Settling In

We aim to make your move to China as smooth as possible.

Settling In


Moving to a new country to live and work is never as simple as just arriving and instantly feeling at home.

Of course, not wanting to feel at home is probably one of the reasons you decided to move, but you don't want to be overwhelmed by your new environment either.

Put simply, of all the countries you could teach English in, China is probably the most challenging.

Big and populous enough to have gotten this far without adopting the amount of Western influence that much of the rest of the world has, China stands culturally alone.

Teaching English in China means immersing yourself in a land literally like no other.

It's all part of the experience, but the culture shock is real.

You may need some help settling in.


Chinese culture and language


The process of settling into any new place begins before you leave home.

Everyday Chinese culture, etiquette, and social norms are likely to be very different to what you're used to, and will often leave you scratching your head.

A little research before arriving will give you an idea of what to expect. While we're sure your overall experience of teaching English in China will be one of the best things you ever do, the Chinese do have certain commonly seen behavioural quirks that would seem rude back home.

We recommend researching them, expecting them, and understanding how they are perfectly acceptable in China.

The Chinese language is one of the most difficult for Westerners to learn, and nobody expects you to become fluent during your time teaching in China.

However, learning some basic phrases such as 'how much is this', or 'I would like' when you arrive can reduce frustrations and help you settle in quicker.


Know your neighbourhood


Local Chinese neighbourhoods are hives of activity and life. While you'll certainly want to get out and explore the wider city, everything you'll actually need to live can probably be found in the local shops and markets close to home.

Familiarising yourself with what's around when you arrive will help you settle in quicker. Knowing where to get household items, groceries, fruit, and fresh meat and vegetables will have you living like a local in no time.

Take a walk around when you arrive, or cycle, or even a jog. Explore the side streets and alleyways. Not much makes you feel more at home than knowing your neighbourhood well.

It's also a good idea to try as many of the neighbourhood restaurants as can when you arrive, to build up a list of the ones you know you like.

Having more lunch and dinner options is always a good thing, and finding you love a restaurant you tried for the first time six months after arriving means missing out on six months of eating there.


Join clubs and meet-ups


Understanding the culture, picking up some language, and knowing your neighbourhood are all great tips, but you don't want to be doing all this alone.

Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to settle into your new life teaching English in China is to connect with other people.

Meeting up with other teachers in China is a wonderful way to get settled quicker.

You could meet with other newcomers to discover things together and help each other to grow into your new lives. Alternatively, experienced teachers can help show you the ropes.

We recommend a mix of both in your social circles.

If there's a sport you already play or want to take up, join a club. Big cities often have expat clubs for sports not usually associated with China, such as cricket, rugby, and field hockey.

Western sports popular in China include football, basketball and snooker, and local favourites like badminton, ping pong, and kung fu can be found almost anywhere. Locating clubs to join for any of these won’t be difficult.

Should you not be the sporty type and just want to meet new people for social occasions, there are a number of ways to do this too.

Websites such as always have upcoming events, and is now used just as much for social gatherings as it is finding somewhere to sleep. There are also a number of websites for expats in China, often with city-specific pages.


Want to teach English in China?


Prepare for the culture shock, but remember it's part of why you're here. Embrace it, and keep it manageable by learning some language basics, getting to know your new surroundings, and creating new social circles.