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From Chicago to Chedaogou

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

A day in the life of a Houhai Teacher

I’ve always lived my entire life with a limitless desire for travel, adventure, and an endless passion for teaching kids. So in June, I booked my flight to China to continue my career as a teacher. I have settled in quickly.

There isn’t anything too hard to manage. I have had a couple of challenges, too. Learning the language has been my one true challenge. I am also gradually adapting to waking up in the morning to the gushing sound of someone spitting, buying clothes in the market that don’t fit and positively, to a cashless lifestyle – paying through apps like Alipay or WeChat for everything.

I can’t resist but say I have come to notice that the fashion here is unique. It’s unlike anything I have seen in my dreams. From the double layered skirts and the many shirts that read “Supreme.”

The most exciting part about being a foreigner in China is the stares. Back home in the states, no one cares if I am walking along the street, minding my own business. The attention here is lovely, and I usually respond with a smile. However, sometimes I miss the feeling of being invisible once in a while. Then again, I am a foreigner in Beijing. I will honor the stares and feel like a king!

A month after settling in Beijing, I met my first friend. She has shown me a lot of exciting things to do, and we’ve traveled around Beijing. One hot summer morning, she introduced me to Sanlitun. It was my first time going out and having some fun. Also, that’s when my real love for China came out. The culture is fascinating. The conceptual structure of some malls is impressive. I visited Fangcaodi Shopping Mall in Beijing, and I almost thought it was a museum because of all the sculptures on the outside and inside.

Close to the end of September when the summer heat was ending, I was invited by a colleague to a place, I won’t forget anytime soon. It was to the Great Wall, one of the most treasured monuments in this nation. The flock of tourists there is fascinating. Well, we went as a party of three. We made it to the top and claimed our victory. The goal for that day was accomplished, we were finally content. The biggest challenge that day was taking back the car we had rented because we were so tired. However, the taste of HotPot for dinner, later on, took away the feeling of exhaustion.

When it was nearing to the week-long October National Holiday, I was wondering how I would spend my first day. There were so many days to go. Then another colleague asked me to visit the Temple of Heaven. There were so many things to see. I was able to get many great photos thanks to my colleague’s excellent photography.

A few months have passed, and I am settling in well. I am more confident in shopping at the local BHG supermarket, sometimes with my housemate. He has taught me about soccer and art. Now he is showing me how to eat smart.

With all the experiences and the urge to learn a lot more, I went with a friend to get an HSK book at the Wangfujing bookstore. HSK is a Chinese Proficiency Test at the national level designed and developed to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers. The book has so many words to learn, and difficult for me to pronounce. However, a fantastic colleague has offered to help me learn Chinese once a week. I couldn’t resist because my desire to learn the language is prudent. I am really enjoying my life here in Beijing, seeing new places, meeting a diverse group of people and just doing my thing!

About the Author

Alfred Brewington

Alfred is a passionate American teacher who spent 1 year of volunteering teaching experience teaching young learners in South Korea. He came to Gold Star in April 2018 looking for a job in Beijing. He then found a great fit with Gold Star's help and has since been working at a language school in Beijing.

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