SDE International - Shenzhen

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When you’re a teacher, you spend about 40 hours per week at school. But don’t forget that life as an expat in China isn’t all about work. It’s important to make use of your time off.

How should you spend evenings and weekends? Here are some “do’s” and “do not’s” for how to make the most of your free time in China!

1. Socializing

DO go out to socialize.
It’s all too tempting to hibernate in your apartment when you finish work for the day. Trust me, there’s nothing I enjoy more than taking a well-deserved nap, then streaming an American baseball game for the rest of the evening. But you moved across the world to have some fun! Text a friend to grab dinner or a drink. See if you can organize a weekly outing with some friends to ensure you get out of your apartment at least one weekday. Sign up for a yoga class or track down an expat bar with a solid trivia night.

DO NOT go out every night.

On the other end of the spectrum, many expats are drawn to the party lifestyle abroad. There are always new bars and clubs to check out. Don’t blow your entire budget on partying every night. If you do, you’ll have no money left to travel to Asia or to take back to your home country when you finish teaching in China.

DO hang out with fellow expats.
Befriending other foreign teachers provides you with a security blanket. It’s nice to have chunks of time when you don’t have to worry about cultural and language barriers. You can just relax and be around people who understand where you’re coming from.

DO NOT only hang out with fellow expats.
When you only hang out with fellow foreigners, however, you miss out on cultural opportunities. If you stay inside your safe, little social bubble, why did you bother coming to China? It can be easy to get caught up in the comfort of being around fellow expats. But make an effort to get to know your Chinese co-teachers and other locals.

2. Exploring

DO go out to eat.
Eating at restaurants is cheap in China! Especially if you eat street food. Don’t feel obligated to stock up on groceries to cook at home, because unlike in most Western countries, this tactic won’t save you much money. Instead, challenge yourself to try all the restaurants in your neighborhood during your year in China. If this mission is too easy, expand to eating at places near your school, too.

DO NOT seek out Western restaurants.

I get it. We all need a cheeseburger or some pizza to get a taste of home sometimes. But don’t make McDonald’s and Pizza Hut your go-to eateries. In my opinion, eating local food is one of the most exciting parts of traveling! If ordering in the Chinese language terrifies you, brush up on some simple yet crucial restaurant phrases in Mandarin.


SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

About the Author:

Laura Grace Tarpley
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer and English teacher in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys tinkering with crossword puzzles, reading Bill Bryson books, and taking naps on her huge couch. Follow her travels on her Instagram and Twitter. Or you can check out her blog, Let’s Go, Tarpley!
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