Teaching English in Hong Kong: Alumni Q&A with Craig Schuster

What is your citizenship?
United States

What city and state are you from?      
Lincoln, Nebraska

How old are you?

What is your education level and background? 
Bachelor's Degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?        
Canada, Puerto Rico, Japan, Philippines, Mexico, China.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?                
My father lives in Hong Kong. I love meeting new people and learning about new cultures!

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Money, and speaking the local language.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
They knew I was someone who could adapt easily, so they were supportive. 

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I looked at many TEFL schools, but the International TEFL Academy was recommended by a friend who had taught in Korea.

Which TEFL certification course did you take? 
Online TEFL Course.

How did you like the course?
The online TEFL course was my 1st ever online class, so I was nervous. Luckily I was able to keep up. I was planning on leaving the US shortly after graduating, so I was able to quit my job half way through the course, which really helped my ability to perform. The practicum (student teaching at a local ESL school) was fun. I volunteered at the Omaha Literacy Center and logged well over the 20 hours required.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?       
The TEFL training really solidified my understanding of how a lesson is formed. Also, understanding who your students are has great affect on where the lesson comes from. 

TEFL Hong Kong

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?    
I am teaching English in Hong Kong, I love the city life, and my dad lives here.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?    
I've been here 5 months and plan to stay at least a year.

How did you secure your English teaching job?             
Newspapers and online job sites.

How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.           
My employer sponsored my work visa.

Tell us about your English teaching job!
WFE is a preschool, so children as young as 6 months old are in my classroom! The parents or family helpers are with the students at all times. The class size is only 5 students or less! I work Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM. I am paid the equivalent of $2,500 US dollars per month. Saving is hard because rent in HK is very expensive, and income tax is 17%.

Luckily, all US holidays AND Chinese holidays are recognized, so there are many short weeks.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?   
Easyroommate.com. It is widely used here. Rent is more expensive than ever before. Expect to pay from 1,000 to 3,000 USD a month for a place of your own. Flats are small, everything is small. It also may take you an hour to get to work every day! Travel is cheap, however.

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Hong Kong is a great place to live! The community feeling is very high. People will smile at you when passing by every day; and you will pass a lot of people!

The airport is the best in the entire world. The subway is cheap, very effective, and fairly clean. Since the H1N1 outbreak, Chinese are very hygienic. Elevators are cleaned every 4 hours, streets are power-washed every day.

Nightlife is amazing! Don't let it distract you from work! People are willing to party and drink every night of the week, so be careful and pick your friends wisely- you will have many. HK is truly a westerner's dream.

Food is very good. Your stomach will be shaky at times. Be careful. Grocery stores tell you where the food comes from, so you will learn quickly what to buy.

Dating? ha! I don't know yet :)

Hong Kong is at the center of Asia, and flights are cheap. I just flew to Taipei, Taiwan round trip for about 150 US dollars! I won't get that opportunity from the US.

What are your monthly expenses?        
Rent is outrageous. This will be 60 to 70% of where your money goes. Utilities are subsidized by the government, so they are cheap. Everything is cheap if you're not stupid. Taxis can get expensive so use the subway, buses, or tram. A beer at a bar may be 12$ USD, so buy one at a 7/11 for 1$ USD. Cell phone contracts are less than 15 USD per month.

How would you describe your standard of living?

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
$2,000 USD per month.

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?             
Save some money before you leave. Find a hostel in case of emergencies. You will need a work visa. Be ready to adapt- don't get frustrated or stubborn.


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