Eating at restaurants and trying bizarre food was probably my favorite part of living in China.
However, if you don’t speak a word of Mandarin, going out to eat can be scary. Once you learn a few key phrases, though, you’ll be anxious to show off your skills to any Chinese server who will listen!
As a little kid, I loved getting to stay home from school when I was sick.
Why? Because I could sleep in until 9:59 a.m., waking up just in time to turn on “The Price Is Right.”
There’s something comforting about watching game shows.
It’s fun to watch people get so worked up over spinning a wheel or trying to eat food in under 30 seconds.
Without a doubt, my experiences working abroad have been the most valuable aspect of my travels.
From waiting tables in New Zealand to teaching English in China, working in foreign countries has given me an entirely new insight into another culture.
But since French is the first language I ever studied and France was the first country I ever visited, my love affair with the language is strong. For this reason, I regret never having worked in a French-speaking country.
I recently wrote a piece about how Chinese students are different than American students. Because it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you teach in another country!
Don’t be alarmed, though. In many ways, Chinese and American kids are very similar. If you have any experience teaching or babysitting in your home country, the knowledge you gained will undoubtedly help you when you teach overseas.
When you move to China, it’s easy to get swept up in the culture (and you should)!
Studying the language, finding the best parties in your new city, receiving affordable massages, eating dumplings, eating hot pot, eating fresh cucumber … Wait, what was I talking about again?
Maybe you’ve taught students in America. You might babysit on weekends. Or you hang out with your younger cousins a lot.
All of these experiences are useful when preparing to teach in China. However, there are certain aspects of Chinese children that are always surprising.
Chinese students differ from American students in many ways.
My favorite way to explore the United States is to jump in my car and take a drive.
However, we road trippers often feel bogged down by interstates. They are necessary evils, leading us to our destinations quickly, but boring us to sleep. (Often literally, if you’re not behind the wheel!) Interstates are simply obstacles we have to conquer in order to arrive at our historic cities, gorgeous hiking trails, or funky restaurants.
I’m married to a graduate student.
My husband, Daniel, is earning his Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Yes, he is the one who has to burn the midnight oil and pore over dull case studies. But it’s not all fun and games being the spouse of a graduate student, either. I don’t get to see him as much as I did when we both worked “normal” full-time jobs, and I let his stress affect me.
But students have access to a lot of benefits. And the best news for me?
I have been a bridesmaid not one, not two, but seven times.
Words can’t describe how incredible it felt to stand next to my best friends on their wedding days. The only thing that kept me from completely enjoying each experience was the cost.
Being a bridesmaid is expensive: the bachelorette party, bridal showers, lingerie shower, transportation to and from each event. And, oh yes, the bridesmaid dress.
When I opened the text message asking if I wanted to be in a video about Bao’an District in Shenzhen, I was hesitant.
“The video is about a Western girl who rides her bike around Bao’an,” Jason, the SDE employee, explained in his message. I assumed the “Western girl” was the role they wanted me to play, which put me in a bit of a pickle, because, well…I couldn’t remember how ride a bike.
Disciplining my students was the most challenging aspect of teaching in China.
However, learning to do it well was probably the most valuable teaching tool I acquired.
In my public primary school classroom, I typically had at least 50 kids per class. That’s a lot of energy to (attempt to) control. But I knew I needed the students to not just love me, but respect me.
You’ve just won the lotto.
All the money in the world is in your hands.
What do you do?
I know my answer.
First, I’d travel all around the globe in a giant private jet.
I mean, wouldn’t we all?
I’m the first to preach that immersing yourself in the local culture is the best way to take advantage of your time in China. However, during your time abroad, hanging out with Westerners can sometimes be as valuable as spending time with Chinese people.
I’ll admit it, I love a good birthday shindig. When I was a kid, I started thinking about my next party about six months ahead of time.
Now in my 20s, with more and more of my friends having children, I’m starting to realize birthday events are no simple affairs. People hire professional Disney Princesses, rent bouncy houses and order elaborate cakes. If you have three kids, throwing elaborate parties three times a year can quickly break the bank.