I have found the TTC Program to be a mixed bag so far.
My in-country advisor (Jayne) has been really helpful, and any issues I have had (from serious placement concerns, to minor things such as finding out the best places of the Wall to visit when I had visitors in the country) have been resolved in a timely, professional and thorough manner.
The support the company gives is 24/7, and I feel like I can contact them about any issue. The same can be said for the support before I got here.
However, I do not feel the company is run as well as could be. For example, the issues of holidays has been confusing, with many interns apparently being told that they would have a week holiday sometime in the term, which would be the perfect time for travelling the country a little bit. However, we have two 3 day holidays instead, which makes travelling the country a little bit harder. Granted, I have at least 3 weeks before my visa runs out, after the teaching has finished, but for those who undertook the months physical training in Beijing, they will only have around 10 days to see the country after teaching before their visa's expire. The title 'teach and travel' is to some extent a misnomer. I was also told whilst in the process of booking the placement, and doing my online training, that TTC would offer excursions around parts of China during our time off that we could book our place on, and see more of the country, but it seems this is not the case.
Also, we were told during the 2 day physical training course at UIBE, that the teaching would just be conversational english, not grammar or anything like that, but I have found myself at my school to be teaching those very things too, which means I do not feel I was as prepared as I could have been.
Another issue is the money. We are paid 2000yuan a month, with TTC taking a fee for us working at the schools. It was only when they told us this, on the first day of the actual meeting in Beijing, that I was made aware that this was the case. They will say that the money is lower because we are just interns, which is fair enough, but in my school at least, most of the interns are working exactly as much, if not more than most of the full time foreign teachers, and earning perhaps a quarter of the wage, which is a bit frustrating. With careful careful budgeting you can make the money last you, but I do feel that those in Beijing could do with an extra allowance to counter the higher prices that the city brings.
On top of that, the visa situation is definitely a bit sketchy, as we were told during the orientation, in an official meeting, that our visa's were only student visas, and as such, if we were asked by the police, we are to lie and say we are on an unpaid internship, which is concerning to hear, when you are perhaps on your first big trip abroad and for a relatively long time.
On the other hand, I am really enjoying China. It is a massive culture shock, especially in terms of hygiene, but it is definitely an experience worth having. The people can initially appear to be unfriendly, but are in fact incredibly friendly and helpful on the most part. The food is amazing. There is always something to do and see here, from the small up to the magnificent. I am sure that the experience will hold me in good stead for the rest of my life.
I'm grateful to TTC for the chance to come here, but at the same time, the company could have been more upfront and honest about the issues I have highlighted and more, before we booked our placement. As the company are quick to tell you once you are here, they are for-profit and so want to entice you into coming to China through them, but at the same time more honesty about the cost of living, the payment situation etc would have been greatly appreciated.
Whilst they are easy to contact, and I completely feel that they would have my back in an emergency or serious problem here, I do feel they have been a bit disingenuous about the internship. Given the chance again, I would still come to work in China, but I would perhaps shop around a bit more to see what other options I might have.