How Teaching Abroad Can Boost Your Resume for Any Career

Whether you’re an engineer or a scientist, planning to go to culinary school or become a musician, teaching abroad for a year or two will make you a more well-rounded hire no matter what your ultimate plans hold!

1) Flexibility

It’s impossible to live abroad and not learn to be okay with basically….anything. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in life, and this is ten times more true when you’re living in place that’s a complete 180° culturally from the place you grew up. One of the most exciting things my roommate and I used to do when we first arrived in Asia was walk into restaurants and order off the menu, despite the fact that we had no idea what we were ordering. We loved the surprise of what arrived at our table! As a teacher, plans can change at the drop of a hat, especially when working with children.

Getting used to an Asian style of management can also be a bit of a challenge, but with a positive attitude and respect for those differences, it’s easy to adapt and become comfortable anywhere. Living abroad demonstrates and openness and willingness to adapt to future employers, and no matter what field you are in or where in the world you work, those are characteristics every employer finds desirable!

2) Communication Skills

Whether or not you actually learned Chinese while living abroad, you inevitably communicated with Chinese people on a daily basis and overcame culture and language barriers. Successfully maintaining good relationships and “guanxi” (connections) in a culture that was initially foreign to you demonstrates to any future employer that you have the ability to function in a multi-cultural environment. As companies become more international and the world becomes more connected, demonstrated success taking communication with people outside your own culture or native language to a deeper level is becoming a must.

3) Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness is the “state in which the mind becomes teachable.” It means the ability to make changes in your thinking and perception, which is necessary for any kind of growth! It is perhaps the single most important characteristic of those who successfully live and teach abroad, because so much of your mindset and perceptions from your home culture will change. Everything from how to pay your bills to how you interact with your neighbors to how you take out your trash and buy food could be a drastically different experience than what you’re used to at home. Re-learning simple everyday tasks can be scary to some, but willingness to teach your mind new daily routines is the beautiful mark of a well-adjusted person…and this is definitely a quality that will make you a more desirable hire no matter your field.

4) Self-Sufficiency

Nothing shows self-sufficiency like packing up your bags and moving to a foreign country! The confidence it takes to resettle your life in a place where you may not speak the language or understand the culture is a bold move that shows fearlessness of being alone in a new place, and no matter the field, employers love a sense that you are comfortable being independent.

5) Willingness to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

You didn’t move abroad because you wanted it to be the same as your life at home. Most life changes will push your outside your comfort zone, but moving abroad announces that you CHOSE to be outside your comfort zone. Everything from buying food to teaching will often stretch your imagination and test your strength of character. A successful time teaching abroad and the resulting demonstration that you can really shows that you can thrive outside of your comfort zone! [NOTE: THIS ONE NEEDS WORK]

6) Language Skills

In today’s world of globalization, knowledge of a second or third language is key, and living abroad is the best way to gain another language! Even if you don’t have time to study in depth or gain fluency, basic knowledge of a foreign language will show your future employer that you went the extra mile to immerse yourself in the culture through language. You’ll also be surprised how useful a basic, working knowledge of another language can be when working in an international company, or in doing outreach to foreigners in your own community at home!

7) Stand Out

When you’re ready to leave and begin applying to jobs back at home, anyone reviewing your resume will do a double take when they notice your mailing address is in China! To HR reps who read dozens or more resumes on a weekly basis, sometimes all it takes is the extra little detail that makes your resume stand out!

8 Reasons Teaching Abroad Will Change Your Life

1) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Gain Perspective

Cross-cultural competency means the ability to work and communicate with those who come from a culture or socio-economic background different from your own. Nothing enriches your life like getting to know people who can give you a different take on the world. Learning local lingo, venturing into local hangout spots and making friends outside your comfort zone is will teach you life lessons impossible to experience in the comfort of your home country.

This will also give you one of the most valuable things you can gain: perspective. It’s easy to sit online in the comfort of your own home and read about different cultures, people and even conflicts and struggles, but the whole world changes when you can give it a name and a face. When you have good friends in countries and cities you could barely find on a map before, you begin to look at humanity differently.

The perspective you gain from traveling can not only shape your future and goals, but also shape you as a person, and change the way you react to things and treat people in life. When you’re able to approach situations with a global perspective, you gain a certain wisdom which commands respect. Although it’s not something you can put on a resume, the perspective gained from living abroad will truly help you accomplish meaningful goals!

2) Look Good on Paper

Teaching abroad is something any employer values seeing on a resume. Whether you’re a med student, a lit major, an engineer, or currently undecided, successfully spending a year or more as a teacher abroad will ensure that your application to any future job stands out! The ability to live and teach abroad shows employers that you are flexible and able to adapt to new environments, for obvious reasons. It also demonstrates that you are an excellent communicator who can deal with very real language barriers on a daily basis. It also shows cross-cultural competency, which is becoming a highly desired trait as more and more companies go global.

3) Have Friends Everywhere

Not only will you have opportunities to make local friends, you will also have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world! Your fellow English teachers will most likely be your first friends in your new home, and English teachers in Asia come from all corners of the globe. In communities of foreigners abroad, it’s a never ending holiday, and the food is amazing! Because expat communities tend to be relatively small, you’ll become friends with the kind of people you may have never met at home, which is an overwhelmingly positive thing. Making friends from all over the world also means you’ll never be without a couch to crash on in your future travels!

4) Have an Incredibly Rewarding Job

We all think we know what teachers do: plan lessons, write curriculum, correct papers, entertain kids. The thing is, after I became a teacher, I realized teaching was so much more than that….teaching is a wild wild west job where fun and creativity meet planning and adventure and hilarity usually ensues. Kids can be totally unpredictable in the most amazing way possible! They will melt your heart, make you cry and end up teaching you more life lessons than you feel you’ve ever taught them.

Hours don’t drag by while you sit at a desk because you’re up moving around, singing, directing games, or enjoying a sweet moment of joy while a class sits quietly and works hard. Once you get the hang of it, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs on earth. In fact, teaching is such a dynamic job, it may be hard to ever go back to the dull serenity of a desk job!

5) Watch Your Bank Account Grow

It’s true what they say, right now there is a HUGE job market in China! The population of China is exploding with people who realize they will need English to gain that competitive edge in their rapidly developing nation. Wealthy parents are looking for quality English schools to send their child too, and are willing to spend more on education since the adoption of China’s one-child policy.

In stark contrast to the job market in the US and other western countries, schools in China are actively seeking YOU! No matter your experience, schools will train you in their curriculum and programs. Even at an entry level, you will be making enough money to live comfortably and still save a significant portion of your paycheck. Most jobs also come with awesome compensation packages including flight reimbursement, housing stipends, and of course all come with national health coverage and enough vacation time to explore Asia!

6) Go to Bangkok for the Weekend

Living in China means nowhere in Asia is too far for a weekend getaway! Tickets to places you only dreamed about before are suddenly not only affordable, but close, and such a central location offers unparalleled chances for exploring. There are lots of discount air carries that fly around Asia, and the hardest part is simply choosing a destination! To explore the pristine beaches of the Philippines, go for an adventurous climb up Mt. Kinabalu in Bornean Malaysia, a tour de cuisine in Bangkok, power shopping in Hong Kong or explore the idyllic towns of the Japanese countryside?! It’s incredibly exciting the moment you realize if you manage your time and money well, you can do it all!

7) Follow Your Wanderlust to Anywhere

Once you have 1-2 years of teaching experience under your belt, the world is your oyster. You can take your jobs skills to any country you’ve ever wanted to live in! Really want to make the big bucks? Take a job in the Middle East. Looking for the high class urban lifestyle? Hong Kong and Singapore look for more experienced teachers! Ready to take on a more rural location? Countries like Nepal and Mongolia also have a huge market for teachers with previous international teaching experience.

8) Change Your Heart

Living and teaching abroad isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, it’s an incredibly satisfying and humbling experience. It makes you fearless, accepting of the unknown, patient, more aware of what’s valuable, and less bothered by things of a trivial nature. It gives you an appreciation for the life you lived at home, and a love for life abroad. In becoming part of a family in your adopted country, you learn to love people despite outward differences, and really care for a place that used to just be a name on map. Plus, you get to meet a gaggle of people who are just like you, and those are bonds that last a lifetime!

6 Life Lessons I learned From Living Abroad

 

1) How to deal with anything

I’ve thought of myself as a well-adjusted person, but moving abroad definitely pushed that to its limits. Is this a positive thing? You bet it is! Learning to “be okay with anything” while preserving your core set of values is a fine line to walk, but perfecting that balance is a great life skill to improve upon.

Whether it’s smiling through bites of that bizarre-looking sea creature that your Chinese friend’s family has served you for dinner, or learning to remain calm the first time a giant flying cockroach decides to move in to your room, or having to communicate your clogged toilet to your landlord via charades, the best route is always just to be okay with it. While many things you encounter may be scary, disgusting, or just plain bizarre, that’s something to celebrate! I am thankful for all my strange experiences in life because they equip me to better deal with future strange experiences, and they make really great stories along the way.

2) What’s really important

In learning to be okay with anything, you quickly learn what’s really important to you. Getting over my ‘type-A’ tendencies has been one of my favorite ways that I’ve changed since moving to Asia. Stores don’t sell my favorite brand of shampoo? This should surprise absolutely no one, and who on earth cares, because it’s not really important.

I’ve learned to be thankful that I HAVE shampoo, and also hot water coming from all my taps (in my new apartment at least). And although it almost goes without saying, I’ve also learned the value of relationships. Native-speaking friends that will go with me do mundane tasks, students who recognize when I need a hug, and a manager who understands that sometimes life as foreigner in China isn’t always easy. And even though they don’t sell my favorite kind of ice cream in China, there’s always that friend who laughs and says here, have a pineapple cake because they’re even better.

3) How much amazingly delicious food there is in the world

In my two and half years living in China, I have maybe eaten more delicious food that I have in the rest of my life COMBINED. If the stereotype is that Asian life revolves around food, then I’m totally on board with that stereotype, and for good reason: the food here is better than anywhere else on earth that I’ve lived and traveled. And I’m not just talking about the dumplings and fried rice.

Taipei has better western food than I’ve had IN THE WEST. The food here is in fact so good that there are literally only two things I miss from home: my parents’ cooking and pizookies. Yes, literally everything else is available in China and it’s probably the best version of that thing you’ve ever had. I’m not talking fancy food either. Some of the best food in the whole country comes from little food carts in night markets or random shops tucked into quiet allies. And he best part is that Taipei is one of the most walking friendly cities I’ve been to, so those delectable, very affordable eats never even make it to your waistline.

4) How to befriend anyone

Before I moved abroad, I had a very close-knit, small group of friends. I wouldn’t say we were cliquey, but it’s not like someone could just join the group…we were old friends, we’d known each other for ages, and I was the outlier in the group when I decided to move abroad. When you move abroad, you’re thrown head first into a place where you are instantly bonded with a group of people who have one thing in common with you…they’re all foreigners too. This group inevitably contains people from all over the world, from all walks of life, all with different stories to tell.

Many of the friends I’ve made in China are the kind of people I never would have met or even been interested in meeting back home, and this has made my life here incredibly rich and diverse in a way that I never could have imagined. In learning to find ways to relate to such a diverse group of people, I’ve realized how easy and wonderful it is to make new friends. It’s not a scary ‘letting someone into our group’ type of situation when you realize how interesting everyone can be, and how much they can teach you and make you a better person. Learning to befriend anyone has been the single best lesson living abroad as a foreigner has taught me!

5) Time management

I’ve never been busier in my life since moving to China, which is a choice I make simply because there’s so much to do and see here. Never has my life so embodied the idea of ‘work hard, play hard!’ I’ve learned that the days can be infinitely long if you use your time wisely. On any given day after working full time and tutoring extra, there’s still running to do, movies to catch, dinners to attend, parties to stop by, lessons to plan, and of course always time for a drink at my favorite local bar.

All of things I could have done in my home country, but the fact is that I didn’t. Living abroad gives me a certain energy that I never back at home. Perhaps that comes from the subtle realization of the passing of time when you’re time in a place is limited, or maybe it’s because it seems like my city never sleeps so neither should I! Either way, I’ve become great at managing time and living each day to fullest.

6) Learning to ask for help

I’ve always enjoyed my freedom, independence and I absolutely love helping others and being the go-to person when there’s a problem to be solved. However, asking FOR help was always something I avoided.
Moving to a country where I spoke two words of the language changed everything. (I knew how to say hello, nihao, and pudding. Useful eh?) To order food at a restaurant, I first had to ask someone how, memorize, and repeat. To find an apartment, I was totally reliant on others giving up their free time to help me. Hooking up internet or paying rent or calling the landlord for repairs, things I’d never thought twice about, where suddenly favors from my friends.

Independence is wonderful, but I’ve learned that strength can also come from the willingness to recognize where the boundaries of my ability lie. And these boundaries, of course, are not absolute. For every situation where help is required, I’ve learned something. I’ve learned what to say to the landlord the next time the toilet is clogged, learned how to order that particular dish in Chinese, and learned where to go next time my phone bill is late. Learning to ask for help has ultimately made me a more knowledgeable and independent person.  When the next generation of newbies arrive in my beloved adopted country, that will be my time to pay it forward!

Best VPN in China

Why do I need a VPN?

If you’re moving to China and still hoping to use the internet in the way that you want, you will need to subscribe to a VPN service.

Under China’s policy of internet censorship (also referred to as the “Great Firewall of China”), more than 2,600 websites are blocked in mainland China. Special events, location, and world political events also have an effect on which websites are available or blocked at any given time.

There are a couple tools available online such as https://en.greatfire.org/ and http://www.blockedinchina.net/ which allow you test which websites are currently viewable in China, but these resources are not 100% percent reliable.
Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Taiwan/Hong Kong, Wikipedia, Twitter, BlogSpot, WordPress and SoundCloud are just a sample of websites that have been blocked before or are blocked at present from being accessed in mainland China.

How do VPNs work?

But fear not! There exists an easy solution known as VPN, or virtual private networks that allows you hide your location. Instead of connecting directly to a website from your current location, you can first connect to a VPN server in another location which will then connect you to the website. A VPN acts as a secure middle-man allowing you to exchange information with a website without your home connection being aware of it.

VPNs are also useful outside of China! They keep your internet connection secure over public networks, allow anonymous downloading, and access of websites that may only be available in certain countries or locations.

How much should I factor into my budget for a VPN?

Free VPNs do exist, but they’re incredibly slow, unreliable and potentially dangerous. For anyone planning to live in China for any extended period of time, it’s advisable to subscribe to a VPN service which can cost anywhere from $5 – $15 USD per month. Most VPN services also have yearly plans available, ranging from $30 – $100 USD per year.

It’s important to note that most VPN accounts can be shared, so it’s easy to split the cost with multiple friends! It’s definitely advisable to spend a few extra dollars per month on a trusted, secure and reliable VPN instead of skimping and ending up with a cheap and unreliable service. Never compromise on security as you’ll most likely be sending sensitive information such as credit card and banking information through the VPN.

Other Considerations When Choosing a VPN

  • Bandwidth: Look for unlimited bandwidth
  • Number of users: Can multiple people sign on to one account?
  • Device sharing: Can multiple devices such as a computer, phone and tablet all be connected at the same time?
  • Customer service: Make sure the method of connecting to customer service is available without the use of the VPN in case you have issues with your VPN, especially during startup.
  • Server locations: VPNs work best when servers are located in nearby countries. For China, look for a VPN service provider with servers located in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, or the west coast of the USA. It’s best to have many server locations available in case China’s firewall blocks one or more.
  • Free trial: A free trial is very useful, especially if you have certain websites in mind that you will need to connect to using the VPN service.

Our Recommendations

The firewall in China is constantly changing and being updated, and VPN services can become slow or stop working entirely. We highly recommend ExpressVPN if you are currently in China or getting ready to teach in China.

Hear from Our Teacher in Shanghai – Eston

Before Coming to China
Why did you want to teach in China?

I needed a break from South Africa, and I had done business with the Chinese before, so coming up here was a great opportunity to meet the people I had done business with, learn the language and also experience a new culture.

How was your experience finding a job through On the Mark Education?

Honestly. On the Mark was the best I’ve worked with, they were quick, the support was ample and they followed up excellently. I’ve tried other agencies but none come close to On the Mark, the level of professionalism was great and I would work with them in a hart-beat for my next trip.

before-coming-china1
How long did your Visa process take? How was the communication with the school during the Visa process?

My visa process including medical, shipping documents to the school and receiving my documents to apply for and get the visa was 1 and a half months due to it being a work visa, and the communication from the school was great, I was given the feedback I requested and given regular info on the proceedings of the documents.

What website did you use to book your ticket to China

I’m from South Africa so the cheapest guys were student flight for bookings and I flew Emirates.

Teaching Life in China
before-coming-china2
What was your first impression of China when you arrived?

I was amazed because it was so different from home and I was looking forward to the next day so I could explore.

What’s your schedule like?

It’s very relaxing, I personally have 6 classes a week, each class 40 mins, a ten min break and 40 mins again, work starts at 4pm to 9pm, and to travel late is really safe, most of the schools are really close to the metro.

What do you do during a typical work day? What do you usually do on your days off?

During a work day I’d wake up at any time, freshen up, get something to eat relax a bit more and make my way to work around 3 because the schools are close, I’d get to work, clock in and write a lesson plan, relax till 17:10 then do my lesson, then after the lesson, do communication books if I don’t have another lesson, if I do, I’d just do another lesson plan and then start my lesson (during the weekday you do max two lessons a day and 3 on weekends) and then wait to go home. When I’m off, I either just relax or go out, meet new people and explore Shanghai.

What is something exciting you have done around your city?

I visited Peoples Square and taken a ride on the train that goes through the town, and I’ve visited the Bund at night, great view.

What gave you the biggest culture shock about China or in your city?

Nothing really, I guess it was just the food that the locals eat, the stories you hear about the food the Chinese eat are true, but there are a lot of western food so you have other options. Lastly, it has to be the fact that people drive scooters on the pavement, it was more funny than shocking.

What do you like most about working for your school?

It has to be the kids, they’ve been great, they always smiling and so happy to see me, also the foreign teachers from other countries have been great.

What three things would you want to have known before you arrived?

Bringing your own medication because of the pollution, to get a VPN before you arrive in China, and tyo have been told that you can buy a IP card to call home.

How many percent of salary do you get to save very month?

Well after the 1st two months, you could save as much as 50 to 60% of your salary a month depending on your spending habits, because there is a lot to buy here in China and things are cheap.