First Impressions - Irene Greaves

I'm extremely happy in China. Most people interested in working in China want to live in the big cities, which have so much to offer of course, but I must say that living in a small city is the best way to actually experience genuine Chinese culture. I live in a small city called Gaoming, which is growing at an incredibly fast pace.

Everything is within walking distance and we are surrounded by mountains and fields. Sometimes I go hiking and strawberry-picking on Sundays. The people are so nice and welcoming. Everyone is so happy and curious to see a foreigner living here- there are virtually no foreigners- Since I've been here (2 months) I've only met five other foreigners. Obviously this means that hardly anyone speaks English- which I love because it 'forces' me to learn Chinese rather quickly.

I've been making friends and meeting a lot of people. Some speak a little bit of English and are thrilled to practice. I've become part of the community and I feel at home here. Every night I'm involved in a different type of activity, dancing/aerobics at the park, or playing badminton with friends. What is great about China is that you can enjoy so many different activities for free or for a very low cost. And, if you ever feel the urge to go to the city, Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province is only one hour away by bus. I've already gone there twice.

Hong Kong is less than four hours away from Gaoming, and there are many ways of getting there. Two weeks ago we had two days off, and so I spent four days in Hong Kong, it was amazing. I also love my job. I work in a beautiful kindergarten, recently opened, a true masterpiece of architecture and engineering. There is nothing like it in Gaoming or even in the big cities. It's truly one of a kind. The staff is so friendly and helpful, everyone is always looking after me and making sure I'm happy. The children are absolutely lovely- they learn very quickly and they all love me very much. I enjoy teaching more than anything, and I love children, so it's the perfect combination.

I'm so grateful to Professor Thomas and Nancy who have always kept track of me and made sure I was ok. Through TEIC I'm making one of my dreams a reality: experiencing Chinese culture, learning Mandarin and teaching. Thank you!

Attached are some pictures of my classes and the kindergarten.