After graduating with a degree in mathematics, accounting and finance, Lisa decided to take her career in another direction by teaching English in China. Find out what she learned from the experience
Why were you interested in working abroad, particularly in China?
During my last year of studying at the University of Kent, I made the decision to move to China to teach English with Enlai Education. I was interested in going to China because I wanted discover a new culture, immerse myself in a growing economy and understand how China has come to be a major player in the world economy in the last few years.
How did you research working abroad?
I only did some basics research before moving - for example, I looked into the population of the city I was moving to and researched its tourist attractions.
What arrangements did you need to make before going?
My first step after accepting my job offer was to provide the schools with my documents for a work visa. This can take up to a month if you don't have all your documents in order, so prepare them for your first appointment to avoid going back.
I bought my flight out for about £300, all of which was paid back to me at the end of my work contract. I was also given an additional £500 for my flight home.
What did your job involve day to day?
My working day ran from 3 to 9pm, as I was working in a private school where the children came after their public school. This also meant I worked on Sundays.
Each day consisted of around seven lessons, with a range of pupils from 3 to 8 years old. We had a ten-minute break between lessons to give feedback to parents, accompanied by a Chinese teaching assistant for translation. Lessons ran for 40 minutes each, with a maximum of 4 children per class.
What was China like? Did you find it easy to settle in?
I arrived in Chengdu, Sichuan Province at the end of August and started working a few days after my arrival. I visited my campus and met the staff working there, as well as the other English teachers, on my first day. I was then given a week's training where I learnt how to manage a classroom and prepare lessons and activities.
Settling in China was not difficult. It's a very easy country to move to and the public transport system is very convenient. I found it easy to travel to neighbouring cities, and very cheap to fly to other nearby countries like Japan, Thailand and Korea. I managed to visit five countries and a number of famous world heritage sites all over Asia while working the teaching job.
How does life and work in this country compare to the UK?
The life is different there in terms of how easy it is to occupy yourself. There's always something to do, whether you're visiting new places, meeting up with friends or going out to restaurants, cinemas, escape rooms and of course karaoke nights.
Technology in China is also far more advanced than what we have in the UK. Everything you in China is linked with an app on your phone, WeChat, which is used for messaging people, online shopping, finding out about events and most importantly making payments for just about everything. WeChat becomes a necessity once you're settled in China and you will soon come to love it.
How do you feel you benefited from working abroad?
Working abroad has many advantages. I've learnt all about Chinese culture, a decent amount of the language and experienced the Chinese work environment, which gave me an insight of how China has grown so far. I've developed a very open mind, which has enabled me to understand business from a different point of view.
Finally, I've made connections from all around the world, something I find particularly valuable as I've been able to network, share my experiences and learn from others.
Any advice for other students hoping to work abroad?
My advice to anyone who is thinking of going abroad to work is to just go for it. It's an amazing experience - I created wonderful memories, and China is a country everyone has to visit in their lives. It's so different to any place I have been to and I would definitely go again.
Find out more
- Learn more about becoming an English as a foreign language teacher.