I've been teaching here in China for almost 2.5 years. I think I've experienced every shocking aspect of Chinese culture and life here. I've traveled to 26 countries. I know how to travel and best of all, I know how to adapt. I'm amazed at foreigners who come here who think they still live in the West and have the same privileges, rights and same laws to adhere to as in the West. Here are 10 morsels of advice for anyone coming to China to teach.
Tags:Teaching & Learning Expat Rants & Advice Expat Tales
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I think Murphy's advice is a very good place for a newcomer to start. I found my problems with taxi drivers ended when I worked out the shortest route to the new site of the university and give simple directions like zhi zou or yizhi (straight ahead), zuo guai (left)or you guai (right); my mnemonic trick is it is a right hander's world and "you" sounds like yes it is, and zuo sounds like no way. I have got used to "Can you be a judge at the English Contest tomorrow night?" Or the announcement can arrive that afternoon. "Can you give me the marks for the postgrad English by Wednesday?" "Wait a minute, I get my first class on Monday so this means I prepare the final exam on the weekend?" "Yeah, 'fraid so. Just ask them 20 questions." At the entry/exit office they have the little green book of laws which apply to foreigners but they won't let you keep it. It is against the law to criticize Chinese institutions. I find it hard to get my English majors to state an opinion in writing anyway, so I simply use exercises to try to get them to think - as my starting point. China is moving very fast through the Industrial Age; workers are better treated, wear hard toes and hard hats and sometimes use eye protection when chipping, blasting or drilling stone and cement. Ten years ago you could smell a toilet facility 100 yards away, so they installed cheap spring-loaded flushing devices no one used but overcame that with automatic devices that blink in the walls. Many students play basketball yet garbage lands within a meter of the trash cans. China has come a long way.
Mar 14, 2014 20:55 Report Abuse
I can't agree with the "You're a guest, so just shut-up if you have anything negative to say". When you look at China's life from a *Chinese* (but honest, non-self-serving) point of view, things are not pretty. Shutting up about anything political or negative is precisely what's keeping the life of most deep in a grey puddle. You lived here for a while, right ? Don't you feel the restrained anger here ? Where that anger comes from ? No outlets for expressing grief, no influence on how things goes, anger at the by-gone morality. Yes, I'm a guest, but I'm also a human being with compassion for my fellow humans. And as a human with compassion, I feel like I've to wake up zombies out of their torpor, even it might sting a little. China to do not need silence.
Feb 25, 2014 11:31 Report Abuse
Yeah that kind of..."you can't criticize them, it's their culture and we're guests!" mentality doesn't sit right with me either. I agree people here are generally miserable...one big reason why I think trying to live 'local' is misguided at best.
Feb 25, 2014 12:06 Report Abuse
I absolutely agree that being professional is a big responsibility but I think this is a little too fatalistic…”You’re in China so better just accept every negative aspect!” With good planning and executing a lot of those nagging China things just aren’t issues. Yeah, some locals stare and it’s not the biggest deal, but it does reflect poorly on them and we shouldn’t make excuses for them. Let people make their own excuses. I understand “they don’t know better” but at the same time that doesn’t make them fun or interesting people. I think the toilet thing is a good example of that too. Barring emergencies (Happen to the best of us!) I do not use squat toilets, and I also don’t carry toilet paper with me at any time. I mean frankly if an establishment thinks I am a trashy thief who will steal toilet paper…then I don’t have one red cent (brown jiao) for them. Likewise if thieves shop there that’s a good indication to me it’s not somewhere I belong. I mean I’ve done all the Chinese bazaar stuff. It’s really fun…as a holiday. As a day-to-day lifestyle? Give me nice clean bathrooms and comfortable seating. I never liked the argument that “If you don’t like ____ than just go home!” I’ve built a really solid career in banking here and no intelligent person would walk away from that (in this job market) over something silly.
Feb 25, 2014 10:55 Report Abuse