Arriving in Shanghai & starting work at Kid Castle

Arriving in Shanghai & starting work at Kid Castle

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What to expect for the first few weeks in Shanghai working at Kid Castle teaching English.


I made it!

If you read my previous post on what I had to do to get this organised you’ll know it was a pretty drawn out process getting here. So when I finally stepped across that immigration border into Shanghai I was pretty excited and relieved!

Although I will say, there was still a lot more waiting to be done when I crossed to the other side. So let’s begin…

First off, Arrival:

I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t receive any arrival details…the last thing I read was an e-mail from the HR department telling me that the ‘Arrival Team’ would be in touch with details – this was hours before my flight. So I didn’t know what to expect at all. Nevertheless I boarded my Aeroflot flight via Moscow and made my 15 hour journey to Shanghai.

I arrived at the airport and everything was fairly similar to every other airport I have been to. Immigration was nice and quick, I even managed to get in my first ‘Ni hao’ and ‘shi shi’ (No idea if I’m spelling those correctly but Hello & Thank you!)

I exited the airport, desperately looking for something that had the company logo, name, my name or a smile…I noticed a paper sign written in black marker with my first and middle name on it…? Firstly, only my first and middle name? and secondly a piece of paper and marker pen!

I went over to him and tried to ask if he was from Kid Castle but all I got was ‘No English’ – which I of course replied with ‘No Chinese’. Huh. What to do, I stayed calm and followed the guy to a taxi – sounds pretty dodgy so far right – the annoying thing was my trusty phrasebook was buried down into my hand luggage and I had no free hand to fish it out.

Ok, so I got into the taxi, still searching for anything with that colourful Kid Castle logo on it. Nothing. We drove for about an hour and a half. So the drive was pretty long, especially when you’re in silence…

Now I know this all sounds pretty sketchy so far but what I will say is, I was expecting a driver when I landed and to the drivers credit he was pretty helpful.

But Kid Castle arrival team – you gotta work on you’re airport pick up – just a business card or something more ‘official’ would put anyone at ease as soon as they walk out of the airport into a foreign country they’re about to spend at least a year in or at least their full name in a printed word format? Something so simple could have saved the worry and once I had met some of the other foreign teachers they seemed to share the same experience.


The Kid Castle Dormitory:

We finally arrived to the shared accommodation I would be spending my first few weeks in. Kid Castle provide accommodation in a shared apartment with other foreign teachers also arriving at the same time. The accommodation is free for 30 days from the first day you arrive. It is located in South Qilianshan Road which is near metro line 13. The apartment is surrounded by other apartment blocks and is secured with security gates at the front. You’ll get a key to the dorm and a card to enter the gate.

  • Free for 30 days (They deduct 200RMB for utility bills out of your first wage)
  • South Qilianshan
  • Metro Line 13

The dorm was a lot better than I was expecting. Of course everyone has different levels of comfort but for a temporary fix the place was ok. There are 3 bedrooms with bunk beds in them, so you’ll be sharing with another teacher. The beds do have mattresses and there are some pillows but don’t expect luxury – I always carry with me a sleeping bag (I’d recommend bringing one with you.)

There is a separate bedroom for the female teachers with separate bathroom (Although when I was there the females used the other bathroom because of issues with hot water – but this may have been fixed since writing this). The bathroom is an ok size with a western toilet and there is shared living space with sofas, TV, dining table and kitchen. The kitchen has a microwave, oven (although not sure anyone uses this), washing machine, sink and fridge. There is a balcony off of the living room where there is enough space to sit or hang washing out to dry. The apartment is located on the 18th floor, so the view isn’t bad.

You will get wi-fi and an air con unit for hot/cold air in the living room.


Kid Castle Training:

Within 30 minutes of arriving in the dorm and speaking to a foreign teacher who was already there – which was a nice relief to hear that it was Kid Castle, the same thing happened to him and not to worry – I was met by one of the arrival team members (finally). He took me straight out to go set up my Chinese sim card and register at the police station. I threw my stuff in to a room and did a quick turn around.


Metro Station

We went to the metro which was like 10 minutes away from the dorm – very handy for training! I got a metro card which works the same as an oyster card if you’ve been to London. It’s a cash card that you can re-load money on to. I put 100RMB on it at first which was plenty as most metro journeys cost between 3-6RMB depending on the distance. We went to the office which is at the end of line 13 on Jinyun Road.

The machines don’t take cash so the arrival team member used his bank card to purchase the card and I gave him  the cash.

The metro card is 20RMB – one time payment

Loading the card I paid 80RMB

Total cost was 100RMB


Sim Card

We went to China Telecom to get a sim card set up. Make sure you take an unlocked phone, as it will make your life so much easier when you go abroad – that’s for any country, not just China!

For China Telecom the package options were (Correct as of March 2017):

76 RMB = 200 mins/800MB

106 RMB = 300 mins/1GB

136 RMB = 500mins/1GB

166 RMB = 500mins/2GB

196 RMB = 500mins/3GB

296 RMB = 1000mins/4GB

396 RMB = 2000mins/6GB

596 RMB = 3000mins/11GB

*They also make you pay a kind of deposit when you purchase a plan; so for example I went for the 166 RMB plan and had to pay an extra 20 RMB up front but they deduct this off your monthly payment. So you get it back eventually. Just bear that cost in mind when you come.*


Police Registration

The police station is a 2 minute walk from the office and they will take you to get this done. It is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes. Just have your passport, visa, work permit and Kid Castle dorm address at hand. Done!

Arrival Bonus/Re-reimbursement

I was lucky enough to receive my 5000RMB flight, medical, visa expenses bonus the day I arrived. They give it to you in cash, however some of the other teachers mentioned they had to wait a couple of days before getting it, but I’m sure if you asked they would get it sorted for you! Everyone seems very friendly and happy to help.

The office is very big and official looking – which is definitely what I needed to see to put me at ease about the company. I met the HR team I had been in contact with, received my dorm key, card and signed the contracts.

Now, usually you would have 2 days of orientation and then go to your school or training school but in my case I arrived a couple of days later so I have to wait until next month for the first 2 days in the office. From what I’ve heard it seems like it is just an introduction to Kid Castle and lesson planning techniques but I’ll give a more detailed overview next post.

They offered me to start the training at the school the following week but I wanted to get stuck in and decided to start the next day! It’s up to you, you can arrive a little earlier in Shanghai as well to get settled in before orientation. They say a week earlier is usually nicer to get your head around the city, culture and metro! But remember the accommodation starts as soon as you arrive – the free 30 days.

Optional Loan

I won’t talk too much on this because I didn’t get one, but it seems that it is quite common among the foreign teachers to take a loan out at Kid Castle. They offer an interest free loan! Up to 10,000RMB which could be a big help for anyone looking at apartments or living costs in the first few months. I mean interest free is pretty good! They do take your passport until it is paid back though – so don’t get any ideas haha. Something to consider if it saves some financial stress for you in the first month or so of arriving.


Arrival Meal

The day I arrived I joined the end of the orientation with the group which saw the HR department take us all out for some traditional Chinese dishes. Food is always great for bonding with new people and getting settled into a new country I find! Kid Castle pay for the meal and we got to try loads of different dishes on a cool spinning table. Noodles, lamb legs, spicy fungi and lots of beers! Gambey! (Cheers!) It’s a great evening that usually spills over into a bar or club where other foreign teachers ho are already in Shanghai show up, so you get a whole new network of friends and colleagues right from the off. You get to ask them loads of questions too!


Training at a Kid Castle school

I’ll start by saying that I’m sure it differs from school to school and trainer to trainer. My experience is based in Chuansha school – the school I’ll be working in eventually. The training lasts a week and mostly consists of observation and a little co-teaching. It’s not particularly thorough but I’m not sure what I was expecting, so for me it was sufficient enough. The main thing is you get to observe the class behaviors to look out for, how to deal with them and get a rough idea of class sizes.

With the kid castle schedule you’ll only ever have a maximum of 14 classes. The rest are office hours; which if you plan effectively you’ll have a lot of free time – however you still have to be in the office. It seems to be common that learning some Mandarin in that spare time is a productive use of it.

Sometimes, if your schedule isn’t fully packed – one teacher I know has 3 classes a week with the rest being office hours! – you maybe asked to sub at other schools. Not common but be aware of it.

That’s it for the first part of working at Kid Castle. My training week is over and I have started teaching my own classes now. Rest assured that everyone is in the same boat to begin with. Even if you have teaching experience, you’re still teaching to kids who don’t understand you most of the time. I’m ready for a major learning curve and ‘learning on the job’ experience. I’m looking forward to getting into it though, getting to know my classes and developing my own style.

Kid Castle seem like a great company to work for, if you don’t have teaching experience, want a pretty relaxed schedule and a decent salary for the work you actually do.

Make sure you stay up to date by following my social channels – I upload regularly to Instagram and right now there are some pretty cool shots from my first few days in Shanghai. Check them out and connect, I love looking at other travel photos too!

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Pin this image if you think it would be helpful to you or someone you know!

Kid Castle Shanghai

 

 

 

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE: 

What’s that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would love to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their £3 coffee and stare at their £40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is: “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another: “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one: “What’s your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders during Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living in host homes whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more & more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China; along with all the requirements for the move very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for it here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself 🙂

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

Continue to stay up to date on the journey by following my social links below,

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

Love TEFL 120 Hour English Teaching Course | REVIEW

Love TEFL 120 Hour English Teaching Course | REVIEW

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TEFL, heres why…

Want to start travelling abroad? Don’t want to hang around for ages saving? Maybe consider getting yourself qualified to teach abroad with a TEFL qualification. I really want to start making travel a priority *even more so* in my life, so I started looking into ways I could earn money whilst travelling to give me a flow of income whilst on the move. I’m always looking to add another string to my bow and I really wanted to have a solid qualification to be able to approach potential employers with abroad. So, I started to research TEFL courses to study at home. Being able to show a certified TEFL qualification has already put me at the front of lots of employers and I have received multiple offers and had some Skype interviews already and I’m not even planning on going abroad until next year; so I can safely say this has already helped me a lot! Plus, I found the course and its content really useful. It’s a lot of common sense but also gives you the tools, theories and confidence to be able to approach an education establishment knowing all the technical jargon! It’s an investment into yourself, your education and your travelling dreams!

I’m hoping to use my TEFL qualification to go abroad and teach in Asia – hopefully in and around China! You can use it in many other countries such as Europe, South America and Africa as it is a globally recognised qualification.

Choosing a TEFL course with LoveTEFL

I researched a few different ones and came across LoveTEFL which at the time had a discount offer for one of their TEFL courses which included the 120 hour minimum TEFL qualification you can get along with some bonus qualifications on 1-to-1 teaching, teaching teenagers, group work, IELTS and helping with looking for work. It worked out the same price as the 120 hour course so I thought i’d make the most of the discount on offer! They offer the 120 hour TEFL, 180 TEFL & 300 hour TEFL. I went with the discounted 300 hour course to really maximise my knowledge and boost on my CV before I start teaching abroad. Keep an eye out as they usually do offers and bundles regularly so make sure you cash in on them and get as many hours as you can!

I’m currently half way through my course and am now on the teenagers & group work part of the 300 hours. I have completed my 120 hour TEFL which is the minimum I need for teaching abroad, so if I wanted to I could start looking for jobs now but I am looking to go early summer of 2016 so I’m making the most of the other parts of the course. I’ll receive my hard copy certificate once I’ve completed all modules but your able to send off for an e-certicifcate copy if you need to start emailing employers right away.

I’ve found the 120 TEFL really useful and it has enhanced my knowledge of teaching in a classroom a lot as well as equipping me with the necessary techniques and jargon to tackle the education environment. I’ve learnt how to create lesson plans catered to various levels, deal with foreign language techniques and lots of psychology in the classroom.

What they say:

“TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is all about exploring our world while learning new skills and getting experience for ‘real life’. So whilst you’re checking out ancient temples in Thailand, spotting wildlife in Africa or riding a tuk-tuk to the beach with your friends, you’ll also be contributing to your career. Nice.”

“What is TEFL about? TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It’s a professional qualification that equips you with the skills, knowledge and confidence to teach across the world. There is a huge demand for English teachers worldwide, and with a TEFL certificate under your belt you’ll be all set to pack your bags and travel the world!

tefl
Details and prices correct as of 06/12/15

 

Here at LoveTEFL, we believe TEFL is much more than just a teaching qualification; it’s an experience! Once you’re qualified we’ve got a range of teach and travel possibilities from paid jobs to supported internships, and even action packed adventure travel! When you arrive in-country, you’ll get a new perspective on the countries you’ll visit; immersing yourself in unique cultures, taking epic adventures and making lifelong friends along the way.

So what are you waiting for? Get TEFL qualified and take the first step on your very own adventure!”

All of their courses are completed 100% online which can fit in with whatever you are doing wether its working or studying. It’s a great benefit especially as I do work around it so the flexibility and freedom to manage it myself was something I found really great. They also offer;

  • 24/7 Access from any device, anywhere in the world
  • Professional TEFL training course
  • Internationally recognised TEFL certificate
  • Dedicated personal tutor
  • Free job service from our TEFL recruitment team

I’ve found LoveTEFL really great in delivering high quality content, useful techniques and thorough assessment of skills. Correspondence has been fairly good when I have needed it and grading has been detailed and constructive. The whole system is really easy to use and digest with mini quizzes throughout the modules. It’s easy to use uploading system for exam submissions makes it quick and stress free. If your looking for a TEFL course then I’d happily recommend looking into a LoveTEFL course.

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!