- Alexis Martinez | Bowling Green State University
Lovely in every way!
I have been a Foreign English teacher in Zhangjiajie, Hunan for six months now and every day is still exciting. At times I find myself looking at the beautiful mountains and I still can’t believe what I am seeing. I think this is one of the most beautiful spots the world has to offer.
My life in China is completely different than what I was used to in America. I had to get used to the food, the time difference, the language, the afternoon naps, and being a teacher of students who are just learning English. I’ve learned so much and have fallen in love with this culture.
I came to China not knowing a word of Mandarin, not even “Hello.” I wasn’t sure I would be able to learn, being that it is one of the hardest languages in the world. When Chinese is spoken around you all day, every day, you cannot help but pick up the language. Learning the language started to become daily accomplishments. I like to study phrases, practice them with a Chinese friend, then go outside to try and order food or buy things on my own. When I am understood, it feels so good and makes me want to learn more to communicate with the people around me. Even when I started learning, everyone I met was so patent and willing to help me out. After six months I have learned quickly and am able travel and do day-to-day tasks on my own. Being within the environment helps learning Chinese significantly.
My students are what has made my experience the most satisfying. On my first day of class, they were filled with excitement and curiosity to learn from me. After six months their excitement has not faded. This was my first time teaching, so I had to find the best teaching style that works for me. I got to be creative with my lessons, try new things every week, and share my life and culture with my students. My students respect the fact that I left my home country to teach them English and value their time with me. I can see their oral English has improved by having a foreign teacher. They also help me with my Chinese. They’re great kids with so much personality, I won’t ever forget my first year as a teacher.
I am loving the experience so much that I have decided to stay another year. China is such a beautiful place and I want to extend my time here to see more of the country. I am beyond happy with my choice to move here. I have learned so may new things. Above all, I learned to be self-sufficient and that is something I gained by both living and teaching in China. I know I will cherish these experiences for the rest of my life.
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