China or Thailand for a TEFLer?

So many people who have been in ESL or other international work have such interesting stories to tell, there are a lot of negatives in living and working internationally (especially if one is not on a full ex-pat package), but it is usually not boring!

While the grass often seems greener elsewhere, one should be careful in thinking strictly in terms of “country.” Within each country there are jobs with a wide range of salaries, working conditions and types of bosses, as well as a few general similarities. For example, I worked for three years in China with basically a full ex-pat salary, yet the living and working conditions were sub-optimal.

I also worked there three times in two separate location on short-term assignments where the pay was substantially lower, but the living and working conditions were better. Also all supervisors I worked with (all foreigners) were quite different in style as were my Chinese and foreign co-workers. The three places I worked at in the country were each a very different experience.

My personal experience was I usually made more money in China, but I also experienced some significant health issues while there and generally enjoy my life in Thailand (or Vietnam) more. Which is better? I can’t say. But of course, other people have had and will have different experiences. China is a huge country and it is quite different working and living in a first-tier city as opposed to a third tier one or out in the countryside.

China might be a good option for some but I doubt many ESL teachers will find a utopia working there, there are always trade-offs in all we do.

Jack


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