Hi Everyone! Welcome to the first in a series of posts about life in China, specifically Shenzhen. Living in China is something friends and family ask us about regularly, and learning more about daily life in this humungous nation was a topic of sincere interest for us before we moved, too. We found it really helpful to get in touch with people who lived here, but that was kind of hard to do. So in the interest of being informative to friends and family and helpful to people interested in moving to China (especially teachers), here’s the inaugural installment. Let’s kick it off with a simple who/where/why post.
Who we are:
You already know this, right? We have an “About” page, after all. In a nutshell, we’re a family and I (Shon) am an English teacher. We relocated with our children to South China in August 2017. No, we aren’t afraid of hauling our small kids around the globe, but yes, it does complicate things a bit. There is plenty to write about regarding expatriate family life, but that’s for another post.
Where we are:
Shenzhen. This is a city of somewhere around 12 million people. There are estimates that up to 20 million people actually live here, as the lower number doesn’t include temporary residents. At any rate, this is a teeming metropolis. Shenzhen is on the bay and across the border from world-famous Hong Kong, which gets all the attention, despite Shenzhen rapidly becoming equal in many ways, and being poised to overtake HK financially.
Shenzhen is located in Guangdong province, and is part of a Special Economic Zone. Guangdong used to be translated as “Canton,” but these days it is transliterated instead. This is the region the Cantonese tongue comes from. However, due to Shenzhen’s status as an SEZ, it attracts residents from all over China, and Mandarin is the language typically spoken. That said, there are a billion different accents, so there’s an extra wrinkle to our language learning experience. (“Did she say ‘si’ not ‘shi?’ What?”)
Despite the size of the city, it is easy to navigate as a result of an excellent metro rail and bus system. There are announcements in English on both the bus and metro system, which make them convenient for us. They’re also affordable.
Well, we wrote a whole post about why we teach overseas, but nothing about why we chose China specifically. So here we go. China has tons of teaching opportunities, and accordingly, finding a job here is pretty simple. There are public and private schools, universities, and language centers, all looking for qualified native speakers. Having taught in both the UAE and Russia, we felt that we were up to whatever challenges we would face in China. When I was offered a job in Beijing, I came about one breath away from saying “Yes,” but the horrible smog that plagues the region convinced us to look elsewhere. After doing research and talking to friends and acquaintances who lived in Shenzhen, we decided it seemed a much better bet. Reasonably clean air, a warm climate, and proximity to Hong Kong were all factors in our decision.