Two years ago, when I first arrived in China as an English teacher, I was very scared and nervous about what Xi’an would offer. I had gotten a great opportunity to come teach in Shaanxi Province and didn’t know anything about speaking Chinese or how very different it would be to live in China.

In my home country, South Africa, I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to learn the Chinese language or much about the Chinese culture, so I didn’t realise how different it was. Luckily, I met many great Chinese people as well as other English teachers who taught me many great things about the wonderful city I worked in and about China itself.

For the two years I worked in China, I had a lot to learn and a lot to teach. It has been so great to come to Xi’an and to work with so many amazing people. I was always surprised at how many students there were in the classroom and it was great to see many of them learn English so well.

I have been very lucky to teach in some great Middle schools (Xi’an Middle School) and Primary schools (Meng Yi Art Training School). Each place I went to, I learned something new about the country and its people and so many places had such interesting food. Summer and Winter vacation was an excellent way to travel around the city and to get extra money by teaching in other cities around the Xi’an area.

I got to see so many great museums, parks, mountains and hot springs while I was living here. I can say however, that it is so much hotter in summer than in my home country, which is surprising because people always told me Africa should be hotter. Believe me the weather is way different between the two countries, but I really liked winter snow here and most of the time it wasn’t too bad.

Even though it was tough sometimes to understand people and I had a lot of difficulty learning the language, I still made many great friends and I have many stories to tell my family back home. It took me such a long time to be brave enough to talk to people in Chinese, but when I did it made life so much better and so much easier.

I know that it can be tough to go to a new place and try and survive on your own, but it is a true test of strength if you can survive as long as I have and still like China as much as I do. I am very happy that I was able to work in China and look forward to perhaps coming back one day.

I will miss the country so much and would like to say thank you to so many people who made my life here so much easier.

A. Le Roux
University of Johannesburg

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