Sitting in Summer's rather cramped little office I was not really sure what to expect. I thought maybe we'd talk pay or that we'd talk work, at this point I had taught but that had been as a flight instructor mainly to rich old men not kids. Instead the conversation started with a warning.
Don't go to bars, don't drink too much and don't do anything bad in front of the parents or kids. It seemed like she was trying hard to cover a long list of problems that had come up with foreigners, and often by the sound of it. I was a little put off by this. I'd never been a heavy drinker and nowadays I am one step from being teetotal,and some of the things I was being explicitly told not to do were things which honestly had never crossed my mind.
After assuring Summer on multiple occasions that I would act like a good boy we came to "the contract". You see all foreign teachers in China, and most of the local ones at training schools like Shane, are required to sign a contract. To be honest the system usually works pretty well, but the do tend to hold you over a barrel when it comes to the fine print.
Looking through the contract a few odd things caught my eye, mainly provisions for what happens if I quit or get fired. Overall though it looked like a reasonable document. I work for a year with them and get ¥7,000RMB a month (roughly £700 or $1,100) in pay on the 15th of every month. A pretty simple bargain. As far as hours go I teach 20 hours a week and do 5 hours of office time to prep for lessons. 20 hours a week sounds cushy after all I'd pulled 50 or 60 hour weeks before.
It wasn't until later that I found out just how intense and tiring those 20 hours could be and how badly the were spread out across the week.
Rory McDonald is an online marketer and digital entrepreneur, co-founder of the Online Business Expert and passionate blogger.