The time before China


It had always been a plan of mine if I wasn’t ready to start working in Digital Marketing, I would go somewhere like China to teach English. This was something that I always had planned in my head, however I never thought that I would act on it let alone physically go.

In the start it was a bit of a busy time, from cancelling a trip to bring the money from that trip to ensure that we had enough money to come across with. This cancelling the trip came after telling our folks that this is what we wanted to do. We never thought that they would have been keen on us doing it, but with the support of both our parents it made the decision that much easier to start looking for some where in to teach English.

When we started the process of looking for schools, agencies or companies to work for, we had to make a final decision on where we actually wanted to teach. There was a lot of debate on where we should go even though we always thought of China. We contemplated everywhere from China, Russia, Cambodia and even Thailand, yet we went with out gut feelings and started looking for places to teach in China. With tons and tons of research, reading articles and blog posts even just chatting to other people, each person and article had their own opinions on what you should work for whether it be an agency, a training school or even a private or public school. It eventually came down to when we were chatting to one of my family members that she mentioned her son working at a company in China that was really good! We found out that the company called First Leap and did as much research that was physically possible to do on one company. I did so much research on First Leap that if something new happened I felt like I knew about it instantly. I made sure not to only look for the positives of the company but also look for the negatives. In my mind it was rather do more research and have more knowledge of the company than what is actually needed just so that I am able to set my mind at ease for what I am about to do. We eventually concluded that First Leap China was the company that we wanted to work for.

As much as we had set our minds on working for First Leap it was now the matter of fact of being able to apply for a position and hopefully get the jobs that we wanted. When it came to trying to see how we go about actually applying for the jobs, we went on to their Facebook page and just sent a message. Within hours we had a response with tons of very helpful information. The conversations continued for multiple weeks to answer every question that we had to put our minds at ease with everything from how do we do the application to the language barrier and how the classroom set out actually works – seeing as most schools in China have different ways of running a classroom.

The time had come where we had sent our CVs in to the company and now the process of waiting all started. It was a very nerve-racking time trying to figure out if we were going to get a position or not. What made the waiting even worse was that going across as a couple it was important that we were able to get positions within the same city of China. In about a month or so after multiple conversations, we were told that First Leap was trying to find a city in China that would accept two South Africans – apparently, the Chinese want their children to have a more American accent then anything else but also the fact that China wouldn’t recognize South Africans as native English speakers. We bounced around cities because we were rejected for different reasons obviously making you feel down and not motivated to go anymore, but the time had come where I was offered a position in Nanjing, China. Before having an interview via Skype, we had to do a demo video to show that we are able to teach as well as not sounding too South African. I was beyond excited to have this job offer that it was the only thing running through my mind for weeks! Time flew by and it was time for my interview, I made sure that I was set up and waiting easily 15 minutes before the meeting was scheduled for.

The interview was super nerve racking, but this is just who I am, before any interview or big meeting like this I always wanted to be beyond prepared. The interview was really normal compared to any interview for previous jobs, except all that was different was that it was on Skype and I had to do a live demo class for my interviewer. In the interview they discuss everything from working hours to salary to your holidays, so nothing abnormal of any other job interview.

Once I had received my official job offer, it was smooth sailing. There was no problem that we had to wait a few months and change our contract starting date a few times just because we hadn’t received our original degree certificates, but First Leap was incredibly accommodating towards the both of us.

We eventually had it that we had our degree certificates and it was time that we were now able to do the whole process of getting everything authenticated by the South African Consulate and then the Chinese Embassy. You would think that the process would be difficult but actually one of the easiest things that I have ever done, also because First Leap was there to help with everything each step of the way.

Now that we are here, I can’t believe that it was a good 6-8 months in the process of deciding to go and teach, picking where we will teach, finding a company in China, getting a job contract in China and ensuring all the document were done correctly. However, it is 6-8 months that I would go through again because the experience that we are having and the people that we continue to meet have made every moment worth it! I look forward to see what the rest of our contract has got in state for us.

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