When we interviewed Holly here about her time on the China Internship she had so much to say she needed another blog post! Here’s part two of China Intern, Holly’s globe-trotting adventures in Beijing. Here she gives information on what she does in her spare time, what NOT to pack and why life as a London broker is a distant memory!
What do you do and who do you socialize with in your spare time?
We socialize mostly on the weekends but sometimes in the week we go out to dinner with other teachers and rarely we head off to a club in the week, the hangover is just too painful to deal with when you are dealing with little children the next day. Most weekends we head into Beijing grab some dinner then head out to a bar (there are so many to choose from) then we head out to a club. Most clubs are open until 6am so you can even get the subway home if you don’t want to splash out 3 pounds on a cab! I live with a girl Sara and then we have Emma who lives down the road, we all work together so we are with each other 24-7, so, on the weekends we hang out with other TEFL teachers that we met through our TTC training but we have also meet quite a lot of people here who are just expats. The expat community over here is huge and you will never fall short of making friends over here. If you head over to San Li Tun you will make a new circle of friends every night!
What to pack/not to pack?!
DON’T pack your entire wardrobe. I know it’s tempting and you feel like you are leaving everything behind but the fashion over here is amazing and insanely cheap. You will pick up some many bits and bobs and then your backpack will be so full you’re going to have to leave things behind. All you need are some converses (or your everyday shoes) and some decent trainers to do lots of walking in. Bring a coat, it gets cold out here especially between November-February (-11 one night!) Bring a pair of jeans; if you’re a girl bring leggings, underwear and some tops. That is it. Everything else you can get out here and you will probably prefer it. The only other things I would say bring are home comforts, nothing big, for example mine is marmite so I bought some of that out with me as you can’t get it here but other than that you are good to go!
What is the best thing you’ve discovered about living in China?
The best thing about China? Woah that’s a tough one. I would have to say the people. Expats and locals, everyone is friendly. There is no London/New York feel to this city, no one is in a rush, no one is rude and everyone is willing to help you out. Us English aren’t the most inviting to foreigners in our country but we should really take a page out of Beijing’s book! If I’m lost on a subway, bus or train there are always people willing to help. Also, the people here aren’t as shy as you would expect them to be, the people laugh with you and will often come up to you in bars wanting to dance or just simply speak to you as they are intrigued by us. Even at my local supermarket a lady knows us and if she bumps into us anywhere else in our town she will make an effort to come say hello with a huge smile on her face!
How would you rate the experience out of 10 so far?
The only reason it isn’t a 10 is because it has been cold! Down south is supposed to be lovely though, but I haven’t had the time to go down there yet. That is definitely on my list of things to do next. The scenery here is amazing, the people are fantastic and there is always something to do.
If you had one piece of advice to give to someone thinking of embarking on a TEFL adventure – what would it be?
Before you go? Just do it! Don’t really think about it too much, it’s going to be a great experience and if you are an open-minded, sociable person you won’t have any problems! Also, don’t worry about things like not knowing the languages of where you want to go or the cultures because you pick up all of that on your way and it’s exciting.
For when you get to where you are? Be open and patient. You can’t always expect yourself to fall in love with a place within a few minutes. A lot of my friends, who I met during orientation, hated their placements the first few weeks. They then investigated the area, did things they knew they’d enjoy and now I don’t know a single person who is unhappy. The day our placements came out there were a lot of ‘tears and cheers’ but now everyone seems ecstatic with where they are, we also often compete with each other about who has the better placement!
Random question time:
Window, aisle or middle seat on a plane?
If I’m on my own, I’ll definitely go for an aisle seat! I hate being that annoying person who has to wake everyone up to go to the loo. If I’m with a friend though I’ll go middle because then I can lean on their shoulder. I’m pretty short as well so I can get all my legs up onto the seat and I just throw the blanket over my head and I can sleep for the whole journey!
Are you the same person as one year ago?
Hmm… I am but I’m not… I’m 21, so I’ve grown up a lot in the past year but my hobbies and interests have remained the same. My love for being abroad has only grown with age but I am now mature enough to actually ‘live’ abroad on my own instead of just ‘travel’. A year ago I was working for a finance company as a broker, just outside of London, so I guess things have changed quite a lot since then!
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
I have a tattoo on the back of my neck which I regret so much. I was about 14 and it was in Benidorm (seriously, get tackier right?) other than that no I don’t. I don’t even have any piercings just the standard earring one.
Phew thanks Holly! If you fancy yourself a hassle-free TEFL adventure make sure to check out our Teach and Travel China Internship!