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Free Vacation in China!
How to take an all-expense paid vacation
Live like royalty on a limited budget? It's tested and proven, it's possible.
My friends thought I'd blown my cap when I told them I was leaving indefinitely for another country. Having seen signs of a declining economy in the States, I prepared my journey for an extended visit to the third-world country of China. My plan? Teach something I'd been doing all my life, speaking English. Without a teaching degree or certificate, I landed a position in China before departing my comfortable life in California. I was on my way!
Upon arriving, I discovered my plans were not unique. Foreign teachers of all ages from around the globe had thought of this idea years before me. This made me more comfortable in knowing I wasn't alone. If you have the courage to acclimate to a different culture, you can do this, too. Friends? They're like Visa cards, they're everywhere you want to be. In China, you're an instant celebrity and a walking photo opportunity.
China has over 300,000 students studying abroad, and increasing 20% a year. The need for English teachers remains in high demand. Teachers in China are amongst the most respected and honored professions. Whether teaching kindergarden, secondary school, university students, or adults, teaching in China is a rewarding experience.
If your native language is English, you can earn as much, if not more than a Chinese university professor. Foreign teachers are in high demand and can earn as high as 25,000rmb (approx. $4,000) per month, the average being between 8,000rmb (approx. $1,250) to 11,000rmb (approx. $1,730) per month. Year-end bonuses and return home flight tickets included. Full-time work consists of 20−22, forty-minute classes a week, with accommodations (most with English toilets) and meals included. Public and private schools offer Chinese holidays off, most with pay, allowing time for travel and/or taking that crash course in Mandarin. If you have the ability to teach a specialty course such as math, history, science, TOEFL, IELTS or SAT, salaries can run much higher.
Living expenses vary from city to city, with the trade-off reflected in salary. Teachers can expect to live a very comfortable life with entertainment and purchases for as little as 400rmb (approx. $63) a month. If you travel, expect to pay a little more for transportation. If you’re married, no problem, many schools prefer couples.
In an attempt to diminish the backpacking “riffraff” entering China for a free meal ticket and place to stay, many cities in China have enforced that foreigners have a working permit. This is reflected in the Z visa. The Z visa requires an invitation letter from the school, and an invitation letter from Chinese Foreign Affairs. These documents will be required at the Chinese consulate in your city. Many foreigners enter on the tourist visa (L visa), and find work without the permit, but this isn't advised, although there is a vast majority of foreigners who live and work in China without one.
During Chinese Holidays, major American Holidays, and winter and summer, a teacher has plenty of time to travel. There’s the Great Wall, Tianmen Square, the Emperor’s Palace, the Queen’s Garden, Shanghai, Macau (Las Vegas of China), Sanya (China’s Hawaii), and so much more. China boasts a 4,500 year history, so it’s guaranteed you’ll find something that interest you.
One of my favorite places is, Yangshuo, Guilin. A popular tourist town engulfed with China-hat mountain tops, streams and rivers. Attracting foreigners from all across the globe, Yangshuo is well-known for its many English emersion colleges, which foreigners tend to gravitate. The famous West Street caters to foreigners, including an abundance of English restaurants. For a dollar, you can rent a mountain bike for the day and bicycle through town and along the Li River in the back country. It’s here you’ll find ancient ruins, rice fields and water buffalo, a 4,500 year-old banyan tree, and beautiful multicolored quartz caves. This is one of China’s most popular areas for rock climbing, with several licensed operators offering lessons on an actual mountain. There’s bamboo river-raft rides, waterfalls, swimming and hiking. There’s Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga, and massage classes. Artists from around the world gather to paint the next Van Gogh. Writers gather to write the next Hemingway. Watch silk being made from silk worms; enjoy street performers and ancient Chinese crafts being made. Everything is negotiable from vendors, so never say “yes” to the original price. Nightlife? Every night is a Saturday night in Yangshuo (and for all of China). Bars and clubs offer drinking games, dancing, and shows. It’s party paradise.
If you can speak English, you have an opportunity to turn those thoughts of an exotic vacation into reality. Stay for three months, six months, a year, or indefinitely. Give yourself a break, go on an all-expense paid vacation. Who knows? You might go back home with more money than you brought.