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Taking kids to China?
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Joined: 23 Aug 2006
Posts: 9
Location: Hubei Province

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why don't you just get a 6 month contract-no big deal if it doesn't work out.I'm here with my son (9yr) we're doing it,living it.It's a bit yeah sometimes but,we won't forget it.
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Joined: 11 Nov 2006
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Have to agree Reply with quote

No matter how mature, well-adjusting etc your kids are - don't do it! Be realistic - most "adult" FTs find it difficult here. You seem headstrong, so you're gonna do it anyway. Don't say we didn't warn ye........
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Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:55 pm    Post subject: Take your kids overseas! Reply with quote

Hi! I was just reading the posts, and knew I had to add to this one! My name is Andrew, I'mm 23, from Toronto, and am hading to China in A month or so.

When I was younger, my Father's job took us frequently to other countries for long periods of time, ranging from 1 to 3.5 years. We lived in places as mundane as New Jersey (no offence meant to those of you from there), and as exotic as Cuba and Chile. I grew up speaking 4 languages, and have been to 14 schools.

Now a lot of you may think that this sounds difficult, but it was so easy to make friends, it is terriffic to experience new cultures, learn languages, etc. Plus, when I was moving around when I was young, there was no such thing as the Internet or email. I had to write LETTERS to my friends in Canada! Imagine that! Today we have webcams, email, and easy ways to keep in touch, and we know that the move is never permanent.

It's not like I don't understand what it is like to live in a difficult and unique country (like China), after having spent a year in Havana with my family, as well as 3 years in Chile, under Augusto Pinochet, the Fascist dictator. I have lived in my share of 'normal' countries as well, like Scotland, France, Italy and the US (and Canada, naturally). Having us experience the expat life was the absolute best thing my parents could ever have done for my sister and I. We both speak at least 4 languages, and are extremely adaptable and it has helped us both with our educations and finding great jobs! We have learned so much more than we ever could have had we never made moves to other countries.

Granted, there were difficult times, Cuba was no picnic on the beach! The school was fine, I ended up going to the International School of Havana, where I did Highschool correspondence courses through the University of Nebraska (of all places.) 'Western' foods were often hard to find (unless you consider 42 kinds of Russian Mayonaise, and Middle Eastern UHT milk Western...). Lots of beans though. Rolling Eyes

When I was back in Canada for my Highschool years, I wanted to leave again, and ended up finishing my last year of secondary and graduating there. I had no problem getting into a top Canadian University (from which I graduated in April), and can't wait to get overseas again!

I really hope you seriously consider the positives of taking your kids abroad! It was the very best thing that my parents ever did for me.


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Joined: 01 Mar 2003
Posts: 944
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:58 pm    Post subject: One year is a long time Reply with quote

One year is a long time in the life of a kid.

For your and your kids' sanity, it would be best to take it slow. It would be much better if you could all come over for a month or a summer before making a year's committment.

The thing about China is that some people love it, and some people HATE it. The same thing goes for teenagers, of course. If you make a one year committment, and then you find you or your kids can't bear it here, what are you going to do? Will you run out on your contract? That'll mean uprooting your kids again, going back home without a job, and of course stiffing your school. Or, you could force your kids to stick it out for a miserable year. Or, it could well be that YOU will be the one who hates it. What then? Staying for a little while to adopt a kid is different than living here for a whole year. The staring, the weird food, not having access to English books, not having old friends around, will get really tough.

Maybe your kids will have a great time. Maybe they won't. But it would be a lot better to come over for couple months or a summer and test the waters, then go back and plan to come again the next year if you like it, rather than to jump in on a year long contract and maybe end up with a miserable family.

(Of course, you think you and your family will love it, but doesn't everyone think that? Isn't that why we came here? I guarantee that 90% of the people complaining on this forum today were as sure as you are that they would love it here. That's why you owe it to your family to start out cautiously.)
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Joined: 03 Jan 2004
Posts: 141
Location: Dongguan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go with your heart. You know your children better than any of us do. If this is something they want to do then go for it. If they have reservations then tread cautiously. But the bottom line is you are the parent and have the responsibility to choose wisely for them.
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Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 111
Location: World travelling

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject: Boredom, etc. Reply with quote

It also needs to be pointed out in case you thought of enrolling your children in an ordinary Chinese school that Chinese students simply don't have time to make friends or "to play". If they're in school till Senior Grade 3, about 18 years of age, there's no time day or night. They're either in class or doing their homework. There are a few weeks' holiday each year when the school will take half their time with "holiday courses" or their parents will send them off to tutors. If they're not enrolled in a school, they're working.

Students that I know don't even have time to visit their long time classmates' homes. Most have never visited their friends' homes even though those homes might be only a stone's throw away. The person they will know best will be their deskmate. After that, their classmates - but, in the room next door, probably no one.

There is no play. Most schools fence in all their playing areas to prevent students having access to them except during supervised P.Ed. lessons.

As for the world view of Chinese students. It is extremely narrow. Foreign children would wonder what they had struck. Take half a dozen years off chronological age and you've got Chinese emotional age. As for experiences outside school, generally they are few and far between. As for social skills, Chinese children are as different from western children as chalk and cheese. Western young people here for the long term must come close to exploding through frustration. My own son can cope with only a couple of weeks here before beating a retreat. "The minds!" he says. "There's nothing in them."

It's a different world. If one hopes to transfer good intentions in the expectation that the environment will be the same as at home, then a rude shock is sure to be in wait.

For any young person of school-age years, being transported to China is likely to result in a lonely life indeed. Even when our Chinese students do get loose, what do they do - watch TV or sleep or walk up and down the main street "looking". As for life at university, it seems to be filled with on-going boredom - sleeping in the dormitory and playing cards. The more adventurous in some areas are now given to "shacking up" in flats adjacent to the school.

As for doing good, it is not encouraged in China unless it is channelled through some official agency.

China can be such a disappointment to so many. My son has a "Chinese" friend, aged about 24, who has lived his entire life in a foreign country. He was keen to see China. He was so repelled by almost everything he encountered that, after two weeks, he fled - and certainly he'll never return unless it might be in one of those 5-star hotel tours for the well-heeled.

It may well be, of course, that if children were to be placed in an international school, things might be a lot different. Of them, I know nothing. But, as I recall, you were hoping for somewhere outside the big cities. International schools could be a bit difficult to find there.

You'll follow your heart, for sure, and hope for the best. But if you do follow your heart, plan at least for what you might do if things were to turn out badly.
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great advice, and thanks to those of you who wrote me telling of your experiences as an expat kid! I agree that even if our experience is less than perfect (okay, how about just okay) that my kids will have gained an amazing life experience that they would have never gotten at the mall or from playing x-box!! Besides, our daughter is Chinese, and I hope that this will be the first of many trips back for her.

(I agree with the poster who suggested we try and find something a little more short-term. I think getting our feet wet first before signing a long term contract makes sense.)

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Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 547

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:46 pm    Post subject: East vs West Reply with quote

"It's not like I don't understand what it is like to live in a difficult and unique country..." --Andrew Bowden

Since you haven't actually ARRIVED in China yet, and aren't asking for advice, I'm going to give you a bye. For the benefit of the OP, China is NOT Latin America. I have traveled, lived or worked in most of the countries of the Americas, as well as a few in Asia, and the difference is, well, like the difference between East and West.

"It also needs to be pointed out, in case you thought of enrolling your children in an ordinary Chinese school, that Chinese students simply don't have time to make friends or to play." --Poopsi Cola

This is a dead accurate description of what going to a Chinese public school is like, which I only alluded to in my previous post. For those of us who teach in universities, the results, I think, speak for themselves.

"Thanks for all the great advice, and thanks to those of you who wrote me telling of your experiences as an expat kid!" --Kce

Please let us know how you and your family are doing when you get to China. It should be interesting.
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Joined: 06 Mar 2006
Posts: 1976
Location: Lanzhou

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually you would be well advised NOT to post your China experiences here.

Keep a journal and write a book. It could be a best seller!
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


What do mean don't post my China experiences here? That really hurt my feelings, but thanks for the book idea!! I'm so excited.


I wish I could meet you. You sound so passionate! Any chances of us meeting up in China?? Ah come on, I need a big burly man like you to teach me the ways of the world. I'm so confused, did you really mean it when you said China is Not Latin America? And what do you mean my kids can't go to a Chinese school? That's just so unfair! Why are you being so mean to me? Please don't tell me bye, I think I love you.

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Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 547

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 4:22 am    Post subject: Cruel or Kind? Reply with quote

"(D)id you really mean it when you said China is not (like) Latin America?." --Kce

As different as some Latin American countries may be from the rest of North America economically, there are strong cultural and linguistic similarities. This can make it somewhat easier for other Westerners to adapt to life there.

"(W)hat do you mean my kids can't go to a Chinese school? That's just so unfair!" --Kce

No one has said they can't go. Just that, as someone who has been trained in Western educational practices, you may not WANT to subject them to the kind of learning environment they will encounter. International schools purport to provide an alternative, at least in terms of curriculum (although, due to local management, there may be some similarities to the Chinese educational system there as well!). If you work for one of them, you may be able to get free tuition for at least one of your children. Tuition for additional children may not be affordable on their FT's salary (~20,000 RMB/month). Homeschooling might be a more viable option, especially if you are working at a university with only 12-16 contact hours per week (at 4,000-6,000 RMB/month).

"Why are you being so mean to me?." --Kce

I'm sorry if you think that assuming the role of "teacher" is cruel. But it is apparent that you are considering something very difficult--moving your family to China--without really understanding what that might entail. You were not, until perhaps now, very receptive to the potential pitfalls. So, if you will begin to consider seriously issues like schooling, health care, and living arrangements now, I think you might begin to get a somewhat more realistic view of whether this is a good move for you and your children or not.
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Joined: 06 Nov 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KC - I work at an international school - I have 2 children - I have a 12 year old and a 14 year old. Being that I am a staff of the school, my kids are entitled to free tuition. Should I have a third child, I 'd have to pay 50 %. The school provides us with an apartment, return flight (only for me, not the kids), comprehensive Inter-global insurance (for me full cover, my kids - I pay half premium). There are at least 20 other teachers with families here. The expat community here with children is awesome - we are in Suzhou - numerous families with kids ranging from babies to 18 year olds to even those kids who manage good enough Chinese to enrol at Chinese universities (the exception, NOT the rule)

Is it all a bed of roses? No, not all the time. Is it all bad - heck NO! We are providing our kids with the sort of opportunity that not many other kids would get. Our school is an IB school - PYP, MYP and DP and is working towards accreditation by Council of International Schools. I am a teacher at the school, yes - the administration can be somewhat frustrating BUT the teachers are great. I am happy with the quality of instruction my colleagues provide for my 2 kids - they are happy kids and they are learning in ways that they would not have if we had simply led a sub-urban contented upper middle class existence in Canada - nothing wrong with that, it's simply that we have this opportunity and we chose to grab it.

I've taught in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, rural China during SARS and Mexico and the kids are always with us. Check out This is the time schools are beginning to recruit for next academic year. Consider also going to job fairs armed with your portfolio. Good established schools take very good care of their staff to retain staffs !! You mentioned you have your B.Ed, that's one hurdle out of the way. Not all international schools provide free tuition for our kids - most schools in Shanghai ask teachers to pay 25% - 50% - frankly I think that is still okay, then we are fee-paying parents and we have a stronger say should we not be happy with quality of instruction for our kids.

Should you decide to move the kids to China, you won't be the first nor would you be the last. Our kids have turned out to be actually "more normal" than kids back in North America Laughing .

Other job sites to look at would be Search Associates and EARCOS. Job fairs begin from around Christmas right up to February. Job fairs are held in Vancouver, Seattle, DC, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur. Get your professional portfolio together! Good luck! I hope it works out for you and judging by your posts, there is no reason why it wouldn't.
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Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 1301
Location: Henan

PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have seen several FT's bring children with them and I have only seen a good result in parents who have brought young kids. My friend brought her daughter here when she was 2 and now four years later, she is thriving. She speaks fluent Chinese and fits in perfectly with her classmates.

The FT's I have seen that have brought older children have not had good results. As other posters here have mentioned, they have few chances to make friends. Unless they attend an international school, they are forced to go back to a younger grade. DO you think your teenagers would enjoy going back to grade 4? Another thing I have seen is that because of the lack of friends their own age, teenagers tend to hang out with younger FT's. In one situation, I saw a girl of 15 who ended up sleeping with a much older FT. Does this mean this will happen to your children? OF course not but I'm sure her parents didn't think it would to their could either. Another trend I have noticed is children experiencing weight gain because of lack of exercise and the tendency to hang out watching DVD's because there is nothing to do.

I wish you the best but I do think coming for the summer would be a better idea than to sign on for a year.
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Long ai gu

Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 135

PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You see the advice of foreigners who have children here and you see the advice of foreigner teachers who don't. I have a child who is half Chinese and the Chinese mother wouldn't think of bringing up the child in the Chinese educational system and neither would I. The Teachers who have children here are obviously leading privileged lives as compared to your average Chinese . I have worked as a teacher here for over 2 years and the Chinese education system is a nightmare. It teaches the children to be good little soldiers and to fall in place with the communist regime of obeying your leaders and not asking questions because if you do there is a chance you may be punished in some way. In Weifang my college students paid for heat in their rooms but had none in below freezing temperatures. I had to also teach in below freezing in front of a class of shivering students who never felt warmth. I met a teacher in Tibet who could travel abroad but if she came back to China her school would be taken from her and she would not be able to work in China again. By the way it's estimated that the Chinese have slaughtered 1.2 million Tibetans and I don't know the numbers of the other minorities that live here. I recently helped a Chinese student win a prize in the CCTV9 speaking competition that would have taken him to Korea to compete but his leader said that he couldn't go even though the trip was paid for. China is the world leader for jailing reporters and journalists. At my college the students and teachers are warned not to speak openly or associate with foreigners. There is a foreign teacher here who recently married a Chinese woman who works at the school and she was threatened and lost her job and was told the teacher was a spy. When they visited his country after numerous bribes and paper work her bank account was frozen by the Chinese gov't. These are only things that I can think of now while writing this, there are many more. This education system teaches the student to listen, remember and repeat, there is no creativity involved. Please, if you intend to live here seek out the privileged means of educating your child, some foreigners here have no idea what really goes on here because they don't mix with the peasants and the less fortunate. Human rights here only exist for the privileged so please take that avenue if you want to live here, life is sweet in the 3rd world hellholes if you got money and are a foreigner so don't sweat it, come on over it's a blast...
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Mister Al

Joined: 28 Jun 2004
Posts: 840
Location: In there

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long ai gu

Maybe he was a spy........ Wink My wife is Chinese, and I suppose quite a number of other posters' wives are as well, and my wife has never had any government trouble just because she married a johnny foreigner. Your stories are quite funny/sad and maybe even true, who knows. Nothing surprises us here, does it?
BTW, life can be sweet anywhere if you have money but more poignantly, why do you choose to live in a hellhole? It must be love...... Very Happy
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