First Impressions - Mark Arnold

Having been in China for around seven weeks now I can honestly say I have found my time here so far to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The teaching aspect was certainly a challenge at first, after quite literally being thrown in ‘at the deep end’ (arriving on the Saturday and teaching a class of 70 on the following Monday). With no experience of teaching and no set lesson plan the first few lessons seemed daunting but I need not have worried as all the students are very friendly and most enthusiastic to begin learning or help me in any way they can. In fact this is probably what has struck me most so far about china – the people; almost everyone I have met has been warm and welcoming which has meant settling in has been relatively easy.

Xiangtan itself is actually a fairly large and modern city that plays to the strengths of being large enough to cater to most needs and small enough so as not to be too intimidating (and the capital Changsha is only a one hour bus away). The accommodation is excellent, I have been fortunate to be placed in one the newly built flats which has its own bedroom, lounge, kitchen and shower with PC and TV as well.

Of course there are some moments of culture shock – no matter how prepared you may think you’re to cope with people sometimes staring or the occasional yell of ‘Waiguoren’ (foreigner) there are still times when it will catch you off-guard. And taxi rides can often be a memorable experience of deafening horns coupled with some ‘novel’ overtaking maneuvers. However that’s part of the fun of living in China and being part of this programme – experiencing Chinese culture; both the traditional and the modern.

Thanks again for all your help in getting me out here, its proving to be a great experience and I’m already contemplating teaching somewhere else in China or Asia next year.

If anyone has any questions feel free to send me an e-mail: