CIEE's Teach Abroad in China made it so easy for me to find a great teaching position abroad! They helped me connect with a school in Shanghai, my dream city! Both the US and China CIEE staff were there for me whenever I had a question about anything, from pre-departure documents and preparation to living abroad and my school. The in-country orientation was such a fun and great way to get acquainted with the country and the culture. We explored the hot spots of Shanghai, including the famous Yuyuan Gardens and Shanghai Tower.
Meeting my Chinese colleagues at the school exceeded my expectations. They were so kind, helpful, and generous upon my arrival. They made sure I had everything I needed to get settled in, and I could ask them for help with absolutely anything. While I had never taught before this program, my colleagues helped me quickly learn the curriculum and had me shadow some classes to get started. In all my classes, I also had a Chinese teacher with me to assist, which really helped me to adjust to any language barrier issues. My coworkers helped me quickly gain confidence as a teacher.
My experience was unique in that I taught during a calendar year, rather than an academic year. So my spring to fall semesters were very different! In the spring, I taught several age groups, from kindergarten to middle school. In the summer and fall I switched to teaching only kindergarten. My teaching experiences both semesters were very different but both exciting.
I had amazing experiences both in and out of the classroom. There is no greater feeling as a teacher than watching a student make progress in their language learning. I enjoyed playing learning games with my kindergarteners and having discussions in my middle school classrooms. I worked with a wide variety of age groups, which only kept me on my feet as a teacher and gained more skills.
Outside the classroom, I had the opportunity to travel and immerse myself in Chinese culture. I hiked to the peaks of both Huangshan and Huashan, walked the busy alleyways of the Muslim Market in Xi'an, marveled at the glorious karst mountains in Guilin, and saw the unique landscape of the "Avatar Mountains" in Zhangjiajie. Shanghai was an amazing city to live in: it has a mix of traditional Chinese culture, food, and architecture right next to modern skyscrapers with Western shopping and cuisines. It was crazy, busy, loud, crowded, and I couldn't have enjoyed it more. The hustle and bustle of this city was the highlight of my time abroad.
If you are looking for adventure, to be outside of your comfort zone, to try new foods and a new language, and to work with lovable children on a daily basis, this program is for you. CIEE placed me with a school that was very accommodating and helped me through the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture.
Deciding to teach abroad was one of the best decisions I ever made. It made me more confident in all aspects of my life. Living in another country and experiencing another culture has increased my global perspective and made me even more open-minded. It's an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. What are you waiting for? Go abroad!