Expat Experience – Being a English Teacher in Shanghai

Shanghai Living

Shanghai Living met up with English teacher Susan Brooks to ask her a few general questions about living in Shanghai.

Tell us a little about yourself. My name is Susan, a single 32 years old female, born and raised in London, UK to a french mother and english farther. I love learning new languages, traveling and experiencing new cultures, especially in Asia.

When did you move to Shanghai and what brought you here? I moved to Shanghai in 2008 just before the Olympics, I remember as it was very difficult to obtain both tourist and working visas at this time. I came here because i have always loved traveling Asia and with China’s economic growth it has created new opportunities for teaching.

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where? I spent 3 years working and teaching in Paris but i wouldn’t call that a expat adventure and i spent 1 year in Spain working, I have traveled a lot around Asia but only worked in Shanghai.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Shanghai ? When you are doing something for the first time, be patient and dont expect the process to be the same as back home. Research online to find support communities as there are a lot of networking groups in Shanghai which can help you answer questions and get things done.

What surprised you most about Shanghai? How fast things change, buildings are built so fast, fashion changes daily, I remember once walking home from work and i walked past a shop which sold eye glasses, the next morning whilst walking to work the shop had been totally cleared and re-fitted to a very high standard and was now selling wedding photographs.

What area do you live in? When i arrived i was living downtown in Jingan which is where i would call central Shanghai, but now i am living in Pudong near my workplace.

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Shanghai? In Xintiandi, but i would probably spend too much time drinking and dining if i lived there.

Your favorite Chinese word or phrase you have learned so far. Huan Ying Guang Lin 欢迎光临 (Welcome) all the store assistants repeatedly say it, i sometimes even join in or hear it in my sleep, spend a day shopping in Shanghai and you will know what i mean !

Your least favorite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Shanghai. I dont even want to say !

What has been your best experience in Shanghai to date? On my Birthday, somehow my students found out when it was and arranged a class room party for me, it was very touching and reminded me why i love teaching in Shanghai.

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday? I like hot places and in winter Shanghai is extremely cold so i try and escape to Thailand or the Philippines for Chinese new year.

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Shanghai? I miss all my family and friends back home, but i also love the adventure and experience of living in Shanghai and having stories to tell them when i go back home.

What is your favorite restaurant in Shanghai? There are hundreds of restaurants in Shanghai, I like M on the bund (when someone else is paying) but usually i try cooking and eating at home.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country? Moms cooking is what i miss the most ! most grocery items i can get in Shanghai although they can be quite pricey.

When friends and family visit you in Shanghai where will you absolutely take them? First stop all of the touristy places, the Bund, Nanjing road etc.. but i would also like to bring them into my classroom and spend a day teaching and meeting the locals.

Leave a Comment