Interview with Sarah Eure, China Q & A

PERSONAL PROFILE

What is your name, age and nationality?

Sarah Eure, 22, United States.

What is your education level and background?

I am a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?

I have been to Puerto Rico, Israel, and China. I traveled to China several years ago for a study abroad trip, but this is my first time in Shanghai.

What motivated you to teach abroad?

I wanted to do something that was interesting and would allow me to see the world during my gap year before medical school.

What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?

I wanted to become more confident in front of crowds. I also wanted to learn how to improve my communication skills and patience. I feel that I have become much more confident and effective at communications. I have also become much more patient and empathetic.

Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?

I applied for the program with my boyfriend.

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

A girl in my sorority had taught abroad through TEFL Heaven in Mexico several years before I applied. She told me about the program and encouraged me to apply.

What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?

It is intimidating to move your entire life to a foreign country. I was worried about culture shock, and about the language barrier. Because I had been to China before, I was prepared for some of the problems I would face, but I was overall worried that I would not like living there as much as I had enjoyed visiting.

TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION

What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?

I thought teaching English as a foreign language would teach me valuable life skills and provide me with a stable job while I was abroad. I was familiar was TEFL Heaven because I knew someone who had done their program before, so it was an easy choice.

What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?

I wanted an immersive experience that was directly applicable to the students that I would be teaching. I also wanted time during the course to adjust to the country I would be living in before I started working.

Which TEFL program did you do?

I did the program in Shanghai.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?

I liked how hands-on it was. Within the first week of my course, I was planning lessons and teaching classes.

How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?

I felt extremely prepared. I had taught over ten classes of varying levels before I taught in my own classroom, so I knew what to expect.

How long have you been teaching in China and how long do you plan to stay?

I have not taught in my own school yet, but I plan to stay here between 1-2 years.

How did you secure your English teaching job?

My TEFL instructor referred me to multiple teaching jobs that I could apply for, and I chose the job that best suited my needs and preferences.

What type of school or organisation do you work for?

I am currently deciding between multiple job offers from top training schools in Shanghai.

What does a typical working week look like for you?

All training schools here have similar schedules; the weekend consists of Monday and Tuesday, and the work week is Wednesday through Sunday. Most classes are on Saturday and Sunday.

What age group or range to you teach?

I prefer to teach third graders.

What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?

Although I do not have my own class yet, I have taught classes in Chinese schools through TEFL. I love the energy and motivation to learn that my students have shown through their dedication to learn the material.

How did you get your work visa?

All schools in Shanghai work with the employee to apply for a work visa.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?

I used a Shanghai Housing Facebook group to find an apartment that is in the city center. I am living with a girl who I met in my TEFL program.

COUNTRY INSIGHT

Shanghai is a wonderful city that is perfect for a young professional. Although there is delicious authentic Chinese food, there are also a variety of western restaurants such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and KFC. The old Chinese culture and the new Chinese culture blend together seamlessly to create a unique experience. In Shanghai you can find the world’s tallest skyscraper alongside a temple. Most people travel by foot and the metro. The metro is extremely easy to use and efficient. There are many expat friendly bars and clubs, and there are always specials, especially during holidays. I would recommend this city to anyone!

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: $500

Food: $1000

Other bills: N/A

Social life: $100

Transportation: $100

Phone: $25

Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?

Although I have not yet chosen my school, I have been able to live comfortably on the money I saved before I came here.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS

What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in China?

If you want to move to a country that you do not know much about, ask for help from someone who does live there. In Shanghai, there is a vibrant expat community that has proved invaluable for learning about life in Shanghai. Try to make friends with the local people around you because they can provide insights on the easiest ways to do things. Do not let finances deter you from coming. The experience is more rewarding than any monetary incentive could be. Shanghai is a modern, clean city with a variety of different opportunities for young people who are willing to seek them out. If you move to a new city, do not be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. Although you can live a comfortable, westernized life here, the Chinese culture has a lot to offer. Try to explore the culture around you instead of relying on things you know. The experience is what you make it.

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