23-year-old Englishman living and teaching in Guangzhou, China for one academic year
Like many young adults in the Western world I am an unemployed graduate! I studied history at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and after brief forays into the world of estate agents and catering I toyed with the idea of studying law but eventually settled on teaching English as a foreign language abroad. I chose China as a country to go to and I find myself in Guangzhou, just north of Hong Kong. I hope you enjoy my blog recounting my experiences of teaching and living in one of the most exciting countries on earth over the course of a year.
Education systems vary the world over and it's easy to think that everybody does it better than we do. The grass somehow looks greener in a foreign classroom. In China, as the end of term approaches, the priorities skew towards classes getting the highest possible marks. Passing the exam is exaggerated beyond belief and the system doesn't look the least bit green.
Only last year there were some internationally newsworthy riots in Xintang, my neighbouring town, sparked by the beating up of a pregnant woman selling fruit on the street. She was from the Sichuan province and the whole of the local Sichuanese population rose in anger.
From the back I could quite easily be taken as Chinese. I have dark hair and a medium build, but some of my peers, whom are particularly tall or who have blond hair, are seen as celebrities. In tourist spots we are asked to have pictures taken with young children or families who will remain complete strangers.
For someone like me who is actually in China assisting in the education of future international businessmen and women, I believe that the system is not preparing its youngest and brightest well enough to succeed on an international level.
I remember from school and university that the Chinese students I came across had traditional, even old-fashioned names like Derek or Geoffrey. This has changed. My children include a handful of Cinderellas and Disneys, one Snow White, one Dragon and lots of Candys, Yo-Yos, Sweets or Cocos.
It was Easter when I decided not to take up my university place for a law conversion course, increase my debt and still be unemployed. Instead, I invested £900 in a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course (TEFL) in order to follow my girlfriend East.
11/11/2011 22:29 GMT
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