Hitting “The Wall” in China


Hitting  “The Wall” in China is nothing to do about sports, or Pink Floyd. Its all about a mental barriers that almost every newcomer faces.

After the “Honeymoon Period”, generally sixty to ninety days, many will begin to feel the burden of accumulated stresses and cultural shock.

Suddenly, everything’s wrong. They question their fitness for China, why they are even in China and why they ever left their home country.

Not to worry, this is a temporary and completely curable condition.  Your mates will have been through it and will likely recognize the symptoms before you do.

The first part of the cure is to recognize “The Wall” for what it is, a common, temporary attitude distortion caused mostly by change of environment.

The second part of the cure is to surround yourself with friends and familiar things for a bit. Invite some friends over, talk about it, and  watch some favorite DVDs over a home country comfort food meal.

Basically, pull back into a comfort zone you have created until the storm passes, and it will pass in a couple of days or so.

Before you know it, you too will have pushed through “The Wall”.


If you would like to read more short posts about life in China or teaching in China, click HERE


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The Allure of China

The allure of China


The allure of the Chinese street market lies in surprise

The allure of the Chinese street market lies in surprise

During my nearly one decade in China I noted a curious phenomenon – teachers who arrived swearing they would only be teaching one year in China are still there many years later.

As the headmaster of Kenneth’s English School (in Jilin China), I had countless conversations with newly arrived teachers. Many had very specific plans after their one year contract, for example, grad school, join a family business, etc.  And yet, many stayed much longer than the one year they planned.

Now, to be fair, some of these did meet a future mate and stayed longer in part for that reason. But that doesn’t explain the bulk of the number.

I think that a big part of the allure of China, on a day-to-day basis, is simply China is incredibly absorbing, challenging and different. And people who like interesting, different and challenging situations find China is the place for them.

Also, teaching English in China can be fun and interesting.

China isn’t for everybody.  It takes a big leap of faith, flexibility and survival skills to really experience what China offers.

The folks I considered successful in China, what I call “China tough”, were confident, skilled, resourceful, adaptive, and had well developed social skills.  At Kenneth’s English, we were fortunate to have many teachers with these skills pass through our doors and it was a pleasure to have made their acquaintance.

Whether one loves it or hates it, (and one will experience both emotions at times) China is just alien in so many ways, especially away from the big cities.  Marco Polo’s last words were, “I have not told half of what I saw.”. Those who spend much time in China will relate to this. And they will return with a stock of stories and experiences from the allure of China that forever will enrich their lives.

I won’t say, “Come on in, the water is fine.”  But, for those who have the temperament, China’s allure can be amazing.