Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Biting the bullet in China. It's been a while since I updated as my entire life in China has been turned upside down. It's probably for the best, in any case it is what is. Well, I no longer have one of the best paying jobs in China. Boo Hoo. The owner of the license at the school I was running screwed me, and I moved both my home and my students.

Just when you think things are going as they should, ka boom! I knew I had problems with the owner of the school. The problem being, he was a hot head, and I can be that way too, I give as good as I get. I knew that but I didn't know that he would just totally ignore a contract he signed and not compensate me for the year and one half that I put in to the school. Let me explain as to be fair. I bought in with a partner for 30,000 yuan we paid him a percentage of net and rented a room from him, so he pulled out over 60,000. At the end of the contract we, my partner and I would become majority owners. Well that didn't happen even though the contract stated this clearly as a condition of fulfilling the contract's time period. In the end my students followed me so that might be equated to 60% of the business. Perhaps more, so now I have to pursue the license on my own and see if I can muster up enough guanxi to get it done.

I would say that this type of business relationship is not uncommon. I guess until you have the real deal, the personal experience it's hard to judge opinions about this aspect of doing business in China. I recall a peer at the university who ranted on and on about the perils of business in China. He professed that the mind set is, if you get cheated in business it's your own fault as everyone tries to cheat you in business. Of course this screams of stereotype, or generalization, but one does see and hear of it. I thought at the time his comments were painted with too broad a brush, however I am nearer his viewpoint now, having gone through it.

One thing I did right was have the rents on my apartment and classrooms due at the same time. That may sound strange, but it allowed me to get a big apartment and hold my classes at my home, for only a little more. The picture is the outside of my home/school. Thank God I saved my dough from that high paying job I "lost". A good plan pays off. Some of you, if you are thinking about China, might see the opportunity to increase your income and it can be done in various ways. Private tutoring is possible. Moonlighting on your off days, especially if you are a university teacher. There are many ways to do it. As I said before, the university teaching was a real challenge, caused by low level students and general malaise. I taught at "my" school for the more traditional perks of teaching, as felt after the gestalt! Now it is my only source of income as I was informed too late to get another university job here in Harbin.

Basically my lifestyle has completely changed in regard to schedule. I work three days per week, except this week which is the May Day holiday week. Those kids MUST be in classes. Here is a basic breakdown of what it has cost. I think this will illustrate the cost of living quite well. Home/school 2500 rmb per month about 312 dollars. Couch and two arm chairs 1100 rmb about 130 dollars. Four wood tables with 16 wood chairs 600 rmb. Curtains 12 dollars. Two Chinese speaking English teachers, about 800 rmb per month. My partner Michel 1000 rmb for the books and everything else she does. When I reach 100 students that will be pretty comfortable now I have an average Chinese salary after expenses.

There were lots of challenges over the last month, transfer the events in your environment and then double it. I hope to get to some specifics in the following posts about the manic landlord, the classroom search, the scumbag license holder and some of the good stuff too. Hey it's all good if you make it good. Just remember if I didn't like it I'd go home. It's a very interesting life, and many good things to enjoy. Till next time.

Larry aka worldtour


At 3:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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