Saturday, January 07, 2006

Teaching abroad offers so many great opportunities for to those who are brave enough to explore. You may find lifetime friends along the way. You surely will be seen as a unique person by all of your circle of friends, whether they are at home or in your new home. Let's talk a little about housing in China. If you are teaching at a university you will have at least a one bedroom apartment with kitchen living room area. Most of these places will have most everything you need. Most will offer bottled water, a washing machine, TV, internet. Most schools will post this information on their recruiting materials so be sure to take a look at what is provided. If you are more adventuresome, you may want to have your own apartment outside of your workplace. There are rentals that have some furnishing as some Chinese people invest in another apartment and rent one. So there may be some furnishings, a bed, desk, wardrobe.

Here are a few things to expect. You may have to pay for several months in advance. This is the practice not the exception. Everyone is used to 1st and last months rent, and perhaps a security fee, the idea of having to pay 6 months at once or even a year is surely new for most westerners. I paid for one year in my current place. My advice is to fully concentrate on your teaching for the first few months, save your salary as best you can so that you have the option of finding your own place. The majority of positions offer free housing. As this is a considerable expense for them, you may not get the highest quality place. This is one drawback, contrasting the type of apt. you may get at a university. They are usually quite modern as the building craze here is non stop. I have never seen so many cranes in my life. It's all about what you like and want. Most apartments have small bathrooms and kitchens, they usually share a wall for the plumbing. The bathrooms have a drain in the floor and you shower in the room, there isn't a shower stall in most. The hot water heater is usually in the bathroom mounted to the wall. Kitchen may not have hot water or another heater may be used but this is not common to have two. I have seen on-demand gas heaters in kitchens in Yi Chang.

Kitchens may be very small and narrow in older buildings. You can never tell what an apartment may be like from the outside as some interiors are really nicely furnished but the outside of the building may be less than attractive. Many kitchens and bathrooms may not have an electrical outlet, only a light, in older buildings. There may be only one outlet in your living room or bedroom. So the multi plug market is hot. If you are only signing a contract for six months or a year, your best bet is to take the housing that is offered. You may like your fellow teachers and enjoy the bonding. The advantage of having your own place is experiential, you get a better feel for the culture as you are living the same way as others. You'll know when it is time to make the move into a more independent situation. One investment I recommend is a small oven, if you like to make any of the things you make at home this is very helpful. Sometimes you just want roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, or a pizza with real cheese, or sticky rolls. Oh, be sure to bring the potato masher with you if you come as I have never seen one here in any store or street market. Yes, I admit it! I like potatoes better than rice!

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