Not that I’d mind moving to China – I enjoyed each of my trips there and would like to return at some point. I studied Chinese history and archaeology in college and had an appreciation for the culture even before adopting my children. But moving to China would be an enormous undertaking and require a lot more capital than we have.
Earlier in our journey down this spiral I looked into obtaining a certificate to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) and in doing my research joined a few of the TEFL community boards. I explained our situation and asked people currently living and working in China if they thought it would be a good option for us. The unanimous response was “No!” The reasons given were largely related to the difficulty and cost of raising and educating children in China. While many teaching jobs include housing, none of those situations were set up for a single parent and children. Most TEFL workers tend to be single adults in their 20s or 30s – similar to Peace Corps workers – who want to combine adventurous travel with work.
Schooling was a big stumbling block. Most expats (expatriates) living and working in China send their children to an International School and many are available in the larger cities, however the tuition costs for 4 children are quite a bit higher than the average TEFL worker’s salary!
As this article on expat schooling options says, “Many expats living in China find their children’s education options constrained by their own financial status. Specifically, couples who have migrated to the East to teach English simply can’t scrape the necessary amount of money together to send their kids to a school that suits their standards.”
Yes, one could chose to send their children to public school but China does not have the “Chinese as a second language” equivalent of the ESL programs in our schools. All classes, books and homework are in Chinese and the Chinese method of teaching – with a heavy emphasis on rote learning – is very different from the way our schools teach. Resorting to homeschooling would be an option; however it still leaves open the question of what to do with the kids while one is at work during the day.
Additionally, the cost of moving to China – employers are likely to pay just the employee’s travel expenses – is prohibitive in our current financial situation. A round trip ticket to China can easily cost over $1,000.
Beyond the financial constraints I feel that we need to move in a direction that provides more security – not just financial security but physical, emotional and psychological security. I don’t think moving to China – leaving behind family, pets, friends, our language and culture – would be a healthy move right now. My yen for adventure has become somewhat dulled over the past few years. I have a bumper sticker (that I designed myself) on my car. It says “Woman on the Verge!” We have been poised on the precipice for too long. It’s time to find a cozy cave!