My name is Megan and I am from the United States. I have been a member of Girls Who Travel for quite some time. I have had a passion for traveling since my first trip abroad to England, Ireland, and Wales when I was in middle school. When I went to the university I studied foreign languages and language education and got the opportunity to study in Spain for a semester, and two summers in Russia.
So, naturally once I got my teaching degree and teaching licenses for English as a second language and Spanish, I wanted to get some international teaching experience. I decided to try teaching in China since there are many private schools and international schools that want to hire teachers from the United States.
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How Teaching In China Turned Into A World Of Adventure
I had originally only planned to go for two years, but then I met my amazing husband my second year there and we decided to make China our home for a while until we could get married and my husband could get his US immigrant visa.
I am very fortunate that my husband also shares my passion for travel. We have a couple’s travel goal to see all eight man-made world wonders. Our travel plans were put on hold for quite some time during COVID, but since around October 2022 we have been able to travel to all the places we had planned. We were very fortunate to be able to take a six month break once we finished our contracts in China. We used this time to travel while we were waiting for his US immigrant visa to finish processing. We currently live in India with my husband’s family.
Tips For Teaching In China
I very much enjoyed my experience living abroad and teaching in China. I got to meet so many people from around the world, travel a lot, and earn a good salary. One of the biggest perks is getting a lot of opportunities to travel. I would get approximately 11 weeks off per year and make a salary way above the average cost of living in China, so I was also able to save a lot of money. I worked at a kindergarten in Beijing, which I loved, for 6 years. I still miss my co-workers, students, and friends there.
Unfortunately, China has become stricter when it comes to teaching English, and it is more difficult for people to get teaching jobs who are not from the designated native-English speaking countries. But it is not impossible! My school did obtain visas for teachers from many different countries. You need a teaching degree and/or a teaching license, and experience to get hired at top international schools. But if you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject you can do a 120 hour TEFL program and get a job at private schools.
Be prepared for a very big language and cultural barrier. I would recommend learning basic Chinese and keeping an electronic translator. I can speak basic Chinese, but sometimes people could not understand my accent, so an electronic translator was very helpful.
You also need a VPN to access sites like Google and Facebook. Astrill is the best VPN in my opinion. They also use their own banking system in China, so our foreign credit cards only work at five star Western hotels. Its is important to be aware of that. If you work there you will eventually get a Chinese debit card and Chinese bank account, but when you first arrive be prepared with cash and a debit card you can withdraw money from ATMs with.
Make sure to research your school and verify that they are reputable. If the school does not offer accommodations, be prepared: renting apartments can be tricky. It is possible that a landlord will ask for four month’s rent upfront, a security deposit, plus three month’s rent. I paid three month’s of rent at a time instead of monthly. And if you use an agency they will charge an additional fee equal to one month’s rent when you sign the lease. I would strongly suggest using a landlord and ask the school to help you contact one. You want a school that will help with all of this.
Also, be aware that there are air pollution problems at times. It is getting better, but it is still a good idea to have air purifiers in your apartment. Make sure your school invests in purifiers for the classroom, and PM 2.5 masks to wear outside on pollution days.
Wechat is how everyone communicates in China, so this APP is very useful.
If you can get through the initial set-up and find a good school it can be a wonderful experience to work abroad. You can make many friends and travel a lot. But I will caution you: I would not do it long term because there are often no retirement benefits with these types of jobs. My husband and I will move to the US soon because we want to start planning long term.
The Great Wall Of China
The Great Wall is by far my favorite place to visit in China. I have been to five sections: Mutianyu, Badaling, Simatai, Lakeside, and Old Dragon Head where the Great Wall meets the sea. The Great Wall is comprised of many sections spread out around China, but most of the main ones are near Beijing. I feel so fortunate I got to live there so I could see different sections, and see the wall during different seasons.
My absolute favorite section is Mutianyu Section. It is the best-preserved section of the Great Wall, and it is less touristy. Most of the big tourist groups tend to go to Badaling Section. My favorite season to see it in is the fall.
My husband and I did our Great Wall photo shoot on Mutianyu Section during the fall and it was amazing. We like to do photo shoots at our favorite places to travel.
If you are interested in getting pictures at the Great Wall, this is the Instagram for the photography and makeup company. They were amazing and even made us a beautiful printed album. It was a little pricey, but my husband and I felt it was totally worth it.
We stayed at the Home of the Great Wall Retreat, which was a lovely hotel up in the mountains with delicious food.
Just beware: there are many bugs in October, and some would get into our room.
If you are visiting China, I highly recommend using a tour company, because it can be very confusing on your own. You can tell the company you prefer to visit Mutianyu and stay a night out by the Great Wall. They can arrange that for you. They even have camping trips for the Great Wall, but I am not into camping. China is a beautiful country with so much to see, so I definitely recommend visiting it at least once. I lived there for nine years and couldn’t see everything China had to offer.
Honeymoon in Egypt and Jordan
A trip to Egypt became my lifelong dream when I studied ancient Egypt in second grade. I was thrilled when my husband and I were able to go there together for our honeymoon. We booked the trip through Memphis Tours, and I cannot recommend them enough. We had no issues with scams or other things people typically complain.
We went to Cairo, Luxor, and Sharm al Sheik in Egypt, then we went to Amman, Umm Qais, Petra, and Wadi Rum in Jordan. We went to the Pyramids and Petra two times each, so we had plenty of time for photos, to soak in all the history, and just enjoy admiring them.
We had an amazing photographer during our pyramid trip. A four- hour photo session with him along with a beautiful printed Egypt themed album and 100 digital photos was included in the price of our tour. So, if you want a photographer sure to tell Memphis Tours when you book! Here is his Instagram if you want to use the same photographer.
We also had an amazing time at the Red Sea. I cannot recommend snorkeling there enough. I felt like the Little Mermaid, and Ras Mohamed Island did not look real, it was so beautiful.
October is a great time to go to Egypt and Jordan. We did our trip at end of October and early November, and the weather was perfect – not too hot and not too cold. We also had an amazing two- day tour of Petra with an awesome guide. This is his Instagram, in case you want to book a tour with him. His cousin actually did my hair and make-up for our Petra photo shoot.
Long story: I needed a new make-up artist ASAP, and our tour guide’s cousin and her mom were available. They did a gorgeous job with my hair and make-up. I am not sure if they still do it, but you can always ask if you are in Petra and want make-up done. This is their Instagram.
We also got to stay in many awesome hotels recommended by the tour company. In Egypt, I would highly recommend the Sheraton Cairo Hotel and Casino, the Sonesta St. George Luxor Hotel, and the Savoy Sharm al Sheik Hotel. In Jordan, I would highly recommend the Intercontinental Amman Hotel, and the gorgeous Memories Aicha Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum. The panoramic luxury suite at Aicha camp is pricey, but perfect for a romantic trip. It was the best trip of our lives!!! I’d highly recommend Egypt, Jordan, and the Memphis Tour Company.
The Taj Mahal
I currently live in Tamil Nadu, India, in my husband’s hometown in the southern part of the country. I absolutely love living in India. It is a beautiful country with so many amazing things to see.
I would recommend going with a guide since it can be difficult if you are alone or unfamiliar with India. I have my husband and his family, so I have an easier time here.
The Taj Mahal is my absolute favorite place to visit in this country. I would book at least two days to see it and really enjoy it. If you are with a group tour, make sure they will spend a lot of time here. I prefer a private tour for the Taj Mahal.
October and March are typically the best months when it comes to weather. We went in November and had a lot of stress because there was heavy smog rolling in from crop burning and pollution. We could not do the sunrise photos we had planned due to the smog, but fortunately the it wore off and we could get great shots between 8 and10 am.
Other good things to know is that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, and Thursdays are very crowded. The best times to visit are early in the mornings Monday-Wednesday, and not during holiday times. The Taj Mahal changes color depending on the time of day. At sunrise on clear days it appears gold. I went at sunrise with a friend in 2015 before I met my husband, and it was incredible. My husband wants to go back when there is a full moon to see it under moonlight, but this has to be really planned out.
We had an amazing photographer, guide, and make-up team while we were there. These are their Instagrams, in case you are looking for a great team for a tour, for photos, or to get all glammed up. This is my photographer’s Instagram, our guide’s Instagram, my make-up artist’s Instagram, and my hairstylist’s Instagram.
If you enjoyed my article and want to see more pictures or have any questions you are welcome to add me on Instagram.