Why did you pick this program?
I chose the ImmerQi program because although I knew I wanted to go abroad, I didn’t know where to even start with getting a TEFL qualification, then finding a job, sorting out visas and flights etc…
When I stumbled upon the ImmerQi website it seemed all my worries were solved – I liked that it included the TEFL course, with the training, guaranteed you a job for 5 months and, better yet, my boyfriend could come too! Not many programs can guarantee that you and your partner can work and live together, but ImmerQi did, and that’s what made up my mind.
It seemed ideal that we could gain this qualification and valuable experience and do it together. It’s a program that can introduce you to a new culture and allow you to immerse yourself in it, while gaining brilliant teaching experience and being supported throughout it. It was the perfect programme for us!
What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?
You need to be prepared for the weather here. I was placed in South China and it is a lovely 35 degrees (centigrade) through the summer. However, it is also ridiculously humid, and can get stuffy and uncomfortable during the day (and night too if I’m honest!). It rains an awful lot during monsoon season too. But the winters can get cold, so you do need to pack for all weathers!
Having said all this, no amount of internet-research or a front-to-back-cover read of the Lonely Planet guide can fully prepare you for China. It was so wonderfully diverse from north to south, east to west, with a rich culture, history and geography.
You have to come here with an open mind and a smile and enjoy the ride! Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Chinese customs are very different to Western ones, but that’s why you should choose to go to China! It’s a fantastic place, the people you meet are friendly and willing to help, and almost anything that could happen will invariably happen at some point in China.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
To absolutely go and do it! It’s an amazing experience! For starters you get full TEFL training and valuable experience in the teaching field for 5 months, which gives you plenty of employment opportunities after the internship, in China and elsewhere in the world.
It opens doors to travel further, as a way of traveling and earning money in teaching. Besides which, you’ll probably find that teaching is lot of fun! Yes it has its stressful moments, but it’s such a rewarding job! The 5 months were so much fun, and you experience things that you just can’t by not doing it.
You immerse yourself in a new, foreign country and learn about all its quirks, which gives you a new appreciation of other cultures. Not only that, but it’s 5 months doing something different and exciting, meeting new people and learning new things. If, in the end, you decide teaching’s not your thing then it is only for 5 months. If, however, like me, you loved it, then it’s 5 months well worth doing!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
One piece of advice I would give is to take full advantage of the free Mandarin lessons offered at your school! I had two lessons at my school and then the Chinese English teacher conducting them got waylaid and it kept getting pushed aside. At the time I wasn’t fussed, but now my internship is over, I am moving to North China, and I still can’t say much more than ‘Hello’ in Chinese!
It is also a fantastic opportunity to learn about the different Chinese languages – in Jinjiang they speak Min Chinese, and the students were more than happy to help us learn a few phrases! There are also multiple apps for your phone that can help you learn to speak Chinese, and also to learn to read the Chinese pictograms, such as Memrise (such a great app; it takes you through a typical menu first, which is great when you’re ordering in a restaurant).
What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?
Without a doubt, other than being able to share the whole experience with Marc, the students are what made the trip so wonderful. Altogether we taught about 700 students at Jiyan High School, and all were so helpful, friendly and enthusiastic.
The students and teachers in the English Corner Club took us out and about around the city, Jinjiang, meaning that we saw parts of the city that we probably wouldn’t have thought of going to visit otherwise. Places like traditional Chinese houses, little temples that aren’t in the guidebooks or on the internet… those are the things that made the trip so great. Right at the end we received so many letters, postcards and photographs from the students. Knowing that they appreciate you is the best feeling.
Our time at Jiyan has been such a success that we actually decided to stay in China for another year, and teach at another school! This trip has allowed us a wonderful glimpse into life in China. Being on this program has made us realize just what this country has to offer, in employment and culture, so we don’t intend on going home anytime soon!