Beijing is a smoggy and chaotic city. You either love it or you hate it. For brave and curious souls, Beijing presents a magnificent adventure, an opportunity to experience all the good things that China has to offer. We work with many schools in Beijing, and recently helped Scott Hannan on his way to one of them, Chaoyang KaiWen Academy. Tell us about it Scott! Are you a lover or a hater?
Where are you teaching and what’s your school like?
I work at Chaoyang KaiWen Academy in Beijing, China. I chose to work here as I have always wanted to work in China and the opportunity to work in a brand new school that is now an IB candidate school appealed to me greatly.
How did you get your job? What was the process like?
Caroline put me forward for positions at a few schools, and this one came up trumps. The school made contact with me and said they would like to interview me. So we organised a time that worked for both of us and I was interviewed one Friday morning by the Head of the School and the Deputy Head. The interview went well and I had a job offer that same day! In terms of being organised with what I needed to get my visa the school was great, the only slow part was actually New Zealand getting the documents that were required!
Read a first hand experience of getting a Chinese visa.
What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?
Its a great place with so much to see and do. There is an expat scene but as our school is a little out we tend to socialise more amongst ourselves. It’s easy to get around and go out though with cheap public transport and ‘Didi’ which is the Chinese version of Uber being great for getting anywhere.
Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?
The obvious ones like the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Olympic Stadium. Other ones worth seeing are the Botanical Gardens especially in autumn… they were really spectacular.
Another happy teacher, read his story, has taught in Beijing too;
What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?
It was really hot and humid when I arrived but by October the temperature had dropped and since December its been negative temperatures all day every day, just no snow. No rain since October either. But you get used to it, even on days like yesterday when with the wind felt like minus 22!
What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?
It’s very cheap. I’m able to easily save a decent amount of money and still have plenty left over to do what I want when I want.
What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?
The food is great. Being China there is so much different food to try, but I do recommend Crispy Duck in Beijing as well as the Famous Beijing Hot Pot where you get all the vegetables and meat bought raw to your table and you cook it yourself in a big hot pot of flavoured broth. International food easy to get as well. Eating out is very cheap to do.
How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?
Its massively different from New Zealand obviously but as I’ve been living away for over a decade now I’m used to that. Having come from the Middle East where English is more widely spoken being somewhere where it’s not as widely spoken has its challenges but once you learn a bit of Mandarin its ok and there is plenty of translation tools available!
Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in China and other locations.
What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?
Working with great kids and great people at a new school is refreshing. And knowing so much undiscovered stuff is still out there in Beijing is super exciting.
Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?
People who want things to be just like home would struggle. There is a western area in Beijing with shops and food like home but its much more expensive and why would you work overseas if you just wanted it to be like home!
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?
Definitely do it. I’m glad I’ve done it and to be honest, now I wish I had done it a few years earlier!