HOW TO: LIVE IN CHINA


In 2008, Kylie (triplet #1) lived in China.  I moved there right after I got married, and my sweetheart and I taught English at Hunan University of Science and Technology with an organization called China Horizons. If you visit their website, we are that jumping couple on the front page! I was a volunteer and Spencer got paid $500 USD a month. As a volunteer I was given an $88 USD monthly stipend, which in China made us RICH! It was the best thing I've ever done in my entire life. That is not even an exaggeration.
The great thing about living in China is its proximity to hundreds of INCREDIBLE places.  This photo was taken in Fenghuang, an ancient floating city that boasts incredible markets, food, and architecture. We lived in Xiangtan, Hunan Province and spent our weekends and holidays visiting incredible sites like Yangshou where Dr. Seuss mountains come to life. 
The people in China are AMAZING. I have never felt so loved in my entire life. No matter what, they are there for you to make sure you are comfortable, warm, well-fed, and taken care of. Our international liason made sure that we always had proper necessities in our home and often took us out to authentic dinners that taught us Chinese culture first-hand.  Of course, my two favorite kinds of people are babies and old people. Can you blame me? They are just so cute. All the babies in China are padded in like 18 layers of clothing, so we called them the marshmallow babies. They waddle around everywhere they go, and they have a butt flap that is always open so they can do their business at any given time... it happens in the streets, on the busses, you name it!
The handicrafts in China are also amazing. Of course they're cheap and you will see the same thing every five seconds, but the people their are awesome at bargaining. If you don't like the first price they name (which is easily 10x higher than you can buy it originally), then just turn your shoulder and they'll come running and cut their price in half. Bargaining was one of my favorite things to do - sometimes it becomes an absolute hassle and you can get really grumpy, but maintain a good attitude and try to have fun with it! We have this great tutorial on HOW TO BARGAIN HERE, if you want to check it out!

Living in China is 100% different than living in America. The above photo of delicious foods can probably give that away! First of all, there are open air markets everywhere, filled with raw meats hanging on hooks and freshly picked vegetables. Food is a really big deal in China. You can eat just about anything. Doesn't matter what part of the body it comes from - it is edible. I ate all kinds of wacky stuff from chicken feet to dog. The great thing about Hunan Province, which is known for its spicy food, is the DELICIOUSNESS and CHEAPNESS of the food! I have never had such good food in my entire life. If you are nervous about Chinese food - think again. They eat loads of vegetables at every meal - no wonder they are all so skinny and healthy as a horse. You can get a fantastic, large, filling meal that feeds 4 comfortably for only a couple bucks. That is why we take the less trodden path and head to rural communities/cities where there isn't so much touristy hussle and bussle. To get a real taste of China, you got to get away from Beijing and Shanghai.
In the tiny city of Xiangtan where we lived, they had never seen Westerners before. To see our white American faces was shocking - we were constantly getting waved at and had paparazzi following us snapping pictures and videos any chance they got. The attention got a little old, but I gotta admit - it's fun feeling famous for a little while! You will come up with creative ways to avoid the photos or just embrace it for what it's worth. Part of living in Asia is just feeling loved. Nobody can complain about that!
If living in China is something you've always wanted to do, do it the budget friendly way and apply at China Horizons here. It is worth every penny. I still can't stop talking about it, even three years later. The money we made teaching English in China is what funded our backpacking in Southeast Asia. After 5 months of teaching, we spent one month in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. You can do it, too! 

Leave a comment if you have any specific questions about China or other places we visited while there, we'd love to do a post just for you. I have SO much more to share, so please don't be shy and ask away. Contact us here and send us an email, we'd love to hear from you! 
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21 comments on HOW TO: LIVE IN CHINA

  1. Why were you a volunteer & Spencer was getting paid? Did he already have a degree?

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  2. that first picture is absolutely gorgeous.. it doesn't even seem real.


    tenfeetoffbeale.blogspot.com

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  3. hi janis! i was a volunteer because in order to get paid you have to have a bachelor's degree. spencer had his degree, so yep - that's how it works! :) i'd get paid now of course!

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  4. o my goodness that is WONDERFUL! i can't wait to hear how it goes! be sure to make a post and link back to us (and let us know) so i can follow your adventures! YIPEE!

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  5. Thank you so much for this post! It totally inspired me- I applied!!

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  6. hi janis! with china horizons, you have to have graduated with a bachelor's degree to get paid. because i had not received my diploma yet, i was a volunteer.

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  7. Wow. This is incredible! Did you just want to take home every adorable little Asian baby? (That's been a dream of mine...) ;) You are so inspiring!!

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  8. fantastic info ky. thanks for sharing. sure do love chiner :)

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  9. I have a lot of friends who have done programs like this and it has always seemed like so much fun!

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  10. These photos are amazing!
    xxx from Greece
    http://shopping-diva-com.blogspot.com/

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  11. There is even an international school in Xin Zheng China where couples can both teach if ONE has a bachelor's degree! Sias International University. Check it out!! Awesome place!

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  12. I LOVE this! I've been to China the last four summers working with an organization that runs summer camps for orphans. www.bringmehope.org

    Such an amazing and different and wonderful place. So glad you were able to go!!

    nicole
    www.theneesbylookbook.blogspot.com

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  13. I sooo wanted to do this program before I got married. My husband is in the military so hopefully we will go over sea's soon! @ Megan I bought I watch today and I am so excited! Gave you guys a shout out on my blog today... www.devinandwhitney.blogspot.com

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  14. oh thank you so much! you are the sweetest! definitely going to check it out!

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  15. i want to do this someday :) awesome ky. lots of great memories flooded back

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  16. I love the part about being a celebrity - I'm teaching in a small town in Thailand right now and people always drive past on their motorbikes and scream out "beautiful!" or "I love you!" It's hilarious and I don't think it will ever get old, I'll probably miss it far too much when I'm back stateside!

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  17. yes - every country i visit, i want a baby from there. haha. love it.

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  18. Thanks! Mike & I are planning to head out to Asia once I graduate (Spring 2012) - I'll have my Education Degree, and we're trying to figure out how he can get a job teaching English. I'll check out that University!

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  19. Um I NEVER knew this about you!!! And I've been reading for a while....hah oops! I have been thinking about going overseas to teach English or something recently, and China is #1 on my list! I will definitely look into the China Horizons website...thanks for the helpful info!

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