Ian undertook an engineering and design development degree at Harper Adams University College. He is taking part in the ‘Teaching English in China’ programme, run by The China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) in Beijing. Ian is currently a spoken English teacher in a secondary school, teaching 15-16 year old students, and will be in China for a year.
What was your motivation?
A real variety of reasons: I really wanted to experience the culture of China. It was an excellent opportunity to live and work here, and experience Chinese culture not just by visiting as a tourist. I have travelled quite a few continents, and China was a place I hadn’t visited; I wanted to tick another box as it were. Also I didn’t want to go straight into a full-time job after university, or at least not one I would be in for the next 10 years or so. I wanted a structured gap year, rather than purely travelling.
What did the application process involve?
I applied directly to the CEAIE. I had seen the programme advertised on a careers circular that uni had sent. I applied for more information from Professor Thomas [he is the UK recruitment specialist for CEAIE] and he got back to me with a detailed contract. I then sent him my CV and covering letter, explaining why I was fit for the position; the whole process took around two months.
What did you do?
Initially, I was purely an English teacher. But I have since taught government officials and staff at a head office of a mobile phone provider.
How did you sell the experience on your CV?
I have sold it as successfully completing a challenge. It has been more of a structured gap year; I’ve had direction in what I’m doing.
Did you enjoy it?
I enjoy it 90 per cent of the time. Occasionally, it is incredibly difficult, either the job itself or adapting to a different culture and mentality. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed it.
What did you learn?
Before, I never saw myself as a teacher, but now I’ve realised how rewarding it can be. I can also get by in Mandarin.
During February I was given a month off as part of Chinese New Year and travelled round China. The most rewarding part has been the array of cultures in China.
I haven’t been able to return home – there is no Christmas holiday in China. A downside is not seeing my family and its new members.
Advice to readers?
Sit down and seriously think about what your reasons are for coming to China. Can you spend a large amount of time away from Western comforts? You’ll miss certain luxuries.