Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Getting the Job (Part 1 - Choose your country - Examine China)

This is the start of my series Getting an expat teaching Job.

First off I think the most important aspect of this adventure is to consider closely which country you would like to go live and teach English in. This is an important factor because it will not only determine what your daily life will be like, but also the amount of salary you will earn along with the type of benefits you will receive.

I am going to examine three countries in particular; China, Japan and Korea. Let me say for the record that I am not an expert on this and can only give you my opinion, which is related to my research. Within this examination I will try to cover what I believe are important factors for choosing your home away from home.
  1. Location (resources to outsiders, infrastructure, treatment of foreigners).

  2. Salary (how much, what is deducted...)

  3. Benefits (free airfare, free housing, free or partial health care, etc)

When I first had the desire to go live abroad my initial choice was China. However due certain conditions that affect my daily life I ended up not choosing China. However, this kind of choice for you is dependent on your necessities in life.

I. Let's Examine China:

China is an amazing country and of course that is an understatement. The country has thousands of years behind it with culturally diverse cuisine and language throughout its borders. But is China a good choice for an expat? Some questions I asked myself when considering China were:
  • Does China have a good hospital system (due to I have a chronic yet stable illness)?
  • We all know China is very polluted. Therefore would I like to live in a very polluted area?

It is obvious that my questions have to do with health. And without doing any research I came to the conclusion...that China is not a healthy place to live. Nor does it seem stable.

But don't take my word for it. Here a recent teacher from China explains the ups and downs and also how to best go about getting a job in China.

During my search period I looked for legitimate recruiters from China to help me get a teaching job. But most of the companies I found charged me a fee. This was not one of my goals. Also it seemed some companies did not tell you your final destination of where you would be teaching in China until you got there. So this too was a red flag for me.

Survey Says:

  1. Location: While China does offer a unique culture, has a huge lot of cultural heritage sites to explore and also offers up fantastic cuisine it is also embedded within a society that is still drastically coming to age with the modern world. If this is your cup of tea than I say go for it! But I for one want a western toilet, a functioning infrastructure and a guarantee my lungs aren't going to collapse.
  2. Salary: Basically I am going to quote what Smitha Murthy wrote in her blog.

" Don’t be persuaded by glib claims that the average salary of the Chinese teacher is only half of yours. Maybe true, but then the average Chinese teacher hasn’t left his country. So state your price, especially if you have a fancy degree. Inquire about your living conditions. Does your apartment have heating or an air conditioner? Small matter, but considering that I nearly froze to death in winter when the school decided to switch off the heating, you would feel cozier if you know these details. "

Therefore the salary seems like it could be a mixed bag...depending on your negotiating skills.

Here is a Chinese recruiter website that details salary, which looks like about $500 USD a month with just the basic requirements. This isn't much in my opinion and may be a generalization.

3. Benefits: From using that same website here are some details. Airfare is reimbursed, which means you will pay first then get paid back later. You get holiday pay travel expense and they say the include free housing.

Conclusion on China:

Remember I have never been to China and that working in China could be a very blissful and stress less time for all I know. However when you start looking at Korea and Japan you start to realize what a better deal these other countries become. To me it seems that getting a job in China has a lot of work to go through before you are finally given something reasonable. Of course many out there may seek the kind of adventure where they want to truly immerse themselves in a whole other political, social and cultural system, which I believe China can offer 100% all the way.

Stay tuned for PART II: Let's Examine Japan!

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