What is China Horizons and what do you offer?
China Horizons matches teachers interested in having an authentic overseas experience with schools who are looking for conversational English teachers. One great advantage to participating through China Horizons is that we have a volunteer program for teachers looking for an affordable volunteer opportunity, as well as a paid program for teachers with a bachelor’s degree.
How does it work?
After a simple application process, your information is reviewed by China Horizons. The quality of your experience depends on your spirit of optimism, sense of adventure, and creativity.
Do you have a summer program?
Not at the current time.
Who will be my employer while I am in China?
While in China, you will be working directly with your school through your school liaison. China Horizons will not work closely with the day to day activities of you and your school.
China Horizons will be in constant contact with your school. We offer complete support and help while teachers are in China. Furthermore, we will be there to help resolve any issues that may arise between teachers and schools.
Can I bring my laptop to China with me? Is it safe or will I get viruses?
Yes, it’s safe.
Many teachers bring their laptops with them to China. You should have current virus protection software installed. Standard virus protection software will be sufficient to protect your computer.
Most apartments will have internet connection through an ethernet cable.
How long will I be in China for?
Spring Semester: February 21 – June 30
Fall Semester: September 1 – December 31
Be aware that you might need to be flexible as these dates may be subject to change.
These are the scheduled dates for teaching and do not include teacher training and the optional group arrival tour.
How are placements decided?
If teachers have a preference as to where they want to teach, what age they teach, and friends they want to teach with, we will do our best to make these arrangements possible.
Other than that, China Horizons matches teachers up with schools that we feel most suits the individual teachers.
Do I need to know how to speak Chinese?
No, the majority of applicants do not speak Chinese. Knowing the language is not a requirement.
Where are the schools located?
Click Here for a current map of school locations.
COSTS, FEES, & MONEY
What is the exact cost of the program?
For up-to-date costs and fees:
Paid Positions – Click Here
Volunteer Positions – Click Here
What is the application deposit and when should I pay it? Is it refundable?
You should pay the application deposit when you submit your application.
The deposit will be deducted from the total program fee. It is not an additional fee.
If you are not accepted as a teacher, you will receive 100% of all China Horizons fees paid up to that point.
Refunds are not provided for teachers who withdraw their applications for any reason. However, fees can be deferred to a future semester of teaching.
What does the program fee cover?
- Round trip airfare from a selected international airport in the U.S.A. to Shanghai or Beijing (plus airfare related logistics).
- Single entry visa (plus visa related logistics).
- Transportation to and from the airport to your host school.
- A furnished apartment with a private bedroom on or near the school campus.
- A meal card/stipend to use at the campus cafeteria.
- Support and training from China Horizons representatives.
Paid Positions: You are responsible for the cost of your airfare, visa, and meals while in China. Click Here for details.
- Transportation to and from the airport to your host school.
- A furnished apartment with private bedroom on or near the school campus.
- Support and training from China Horizons representatives.
Are there any additional expenses I need to plan for?
Teachers should be prepared to have access to sufficient money for extra activities they plan on doing such as traveling, eating out, buying clothing, and souvenirs.
Although these activities are significantly cheaper in China than in the U.S., things can add up fast. Preparing a budget would be wise.
China Horizons recommends bringing at least an additional $950 of personal spending money. Depending on your spending habits, you should adjust this amount.
Should I bring travelers checks, cash, or debit cards?
All cash should be in the form of new crisp bills from the bank. Worn bills, in any form, are often not accepted.
Because travelers checks are becoming increasingly difficult to cash, China Horizons does not recommend bringing them.
Debit cards are recommended. Since China is a “cash” country, you will be using cash most of the time. Few places are set up to accept international debit or credit cards. Do not rely on your debit card as your main way of making purchases. However, debit cards can be used to withdraw money from ATM machines. Please note, every bank has different regulations and fees when it comes to international withdrawals. Please contact your bank for more information.
If you intend to use your debit card in China, contact your bank prior to departure and inform them you will be in China. If you fail to do so, they might freeze your bank account as a safety precaution upon seeing transaction activity in China.
In order to avoid multiple international charges on your bank accounts China Horizons suggests exchanging USD to RMB with your bank before you leave for China. Do not exchange enough money for the duration of your stay, but just for the first few weeks. Once you are settled into your city you will be able to find an ATM that will accept your bank card.
Can I use my ATM card in China
ATM’s can be found in populated areas of China, and most will accept international ATM cards.
However, be aware that every bank has different regulations and fees regarding international withdrawals. You should contact your bank for specific information.
Are the costs different if you are married?
For up-to-date costs and fees:
Paid Positions – Click Here
Volunteer Positions – Click Here
Will I need to purchase a textbook when I get to China?
If the school has a specific textbook they want you to use, they will provide it.
What is the exchange rate between RMB and USD?
For current exchange rate information Click Here
Is it safe to carry cash around in China?
Yes, with normal precautions of course.
Most teachers carry cash in their pockets and never have any problems. There is always risk involved when carrying cash with you no matter where you are and China is no exception. Just be careful with your money and be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t carry around more than you need; be discrete with how much you have with you, and put it in a safe place (like a deep pocket in your backpack).
What is the best way to take money into China?
Bringing cash with you or withdrawing money once in China is fine. It depends on your personal preference.
If you bring cash, do not put it all in one place. Spread it out in your carry-on luggage and your wallet. This way, if something happens and your luggage does not arrive at the airport with you, you will still have cash.
How much extra spending money should I bring?
China Horizons recommends bringing at least an additional $950 of personal spending money. Depending on your spending habits, you will want to adjust the amount.
I do not have a bachelor’s degree. Am I still eligible to apply?
Volunteer Positions – To participate in the volunteer program, you are not required to have a bachelor’s degree.
Paid Position – In order to participate in the paid program, a bachelor’s degree is required. Also, two years of work experience after receiving your BA/BS degree is required to be eligible.
What do I need to gather together before I submit my application?
- Preliminary Application Form
- Cover Letter
- Two letters of Recommendation
- Copy of signed valid Passport
- Passport/Visa Photograph
- Copies of College Degree and/or Teaching Certificates
- Signed “Terms and Conditions” Form
- Application Fee
All application documents are submitted electronically as doc(x) or pdf. Those items that require signatures must be printed, signed, and scanned. For further assistance on this process Click Here.
When will I know whether or not I’ve been accepted?
blockquote>You will be notified on your acceptance within 2 weeks of submitting your application.
Your exact teaching location may not be known until one month prior to your departure.
How many applications are accepted? What are my chances of being accepted?
As long as you have a strong application and submit your application before the deadline, your chances are very high for acceptance.
Teaching positions available though China Horizons vary each semester. We do not have a cap on the number of teachers we accept into the program.
Is there an age limit?
All applicants must be 18 at the time of entry into China.
Some schools do require participants to be at least 20 years old while other schools are flexible.
Can I request to be placed with my friends if they apply?
We can typically accommodate a group of 3-6 teachers within the same school or city.
What are the application deadlines?
For up-to-date deadlines:
Current Fall & Spring Semesters – Click Here
How does the application process work?
First, you need to fill out a preliminary application. It will only take 3 minutes to fill out and it gives China Horizons a general idea of who you are and your interest in teaching in China.
After submitting the preliminary application, a representative from China Horizons will contact you within three business days. They will set up a time to do a phone interview with you.
If the phone interview goes well, you will be recommended to continue with the application process. Click Here for more information on completing and submitting the application.
You will be notified on your acceptance within 2 weeks of submitting your application.
Does it help my chances if I apply early? How early can I apply?
All applicants who submit their applications before the deadline will be equally considered.
If you have a specific request (i.e. to be placed with friends, etc.), applying early will be beneficial. If you apply after the application deadline, your acceptance will be dependent on the amount of positions still available.
If I am accepted, when do I have to commit to going?
Living in China is a fairly large commitment. We encourage you to plan carefully before making this commitment. This should not be a spontaneous decision, but one that is well thought out and carefully considered.
The final point of commitment will be when you submit your application and send in your application fee. After that point, if you withdraw from the program, you will not receive a refund.
China Horizons is aware that uncontrollable circumstances occasionally occur and handles these situations on a case by case basis.
If I am accepted, and you are not able to place me at a school, is the application fee refundable?
If you are accepted into the program, but, for whatever reason, China Horizons is unable to arrange a placement for the semester indicated by the applicant, the fee is fully refundable.
Do teachers for the fall semester get home in time for Christmas?
Fall teachers are contracted through December 30. This means that you will most likely be in China during Christmas.
Although Christmas is not generally celebrated by the Chinese, most teachers really enjoy spending the holiday in this adventurous way!
How can I best prepare for the phone interview?
The best way to prepare for the phone interview will be to:
- Review the China Horizons website thoroughly.
- Write down specific questions about teaching and living in China.
- Prepare to talk about your desires for teaching and living in China.
The phone interview will be arranged after submitting your preliminary application and will be approximately 30 minutes long.
Is it important for me to know Chinese before I apply?
Most teachers do not have any Chinese language training. Less than 10% of the applicants speak any level of Chinese.
Because it is helpful to have knowledge of the language, China Horizons recommends that all teachers learn at least a few basic phrases. This is, however, not factored into your acceptance.
I am not a native English speaker, but I speak English fluently. Can I still apply?
You must be fluent in English in order to apply. To be a successful teacher, you will need to have an easy to understand accent as well (American, British, Australian, etc.)
I am not a resident of the United States, am I still eligible?
As long as English is your native language or you are fluent in English.
Can I request to be placed near or in Beijing?
At this time, China Horizons does not place teachers in Beijing.
China is very connected through trains, planes, and buses. This gives those who desire to go to Beijing the ability to do so, at least once during their time in China. Teachers will usually visit Beijing during a holiday break or at the end of the semester.
Often times, an organized tour is planned upon arriving in China with China Horizons. Not always, but often, this optional tour is in Beijing.
There are plenty of opportunities to visit Beijing during your stay in China. If you have desires to go there, and you make it one of your goals, you will most likely be able to achieve it.
Can I request to be placed in a big or small city?
Keep in mind that the definition of “small city” and “big city” is quite different in China. If you desire to be placed in a city with a specific population, please make it known in your preliminary application.
We will do all we can to place you in the city size you desire, but we cannot guarantee this.
When can I submit my application? How long before the semester begins?
You may submit your application as far in advance as you would like.
If you have decided to go to China, filled out a preliminary application, and participated in the phone interview, then there is no reason to delay applying.
What you don’t want to do is wait until 11:59 the night before the application deadline is due to submit it. If you are ready to apply, do it.
Are married couples welcome to apply together?
Married couples receive a program fee discount.
Married couples will be placed in the same apartment and the same school. However, couples are not guaranteed to have the exact same teaching schedules.
What is the departure date for China?
Fall Semester – Tentative departure date: September 20th
Spring Semester – Tentative departure date: February 21st
What is the difference between public and private schools?
Students attending public schools tend to possess a higher English level and are better behaved because of their desire to succeed and improve their lifestyle.
It is not uncommon for students from private schools to come from financially well-off families. Though the students want to learn, they are at times easily distracted and need a bit more encouragement and motivation to learn English.
The trade-off is the size of each class. Public school classes may include as many as 50-70 students while private schools typically have no more than 25-30 students in a classroom. Your ability to learn everyone’s name is definitely put to the challenge in public schools more so than in private schools.
What if I’m not an English or Education major?
The teaching position focuses extensively on conversational language training. You must come up with conversational activities and lessons that help students use the English they already know, along with what they are currently learning from their Chinese English teachers.
You are not required to teach a lot of grammar or other rules. The students will often have no idea what you are saying, but you must still immerse them in English and help them feel more comfortable hearing it from a fluent English speaker.
Can I choose what age group I teach?
We welcome requests for specific age groups and we will do our best to accommodate everyone.
However, we ask applicants to be flexible and open to teaching other ages if a position at the requested age level is unavailable. If your participation is dependent on being able to teach a certain age, you should notify China Horizons before you apply.
How many classes will I teach each week?
The teaching schedule is usually between 16 and 20 hours a week. You will teach between 16 and 20 classes that last from 40 to 50 minutes each. You will be asked to participate in English-speaking activities such as plays, skits, and musical performances. These are usually a welcomed experience and a pleasant change from the day to day teaching routine.
How can I teach Chinese students if I don’t know Chinese?
Most of the students have already had some English training and many have strong English skills. Schools request that you only use English in the classroom so the students are forced to communicate with you in English. You will need to be creative with instructions.
This challenge is all part of the experience and the relationship that you build with the students.
What age groups could I teach?
Most of our teachers are placed in middle schools and high schools. Classes range from kindergarten to college. Most positions are within public schools.
How will I know what to teach?
In most schools, your curriculum is your own creation.
The school may provide some textbooks, which are often either flawed or beyond the students’ level. You are welcome to bring as many English teaching manuals and materials as you like.
Most teachers have fears about not knowing how to teach. As long as you have a good attitude and sense of creativity, the lessons will come. You’ll be surprised what kinds of situations you can use as lessons that make it fun for the students and memorable for you as well.
When preparing to teach, think to yourself, “What will they need to know in order to communicate if they were to go to the U.S.A. or the U.K. tomorrow?”
How many students will I have in each class?
Class size range from 25-50 students per class.
What is the dress code while I am teaching in the classroom?
Business casual or professional attire is required while teaching. Jeans and a T-shirt are not acceptable teaching attire.
For men, we recommend slacks, khakis, or pants and a button-down or polo-type shirt. A tie is appropriate but not required. Additionally, facial hair is discouraged by the schools.
For women, we recommend skirts below the knee, dress pants, dresses, blouses, etc.
While teaching, the following is not allowed: Capri’s, shorts, flip flops, sleeveless shirts, shirts that come above your belt line, or other revealing attire. All clothing should be clean and modest.
What type of school will I be teaching at?
The school you teach at could be one of several types:
- A boarding school where the children live and eat on the school campus.
- A school where students travel home on weekends.
- A public school where the students come and go every day.
I don’t know anything about teaching. How am I going to be able to handle a class of 50 Chinese students?
Chinese students are usually very well behaved. They have been taught that they need to respect foreign English teachers; they want you to have a good experience in their country.
Students, however, are the same everywhere. If they don’t feel that a teacher is professional, confident, and respectful, they will be more hesitant to respect a teacher.
Rules are very important. Ground rules need to be set up and enforced in the classroom.
Chinese students are often very excited to have a foreign English teacher and once they start to feel comfortable with you, they might get a little noisy once in a while.
What level of English are my students going to be at?
Students are at every level of English.
Some students will have excellent English and will be able to hold a meaningful conversation with you. Others will struggle to say a complete sentence.
This is one of the challenges of teaching conversational English. In a class of 50 students, you will have a huge range of English speaking abilities. As a teacher, you must try your best to reach the students’ needs. No one expects perfection out of you; this is a tough accomplishment even for accomplished teachers.
Will I be teaching as a team with a local teacher or alone?
China Horizons does not do team teaching. When students have a native Chinese speaking teacher in the classroom, Chinese becomes a crutch for them and reduces the effectiveness of learning English.
This might be scary for the first week, but you will quickly grow accustomed to it and it will not be a big deal.
How many hours will I be teaching?
16-20 hours a week. The maximum is 5 days a week, no Sundays.
China Horizons teachers do not teach more than 20 hours a week. We want to give teachers a chance to really experience the culture and immerse themselves in China. This is not possible when stressing over teaching 40 hours a week.
What time of the day will I teach?
Regular school hours. Your schedule could range from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You may be asked to host an English Corner once a week in the evening. This is a casual gathering of students who want to practice speaking English. The English Corner is usually very relaxed and fun.
How long will my classes last?
Classes last from 40 to 50 minutes each. You may teach multiple classes in a row with very little or no break.
Do most teachers find it hard to teach?
Teaching has its challenges, but most teachers find teaching far more enjoyable than difficult.
During the first week, while you are getting adjusted to a new life, teaching can be scary and difficult, but once you overcome the initial adjustment period, teaching becomes very enjoyable.
How is the classroom set up?
Classrooms are not very large and luxurious. A classroom will have the essentials and usually nothing more. They will have: chairs, desks, chalkboards, and a table at the front. Some classrooms have a computer and projector for the teacher to use, but not all of them.
Classrooms vary greatly depending on the school and age group. Students are packed into classrooms very tightly. Sometimes they only have a small amount of room to move.
Will I teach out of a textbook or do I create my own lessons?
Most of the lessons will be your own creations. Very few schools provide a textbook.
China Horizons provides two days training in China before teachers are sent to their schools. During this training, teachers will be provided with lots of resources and sample lesson plans. Once the creative juices start flowing, most teachers end up with more ideas and more lesson plans then they have time to use.
How long does it take to plan a lesson?
Some lessons might take longer than others to plan. It depends on the teacher. A couple hours should be set aside to prepare a lesson, at least at first until you get the hang of it.
SAFETY & HEALTH
How are women treated in China? Are they respected in public?
Women are treated with respect in China. Foreign women especially are very, very rarely looked down upon or disrespected. Women teachers will have many opportunities and equal treatment to men.
What do the Chinese think about foreigners?
Chinese people are generally very hospitable. Generally speaking, they like foreigners a lot.
Chinese people like to have foreigners in their country. They want you to have a good impression of their country and will generally, do all they can to make sure you do. Most Chinese people will bend over backwards to help you.
Are there some topics I should avoid while in China?
Use wisdom in discussing any debatable matter in great detail. Some topics to steer clear of, even if directly asked about are: Tibet, religion, Tiananmen Square, negative comments about Chairman Mao, and the Urumqi ethnic group living in Xinjiang province.
Be respectful of China. You may have opinions you want to share, but more importantly, you don’t want to seem disrespectful of their culture and policies. If in doubt about a topic, don’t talk about it. Change the subject to something more light hearted.
Is there a US Embassy in China?
The U.S. Embassy is located in Beijing. They have lots of useful information about China on their website, including many safety tips and emergency procedures.
PREPARATIONS & PACKING
Do I need to receive any vaccinations before going to China?
No vaccinations are required for entry into China.
Every participant needs to make his/her own decision about receiving vaccinations. China Horizons does not take any stance for receiving vaccinations before departure to China.
The US Center for Disease Control has detailed information regarding vaccinations for China. Click Here.
Should I purchase a travel guide for China?
Many previous teachers have found the Lonely Planet guides for China to be extremely helpful during their travels. Teachers have also found the Lonely Planet or Belize Phrasebooks to be useful. There is a plethora of information on traveling and living in China on the internet as well.
Does China Horizons provide medical insurance for teachers?
Major medical insurance coverage is not provided by China Horizons or the host school. Any international health or evacuation insurance is at the participant’s discretion.
Most schools have an on-campus clinic for minor ailments and injuries. This clinic is free of charge to the foreign teachers. If something of a more serious nature were to occur, the school would take you to the local hospital where all expenses would be your responsibility.
The health care in China is so inexpensive that unless you were having surgery, you can pay your bill in cash.
Will I need a converter in order to use the outlets in China?
China runs on 220 Volts (USA uses 120 Volts). You will need a converter and adapter for electronics purchased outside of China.
Laptops and many other electronic devices have a converter built into them, so you would only need a plug adapter. Be sure to check your electronics for this first and if in doubt, use a converter. Better safe than sorry!
What is the dress code while teaching?
The dress code while teaching is business casual or higher. Jeans and a T-shirt are not acceptable teaching attire.
For men, China Horizons recommends khakis, slacks, pants, and button-down or polo-type shirts. A tie is appropriate but not required. Facial hair is discouraged by the schools.
For women, we recommend skirts below the knee, dress pants or slacks, blouses, etc.
Other casual clothes such as shorts, flip flops, Capri’s, etc, can be worn while not teaching.
How many outfits and shoes should I plan to pack?
If you are not capable of packing light, then have someone pack for you.
Limit yourselves to 2-3 pair of shoes. Bring some comfortable ones and some dressier ones for special occasions and teaching. Bring a few outfits to start out and then consider buying clothing in China.
Should I bring some small gifts for my students?
It is common for teachers to bring small and simple gifts for their students. Some good ideas for such gifts include:
- Rolls of new pennies from the bank.
- One cent stamps from the post office.
- Wallet size pictures of yourself to hand out at the end of the semester.
Do I need to bring a first aid kit?
Every teacher should prepare and bring a basic first aid kit in the event of minor injuries and ailments. The kit should include these basic items:
- Band-Aids (various sizes)
- Medical adhesive tape
- Neosporin (or some other type of triple antibacterial ointment)
- Pepto-Bismol (for upset stomachs)
- Cortisone Cream (or some other type of anti-itch cream for insect bites)
- Nasal decongestant
- Antiseptic hand cleaner
- 2 Cold compressors: 1 that can be kept in the freezer and 1 that is instant
Are there things I will not be able to purchase in China?”
Here is a list of the most common things you will either not be able to find at all in China or will be very difficult to find:
- Quality batteries for digital cameras and other high powered electronics
- Construction paper
- Tums (or any other antacids)
- Cortisone cream (for bug bites)
- Granola bars
Are their items I will be able to easily purchase in China?
Here is a list of some things you will be able to easily purchase while in China. Do not waste valuable packing space stocking up on these items:
- Shampoo (Pantene Pro V and others)
- Feminine Hygiene products (Pads-YES, Tampons-NO)
- Contraceptives/pregnancy tests
- Curling Irons
- Toothpaste (Name brands)
- Ties, dress shirts, suits, skirts, blouses
- Shoes (shoe sizes are measured in centimeters
How many pieces of luggage can I bring to China?
China Horizons policy is one checked bag.
Once a teacher receives their itinerary, they will be able to go to the airlines website to see the current weight restrictions.
When do I need to have a passport?
As soon as possible.
You will need your passport 4-6 months before the departure date. If you do not have a passport and are planning on applying, get your passport.
If you are applying and the departure date is less than 4 months away, talk with a China Horizons representative. China Horizons will help you decide if there is enough time to apply for a passport.
Will I have troubles taking prescription drugs into China?
Prescriptions that are clearly marked with your name on them and do not look suspicious will not usually be questioned.
AIRFARE & GETTING TO CHINA
Do I have to pay for all of my airfare before I leave for China?
Volunteer Positions – Airfare is included in the program fee, so as long as you have paid the program fee, you have paid for your airfare.
Paid Positions – No.
Will I travel with a group to China?
A representative from China Horizons escorts each group of teachers to China and ensures a smooth transition to the host school.
Teachers who choose to attend the optional arrival tour will travel over with the majority of the other teachers. Those who choose to only attend the teacher training and orientation will travel over in a smaller group.
Occasionally, if a teacher needs to fly independent of the group, a representative from the assigned school will meet him/her at the airport.
May I purchase my own airfare?
China Horizons will initiate and assist each teacher in reserving his/her airfare to travel over with the group.
We work in association with America Asia Express travel agency to help arrange your airfare. Their prices are some of the lowest on the market, but if you have connections or access to discounted tickets you are free to do your own research and booking after consulting with China Horizons.
However, by purchasing your own airfare, you may be traveling to China alone. Past experience has shown that unless you have traveled to China before, it is best to travel in a group the first time.
Paid Positions – China Horizons will issue and purchase all tickets together. Each teacher is responsible for paying China Horizons directly for the entire cost of the airfare.
What are the airline baggage restrictions for international travel?
Some international airlines allow two checked bags, however all domestic Chinese flights only allow one checked bag. However, it is China Horizons policy to only allow one checked bag. China doesn’t have the structure to handle 2 checked bags from each of our teachers. You also don’t want to drag 2 bags around while you’re traveling.
Please contact China Horizons for specific airline regulations.
Do I need to purchase my own airfare?
China Horizons will make and purchase all airfare reservations for the group.
Volunteer Position – The cost of the airfare is included in the volunteer program fee.
Is my ticket round trip?
China Horizons purchases roundtrip airfare for all teachers (volunteer and paid positions). All teachers will be given open ended return tickets with a tentative return date for the end of the semester.
Volunteer Positions – You will be asked to choose one of the preselected departure cities. The cost of the airfare from one of these cities is included in the volunteer program fee. Participants desiring to depart from another location may need to pay an additional fee if there is an increase in the ticket cost compared to the ticket of the preselected cities.
The preselected cities are:
- Salt Lake City
- Las Vegas
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
How do I make my travel arrangements to get to China?
You will be asked by China Horizons which USA international airport you want to depart from. China Horizons will take care of the remaining itinerary details.
After airfare has been purchased by China Horizons, you will be informed as to the exact time your flight departs. You will also be emailed your itinerary.
You will not be held responsible to “find your own way to China.”
How long is the flight to China?
It depends on the airline and how many layovers there are. Usually the long stretch of the flight takes 12-16 hours and the entire trip takes almost an entire day.
What are the apartments like? What will be included in my apartment?
The school is responsible for providing apartments that are clean, furnished, and have heat/AC. All apartments are contracted to have a private bathroom and shower with a western-style toilet. All rooms are private with lock and a key issued to the foreign teacher.
Utilities are included, but you should be respectful and conserve water and electricity as much as you can (they are not cheap).
Most furnishings include a TV, DVD player, telephone, bed with coverings, wardrobe cabinet, desk, chair/couch, refrigerator, computer with internet access, and a washing machine.
The layout style of each apartment differs regarding the number of bedrooms and whether or not a kitchen is provided.
Be aware that Chinese heating and AC sources may not be as efficient as you are accustomed. Remember you are living in a developing country.
How far from the school will my apartment be?
Most apartments are on the school campus.
If your apartment is not on the school campus, it will be a short walking distance away.
Will I be living in an apartment or a dorm?
You will be living in an apartment.
Depending on the school you are placed in determines the details of your apartment. All apartments vary when it comes to specific details.
What are the general living conditions of my apartment going to be like?
By Chinese standards, the apartment you will live in will be very nice and usually quite big.
Your apartment will be clean, sanitary, safe, secure, and private. Your apartment will have running water, electricity, heat, and A/C.
You have to keep in mind that China is still a developing country and you are not going to be living in a luxury suite.
Is there internet in the apartments?
Most of the apartments have internet. There are only a couple that do not. Those that do not have internet will have access to internet through the school.
Are the apartments secure and safe?
All apartments have locks on the doors. You will be given a key to your apartment. The school will have a key to your apartment in case of emergencies.
LIVING IN CHINA
What is the weather like in China?
China is a very large country, therefore the weather is very diverse. China is similar in size to the USA. It is near impossible to summarize the weather for a country that size.
MSN Weather is a great resource to search. Try typing in a few Chinese cities to see what the weather is like there. MSN Weather also has a feature where you can look at the year averages for cities.
Click Here for a map of current teaching locations.
How will I get around the city I live in?
There are many ways you will be able to travel within your city. Bus, taxi, bike, motorcycle/moped taxis, rickshaws, and walking.
Travel within cities is fairly cheap. Walking and taking the bus are generally the most common ways to get around.
- Buses on average cost less than $0.25 per trip.
- Taxis for short trips on average cost less than $5 per trip.
- Used bicycles can be purchased usually for less than $25, but take a little bravery to use.
- Motorcycles/Mopeds and rickshaws are all negotiable in price, but usually a little less than a car taxi.
- Walking is the main way to get around and it is free.
How many people in China speak English?
Starting in 3rd grade through college it is mandatory to take English. A lot of people, mostly younger Chinese, know at least some English.
College age Chinese are likely to know the most English and be the most willing to practice talking with you.
A lot of Chinese who know English are very shy about it and will not willingly talk in English.
What kinds of transportation am I going to most often use?
Within your City: walking, buses, mopeds, and some taxis.
Long distance traveling: trains (most of which will have berths for sleeping) and buses (some will have seats and others will have beds for sleeping).
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes, bottled water is safe and readily available. However, do not drink tap water.
Only drink bottled water or water that has been purified.
Do the internet restrictions cause problems for teachers?
Internet restrictions do not cause major problems, mainly just minor annoyances.
China does not usually block religious websites. China blocks, on occasion, websites that talk about topics China deems as sensitive. They occasionally block social media websites.
Some popular sites that are often blocked in China are: Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, and Twitter.
What are the people like?
Chinese people are generally very hospitable. Generally speaking, they like foreigners a lot. Chinese people like to have foreigners in their country. They want you to have a good impression of their country and will generally do all they can to make sure you do.
Most Chinese people will bend over backwards to help you.
Of course, people are pretty much the same everywhere you go. People react to the way you treat them. The Chinese will treat you well if you respect them and their country.
Can I learn the language while I am in China?
China is a great place to learn Chinese. It takes a lot of self discipline, but you are more than welcome to learn the language while you are there.
China Horizons does not have any official program for learning Chinese while in China. You can, however, pay a student, friend, or faculty member to tutor you.
Be creative. Take a textbook with you, buy some children’s books while there, have people write down words and phrases for you, or just get out there and try speaking to anyone that will listen.
How big are the cities in China where you have teachers?
City sizes vary greatly. They range from populations of 150 thousand to 4 million. China is huge and very populated. Cities with populations of less than 3 million are usually considered small.
Are there some things I am not going to be able to buy in China?
Click Here to see a list of things that are hard to find in China.
Will I be able to exercise in China? Can I go for runs or join a gym?
Many schools have outdoor and indoor tracks you can use. Most cities have gyms you can join as well.
Teachers in the past have found quiet streets and created running routes on those streets. You will most definitely receive quite a few funny looks, but you should not view this as a safety concern.
Gyms will be equipped with most of the workout equipment you would find in America. You might have to explore a little bit and ask your liaison for help finding and signing up for a gym.
Pollution can be a concern, but not to the point that you cannot go out and exercise.
May I bring and use my cell phone in China?
Many cell phones from the US can be used in China. A new SIM card must be purchased upon arrival in China in order to access the China cellular network. Most US phones will need to be ‘unlocked’ in order to work on a Chinese network. We recommend consulting your cell phone provider or manufacturer to ensure that your specific phone has the capability of switching SIM cards and using the Chinese network.
Is it expensive to add more minutes to a Chinese cell phone?
Adding minutes to your cell phone is considerably less expensive than in the US. Of course, depending on your telephone habits, minutes can add up.
Text messaging is available on the Chinese network and is the most inexpensive form of communication within the country while using a cell phone.
Will a computer with the internet or internet for my laptop be easily accessible?
Some schools provide a high speed internet connection, but no computer.
Most students will have a high speed internet connection in their apartment. Wireless is becoming more common in China, but you should plan on needing to plug your laptop into a LAN line.
Those teachers who do not have access to internet in the apartment will be provided with a computer on the school campus where they can e-mail and search the internet.
What are some of the ways I will be able to communicate with my family and friends back home?
E-mail and instant messaging are the most reliable and easiest methods in communicating with family and friends at home.
China Horizons strongly recommends that teachers sign up for an internet phone service account such as SKYPE or WECHAT.
Will I be able to constantly communicate with my family back home?
E-mail and instant messaging services are based on the availability of the internet. If your internet has an issue and is not working correctly, the school you are contracted with will help correct the problem as fast as possible. In the mean time, if you need to contact your family, the school will provide you access to the internet through the school or a nearby internet café.
Some means of communicating can be fickle depending on current internet restrictions. For instance, Facebook and various blog websites such as Blogger are regularly blocked. However, email and instant messaging programs are rarely blocked.
EATING & FOOD CULTURE
Where will I eat meals?
Volunteer Positions – Schools will either offer free meals at the cafeteria or they will provide a monthly cash stipend for teachers to purchase meals or groceries.
Paid Positions – Some schools offer free meals at the cafeteria while others expect the teachers to pay for their own meals out of their monthly living allowance/salary.
If schools provide a kitchen in the apartment and the teacher would rather cook independently, he/she is responsible for all grocery costs.
Am I going to be asked to eat anything weird?
You will most likely be asked to try some very “foreign” foods. What you eat and don’t eat is up to you. Just be sure to be polite if you choose not to eat something.
What does the main diet in China consist of?
Much of the Chinese diet consists of noodles, rice, steamed/fried meats, and various vegetables, fish, chicken, pork, and beef.
How long will it take my body to get used to Chinese food?
This depends widely on the individual. Some adjust almost immediately, others do not.
You should be aware that food in China varies vastly from western tastes. Sometimes it takes several weeks before one becomes accustomed to this change in diet.
I am a vegetarian. Am I going to be able to find vegetarian meals in China?
You will want to make sure you become very acquainted with the phrase:
“Do you have vegetarian food?”
Print off the characters for that phrase to show restaurants. You will most likely want to learn how to say it correctly too.
There are other phrases that might be useful to learn, such as “Is there a vegetarian restaurant nearby? Is this cooked with animal broth?” You can find these phrases easily online by searching on Google.
Purchasing a Mandarin Chinese phrasebook might be useful as well. Most phrasebooks will have a few pages on how to order vegetarian meals.
Is food a big part of Chinese Culture?
Food is the center Chinese life. Sharing meals together is very important among friends and families. Your school will likely invite you to important dinners and banquets. You are an important guest and will be expected to attend important events your school asks you to attend (when you are able to).
Because food is so important in China, you need to be respectful. Observing the people around you will help you know how to act during meals. Over time, you will learn proper Chinese manners.
The Chinese are very understanding to the fact that you are foreign. They are very respectful and nonjudgmental while you are learning proper eating etiquette.
Does “real” Chinese food taste like American Chinese Food?
A great deal of Chinese food in America is similar to Hong Kong (Cantonese) food. Over the years, it has been transformed to better satisfy American taste buds.
The ideas behind Chinese food are the same. Most of the main ingredients are the same, but the spices and additional ingredients are different.
It is not impossible to find authentic Chinese food in America, but your typical fast food Chinese tastes very different than authentic Chinese food.
In China, do they use chopsticks to eat?
Chopsticks are a way of life in China. If you do not know how to use them, we advise you to learn how to.
However, using chopsticks is not hard to learn and if you never pick up a pair before you get to China, you will be able to learn while you are there fairly quickly.
I do not drink alcohol. Is it a large part of Chinese meals?
Alcohol is a large part of the food culture in China. It is more common for women not to drink then men.
When you are invited to eat, your host will most likely offer some kind of alcohol. As their guest, they will feel it is their host duty to buy you alcohol for your meals.
It is fine and perfectly acceptable to politely refuse any alcoholic drinks.
Most of the time you can just say, “I do not drink (beer, wine, alcohol)” and that will be the end of it. Sometimes you need to be a little more creative and explain why you don’t drink.
If you do not drink because of a religious belief, you can say, “I do not drink (beer, wine, alcohol) because of my religious beliefs.” You should, however, leave it at that. Government regulations do not allow for you to go into details as to why your religious beliefs influence you not to drink alcohol. A very effective way to turn down an offer is to say, “I do not drink (beer, wine, alcohol) because of my family tradition.” Family and tradition are both things Chinese people relate very well to.
Most of the time, your host and friends will be very respectful of your decision to not drink. There will, on occasion, be a time when your host or friend think you are just trying to be polite. In that case, they will continue to offer it to you a few times. You must understand they are not trying to be rude or pushy; this is just part of their cultural upbringing.
What does “family style” meal mean?
Family style meals are meals that are shared by the whole group. In China most meals are shared. Many dishes will be ordered and placed on the table and everyone shares them. It is a very fun way to eat and really brings everyone together in conversation and enjoyment.
Can I drink the tap water in China?
You cannot and should not drink any tap water in China. Only drink bottled water or water that has been purified in some way. You should take precautions to use bottled water when brushing your teeth and washing anything that will go directly into your mouth.
What precautions do I need to take with fruit and vegetables?
Fruits and vegetables should not be eaten raw unless you have washed them yourself. Chinese meals very rarely contain raw vegetables.
You should wash all fruit with a bleach solution or with a soap fruit washing solution. Washing solutions can be purchased at most grocery stores.
After washing fruit, dry it off with a clean towel or let it air dry before eating.
What are the food manners like in China?
Food manners in China might not seem like manners at all, according to Western standards.
Watch the people who are around you for the first little while to see what they are doing and how they are eating. Doing this will give you a better idea as to what is appropriate and what is not.
VISAS & PASSPORTS
How do I know what visa to apply for and how do I get a visa?
China Horizons will take care of all the logistics regarding visas as to ensure you travel to and teach in China under the proper visa.
How much does the visa cost?
Volunteer Positions – the visa cost is included in the program fee.
Paid Positions – the visa fee will cost approximately $200 plus possible shipping of approximately $30.
How long does it take to apply for a visa?
The visa application process takes no longer than two weeks once your visa application is submitted.
When should I apply for my visa?
China Horizons will notify you when the time comes to apply for your visa.
Visas are usually applied for 6 weeks prior to departure.
Can I apply for my visa on my own?
No. Participants should not apply for a visa on their own.
To ensure visas are applied for correctly, China Horizons will notify you when the time comes to apply for your visa and will assist you through the process.
Do I have to have a passport to apply for a visa?
You must have a signed, current passport that is valid for one year in order to apply for your Chinese visa.
Can I apply for a passport on my own?
Yes, participants should apply for their own passport.
You should be able to apply for your passport at your local Post Office. China Horizons is available to answer any questions regarding the application process.
Where do I apply for a passport?
If you can wait 6-8 weeks for your passport, then it is recommended that you apply through your local Post Office. If you need your passport within 30 days, you can expedite your application through the Post Office for an additional fee.
Can I submit my application while I am waiting for my passport to arrive?
A copy of your passport should be provided at the time of application, but you are still welcome to submit your application before your passport arrives.
Please notify China Horizons if you are in the process of applying for your passport.
Can I travel in and out of China with my visa?
China Horizons provides single entry visas. This means that once you leave the country, you have to apply for another visa in order to return to China.
Under special circumstances, if a teacher notifies China Horizons prior to application that they want to receive a multiple entry visa, this may be possible.
TRAVELING WITHIN CHINA
How will I travel around if I don’t know Chinese?
Knowledge of the Chinese language is not essential for traveling in China. You will find many ways to communicate when the language barrier presents an obstacle.
Your school will also be happy to assist you in arranging your bus/train tickets, reserving hotel rooms, etc.
Can I travel around the country during my stay and on the weekends?
Yes, please go enjoy your time in China!
Once you are at the school, any other traveling is done independently, with the exception of occasional trips organized by the school.
Investing in a travel guide, such as the Lonely Planet will provide you with great ideas for weekend trips and excursions. Many teachers travel every weekend to nearby sites.
Will there be someone from the school to travel with me?
This varies on your specific school. You may have an assigned escort from the school.
Be advised that most schools are very protective of the foreign teachers. Knowing that this is most likely your first trip to China, they will be hesitant at first to allow you to travel anywhere without an escort. Once you have settled into the Chinese way of life, they will become more comfortable with the idea of you traveling independently to town or even to destinations outside your city.
Is traveling in China expensive
Compared to travel in the U.S.A., China is inexpensive. Most teachers find it possible to include some traveling in their budgets.
Traveling by train and bus is the cheapest and most common way to get around the country. Teachers have found that hostels in China are safe, clean, fun, and cheap places to stay.
Will I have time to travel after the semester is finished?
Once the semester is done, if you have the desire to travel, you are free to do so.
You are welcomed to stay as long as you would like, until your visa expires. China Horizons will help to coordinate and change your air departure date.
You will be responsible for travel, safety, health, and your own wellbeing. China Horizons takes no responsibility for a teacher who chooses to stay in China after their contract with the school has expired.
Will I be able to visit Beijing, Shanghai, and other major tourist sites?
If you desire to see these places, you can make arrangements to do so during vacation times, weekends, or after the semester ends.
China is very well connected through rail lines and airlines, and if a teacher dedicates themselves to going to a few of these places, they will most likely be able to.
How long can I stay in China after the semester ends?
For teachers who are teaching one semester, visas are good for 180 days, single entry. You will be teaching for approximately 130 days. You are free to stay in China until your visa expires.
You will be responsible for travel, safety, health, and your own wellbeing. China Horizons takes no responsibility for a teacher who chooses to stay in China after their contract with the school has expired.
How much is the salary?
Paid Positions – For fall and winter contracts, the salary is between 450 to 650 U.S. dollars per month, which by Chinese standards is quite a bit. Your salary will be paid in Chinese currency
When will I receive my salary?
Paid Positions – Teachers are typically paid at the end or beginning of each month.
Who pays my salary?
Paid Positions – The individual schools will pay your monthly salary. China Horizons has contracted with them to be responsible for teacher salaries.
How will I be able to keep my money safe?
Paid Positions – Your schools will help you set up an account at a local bank. The school will either pay you directly each month in cash or will direct deposit your money into your account. You can use an ATM card to withdraw money as you need it.
Is China Horizons sponsored by or affiliated with any religion or church?
China Horizons has no affiliation with any religion or church.
Does China have rules regarding religions and religious activity?
China Horizons supports the Chinese government’s policy of not allowing the active or passive proselyting of any religion in China. This is strictly enforced.
Any religious materials brought to China should be for personal use only. No participant should engage in formal or informal missionary activities in any way. Teachers found violating these conditions will be sent home immediately.
I am LDS. Are there church services available for me to attend near my school?
Contact a China Horizons representative for more detail regarding specific religions and available church services.
Where can I get additional information about the program?
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call: 801.203.3401
- “Like” China Horizons on Facebook
Can I contact previous teachers for more information? If so, how?
- Email China Horizons and ask to be put in contact with a past teacher.
- “Like” China Horizons on Facebook. Look to see if you have any friends that also “like” China Horizons. If you do, then you already have people you can contact. Even if you don’t have any friends who also “like” China Horizons, you can use Facebook to get in contact with hundreds of past teachers.