(The author of this article Mr. Preston Ivan Lewis in picture above, is an English teacher at Yiling High School International Program)
In Yichang, I live in a two-level apartment – living room, kitchen, and bathroom with washing machine downstairs, and a bedroom and bathroom with shower upstairs. There are heating and air units on both levels. I’m on the eleventh floor so I keep my drapes closed due to a fear of heights. I occasionally let some light in during the week.
The city is interesting. A few customer-service people and order-takers can work with an American customer but the vast majority have no English skills. Transportation is by taxi or bus – both very convenient and inexpensive. A short taxi ride (1-3 miles) is about 91¢ and a bus runs 24¢. There’s not a great selection of American food. We have KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds. There are two Walmarts but they are only vaguely like the American versions. In a way, that’s a good change. I’m a Mexican food connoisseur and there are zero restaurants for that. American Chinese food is not the same as the authentic local cuisine so I prepare my own food in my apartment daily from purchases at Metro locally and Taobao.com online.
For Chinese people, the costs of different products may be high, but coming from the United States, I find Chinese prices pleasantly low—the cost of living in China is affordable. Local food is cheap and delicious.
Mr. Lewis with a lovely monkey in Yichang
The Yiling High School is intimate. As a teaching staff we have great communication. The students are very responsive and make academics a priority. It’s a very personalized environment, plus as teachers we have excellent support from the Chinese teachers. Currently class size is small – 6 to 18 students in a class. Most students come into the program knowing some English and a few almost proficient. It’s a large campus with housing available but most students live at home. Our jobs include public and community relations where we have opportunities to teach classes to prospective students plus meet and socialize with parents and government officials. The Chinese people are very social and enjoy banquet-styled gettogethers and the American teachers receive lots of invitations.
China has become incredibly attractive for good reason to millions of people around the world as a place to live and work. It has a rapidly growing economy, with many companies now becoming world leaders or at least major competitors to already existing ones. It is loaded with exotic places. You will find yourself in challenging situations, and learn to live in an alien culture. This is enriching in terms of experience. China’s culture is different from the western one, but it is also the number one reason to visit or even move to this beautiful country. As a western person, you will find it beneficial not just in terms of your career, but also in terms of the cost of living—the prices are more than affordable—and the limitless new experiences you will gain on a daily basis.