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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello folks

My daughter has been offered a post teaching english in this college! Ive read other threads saying 'private schools are no good and make sure you get job in state school' with that in mind can anyone tell me about this college? She has a package including health care and accomadation. Is there an expat community near there, she was in China for 4 weeks last year so she knows a bit about the culture but she was in bejing is it much different here and will she have problems fitting in?
Any info appreciated:)
 

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Advice From a Former Huaihua Resident

First, I would like to congratulate your daughter on the job offer she has received.

I am happy to answer your question as best as I am able, but I think that you need know a bit about me and my experiences in the city before we get any further.

---My Experiences in Huaihua Medical College and My Qualifications---

I lived and worked in Huaihua for several years and only recently left. During my stay, I was a teacher of English. And while my primary employer was not Huaihua Medical College, I did teach a brief course to the third year students at that school, and I visited the institution on more than one occasion.

Additionally, I traveled a bit throughout China and visited Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing, and a considerable number of minor communities throughout Hunan, so I am not completely ignorant as to the conditions throughout the rest of China.

Generally, I found the school to be in good condition and the faculty, staff, and students to be polite and helpful. In fact, I am reasonably confident in saying that the school was in the best condition of any institution of higher learning in the city or any of the surrounding communities. One should be aware, however, that Chinese standards are quite different from those in the West, so some parts of the campus may leave something to be desired to the eagle-eyed foreigner.

I was aware that Huaihua Medical College employed foreign teachers of English from time to time, but I was under the distinct impression that the school would only hire foreigners who were licensed nurses in their country of origin. If your daughter is a nurse, this job would be a most logical fit. If she is not a nurse, the school must have revised its employment policies since I was there.


---My Impression of Huaihua and the Surrounding Communities--

The city of Huaihua is not a major trading or commercial center, so one should not expect the level of development seen in Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong. The quality of the roads, transportation system, and buildings in Huaihua is far inferior to that of the major cities. Most buildings lack climate control, and your daughter's apartment would, most likely, only have climate control in the bedroom and (possibly) the living room. I do believe that the major teaching building—where I suspect that your daughter would work—was the only building on campus with central heat and air. Unfortunately, said central air is turned off during the hottest part of the year to avoid overloading the campus electrical system. If your daughter is a woman either physically or temperamentally ill-suited to extremes in temperature, I would urge her to avoid most of China's interior, Huaihua included.

The air in the summer is hot, humid and dusty. In the spring and fall, it is damp and cool, and in the winter, it is downright cold. Snow is infrequent and ice even more so, but properly layered clothing will prove most critical during these months.

--The People, Foreign and Domestic--
The Chinese in the interior of the country are far less accustomed to interacting with foreigners than are their urban counterparts. This has both its advantages and its disadvantages.

The advantages are many. For instance, your daughter will be subject to reasonably limited xenophobia. Many of the local will stare when your daughter passes, but they will do so out of curiosity rather than anger. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the major urban areas, and the better one understands the Chinese language, the more obvious the urban Chinese bias against foreigners becomes. Personally, I encountered only a little such treatment in Huaihua, and when I did, it was almost always from taxi drivers, who seem to be an unpleasant lot even to their fellow countrymen.

The students at the medical college made a good impression on me. I don't know what your experiences with nurses have been, but I found the Chinese nursing students to be different creatures entirely from their far bolder Western counterparts. My students were quite timid, consistently pleasant, and very often bored. I suspect the last was due to the demanding nature of their training and the relative lack of vacation time. I strongly suspect that your daughter will be able to build friendships with some of these young women, but doing so will take patience and humor. My students could be quite warm to people they knew, but getting to know them would have taken time.

As for the local expatriate community, I have not as much good to report, and this brings me to the disadvantages of living in Huaihua.

The remoteness of the city means that it is relatively isolated from the rest of the world. This geographical remoteness is the same reason that the community was deemed to be a good location to build a military installation of some significance. And that military installation is an additional reason that the city keeps a close eye on the foreign population. I most certainly don't want to feed any nascent paranoia on the part of you or your daughter—I really do not think that a van with tinted windows will follow her around the city—but it does mean that she will need to carry a special residence permit with her in addition to her passport.

The number of foreign-oriented diversions in Huaihua was limited, and there was no real permanent expatriate community. The vast majority of the foreign population stayed no more than a year, and some didn't last as long as that. Almost all of the foreigners in Huaihua (excluding those seeking treatment at the Red Cross International Hospital some forty-five minutes away) were European or American men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five. As much as I wish that I could have reported that these were men of the highest standards of conduct and behavior and that they were consistently doing their best to make a positive impression on the local people, I cannot. Many of them appeared to have only the most passing interest in their job performance, and I regret to note that the majority of them woke with flasks in their hands and held onto the damned things throughout the day as though they contained the elixir of life itself.

If your daughter isn't married, I would suggest that she not venture to Huaihua intent on setting her cap on anyone unless she wants her own little Leaving Las Vegas drama or is willing to consider a Chinese husband (some of whom seem most fascinated by blond hair and blue eyes).

(Perhaps I've offended you with the last bit of advice—it certainly wasn't my intent—but I am disinclined to beat around the bush, and I lived in China long enough to have become accustomed to Chinese thinking, and the Chinese are always thinking about marriage.)

There were some foreigners of quality in the community, but I found them to be a standoffish bunch. And I suspect that they picked the community so that they could be left the hell alone.

---The Type of Person Best Suited to Huaihua---

Working and living Huaihua may well be an opportunity most wonderfully suited to your daughter, but only if she meets some basic criteria. They are:

1. She should be patient and slow to anger.
If your daughter is unwilling to wait for a taxi, for a meal, for her papers, for her students, and for her coworkers, she simply should not plan to work in a community as small as Huaihua, and despite its population of nearly five million people, Huaihua is still very much a developing town filled with tǔbāozi (bumpkins). That isn't to say that the local population is unintelligent; sophistication has little, if anything, to do with brainpower, but it does mean that things in Huaihua get done when they get done and not a minute sooner.

2. She should independent and capable of amusing herself.
If your daughter is in constant need of company and is generally lacking hobbies, Huaihua may prove a hard post. Of course, I know nothing of your daughter, and I am certainly not (and do stress not) suggesting that she is such a type of person, but if she is, she, like many other foreigners who visited the city before her, may not finish her contact. This might well resulted in her being blacklisted by the government, meaning that she will not be able to find employment in China in the future.

The extent of her isolation (or the lack thereof) will largely depend on her desire and aptitude for learning language. I should stress that she needn't learn written Chinese (which can be quite a challenge), but a basic command of the oral language will be pretty much essential. If she learns the language well, she will find herself positively swimming in local friends. If she can't, I would suggest she learn needlepoint.
 

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Advice From a Former Huaihua Resident (Part 2)

3. She should not have a propensity for alcohol abuse.
Much as many a poor boy has been ruined by the house of the rising sun, so have many foreign teachers been so ruined by drink. The locals will drink until their toes fall off, and the foreigners are far worse.

If your daughter is trying to stay on the wagon, I would strongly suggest she go somewhere where alcohol abuse is less of a problem.

Perhaps Ireland or Russia would be better choices.

4. She should be willing to keep in mind that she is a guest in China and, no matter how long she stays there, always will be.
The Chinese, while oftentimes gracious do not appreciate criticism from their guests of beloved Mother China.

5. She should be in good health.
While the state of medical care in China is advancing, it is far below that of the developed world. If your daughter has any chronic conditions, including asthma, COPD, diverticulitis, or severe diabetes, she may find the range of effective treatment options in Huaihua to be dangerously limited.

As for other health recommendations, I would strongly suggest that your daughter receive a rabies vaccination before she come to China. This isn't just my opinion. It is also the opinion of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I don't know how much time your daughter plans to spend outside, but I would point out that bats commonly live in or around buildings in China, and bats can be carriers of the disease. On more than one occasion, I had agitated bats enter my apartment, and they also swarmed around streetlights in the summer (in order to catch insects). I am quite confident that may head was grazed by bats several times, and I consider myself lucky to have not contracted the disease.

---

I do hope that I've not discouraged you. If your daughter has the gumption to work and live in Huaihua, she may stand to gain much. I did, and I believe that the experience made me a more patient, introspective, mature, and culturally aware person.
 

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Links (Conclusion)

Please note that I was unable to post the relevant links in the body of my message, so I must simply offer search strings as an alternative.

First, if you would like to read about the recommended vaccinations for traveler's to China, search for "CDC recommended China vaccinations." You will note that the rabies vaccine is included in this list.

If you would like to read about the Chinese man drinking until his toes fell off, search for "Man loses five toes from overdrinking."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
hello this is rachels daughter here and i found your post very informative, and helpful, however i have a few questions.
1) you said that id need to be able to hold my own in terms of occupying myself which i think I am capable of however is there much about the city in terms of shopping / food shops/ bars and restaurants.
2) you said about the american and english men, is there need to worry about them and what they doing there anyway.
3) also what papers where you on about carrying round with you?

ill leave you with these for no until i most likely come up with more.
thanks again
rebecca
 

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Additional Information: Part 1

Hello:

Allow me to answer your questions as thoroughly as I consider necessary.

—shopping/grocery stores/bars and restaurants—

Depending upon what one wishes to buy, he or she will find that the range of shopping opportunities varies from almost non-existent to tremendous. Food can be had for little money, particularly if one is sufficiently industrious to make his or her way to the roadside markets, where seasonal produce is fresh (if not unquestionably clean). Most of the items at these places will be familiar as growing conditions in China aren't all that different from those in the rest of the world. One may encounter some curious fruits and vegetables, including a fair number of the squash family that have rarely seen the light of day outside Asia, but most of these are perfectly palatable in the hands of an even marginally competent chef. Some are less so, but with only a few exceptions, there is no harm in trying some of the more exotic items.

That much said, avoid the bitter gourd like the plague!


Chinese meat is almost always of the variety mysterious, and it has a tendency to be quite stringy. If one cares for quality steaks, Huaihua isn't an ideal location. (The Chinese, for the record, most frequently eat pork as their meat of choice. Dog, while available, is fairly rare.)

A certain amount of Western food, both fresh and prepared, can be had for the right price, but the right price is high in Huaihua. There are several KFC restaurants within a fifteen-minute bus ride of the medical college, and at least two decent coffee shops were operational when I was last there. Generally, I would advise one to try to experience the local cuisine as much as possible. It is nothing like what is served in most Chinese restaurants located in the West (which typically sell dishes more in the style of Guangdong province). One should be mindful of the Chinese tendency to fry foods in animal fats—particularly lard. This might well pose a problem for both those observing kosher/halal dietary restrictions or anyone suffering from gallstones.

Electronics can be had for a fair price. Of course, some devices will only have Chinese-language buttons and menus, but this isn't as much of a problem as one might think. Many will have at least limited English-language options, and computer keyboards and other peripherals will be designed exactly as they are in the United Kingdom (save that they are adapted to the Chinese electrical system), and one can easily download and install an English-language OS on any computer purchased in China. Personally, I recommend Ubuntu Linux, but to each his own.

The range of clothing options here is considerable, but only if one has a build similar to that of the local people. One should be advised that the natives of southern China are smaller than those of the north, and I would guess that the average woman in Huaihua is around 158 cm tall and no heavier than 48 kg. A considerably more substantial woman would either need to bring a fair amount of clothing with her, attempt to purchase clothing online (a hit-or-miss prospect in China), or pay a local tailor to cut clothing especially for her. The last option isn't as expensive as one might think, but it will require the help of a Chinese-speaking friend or two and a fair amount of patience.

Almost anything else that can be had in China can be found on taobao(dot)com. Supervisors and Chinese friends will almost certainly be willing to help place an order with this site if need be.

As for clubs, I rarely went to them. From what little I saw, I would describe them as being more similar to dance clubs than pubs. Loud music, scantily clad girls, and overpriced drinks—these are what one should expect. One should also be aware of the Chinese fascination with karaoke. I don't entirely understand it, but Chinese of every social class take much pleasure in drunkenly caterwauling night after night. Many such establishments also serve as places for prostitutes and their clientèle to meet. (Although from what I gather, the actual business is conducted elsewhere.)

—foreign men—

One needn't worry much about the foreign men as most of them are nothing more than slightly addled (and harmless) drunks and skirt chasers. Nominally, the better part of them are teachers, but to call them such is an insult to competent teachers around the world. Really, they would better be described as dancing white monkeys who are (poorly) paid to amuse novelty-seeking schoolchildren and their parents.

While I certainly wouldn't advocate that a self-respecting woman invite these men home, I doubt that they would be inclined to make unwanted advances. They aren't necessarily too upstanding to do so. Rather, most of them are lacking in the initiative, and they would be disinclined to risk making their lives needlessly difficult. I am confident that nothing more severe than a proper shoo shoo would drive all but the most aggressive away. This is what the local women do, and by and large, it works.

You will find that the Chinese have some rather curious ideas about foreign men, and I would advise you to take anything told to you by the local population about the foreign community with a grain of salt. For instance, I was once most earnestly informed by a Chinese acquaintance that it was typical for a foreign man in China to have more than 100 (presumably female) Chinese partners per year, and it was equally unremarkable for a foreign gent of even average looks who resided in China for more than a few years to have bedded over 500 women. My acquaintance believed this because one foreigner had told her as much, and despite my best efforts to make this young woman aware of the possibility of exaggeration, she remained steadfast in her beliefs, which also included the idea that all non-Asian men and women (especially people of color) had essentially uncontrollable appetites and a nearly superhuman ability to seduce even the most loyal and traditional of Chinese and, even more remarkably, turn said Chinese into slaves of love, rendered incapable of resisting any demands made by the aforementioned degenerate outsiders. Sadly, this woman's beliefs appeared fairly typical. I found her pronouncement to be both irksome and amusing, and I offer this anecdote, not to offend, but to illustrate the prevalence of less-than-enlightened thinking in China about foreigners. Such opinions are not universally held, and many of my Chinese friends—thoughtful and observant people, by and large—regard such views as both incorrect and idiotic, but they are more common than one might anticipate in a reasonably modern country.

Allow me to assure you that neither I, nor any foreign man I knew in Huaihua, had done anything of the sort (nor would we have been able to do so even if we had attempted as much).
 

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Additional Information: Part 2

—documentation—

When living and working in China, all foreigners are legally required to keep their passports upon their persons. Included in this passport will be a visa and residence permit. The first is obtained before entering the country, and the second is obtained from the local police station in said foreign worker's city of residence. Obtaining the visa is relatively easy, but one should be aware that he or she has a legal obligation to register for his or her residence permit within 30 days of entering China. In order to do this, one will need to submit to a medical examination at a designated hospital in Changsha. (Beyond the tests for HIV and hepatitis, the examination is token, but it is still legally essential.) After obtaining a valid health certificate, one need take it, three recent color photographs, and documentation of employment to the designated government office. (This will be done with the help of one's employer.) The police will also demand the surrender of one's passport so that the residence permit—a sticker—can be placed inside it. The passport should be returned within seven days. In addition to this, a foreign resident of Huaihua must also keep on his or her person an additional “Aliens' Travel Permit,” which, despite sounding as though it is a space-age quantum transmitter/tracker issued by the Men In Black (MIB), is nothing more than a one-page piece of paper that should be folded and carried inside the passport at all times.

One absolutely should not surrender his or her passport to anyone but the police or appropriate authorities under any circumstances. Foreign passports are potentially valuable to criminals as they can be used to facilitate the importation of restricted good. Furthermore, Huaihua is nearly 18 hours from the nearest British consulate, and obtaining a replacement passport is no easy matter. (One of my friends had her passport stolen, and she spent nearly a month resolving the matter.)

I would strongly suggest that anyone considering a trip to China obtain a concealable neck pouch for essential documents. Keeping such documents in one's purse or back pocket is an invitation for disaster. Furthermore, old China hands may well declare that such procedures are not strictly necessary—that all documentation can be locked securely away. While this was probably true in the past, the recent influx of foreigners (as well as a growing xenophobia) has increased the likelihood of one being stopped by the police for identification.

One should be advised that all foreigners who spend the night away from their designated residences are required to register with the police. If staying at a hotel, registration of the foreigner should be arranged by the hotel staff, who may ask to make a passport copy. (This is acceptable, but one must be certain to retrieve the passport as soon as the copy is made.) Some hotels will simply refuse to let rooms to foreigners as they consider the process to be more trouble than it is worth. If staying in a private residence, the foreigner will be legally required to register in person at the nearest police station. This requirement is not always enforced, but hosts have gotten unwanted official knocks on their doors in the past, and such encounters are almost certain to become more common in the future.

I do hope this helps.
 

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3. She should not have a propensity for alcohol abuse.
Much as many a poor boy has been ruined by the house of the rising sun, so have many foreign teachers been so ruined by drink. The locals will drink until their toes fall off, and the foreigners are far worse.

If your daughter is trying to stay on the wagon, I would strongly suggest she go somewhere where alcohol abuse is less of a problem.

Perhaps Ireland or Russia would be better choices.

4. She should be willing to keep in mind that she is a guest in China and, no matter how long she stays there, always will be.
The Chinese, while oftentimes gracious do not appreciate criticism from their guests of beloved Mother China.

5. She should be in good health.
While the state of medical care in China is advancing, it is far below that of the developed world. If your daughter has any chronic conditions, including asthma, COPD, diverticulitis, or severe diabetes, she may find the range of effective treatment options in Huaihua to be dangerously limited.

As for other health recommendations, I would strongly suggest that your daughter receive a rabies vaccination before she come to China. This isn't just my opinion. It is also the opinion of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I don't know how much time your daughter plans to spend outside, but I would point out that bats commonly live in or around buildings in China, and bats can be carriers of the disease. On more than one occasion, I had agitated bats enter my apartment, and they also swarmed around streetlights in the summer (in order to catch insects). I am quite confident that may head was grazed by bats several times, and I consider myself lucky to have not contracted the disease.

---

I do hope that I've not discouraged you. If your daughter has the gumption to work and live in Huaihua, she may stand to gain much. I did, and I believe that the experience made me a more patient, introspective, mature, and culturally aware person.

Hi there,

I really hope you can help me here. I am moving to Huaihua to teach English because my girlfriend is from Huaihua, the main problem is the job wage is really low. Actually I am unlike the foreign men you described there. I speak fluent Chinese, very very well, also the main dilemma is I have job offers everywhere in China with Salaries up to 20000rmb per month but i can't take it because the first year I have to go to Huaihua with my girlfriend then after we can move to another city.

Can you recommend some schools that would be willing to take an experienced teacher on for more than 4000rmb? I find its quite sad as I have so much enthusiasm for working in China, but am forced to take one of the lowest payed jobs.

Also I must say thank you very much for going out of your way to write such a detailed description of Huaihua!

I hope that you can have a spare moment and thanks for your time.

Regards

Adam
 

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Don't let these naysayers frighten you, Huaihua is fine and you should have a good experience. There are always these "teachers" that will lambast China but reality is you just teach at a school and the rest is up to you. Don't let the "Willie Whiners" get you down.
 

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Don't let these naysayers frighten you, Huaihua is fine and you should have a good experience. There are always these "teachers" that will lambast China but reality is you just teach at a school and the rest is up to you. Don't let the "Willie Whiners" get you down.
Oh thank you so much for the encouragement. Have you been to huaihua? If so, can you help to suggest some companies that I can approach for a teaching position?

Many thanks

Adam
 

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Y4000 is a very okay wage there. I have been there and you can live nice on that pay (probably twice as much as the native teachers). Then you and your mate can make decisions after the contract. Check out Dave's ESL Cafe for current job offers. All the schools that employ foreign experts keep an eye out there. If you post you want a job in huaihua, they will find you. I live in wuhan and I have traveled over much of china, just come prepared to teach and represent well.
 

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I read the responses with great interest and have to say based on my friends experiences working in China as English Teachers they only wish to complete their time there as quickly as possible and not to hang around for longer than they have to. The pay is good but the xenophobia and feeling of estangement there is terribly overwhelming. They often complain of feeling homesick as is naturally the case but it seems to peak while there. I can't recall the area she is currently living but can find out.

As for woking in private as opposed to state institutions they seem to be very strict all round and are filled with alot of red tape in terms of getting the assistance you may need should there be a problem with your employer. One can only suggest you go with an open mind , take it in your stride and remain focussed and achieve what you set out to.
 

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I read the responses with great interest and have to say based on my friends experiences working in China as English Teachers they only wish to complete their time there as quickly as possible and not to hang around for longer than they have to. The pay is good but the xenophobia and feeling of estangement there is terribly overwhelming...
I don't know about your friends but many of mine enjoy it very much. But coming from such a small country like England it is easy to see how you might feel out of place if you are that type of person. But then again why go to a foreign country at all if you have a problem like that. It can't be for the pay, which is not that good at all. Everyone is different I guess.
 
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