I had worked abroad before, but never in Asia, so in early 2013 I decided to start looking for a teaching job in China.
Some friends recommended me to check Dave`s ESL café website for jobs in Asia, but even if I found many offers, the recruiting agencies were mainly Chinese and many of the schools were no name Chinese language centers that couldn`t provide me with a work visa.
I was growing frustrated with the lack of quality of the interviewers and of their job offers, when one day I came across Gold Star TEFL and everything changed overnight.
Jim, the interviewer, knew what he was talking about, and understood perfectly the dilemmas of a new comer to China, he had contacts with big name language schools across Asia and I received several good offers and signed for a job within days.
Soon after, I was ready to go! I worked in Shijiazhuang, a city close to Beijing for one year, and then moved to Shanghai to a new position that Gold Star helped me find, so now I`m teaching university students and I love it, both the job and the city!
I worked and lived for a year in a large city in northern China with only a few other foreigners and a majority of locals who couldn`t speak English, so I had to learn basic Chinese to survive: to order food in a restaurant or buy it from street vendors, to take a taxi, to buy bus or train tickets, to understand what my 3 year old students were asking for (like going to the toilet or drinking water). I had to learn to eat with chopsticks and forget about forks and knives most days and to learn to appreciate local Chinese specialties and either forget about cheese, sour cream, olives or decent bread, or try to order them online on expats food websites.
I taught the most adorable 3-6 year olds in the universe, but also had to learn how to deal with discipline issues with older students and with their parents, in such a different language and culture. I made Chinese friends I hope I will keep for many years to come and visited some of the most popular tourist attractions in northern China. I learned how to stay safe in a chaotic traffic and cover my face with a filter masque in really polluted days. And above all, I understood that I wanted to stay in China longer than a year.