Getting about while living in China - TESOL abroad
There is a growing number of TESOL teachers flocking to China, to help students further their education in the English language. It’s become quite the trend. There are hundreds of thousands of native English teachers working abroad in schools and learning centres around the globe.
Living in China is amazing. Teaching TESOL abroad enables you to live a comfortable lifestyle amongst the culture, landscapes, nature, history and the people that make China what we all know and love. However, if you are a foreigner an have decided to reside in China, be prepared for a huge culture shock. Making the big step, and leaving your comfort zone, is not something everyone can do. Everything is completely different to the life of a westerner. From language barriers, the cuisine and the cultural differences, to the cost of living and the overpopulated cities are just a few things that you will instantly notice.
But don’t let this turn you off the idea of living in China.
Once you have settled in to your new home in China, and familiarised yourself with your surroundings, the next step is to ask yourself; “How do I get about?”.
China is a huge country. As a visitor on holiday, chances are you’ll have limited time, and jet from city to city, and take advantage of the efficient taxi system. But what if you intend to spend a significant amount of time there? Taxis can become expensive if you solely rely on them, so why not look into the local bus route, railway trains, the metro system or the underground subway.
Public buses are the most popular method of transport. Fares can be as cheap as 1RMB, and distance does not effect the price of the ticket. In the bigger cities, buses are usually air-conditioned, but as you may expect, quite crowded.
Railway trains are very punctual, and very cheap. However ticket prices change in relation to the type of seat you reserve. You can book a hard or soft seat, and even a hard or soft bed. I recommend a soft seat for long journeys up to 4 hours, and a soft bed if you plan to travel over 6. Tickets can be purchased from the station.
The Metro system in the larger cities are very hectic, and often underdeveloped in comparison to other major cities around the globe. However it does give you a quick option to hop from place to place. Also very cheap, as low as 1RMB, it provides a great option for shorter distance city trips.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an explorer, you will find your feet in your local proximity in no time. By foot is the best way to open up to the sites, and familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. However, if you are teaching TESOL abroad, you live just a little too far away from the school or learning centre, so take advantage of the local buses.
On final thoughts, no matter what option you take, whether it be local distance or a domestic flight to another city, China’s transport system is overall very efficient, and cheap. Be prepared for a crowded ride on public transport, and expect to stand in the buses and underground trains. You’ll soon pick up how the system works, and start relying on the cheaper solution to travelling.