Teach Abroad China

Benefits: 9
Support: 9
Fun: 9
Facilities: 8
Safety: 9

Without the support and guidance of CIEE, I can honestly say I would not have been willing to embark on this adventure. Prior to coming to China to teach abroad, I had never before been to Asia and the visa process was a complete mystery to me. I highly recommend that anyone considering teaching abroad - especially in China where the government requirements can be confusing and stressful - do it through CIEE. My program coordinator went above and beyond in her generosity with her time. She made herself available to me in phone calls and email and was so quick to answer any questions and concerns I had during the application process as well as in the months leading up to my departure. Whether it was working with me to ensure that my visa paperwork was completed accurately or taking my countless questions regarding life in China, what to pack, how to prepare, what to expect, etc, she was ready to help and made me feel as though she was personally invested in my journey which eased any anxieties I might have had about embracing this entirely new and unfamiliar experience. I have the highest regard for CIEE and their continued commitment to me even as I am now currently abroad. CIEE does so much more than just set you up for your time abroad; they have remained in touch during my time here and have proven that they are available to help with any concerns that might arise even after you are settled in China. I have taken advantage of the in-country CIEE staff on multiple occasions and it is incredibly reassuring to have them as an option to contact should I encounter an issue that I couldn't handle on my own. As someone who does not speak the native language, it is a comfort to know that CIEE staff in China are just an email or phone call away and willing to help with any questions.
When it comes to my decision to leave home for a year and commit to teaching overseas, my only regret is that I did not investigate the school I have been placed at very much at all. In the excitement of being offered a contract, I didn't look into the location or school as much as I probably should have. I would urge anyone who is about to accept a position abroad to take some time to really study their contract and the information provided about their school. Make sure you are fully aware of what you are committing to - the number of hours you will be expected to teach per week, any other responsibilities you will be given, and what your living accommodations will be. Don't be afraid to ask questions before signing the contract. Ask to be provided the email addresses of any previous CIEE participants who taught at the school and get their take on the job. Try to seek a firsthand account of what life at the school will be like as a foreign language teacher. What the school tells you about the living accommodations and work expectations will likely be vague and it would be extremely beneficial to hear what you are about to get into from someone who you can identify with. Do not hesitate to ask specific questions regarding living conditions. The CIEE participants currently employed by the school or who previously worked at the school will be able to give you a more accurate picture than the CIEE staff who are mediating the contract. Take the time to get in touch with these participants - CIEE will be more than happy to put you in touch with them.
Also, be sure to do research on the location of your school and make sure that the setting will be a good fit for you. My city turned out to be much smaller than I had anticipated and I do wish I had taken the time to read up on the city ahead of time. I know fellow foreign teachers who prefer the smaller population setting, but personally, I do feel isolated at times and would rather have accepted a teaching position in a city with more to offer in the way of an expat community, subway system, and perhaps access to some western or recognized stores or restaurants. These things might not be priorities for some, but personally I find myself traveling to larger cities on the weekends in order to escape the bubble of my smaller city.
So far my experience teaching abroad has been the most challenging, but also amazing time in my life. Every day brings new discoveries and cliche as it may be, I can already attest, three months into the adventure, that this experience has been life-changing. It's difficult to put into words the impact that teaching abroad has had on me - I am constantly learning new things about those around me and also things about myself that I never knew. Living and teaching in China is shaping my worldview and my self-esteem in ways I could not have predicted. To be living a world away from everything and everyone that is familiar to me and to be fully immersed in and engaging with a foreign culture day after day, has taught me invaluable lessons and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be here and to CIEE for making it a reality.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would