll be happy all the while!
What’s not to love?
If this sounds like your type of adventure, check out our TEFL courses at http://www.tfa-academy.com/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the next steps on how to apply and you could be on a plane to China some time soon!