asia · China (PRC) · shanghai · Travel

The TEFL Life in Shanghai – My Year in a Most Amazing City (Part 2: Day to Day Life)

So, if you’re new to this segment you can catch up with the first part here and you can check out this post with some general pointers on what it’s like to jump ship and fly half way around the world to live and work.  In part 1 I talked about the initial shock period, what it’s like getting used to the place, using the metro, finding an apartment, etc.  In this segment I’m going to talk about how to do things right if you want a good experience living in Shanghai or anywhere in China for that matter.


Above: Yu Gardens

First of all, your job is immensely important, without it you have no money nor can you legally reside within the country, so it is crucial that you seek employment with a reputable company and one that will help you with more than just the basics as China isn’t exactly the easiest place to gain legal employment as a foreigner.  The company I worked for is called Kid Castle and honestly they were a great company to work for, they took us all to Hong Kong to get our work visas, helped us process our documents for our residence permits and generally provided us with a helping and friendly environment to work with.  If you are offered a job from Kid Castle, don’t be afraid, they are good people to work for, as you can see from the picture below I really enjoyed my time working for them.


Above: me and the other teachers at my school on my last day 😦

Working in Shanghai as an English teacher, providing you’re not already a qualified and experienced teacher in your home country you can expect to earn after taxes somewhere in the region of £900-1500 per month dependant on experience, if I recall correctly I earned somewhere in the region of £1100 and let me tell you that is more than enough for you to live comfortably, enjoy yourself, travel and save a bit too – I actually saved more money per month working in China than I do working as a Chemist in England mostly due to living costs.  One thing I will say is that you shouldn’t pursue teaching English in a foreign country unless you intend on giving it your all, as there are a lot of people who will be putting their faith in your ability, expecting you to teach their children to a high standard, expecting their hard earned money not to go to waste, so don’t treat it as one big holiday.  Do your very best and you will be rewarded with classes of amazing children who will put a smile on your face every day and you can walk home with a sense of achievement that your efforts haven’t gone to waste.


Above: I loved all my classes but these guys were my youngest and they were the sweetest little kids ever 🙂

Shanghai is a fantastic city – if you want to go out for cheap drinks, bar games and good times you have a multitude of suitable establishments like Perry’s and Windows.  If you fancy some drinks at the higher end of the taste spectrum then head over to Yongkang road where you will find an array of craft beer and wine bars all dotted along a vibrant little street.


These are some of the guys I met when I first arrived in Shanghai, I ended up living with the two guys on the right, we travelled a lot together and we still speak now.  One thing that I find hard about travelling is meeting new people, forming friendships and not seeing them again.

In Shanghai cheap food and good food are not two different things, you can meet up with friends, sit outside on a warm summer’s night and kick back with a bottle of Tsingtao and some street barbecue and pay somewhere in the region of 30-50 yuen (£3-5) depending on how much you want.  Fine dining is something that Shanghai excels in…or so I’ve read, I am a pretty frugal traveller so street food and cheap traditional Chinese restaurants are more my thing, but if you want to splash the cash and treat yourself I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  The Chinese teachers always used to laugh when I told them one of my favourite meals in Shanghai was fan qie chao dan (stir fried tomato and egg), it is one of the most basic dishes around and they thought that out of all the food China had to offer I chose this as one of my favourites, but damn I still miss it, who knew egg and tomato could taste so good.


A few places in Shanghai I liked to go to unwind are Yu Gardens, Qibao, the French concession, Jing’an temple and Fuxing park

Kung Fu Kid Edit.jpg

A kid practices Kung Fu in Fuxing park (Above)


Jing’an temple (Above)

Shanghai Daylight Skyline Post Edit-2.jpg

The Bund Edit.jpg

If you’re planning on moving aborad and Shanghai has popped into your mind, let me assure you it is one of the greatest cities in the world, it is a place that has touched me and it is a place that I still think about every day.

Fuxing Park Man With kite Edit.jpg

If you have any questions, be sure to shoot them my way.  Despite all of the good times I had in Shanghai there was always something missing, and that something was a someone, I couldn’t fully enjoy all of the things that Shanghai had to offer knowing that my now fiancee, Becky was thousands of miles away, which is why I can’t wait to return with her next year and explore the city with a fresh view of the city and hopefully meet up with some new friends.  If you’re interested in seeing Becky’s views of travel and everything vegan here is her blog

Anyway it’s late at night and I’m up early, there has probably been at least ten grammatical errors in this post, which for a post about teaching English must look horrific but I’m tired and that’s the excuse I’m giving :p

Goodnight, Matt.




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