What are the advantages and disadvantages of working abroad?
As a British teacher working in China, here’s my take:
- Opportunities to travel. In my 6 years in China, I have worked in and traveled to no less than 25 Chinese cities.
- Broadening one’s horizons by learning about a new culture.
- The cost of living is very low and my accommodation is free.
- The ability to save a huge proportion of my monthly salary.
- The ability to get rental income from my home in the UK.
- Job security – the TEFL market and the Chinese economy are both currently very strong, which is more than I can say for the UK with all the Brexit chaos going on.
- Making new friends I might not otherwise have met.
- More autonomy. Public schools in China are pretty laid back and teachers get almost complete free rein to do anything we want in class, as long as the students don’t complain.
- The opportunity to write about your adventures and publish articles in blogs, magazines, websites, etc. (and get paid for it too!).
- Massages are commonly available in China and cover everything from a head or foot massage to a full body massage. Having a massage is a great way to unwind after a tiring working week.
- Culture shock – In comparison to Westerners, the people in China can sometimes seem uncivilized, rude, inconsiderate, etc. People smoke and spit everywhere. Vehicles don’t stop at pedestrian crossings. People cut queues. Etc.
- Boredom and loneliness – Foreigners in China can feel quite isolated. Your students re either too young or too busy studying to hang out with you and there are few other opportunities to make friends with the locals.
- Internet censorship – You’ll have to pay for a VPN to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and even Quora. Even VPNs aren’t reliable. The Chinese govt. appears ambivalent towards VPNs but when there is an important political event happening, they crank up the firewall, rendering even VPNs useless.
- Little job satisfaction – English is a much hated and (unless you aspire to study abroad in the US or have ambitions to be a teacher or tour guide) utterly useless subject in China and the amount of respect you get from the students reflects that. Knowing that your students learn English not because it is an important life skill but just to pass a mandatory exam.