I've worked as an international school teacher in Shanghai, china for the past 1.5 years. If you have any questions about international schools or expat life I will be happy to answer.

Well all. This had been fun but sleep beckons. Thanks again. Good night/day all

Comments: 862 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

Zayadur248 karma

How's the air?

Raintee97229 karma

Very good actually. Well good for China. As of right now the air quality is at 107. That pic that was all the rage the other day is the worst i've seen it in 3.5 years. The funny thing is that Beijing is just as bad right now.

Check for yourself: http://www.stateair.net/web/post/1/4.html

tearisha103 karma

bejing is at Hazardous (301-500)

Raintee97114 karma

We are at 94.

tearisha19 karma

is there any bad blood between the different races at your school? of in china in general? and why are there no Chinese kids at your school?

Raintee9743 karma

Our kids tend to get along. We have good students. Chinese kids tend to go to different schools.

Zayadur24 karma

Good to see things are gradually stabilizing. Be careful out there.

Raintee9752 karma

Things are stable. They have been stable. I mean there are some bad days, but most of the days aren't that bad. Beijing is much, much worse.

Aqpwod44 karma

As an international student speaking from Beijing, I can confirm.

Raintee9739 karma

I feel for you man.

justwrath-16 karma

I don't really understand your need to white knight Shanghai air. it's like you're some weird city fanboy. I'm confused.

Raintee978 karma

I'm not white knighting the air. Some days the air is bad. But is it end of days bad like what Reddit believes, no. Do I breathe powdered unicorns? No. I just thing people are going to see the pollution on one day and paint with a broad brush.

Jaksuhn96 karma

  • How are the kids compared to Americans ?

  • What level do you teach ?

Raintee9754 karma


e334256 karma

"...there quite like normal kids..." *they're

Raintee9797 karma

Crap. I will blame the old fashioned in my hand for that one. 50 rmb to keep this between you and me.

imaginate9231 karma

Drinking an old fashioned! A man after my own heart, where are you from originally?

Raintee9741 karma

Chicago. Bourbon or Rye?

imaginate9233 karma

Brandy old fashioned sweet with a cherry, I'm from Wisconsin ;)

Raintee9772 karma

I bet you confuse a lot of bartenders when you ask for that drink out side the cheese kingdom.

ksanthra81 karma

How's it going?

Been in Beijing 9 years now. Still suck at Mandarin but life is great.

Raintee97115 karma

It is shocking how far one can get by with so little lang. The phrase, " I want one of those." can do so much.

SpudsMcKensey74 karma

If I had a nickel for every time I've said "Yi ge jiga"...

Are you like me and if you don't understand but know a question has been asked you simply nod your head and go "Dui dui dui"?

Raintee9783 karma

Yep/ they could be asking if I wanted a body part cut off using a rusty blade and i would be saying, "Yep!"

ksanthra22 karma

Yeah, that was me in my first week.

Gestures work too. Hope all goes well.

Raintee9730 karma

It has been. i've been in China for 3.5 years. I so have to take lang classes. I have a Canadian gf and a western job, so well most of my talking in any given day is in English.

the_weegee70 karma

  • Do you speak Mandarin?
  • Is it a bilingual school? Or is it strictly English?
  • How is the curriculum different from other schools? Is there an emphasis on Western education?
  • Was it difficult to get your job? How difficult was it to get a working visa?
  • You mentioned your students are mainly Korean and Japanese. Is that the same for the rest of the grades/school?

Raintee97140 karma

  1. I speak Mandarin at level of an drunk nimwit kindergartener.
  2. We try to keep things in English. The teaching language is English. The kids like to speak their native lang. whenever they can though.
  3. It is set on western levels. We use Common Core just like everyone else.
  4. I had an in so no it wasn't. But if you want a job with an international school you have to be proactive since lots of school hire early. Getting a visa is part of the process of being hired,but i've heard they have changed the visa rules on new people entering the county. You can't enter on a tourist visa any more, but I'm not up to date on the new rules
  5. Most of our school are Japanese and Korean with some Mexican, Spanish and Americans scattered about.

The_Christ_Puncher59 karma

How's the romantic life treating you?

Is it all KTV girls, or do you get out and date locally?

Raintee97120 karma

Well it depends on what you want. This town is full of girlie bars and KTVs begging to take your money. A year into my stay, I met a Canadian girl who I currently live with so things are somewhat different for me. Let's just say i've seen lots of 20 something girls on the arms of 40 something guys. It happens all the time.

tboasis744 karma

Hey there! What education level do you have..and how did you find your job?

Raintee9753 karma

Hello kind sir or lady. At school, we have students K - 12. My students are mainly 6th graders. I found my job the old fashioned way. I had a freinds who worked there and she helped me get some subbing jobs. There was an opening the next year and they hired me.

Raintee9758 karma

Sorry I missed a word there. I have a Bachelor's degree in Secondary history education with some spec. needs certs. thrown in for good measure

Deniz10543 karma

Hello! Besides relaxing in the teachers room at school during the lunch, what else do you do in China? Do you have people you hang out with outside the school? Doesn't it sometimes get lonely being so far from home?

Raintee97150 karma

There is a big expat community. You go out to bars, watch movies or that sort of thing. Shanghai is one of the most cosmopolitan cities there are. I don't miss home so much more like things from home. Like an Italian Beef from Portilios. If anyone is from Chicago they know what I'm talking bout.

Shoap1361 karma

Chicagoan reporting in on Portillo's. It's fantastic. I'm sorry you don't have it there, but at least you experienced it.

Raintee9740 karma

I was born in Addison. I got to go home this summer so I must have went there like fifty times. Well, more like four but you get the idea.

jouelle28 karma

Do you feel like your company is trustworthy or do you feel like there is usually a trap in the fine-print?

Raintee9745 karma

When it comes to the important things like pay and benefits I have no complaints. Does anyone really trust their company 100 percent though? Certain things could be better, but that is case at most schools.

Bcrowe326 karma

If I may ask, what could one expect for pay and benefits?

Raintee973 karma

It depends on the school. It is comparable to teacher pay in the states. I have no complaints.

Richyproyer28 karma

how much acedemic pressure do the kids feel?

Raintee9760 karma

From our school, some but not much. I mean pretty normal stuff. Some of the students have to take tests in their home country. Our Koreans face a lot of pressure because their families have them take extra schooling to prepare of exams they have to take back in Korea. Some of my students have a full day of lessons and then three more hours of studies after school.

EverElusive25 karma

Hi, I teach at an international school in Malaysia. Is your school for profit?

Raintee9729 karma


greengreen99522 karma

Does reddit work in China these days? I feel like when I was in Guangzhou 2 years ago it was blocked.

Raintee9775 karma

My VPN says I'm someplace else.

SpudsMcKensey21 karma

What's the pay like? How about compared to the cost of living? How much have you been able to save? I'm at a language school right now but considering an international school once I get an education degree.

Raintee9749 karma

I get paid about 40 K usd per year. My gf and I share rent which about 1200 usd per month. Then again no car payment, gas or insurance. Certain things are more expensive and certain things are very cheap. I pay about 18 bucks a month for my cell phone. I paid 125 a month in the states.

SpudsMcKensey16 karma

So that's about 20K RMB a month? Are there good benefits with seniority/decent pay raises? How about room for advancement?

Raintee9730 karma

Health care and some living expenses. Then again our school isn't' first tier. Top notch schools have top notch benefits. I can't complain though. I am using my degree when back home it would have been gathering dust.

nikatnight16 karma

Hey man I'm doing the same thing. I'm at a local school with the international department.

You on /r/ shanghai?

Raintee9719 karma

oddly not yet.

squid_gotti6915 karma

do you have any pictures of your apartment in Shanghai? to show us what 1200 USD/month could buy someone perhaps.

also, what are your average monthly living expenses: food, energy bills, water, entertainment (what you do for entertainment)

& how do you enjoy your life over in Shanghai now? was it easy to make friends?

Raintee9716 karma

I have two bedrooms, an office and a living room. We have one bath and a kitchen. Since I live on the first floor I have a deck and two trees. But that is rare. If you go out all the time, your food costs are high. Eating in saves you some money. Energy is higher in the summer and winter. I find myself saving a lot of money since i don't have to pay for anything car related.

AgnesofthePunk15 karma

My niece will be attending Shanghai Normal in the Spring. Should she prepare for bad air? Should she bring a mask or something? I've seen pretty horrible pictures...

Raintee9736 karma

Does she have breathing concerns? When in doubt check with your doctor. Most of the time is isn't that bad. Thursday was a fluke.

ebenavides57814 karma

What's the school lunch like?

Raintee9735 karma

Let's just say it isn't filet mignon. They try to recreate some american foods like pasta and pizza. They have some Asian food as well. Let's just say I try to bring in my own lunch when I can.

benwinc41 karma

Pizza and pasta are dishes from america? Damn you, Italy! you didn't tell me the truth!

Raintee9740 karma

subtract American and add "a loose approximation of westernish food.

Sophilosophical13 karma

Do you interact with many ESL teachers? I plan to teach English in China after college.

Raintee9729 karma

Find ten random expats. At least two of them will be english teachers.

wilmcoast12 karma

In the US, there's a lot of media attention on the controversial air-defense zone over the East China Sea, as well as China's plans to militarize the moon. What is your experience of Chinese attitudes towards the US? Is there Anti-American rhetoric in the state-run media? What about the feelings of average citizens?

Raintee9726 karma

There is nothing America other then some problems with visas since we hassle them. And that problem is just about cost. Anti-Japanese is a different story. Let's just say that these two countries have had some history.

Taibo12 karma

Do you know anyone who goes to SAS across town? How do they compare?

Raintee9712 karma

My gf does some tutoring for students who go there. My school is probably not the top tier of schools, but we are trying to get there. Also SAS is much more expensive.

unclaimed_wallet10 karma

Shanghai is my favourite city in the world. I guess have been there 10+times but never stayed for more than 2 months each my visit. How do you deal with the cold in winter at your home? How do you deal with the hot and humid air in summer with a combination of freezing cold air conditioned areas. I dont remember a summer in Shanghai when I didn't get sick.

Raintee9710 karma

Well in the summer I sweat a lot and beer helps too. You do what you can. This town's weather does suck.

unclaimed_wallet9 karma

Not to mention the occasional smell while on the sidewalk that hits your senses during the summer... but still I would love to live there for an extended period of time.

Raintee9712 karma

It is urban living. You take the good with the bad.

CapAWESOMEst9 karma

Are the rest of your fellow teachers foreigners like you?

How do Chinese teachers treat you?

Raintee978 karma

Most are. I don't really come in contact too much with the Chinese (lang) teachers since I teach history and math.

ImDaChineze12 karma

International schools for Chinese Students for the most part refuse to hire anyone who isn't White. I applied for some part time work tutoring kids in English/SAT prep (2350 super score SAT) and was flat out rejected because the boss "only hires white people" (direct quote from the recruiter) despite my Chinese citizenship (ease of employment without work visa necessary) and having lived in US since I was 4. They attract parents there by having a kind of "zoo" of white/foreign teachers which make them seem legit

Raintee9710 karma

That is a concern at some schools, but our school has a very diverse teaching faculty.

Robot_Empire8 karma

Are you considered tall there? I know the average height is significantly lower than the global average.

Raintee9718 karma

yes, but then again I'm not that tall in general. I have some friends who are in the six foot something category. They are tall.

JustOneLaoWai7 karma


Raintee977 karma

If you make kids laugh, they can forget that they are learning things.

rko19855 karma

Do you think it might be possible to do this job for a really short term basis, like 3 months just to get out of the country for a little while?

Raintee9714 karma

At an international school, no. At a English center perhaps. Then again you need to figure out the whole visa situation.

sshheeffff5 karma

I have several questions--feel free to answer whichever ones you like. Did you teach in the U.S.(or somewhere else) before teaching at the International school? If so, what subject, if anything specific did you teach, and what are you teaching no? Also, what differences are there between your previous teaching experiences and this one? How has it changed your teaching philosophy/approach?

Raintee975 karma

I taught in a spec ed. background. Things are little different, but our standards of teaching are western standards. This job has given me more insight into the best ways to teach ESl learners.

KDragon54 karma

How is the tension between China and Japan affecting you/school/students, if at all? I'm Chinese, and my dad has vowed to never buy again buy a Japanese car because of it(before buying a Canon and a Fujifilm camera on black friday >.>)

Raintee976 karma

Last year it affected some of our Japanese students, but this year it seems better.

bbqwings4sale4 karma

How wealthy are the families there? I used to go to Singapore American School and I knew some people that went to many other international schools worldwide that would go back and forth often, some schools being the HK American school and the Shanghai one. From my experience I'd say that almost all the families were in the 1% and had parents that were CEOs of some famous companies etc. The schooling is about as equal to what would be top public high schools in the U.S. It was interesting to see how other people in this thread say that they didn't know much Chinese after living overseas because I say the same thing. 10+ years in Singapore and my Chinese is less than proficient.

Raintee974 karma

The level of education we provide to our students is very good. As for the level of income of our parents I don't know. That's not my department.

NoFunHere4 karma

I have been considering a move to shenzhen for a while now. Can you help me understand how expensive it would be to educate three American children in China? I am a fairly well paid engineer, but not wealthy but any means. Do schools handle children with no understanding of any Asian language?

Raintee978 karma

It depends on where you want them to school. Also, it depends on what your work can provide for schooling. Try to see if your work can help you with schooling costs. If you have to pay out of pocket, it can be really expensive. I can't give you more infor that then. It depends on the school.

-Japan4 karma

Would you ever recommend someone to visit there?

Raintee9729 karma

Yes, then again not eveyone will like this town. If you come here seeking the exact same things you had when you left, you will be sad. If you come here to explore you will have a great time.

poloteam4204 karma

What is the greatest source of pollution? Or is it the combination..

Raintee9710 karma

Coal plants

Scanamfm1003 karma

What do you think will be done about China's air over the next 5 years? Better worse?

Raintee9718 karma

It depends. I mean the world has turned China into its factory. This has had a great negative effect on the environment. They still use coal for their energy needs. Lots and lots of coal. Then again, in the last ten years, shanghai has built the longest subway system in the world. There is an incredible license cost for cars which has kept lots of them off the roads. Overall, Shanghai's air, for china, is very good. Beijing is much, much worse.

SpudsMcKensey20 karma

To add, China has more renewable energy resources than any other country, and are continuing to add more. Their goal has always been coal first to get the economy and production going, then switch to renewable or clean energy. This is how every industrialized nation has started, but China has the benefit of learning from the mistakes of other former production powerhouses (see: United States) and started putting in renewable and clean energy infrastructure in right away. But since it takes longer (and more money) to build they are exploiting the coal first.

The air gets a bad rap because all the press goes to Beijing, where the air is admittedly terrible. But it would be like saying all of America's air is the same quality as Los Angeles. I currently live in the northeast and, like Shanghai, the air is good, especially compared to Beijing. There are some bad days but that's why I have a mask.

Edit: Too/to

Raintee9711 karma

They also are the world's biggest producer of coal. They will figure something out when it comes to a point that they have to. I just think that time hasn't come yet. Then again, it is shocking what they have built in such a short time. The list of what has been built in Shanghai in the last 20 years is mind boggling.

kolobian1 karma

I don't think you should ever say "shanghai has good air", even if you qualify it by saying "in china". It doesn't. It's not as bad as some other areas, it's true, but it certainly isn't anywhere near good air, even for china.

My mom got diagnosed with COPD after living in Shanghai for awhile and it's no question that the pollution had a major influence over that. She's way too young to have lung problems.

Raintee973 karma

It is all relative. When you move here you know the air isn't going to be perfect. I would take Shanghai air over Beijing air any day of the week. The air quality is 94 in Shanghai. In Beijing is it 440.

the______dude3 karma

What's the weirdest thing you've seen in China?

Raintee9714 karma

Wet markets are interesting places. Old people in Hello Kitty bathrobes are fun.

the______dude5 karma

Wet market?

Raintee9720 karma

A market where you can but meat, fish and vegetables. Let's just say the meat is very fresh.

DrAnother3 karma

Shanghai ranked first place in the latest PISA tests. What explains this success?

Raintee976 karma

Biggest difference. Most international schools will have much smaller class sizes. Your standard Chinese high school can have 40 ish kids per classroom. And all our teaching is done in English.

sistersbrother3 karma

Hows the dating scene?

Raintee978 karma

Well I've been dating the same girl for 2.5 years so I don't know.

Rossicle3 karma

In a few months, I'm headed out to Ningbo to teach English. ^

My salary is gonna be about 14000 RMB/month. Am I gonna survive? x_X

Raintee975 karma

I would think so. The cost of living is much lower there than in a larger city. It depends on what you want to spend your money on.

TimeRoar3 karma

Who does the catering at your school? Is it Eurest? Eurest what we get here in Beijing.

Raintee9716 karma

What is this catering that you speak of? It sounds magical.

NegativGhostryder2 karma

My friend is doing the same thing OP! She's loving it. Hope you are too!

Raintee973 karma

I love 95 percent of my job. I work with a great group of students.

Testicular_Bagpipes2 karma

Can you see out of the window?

Raintee9724 karma

yes, things are much better today. Wait second no, there is a cat in the way.

minituex1 karma

Was it hard for u to fit in the culture and living in china or haven't u changed anything?

Raintee974 karma

Unless you have a strong grasp of the language you cant really fit into the chinese culture. You can skim the surface though. You change a little cause you go crazy searching for what you had before you left. Then again sometimes you pay a bit more for taste of home.

rapidozak1 karma

How serious is the air pollution hazard? Can you like even walk to places without xover?

Raintee972 karma

It is a concern for some, but it isn't death in the streets.

pedler1 karma

I'm not sure what is more strange....the fact that this warrants an AMA, or that it's on the front page.

I guess living in Shanghai is kind of interesting...but is it really?

Raintee972 karma

Can I do my front page dance now?