In 2004 I had the crazy idea to retire from being a lawyer in England and set out on a new and exciting adventure in China. A few challenges initially presented themselves. I needed to obtain the full support from and permission of my children and family. Fortunately, they were all very positive about the challenge ahead. Or perhaps they just wanted me to leave ha ha. The next challenge was to secure a suitable teaching position with a company I could trust. I set about researching. I was very lucky to come across Buckland International. The reviews I read were mainly positive and the questions I posed to them were answered almost immediately. The application process with Buckland couldn't have been any easier. Ping (the recruiter) and the office staff were extremely efficient. My visa and contract were handled with due care and precision.

The day of departure from England, as you can imagine, was charged with emotions. I almost didn't leave. In fact, I spent 40 minutes crying in the toilets at Heathrow airport. Quite embarrassing for a grown man ha ha. As you have probably guessed I did eventually get on the plane. Buckland met myself and another new teacher at the airport and took us to our accommodation in Yangshuo. The next day we started the orientation week. This involved meeting the new group of teachers, Buckland employees and our course leader. All gave us a warm and friendly welcome.

The week involved lessons and advice on life in China and how to make the best of it. We were given advice and support on how to prepare and deliver lessons. This came in particularly useful for the first few weeks of teaching at my school. We were also given the opportunity to prepare and present a class to real students. Perhaps, most importantly the week gave me the opportunity to make many new life-long friends.

I won't talk too much about Yangshuo itself. I am sure you will do some research on the internet. However, I will say this. The guide books and travel guides do not do the town justice. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I arrived at night in total darkness. I awoke to a vista of mist shrouded mountains, magical rivers teaming with happy tourists on bamboo rafts and a town containing a delightful mixture of Eastern and Western cultures. I have twice returned to soak in more of the beauty. I cannot recommend it too highly. At the end of the orientation week I sat with Yuki (one of the members of Buckland team) and we went through the best options with regard to my first school placement. Her advice and honesty were much appreciated. School chosen it was time to say goodbye and leave. I chose to teach in a High school in a fairly remote part of China. The school were exceptionally welcoming and friendly. When I arrived they took me for some fantastic meals and a tour of the countryside. I was very lucky. I had a brand new apartment in a beautiful and friendly town surrounded by mountains and beautiful countryside.

After a few days of relaxation and acclimatisation it was time to meet the students and begin teaching. If you have taught in England you will be surprised by the class sizes. On average my classes contained approximately 70 students. I know what you are thinking. How on earth can I teach 70 students? The honest answer is that the students are incredibly friendly and respectful. This makes your life much easier. You will need a good sense of humour and patience. You will need to expect the unexpected and not stress about the little things.

I can assure you that if you come with an open mind you will have a wonderful experience. I have enjoyed my time so much that I am now beginning my third year of teaching in China. I can honestly say I have never experienced a problem that cannot be easily overcome with a smile and a handshake. Contrary to what we see in the media at home China is a wonderful country and the Chinese are the friendliest people you will ever meet. I hope you grasp the opportunity to come and teach with both hands.


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