Alex is originally from Oakland, California. He spent a year in Yinchuan, China in the Ningxia province, and he’s now back in California, working with kids and freelancing as a graphic designer.
How would you overall describe your experience with Aston?
I would say that overall my experience with Aston was definitely positive. It opened my eyes to experiences that I had never been exposed to, both professionally and personally.
How was your transition to China, and how did Aston help you adjust?
I didn’t know what to expect really. The city I was in, Yinchuan, is apparently relatively small by Chinese standards, so for some reason I was expecting a village (I didn’t do much research. I might’ve googled it once and saw there was a KFC– which was cool!). Being out of my comfort zone was tough at first, but the other teachers at Aston were very welcoming and went out of their way to make me feel a part of the group very quickly.
Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
Even though the pay structure is laid out clearly, many people (myself included) underestimate when exactly their first full paycheck is coming. My school was very accommodating in advancing part of my salary to make sure I wasn’t living on instant noodles 3 times a day. So, maybe just a continuing reminder for the newbies.
Would you recommend Aston to a person interested teaching abroad? Why or why not?
I would recommend Aston. As someone with no real teaching experience, Aston put me in a position to teach English comfortably. All of the doubts about if I could do the teaching that I had had before starting disappeared after receiving training and guidance from my co-workers and trainers.
What aspects of teaching with ASton do you like and dislike?
Personally, I enjoyed the relationships I built. Not only with my students, but with the staff and the other teachers. I didn’t like lesson planning. It was necessary, but not my favorite thing to do.
What sort of advice would you give a person considering Aston?
Do it!!! There will be ups and downs, but you won’t regret it.
What sort of things were you able to achieve in China with Aston that you wouldn’t have been able to accomplish at home?
Travel. Travel. Travel! Initially this was the reason I signed up. China is so big but it is also surrounded by many amazing places. I’ll be back in China someday because there is so much left to see. In around a year and a half, I was blessed to see, visit, and spend significant time in six different countries. Also, with all of my free time while I was in China, my basketball game really improved.
Anything else you’d like to share about your experiences?
Baijiu is an acquired taste.