3 Years of Teaching in China: Q&A with Regina

Regina Solorio
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
May 17, 2019

Regina graduated from California State Polytechnic University in Pamona, California and decided to move to China to experience a different life and gain more experience as a teacher. She has lived in the city of Jinhua, China for more than three years now and really enjoys kickboxing, traveling, and making lots of Chinese friends! Learn why she loves living in a smaller Chinese city and what some of her favorite travel destinations in China and Asia are.

How long have you lived in China and what city do you live in? What do you like about living there?

This is my third year living in China. I have only lived in one city for all three years - Jinhua. I like this city because it is a small city, and I am able to get an awesome “China experience”. Jinhua is a tier 2 city, it has 2 universities, and no metro system. This means there aren't a lot of foreigners in my city, and typically when a Chinese person sees me they tend to stare at me for a long time. Even though there is no metro system in Jinhua, it is very easy to get around by either walking, or taxi, or bus. I also love my city because it is very inexpensive! Taxis start charging ¥8, from one university to the other costs ¥32 for a 11km ride!

Read more about the cost of taking public transportation in China!

What do you like to do in your off time? Are you part of any groups, sports, or organizations?

My days off are Monday and Tuesday. I tend to sleep in on both days, make a good breakfast/lunch, then head to my kickboxing class from 2-4pm. After kickboxing, I'll head home to shower and relax. For the rest of the night I have the option to meet up with friends for a coffee, dinner, or at the bar. I'm not involved in any sports, but my days off and time before heading to work is occupied with either kickboxing or the gym.

Tell us about your Chinese friends – what do you like to do together? How have they changed your experience in China?

When I first arrived in China I met a coworker who was so nice to me and helped me get situated in the city. She helped by translating for me, showing me around Jinhua, introducing me to restaurants, setting up my phone and bank account, and getting my apartment in order. She didn't only become my coworker, she became a really great friend to me. Our friendship has improved my attitude on being in China because I have somebody who has known me from day 1 in China and because she makes my time in China go by quickly. This friend is getting married soon and I am so happy and honored she is including me in her wedding as a bridesmaid.

I have other Chinese friends and it is nice having them as friends because I am able to understand more about Chinese culture. I tend to only meet my Chinese friends for food. Two of my Chinese friends have had babies since I have met them and they wanted me to give their child an English name. This was a big deal for me because I have only given English names to children who attend a demo class at my school. When I had the chance to give an English name to my friend's child I put a lot of importance and respect into looking for that name.

Having Chinese friends have not only been nice, but very convenient. There are times in China when I need somebody to translate for me. Instead of searching online for a translating company I just simply as my friends. They are so nice about helping me that it does not feel like a deed to them.

Have you had the opportunity to travel in China or Asia during your holidays?

I have had the opportunity to travel in Asia and China. In China I have been to the following cities: Jinhua, Yiwu, Dongyang, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Shanghai, Beijing, & Zhangjiajie. Around Asia I have been to Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The best thing about traveling in China is that it’s so convenient! The fast train will take you to mostly all the cities in China and the fast train is comfortable. There is no way that I would be able to travel this conveniently in America.

*Read 7 Tips To Plan the Best Trip During Your Time Off as an ESL Teacher in China

What are your favorite places you've visited in China?

 I have a couple favorite places I visited in China. The first is the city “Yiwu”. This city is important to me because it's the next city to me & there are a lot of delicious places to eat. Like I mentioned before, Jinhua is a small city. The only western options we have in Jinhua is: McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, & Starbucks. In Yiwu there are many Turkish restaurants, and more western options such as Subway & Burger King.

I also really enjoyed my trip to the glass bridge in Zhangjiajie. I went there August 2018. Unfortunately I didn't do a lot of research on the surrounding area and there was a lot I didn't see. Only thing I did in Zhangjiajie was visit the glass bridge, but it was so cool! The scenery was beautiful & relaxing. I wasn't scared at all & by going to that glass bridge it made me want to visit other glass bridges!

Another place I enjoyed visiting was Shanghai. I know it's a common destination to travel to, but I always enjoy my time when I go to Shanghai! Even though I'm not a big Disneyland fan, I went to visit Disneyland in Shanghai. It was cool to compare Disneyland Shanghai vs. Disneyland California. One ride I will never forget is “Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure”. The graphics were awesome! I waited 2 hours to get on that ride & after the ride I didn't regret a single minute of those 2 hours!

In Shanghai I have also visited the “Oriental Pearl TV Tower”. The coolest part about this place is the Glass-Bottomed Sightseeing Corridor!

A recent place I visited is Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. I have visited the great wall once before, but later I found out the Mutianyu section has a toboggan! I liked this part of the great wall because there were not many people around therefore there were some awesome pictures, and because there was a toboggan! My friends and I were able to have an awesome view on the cable car, take good pictures on the wall, walk a couple sections of the wall, and slide down the great wall to end the trip. It was an awesome experience & gave wonderful memories.

Have you had any interesting or funny experiences while living in China?

Since this is my third year in China I have a lot of funny experiences that have happened to me in the past. One is becoming so good at charades that locals know what I want based on my gestures. This is funny to me because it not only works out on the streets, but also while teaching my students in class. Sometimes if my students don't understand what I want them to do, I will just simply start gesturing with my body.

Another is communicating through pictures. My first year I would show locals a pic of what I want with my phone and they would show me where to go, or where it is at. Third experience that sometimes still shocks me and makes me laugh are the stares I get from locals who look at me because I am a foreigner and I simply don't look Chinese. It's funny because they non-discretely stare & sometimes they will even take pictures of me. My first year in Jinhua I felt weird and agitated, but as the time progressed I learned to look at this experience in a good way. I felt maybe these people have never seen a foreign face in person, so why not make it a good experience and leave a lasting good impression!

Chinese culture can be quite different! Read more about Cultural Differences and Learning to Gel in China.

Some other interesting experiences that I've encountered in China often come with the seasons. In spring some cities are so quiet and empty because Chinese people go to their hometown to celebrate Lunar New Year. Depending where you are at in China during the raining season of spring, you will see that it rains so much! I am from California, where it doesn't rain too often. So, to come to Jinhua and have 20 days of straight rain was something so different and intriguing to me! I love having the thunder and lightning storms, but after a while I get tired of the rain.

During winter if you visit a city that isn't always snowing (like Jinhua) most likely the buildings will be really cold because Chinese people don't like turning on the heater (or as they say - A.C.). You'll have to bundle up on clothing, and most likely you won't take off your coat while inside the building you're in. During winter locals tend to wear a lot of pajama like clothing while running errands or walking at night. This is cool for me because it encourages me to wear more comfortable clothing instead of trying to look cute.

During summer Jinhua tends to get really hot. I personally don't mind being in the heat, but something that is common all throughout China is: Restaurants won't serve you ice with your drink - no matter how hot it is. Similar to winter, most places/buildings won't use their A.C. and locals think by using the A.C. you will get sick, so they don't like to use them. A trend in summer that is hilarious to me is seeing Chinese people with their shirt half up, showing their stomach!

Check out some other Chinese customs that might seem a bit strange at first!

Other interesting experiences while living in China are: seeing the lack of number 4 in some buildings, being allowed to smoke anywhere you please (in smaller cities), the use of wechat pay/Alipay instead of actual money/bank cards, the amount of hot water Chinese locals tell you to drink, how cheap going to the hospital and getting x-rays are, how cheap food and daily things tend to be, and how much money you can save while teaching abroad!

What are you both excited about in the coming months? Any upcoming trips planned?

I am excited for the next coming months/year because: first, I will make my decision to go back home to America, or stay another year in China. Second, I will be in my friend's wedding. Third, I will do some more traveling around China.

I am still planning on visiting a couple places including the city “Chongqing”. I want to go to Chongqing to walk on a suspension bridge and to see a sinkhole - Xiaozhai Tiankeng (小寨天坑), also known as the Heavenly Pit. I am also planning on visiting Sichuan to see the “2008 Earthquake Memorial Site”.

I also want to visit “Sanya” because I love the beach and I want to see the beach in China. Last place I am planning on visiting is “Harbin” to visit the “Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival”.

Follow Regina on Instagram to catch up with all her adventures in China!

Check out our other Expat Q&As in The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China

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