Research, Choose, do it Right

This is a series by Professor Fury; catch up on past articles and follow along on his going to China adventure.

Once You Have Chosen

So you chose your city and applied to whichever schools you thought looked good. Whether you did your own research or used an agency (as I always do) to find suitable positions, you will then turn to the internet to try and glean more about the institution you may commit the next year of your life to. Online the self-appointed “Mandarins” with a century of experience in China will exhort you  not to use agencies. No, I write for free here so I have no vested interest although just maybe next mid-autumn festival I may be sent a nice box of mooncakes (love them). This is as always my personal opinion unfettered by others. If you wish to go it alone then do so but I have used two agencies thus far and I have nothing but praise.

There is nothing wrong with researching online, it is entirely natural; after all, you are about to give up 1/70th of your three score years and ten. Again though, don’t believe all you read. Disgruntled ex-employees do exact revenge online. I was decidedly happy at my last school (I stayed 6 years) and would still be there had I not passed their “date of death” at 60 years of age. Sure, I harbour ill-will toward them for that because they in fact forced two very active, dedicated and committed teachers to leave in the space of just over a year. And it was hardly a school that attracted hordes of replacements – they may be lucky and entice someone for next year. In the meantime they were down a teacher for an academic year. Unnecessarily.

But I shall not be posting detrimental material online because that would betray the six very happy years I spent there. Some people do. As with food, you may like something which others do not and vitriol on the internet is often just that, sour grapes.

So choose your school and pay attention to the contract. As a first-timer it is doubtful you can negotiate but you can clarify. A public university for instance may specify set amounts of free water, gas, and electricity but when you query you may find that in fact it is unlimited. I never paid for utilities in 6 years despite the contract stipulating certain limits.

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Then of course you select which school you will go with. This should always be done with a weather eye on the “package”. It’s no good getting a job in Shanghai paying 20,000 CNY a month when you have to pay for your own accommodation. That could carve in excess of 50% from your pay and to live in Shanghai I would need a higher salary and free accommodation. It ain’t cheap. Look at the cost of living, how easy it is to access shopping, restaurants etc from the campus or where you will live. Consider the benefits being offered. Return flights home, tourism allowance and the like. Sometimes a higher salary can leave you worse off because you never looked at the “package”. It’s a bit like one chap taking a job on £50,000 a year and another taking one on £30,000 yet number two gets a fully-funded company car and free housing along with free education for his children at a private school. One gets more money in the bank each month but who has more disposable income at the end of the day? Smaller cities have their attractions.

So you choose the school, pass the interview (by Skype or maybe no interview at all) and sign an emailed contract. At this point the school will start to spend money so do not do so lightly. They will prepare the invitation letter and pay monies to set the train in motion. They will also cease actively looking for people for the position. Once you have the invitation letter you may then apply for your Z visa. Never, ever come to China on anything else, regardless of what the agency or school tells you. Do it properly or risk coming a cropper. Worse, it will be your money at stake. Not to mention possible incarceration and deportation followed by some years of being prevented from entering China again. If you are going to do it, do it right.

And then square your affairs, pack your bags and get ready to leave. That can be the hardest part but that will be in the next episode.

Be sure to watch out for Professor Fury on Hioffer!


About the Author 

He is in his early sixties and has been teaching in universities in China for seven years. He has been a ships officer, salesman, manager, company director, engineer and truck driver in the past  and so has a wealth of stories and experience to impart to his students.

He has been to 47 countries so far and visited more than 400 cities around the globe. Antarctica is the only continent he has yet to experience but there is still time!

He has so far volunteered at every school level in China, appeared on television several times (including taking part in a Spring Festival Gala show) and his ambition is to be allowed to retire in China when the time comes. His latest party piece is playing Santa for whoever asks!

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