Friendship in a Suitcase

WRITTEN BY Lindelwa Msimang ・ 17 January, 2020

From an external view my relocation to China seemed sudden and ill-prepared as if I woke up one day and thought “That’s it, I’m done with South Africa. If you need me I will be in China.”

Meanwhile, in reality I was trying to acquire the necessary qualifications (which consisted of a TEFL certificate in addition to my Bachelor's Degree) while simultaneously taking interviews with different companies. I then compared the different offers I received against the criteria I created. These criteria included the following: salary, housing/housing allowance, medical insurance, holidays/leave and the deal-breaker for me, "is the school located in a big city?" The big cities I was looking into were Beijing and Shanghai. Mostly based on bias as I had pre-existing friends living in those cities.

One of the criteria items I hadn’t considered before working for Kid Castle was "what other opportunities are available in the company apart from or in addition to teaching?" One opportunity I can speak of, from experience is the ability to make some extra money by referring your friends.

I remember when I first told my friend Nolwazi that I was preparing to move to China, she joked and said "put me in your suitcase" and I of course responded by saying "If only customs didn’t frown upon putting people into suitcases." So we made this a running joke, until one day I said she should seriously consider joining me. Fast forward a few months later, an email to my recruiter, a link to acquiring her TEFL certificate, and a breakdown on how to authenticate her documents, then she was on her own journey to China.

Even though my journey lead me to Kid Castle, I gave her the same advice I would have given to anyone who is interested in teaching in a foreign country:
1. Do your research:
Research the country/location you are interested in. Research the companies you are considering; find out as much information as you can, from blogs to accredited websites.
2. Have a criteria:
Does the company you are interested in meet at least 80% of your needs/requirements? It's okay to alter and add to your initial criteria. When I was taking interviews with different companies an addition I made was “How is the working environment and working culture?” Which for me ended up being one of the many reasons I chose Kid Castle.
3. Get an interview with as many companies as possible:
Not only had the four interviews I had taken before Kid Castle given me practice on how to interview well with companies, but it also gave me an idea of what I didn’t want.
4. Make a list of Pros and Cons:
Once you have had interviews with different companies make a list of pros based on what each company is willing to offer you, and cons based on what is in your criteria that they do not provide.

So when you pack your bags preparing to move to China and work for Kid Castle, remember to bring your friends with; because an opportunity for them is an opportunity for you as well.

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