We're pretty sure we've figured out our teaching plans for next year, but haven't signed any contracts yet. We're having a really difficult time choosing. We're also being very picky, which doesn't help our situation any. We'd like to get some input from you, our dear readers. Since you're the ones who will certainly be hearing us complain for the next year, we thought we'd give you some choice in the matter. That way, we can also blame any bad experiences on you. :)
Our top choices are:
1. Ao Jia Language School in Qinhuangdao, in the north eastern corner of China. This school is run by a very lovely couple, with whom we had a lengthy Skype conversation. The apartment is very nice, and even includes a washing machine! It has all western amenities and is, of course, provided free of charge. We'd be teaching 24 hours a week to adults and high school students, many of whom are preparing for the SATs. The class sizes are really small, and there's a lot of one-on-one work. Qinhuangdao is located right on the coast, near a section of the Great Wall, and is fairly close to some great scenery, including mountains. It's also only 2 1/2 hours from Beijing, which is awesome. There's 12+ days of vacation, flight reimbursement, and average pay. The main attraction for us is that the couple is really nice and has made us feel very welcome. We've also spoken with the American couple who is currently there, and we're convinced it's a legitimate gig. Downsides are the distance to other touristy places, which are concentrated in the middle and south of China, and our vacation time might not be enough to see everything we want to, and our pay might not allow us to save as much as I want to.
2. Kidcastle Language School in Xi'an. This school has less than desirable hours (mostly evening classes six days a week), and the same pay as Qinhuangdao, but it's in Xi'an, home of the Terracotta Warriors, close to the panda reserve and an awesome nature reserve, as well as a plethora of museums, tombs, and other cultural sites. Andrew compares it to Paris, trying to convince me that there's so much to see in this region that we'd never be bored. Downside? Pretty much no vacation time. We get three days in the fall and three days in the spring, both during important holidays that we'd most likely want to remain in Xi'an for. What's the point in living here if we don't have any time off to see the cool things? Also, we haven't spoken via telephone or Skype with anyone at the school (we found them through a placement company) so we're a little unsure of the legitimacy. But an upside is that they would let us start in May instead of July.
3. Shengli New Zealand High School in Dongying: This place pays the most, up to double the amount of the other two schools, and offers the entire month of August as vacation, in addition to 10 days in the winter and the regular national holidays, bringing the vacation time to 45+ days. It's also a normal school, which means we'd have regular students and school hours. The problem is that Dongying is a relatively new town based around oil fields in the area, although it is right on the coast, and thus is kind of unappealing in terms of a place to live. We will be speaking with them sometime after March 1, which means our whole decision is put on hold until then, but despite the high pay and vacation time, this one is lowest on our list.
All three jobs provide free, western style housing, free utilities, flight reimbursement, and medical insurance. Xi'an is the only school that allows us to start in May, as opposed to July, but as we're pretty sure we've found a job in an ESL camp in France for the month of May, and one in Italy for the month of June, we'd be able to scrape by until we started our new job in China. So, what do you guys think?