Working at Aston English in Xi’an has given me many rewarding memories. I came to China to work for Aston in February of 2013 with the intention of only staying 1 year. But when my contract was up, I had built such good relationships with the staff and students that I couldn’t say good bye.
China was my first place living away from home and going to a different country was a scary thought. Not knowing the language or what to expect made this process daunting and terrifying. The Deputy Regional Director at the time made me feel more at ease. He was very thorough and answered any questions I had. He helped me with VISA questions and even suggested things to pack in case I missed home. Nearing my arrival date, I was then passed to my manager at Aston 2 in Xi’an. She was equally as accommodating and helpful. I was able to learn a lot from my manager as she provided me with detailed itineraries and walked me through the processes in what to expect while teaching. During the first couple of weeks working at Aston I went through a whirlwind of emotions. But with the aid of the Deputy Regional Director, the manager, and the staff at Aston 2, I managed to get through it all without pulling out too much hair.
Aston English is a good introductory school for people who are interested in teaching abroad. There are 2 different types of schools that people should be aware of. There are branch schools that are based out of cities like Xian, Jinan, and Dalian. And then there are the franchise schools which are located in smaller cities with not as many foreigners. I’ve had the opportunity to experience both type of schools and there are great qualities about each. Being stationed in a larger city there is a greater chance that the school will have more than 1 foreign teacher with you. There are more resources that are readily available. Teaching in a franchise school there’s more of an intimate environment and sometimes the school demands more of you because you’re the only foreigner. But you’re able to contribute some of your own ideas and thoughts in regards with ways to improve the school.
Coming to China has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Working at Aston I was provided with the chance to hone my organizational skills. With the opportunity of having so many classes on the weekends, I was able to think on my feet and it has made me become more resourceful and creative. I was also able to realize my adoration for young learners.
Being a Chinese born Canadian I didn’t experience many of the strange and unusual things that many other foreigners had encountered. My experiences have been pleasant and not intrusive. When traveling out in public with other foreigners, the locals would usually direct their questions to me thinking I was the group’s translator. Little to their surprise, my Chinese wasn’t so good and the locals ended up being extremely confused with my lack of communication. Working in China provided me with the opportunity to eat, travel, do and see things I could only dream of. I was able to take excursions to Beijing to climb The Great Wall, Luoyang to see the Shaolin Monks, and ride camels through the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia.
Working at Aston has opened countless doors for me. I was able to develop many lasting relationships and have met numerous amazing people who have been extremely influential to my life. I have been able to travel to places I wouldn’t think possible. Aston has been a very educational experience and everyone experiences it differently. I would recommend teaching abroad to everybody. Until you’re able to put yourself in this life changing opportunity, your life will always feel like it’s missing something.