Teaching English in Asia sounds like an amazing opportunity when you are sitting in your cubicle screaming “I hate my life” for the third time today. It is a great opportunity, but let’s be real, nothing is ever as good as it seems. I’m writing this article to look past the amazing Instagram account of your ESL Teacher best friend and bring some of the things to light that you should consider before teaching English in China.
1. Compounding Salary
If you plan on teaching English in Asia you are missing out on the benefits of having your salary compound over time. For those who don’t know what this means this is the reality that over time we get paid a premium just for sticking it out at a job.
We all know that when you start working in a field in the U.S. experience means everything. Well.. I hate to say that teaching English in Asia doesn’t translate to anything of much value back home. So don’t come to Asia thinking you are going to boost your resume.
Some ESL teachers will try and sell you a bunch of lies about it being an actual career, but I have yet to speak to anyone who has had much long-term growth in their ESL job.
2. “Start-Up Costs”
There are “start-up costs” to moving across the world. It would be naive to think that it’s all a financial cake walk. It isn’t just the act of packing your bags and moving without saving a dime. I would recommend saving at least 4 months of your projected living expenses before stepping on the plane. I would also recommend always having enough money saved for a return flight home… just in case.
Other “start-up costs” include VISA costs, an apartment deposit, & cell phone plans. I even had to purchase a private health insurance plan because my employers plan was SKETCHY.
Let’s face it! Asia is a hell of a long ways away from America. It’s not a quick journey. You can pretty much expect not to be coming home too often. That’s a ‘cost’ that should always be considered. You can’t make it to every wedding, Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving dinner, or Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich release. It’s just a reality.
I also wouldn’t put high expectations on people coming to visit you either. Many will consider it, but few, if any, will actually do it.
4. The Hustle
Making money in Asia is a different game than making money in America. If you were the type of person that always had a “side hustle” in America, you will survive in Asia. If not, then you better hope you get a damn reliable employer.
As an employee, You don’t have a lot of the “protections” that western society has for its workers. Therefore, you have to be your biggest lawyer, human rights activist, and cheerleader. The beautiful thing is that EVERYTHING is negotiable. If you have a salary you don’t like, it’s probably because you didn’t demand a higher one. If you get a shit schedule it’s because you didn’t fight for a better one.
5. Culture Shock
I never thought my perspective on the simplest things would be challenged so much until I moved to Asia. The food, the music, the interactions between people, the family dynamics are ALL drastically different.
This can actually be a good thing. You just have to be open-minded and willing to accept what you cannot change.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. – Reinhold Niebuhr
So that’s it! 5 things to consider before teaching English Abroad in China. If you would like to add to this list please post a comment below.