Hi, my name is Dave and this week marks my 5th year living and teaching in China. The past 5 years have been the best 5 years of my life so far. I’ve met some extraordinary people and had some of the best adventures of my life here.
From Canada to China
It all began after I graduated from The Robert Gordon University with a 2nd class honors degree in Architectural Technology. Soon after working in a Jewish community care home, I headed to Canada to seek my dream job as an Architect. I found a role at a prestigious firm in Vancouver and earnt good money for working 60+ hours a week. I thought this was happiness, however in hindsight my hours didn’t allow me to do much else in Canada. My expat friends used to invite me out on trips which I always had to turn down because I had to meet a tough deadline at work.
My world soon came crashing down, when I received a letter from the Canadian government stating that my work visa had expired. I had to leave the country right away, or face prosecution. Choosing the former, I packed up my life in Canada and headed back to Scotland within a week.
I arrived home feeling dazed. Stepping out of a high-pressured job and fast paced lifestyle into my sleepy costal hometown wasn’t easy. I began looking at my options and wanted to get back into Architecture as soon as possible.
From Architecture to Teaching in China
I read that China’s economy was booming and they were building things faster than they could design them. So, I contacted architectural firms in China and they told me I needed a basic level of Chinese, which I didn’t at the time. I then began considering spending a year teaching in China while learning Chinese to later apply for architectural jobs.
I researched agents who could help me find a job in China and I came across Teach English In China. They seemed like a professional company and the stories of other people’s experiences were really useful. So, I applied online and had a telephone interview. I felt the company really knew the industry well and that they only send people to safe and established schools in China.
Soon after applying with Teach English In China, I was interviewed by and offered a position with a school in Wuhan. I was given a contact person in Wuhan to help with any problems, which made me feel more secure. Teach English In China invited me to attend an ESL workshop in London, however the training school wanted me to start work in China before the course. Instead, I managed to arrange a meeting with Arnold before I left, which showed me he cared about individual applicants.
Arriving in China
I landed in Wuhan China at 8pm on July 4th 2012. There was definitely culture shock, but I was surrounded by people who had been through it all before and were really helpful to me.
Within three months of teaching in China, I knew this was what I truly wanted to do over Architecture. The kids were so much fun to work with. Even when I wasn’t feeling energetic they’d always make me laugh and brighten me up. Words can’t describe the feeling of watching them develop and getting better at English because of you. It really is the most amazing way to leave your mark on the world.
My first year was probably the most challenging, but also the most fun. It was hard getting to grips with a new industry and a different culture, however I spent my free time going on adventures and experiencing new things. The school I work for is really supportive and prides itself on developing and taking care of its staff. At the end of each week, I would head back to my apartment to freshen up and then head out with my work mates for food and a few drinks. We never knew where the night would take us. We would always end up meeting other expats and going with them to house parties and other bars. Meeting people from different places showed me the importance of respecting others’ opinions. I continue to learn from other nationalities around the world even to this day.
After the First Year
During the two and half years I was in Wuhan, I met and fell in love with my now fiancé Nikka. She’s from the Philippines and worked for the same company as me in Wuhan. We traveled all over China and South-East Asia together.
After two and half years in Wuhan we wanted a move as we had hit the ceiling of development in our schools and had experienced everything we could from Wuhan. Fortunately, our school is part of a large company, so we were able to easily transfer to the Chengdu branch.
We both transferred in as senior teachers. Within 10 months, I received a promotion to the Director of Studies of a brand-new centre, where I am today. Soon after I was promoted, Nikka also became a Director of Studies. This year I won the Star Director of Studies award in the city, which made me very proud.
Everyday teaching in China is a blessing to us. We work 40 hours per week and live a much better life than I did in Canada and the UK. We are currently saving for our wedding on November 18th and we recently signed new contracts to stay out here longer.
Moving to China was the best thing I have ever done with my life. If you are reading this and you want a change, get in touch with Teach English In China right now.