Karishma Raja

Teach Enrich Empower

Karishma Raja - Teaching in China

Moving to China was a very bittersweet situation. Going to a place where the culture was different from home and the language was unfamiliar, but I loved it!

Every bit was amazing, I have been in China for 9 months and i am now back in the UK for summer. I will move to another location in China in September, to start another job. For those wanting to work in China, I think Shanghai is a fantastic first step!

A lot of people wondered how I would settle in China but everyone was so helpful even my neighbours, who spoke no English, invited me over for lunches and dinners. There were also many useful apps such as the Shanghai Metro Map, Pleco and Learning Chinese app. You’d be surprised how much Mandarin I picked up, and wherever i went i made the effort to learn the language.

I worked with kids aged between 3 and 15 years old. To teach in China the usual requirements are a 120-hour TEFL qualification, which I completed with The TEFL Academy. The course helped me with some ideas and tips for the classroom, but of course you should do your own research and you’ll pick up plenty of ideas along the way. The TEFL Academy provided excellent training towards my TEFL career. I especially enjoyed the 20 hours in class, as we had a range of activities to carry out. In particular I liked making up our own ideas and actually carrying them out, we also got in depth feedback on the day which meant we could improve on what we had done. Everyone was really friendly and were easy to communicate with, which was really satisfying. During the training we were given tips about countries all over the world which was also useful.

Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city and some say it’s the Paris of the East. I would say it’s pretty Americanised and reminds me greatly of New York City. It has the taxis, the Starbucks and many replicas of home comforts on every corner. Shanghai carries a lot of foreigners known as ‘laowais’.

In China, the respect of teachers is very high and if you choose to move the constant word I hear is “Laoshi” meaning teacher! During my kindergarten class, I had a grandma and granddaughter come up to me and my teaching assistant and thank us several times.

“This was honestly the best decision I have made.”

I know going abroad and worrying about finances can be an issue. Staying in Shanghai allowed me to make some savings, but of course my priorities were to travel and so I saved and spent money on rent and travelling and still had some left over. Rent in Shanghai can be a bit expensive, but you can expect a higher wage than other parts of China. When getting my pay at the end of the month, it felt like I hadn’t even worked a day because I enjoyed myself so much working in Shanghai and getting a fantastic feel of China.

I managed to travel so much being in Asia; I did plenty of weekend trips to Taiwan, Japan, HangZhou, SuZhou, Nanjing, Guilin, Sanya, Xian and many more places. I also did longer vacations to Australia, around China, India etc.

This was honestly the best decision I have made and it will be a memory of a lifetime: fun, rewarding and a few challenges along the way! A decision you will never regret, so what are you waiting for? Go abroad and experience this for yourself!

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