Let’s not entirely mislead you, rocking up in China does come with its quirks.
It can be a daunting place: the cities are jam-packed and claustrophobic; it feels like everyone is shouting at you (Mandarin is a tonal language); and if you can’t read what you’re ordering you’ve a good chance of ending up with stomach or intestines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
However, get past China’s bizarrities and this fascinating culture, not to mention the stunning landscape, offers a wealth of opportunities.
London may be cursed with a severe job shortage, but China is in real need of native English speakers.
Smart graduates are combining their desire to travel with work experience in the Far East, and they’re getting paid… lots.
Michelle Fawdon, 27
“I meet wonderful, gorgeous children with squidgy cheeks who want to learn,” gushes Fawdon, a 27-year-old Brit who is teaching for Kid Castle Educational Corporation in Shanghai and gets paid about CNY150 (£14.60) per hour.
She is one of hundreds of graduates who have found the UK’s job market hard to penetrate, but had no trouble when it came to finding work in a primary school in China.
“The requirements to teach in China are simple, experience is preferred but not entirely necessary, but you must have a degree or higher for visa purposes,” Fawdon says.
“There are gorgeous skyscrapers and endless business opportunities here,” she continues, explaining that many people use teaching to get a foot in the door of the country before pursuing other careers (as, once in China, it’s an opportunity to meet and network with other professionals).
The intriguing culture and high standard of life for expats means teachers often stay.
Fawdon explains: “As a woman, you can go out every night and get home safely. I have never felt threatened here.”
Adam Frost, 31
“Living here can be as cheap or as expensive as you like,” says 31-year-old Frost, from the US, who works at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and is paid approximately CNY30,000 per month (£2930).
Frost finds his wage as a uni teacher decent compared with the cost of living.
Public transport is cheap, between CNY1-10 (less than 1p), and apartments start from around CNY500 per month (£50) for something basic out in the sticks, to CNY4000+ (£400) per month for a bit of city-based luxury.
However, Frost warns against taking on your first teaching position in rural China.
”There’s more of a culture shock in smaller towns, and a likelihood you’ll be bored and get the odd dodgy belly,” he says.
“Plus, smaller city jobs will promise the world and potentially not deliver.
“In a new country where you don’t speak the language or understand contracts, you can get bluffed or bullied into an uncomfortable work situation.”
These contracts may include too many hours, not enough money or bad lodgings.
“Once you’re here for a while, you can venture out to lesser-known areas with a bit of experience and knowledge under your belt,” he advises.
Curran, from the US, set up a private language school 12 years ago in China and places teachers all over the country.
But while more and more people are venturing to this compelling nation, he believes there’s still an inaccurate stigma attached to it. “It’s not the threatening place our media often portrays,”
Curran, the CEO of Journey East, explains. “It’s a rather peaceful nation coming to terms with the consequences of a rapidly developing economy.”
Teaching in this part of the world is hugely satisfying, Curran points out.
“Teachers are well respected. Education is very important to families, they will budget upwards of 80 per cent of their income towards their child’s education needs.”
With a population of 1.3 billion people all keen to get ahead, there are plenty of students togo around.
Where to start Love TEFL offers a free teaching qualification, plus free flights, accommodation and a monthly pay packet of £600 (or £700 with subsidised flights and accommodation).
Anyone with a degree is eligible to fly out to an Asia-based school including Chinese cities Shanghai,
Beijing, Chongqing or Chengdu. It’s an experience that “builds confidence and sets you up for a career in teaching,” explains Ian O’Sullivan from Love TEFL. See lovetefl.com