Pros and cons of living and working in China…thus far

Let’s go with the cons first, because I know that’s what most people like to hear about.

View of Hefei at night from my apartment.

CONS

1. Spitting. Spitting everywhere. In elevators, on bathroom floors, literally everywhere. Inside, outside, doesn’t matter. I have to watch my step or I’m gonna step right in someone’s loogie. Makes me wanna puke.

2. Staring. Okay, I get it. I’m not Asian. I’m curvy. I have crazy hair, even for a Westerner. But most people here have no pride when it comes to staring. They simply won’t look away, even if I mean-mug the shit out of them. Sometimes they even stop walking and turn around to watch me walk away. (Usually men that do that.) And it makes my blood BOIL.

3. Working hours are absolute shit. It’s not that I work a ton, but classes spaced throughout the day. So while I’m TECHNICALLY working a normal 40 hour week, I’m at school most of each day, 6 days per week. Which means no time to travel….which is like the whole reason I’m here. So that’s probably the worst con of all.

Pro/Con

1. Location. I have EVERYTHING I could possibly want here, which I’m happy about. Tons of restaurants, gyms, supermarkets. But I’ve never been a big city girl. I like to see trees, mountains, water, clear sunsets and sunrises. I definitely don’t have that here, and it’s a little disheartening. But luckily, they have great transportation and I can get pretty much anywhere I need to be fairly quick.

Note: I had amazing views where I taught in Nepal. But NOTHING that I needed was close. So I know first-hand that it can be frustrating either way, and having both is a bit of a dream scenario.

2. Bathrooms. Most of the toilets are squat toilets (the ones on the floor.) And I actually prefer them. I don’t sit on public toilets even in the States because they’re fucking disgusting, so squat toilets make it easier to not piss on yourself. Lmao. HOWEVER. The squat toilets are only preferable when they’re clean, which isn’t often. Sometimes there’s shit just sitting in there. And there’s piss all over the floor. Add the fact that toilet paper can’t be flushed here — it has to be thrown in the trash — and you have one smelly ass, nasty ass bathroom.

PROS

1. The job. Other than the hours, I love it. I have the freedom to be creative with my lessons, and I’m given complete control over the classroom. I do have a Chinese assistant in class with me, but she simply sits in the back grading papers, and only assists if I need it (which I haven’t, yet.) I also feel very valued here- more than I have in any other job. Which makes me enjoy it more.

2. Cost of living. It’s amazing. I get paid 10,500 yuan per month, which only equates to a little over $1500. BUT my apartment, Wi-Fi, and electricity is completely paid for by the school. I only pay for gas and water, which isn’t much. So that means that I get about $1300 as spending money. And everything is cheaper here. So I’m not living badly.

3. The people. All the foreign teachers have been super nice and inclusive. I’m always invited out to their events, lunch, dinner, etc. English teachers generally get a bad reputation, so I was very surprised at how nice they all are. The Chinese teachers are also nice, but they don’t go out much and they’re a bit shy to speak to us.

4. My apartment. As I stated before, I have absolutely everything I could need. I honestly wasn’t expecting much. But I even have a washing machine, which is probably what I’m most thankful for.

5. No one has called me fat. Yes, this is on the pros list, because I get it whenever I’m in Asian countries. I’m still not ruling it out, but it’s been almost 3 weeks and it hasn’t happened yet, so I’m ecstatic. (In Nepal, it was almost an everyday occurrence.)

6. Clothes fit me here. I know, I’m surprised too. I went to the mall yesterday and was beyond happy to discover that not only did they have my pant size, but I was only the SECOND largest size in the store. Rofl. I’m only a size 6–8 in the States. So if your size is bigger than that, you’re SOL for pants. Shirts are easy to find for bigger sizes because the style is loose-fitting here. So I wear a small/medium in their shirts.

7. FOOD. The above two pros won’t be applicable for long because the food here is fucking orgasmic. Seriously. Haven’t tried anything I haven’t liked yet. And EVERY place delivers. Not even an exaggeration. I could get in trouble here. Lmao.

NOMS

8. My “foster” cat. Foster is in quotes because I’m likely gonna take him back to the States. Lmao. He’s seriously the sweetest cat I’ve ever had. He sleeps under the blankets with me at night, and I always wake up holding him in my arms. I’m so happy I got him, especially since I’m alone here. Having a pet always cheers me up. :D

In my opinion, the pros highly outweigh the cons, and I’m very happy to be here. But it’s killing me that I haven’t been able to get out and take photos or see any of the natural beauty of China yet. But I know I will, so I need to just be patient and save my money in the meantime. :D

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