Q: I’m married, are both spouses required to teach? A: Both spouses certainly can teach if they individually meet all the requirements and are accepted. But, it is not necessary that both husband and wife teach. If one spouse teaches and the other does not, there are certain fees charged by the university to cover living expenses for the non-teaching spouse. For example, the cost of the visa, Chinese physical exam, airfare, and meal plan (500 RMB/month). Fees are subject to change. If you find yourself in this situation, contact us for current information.
Q: Do I need to have teaching experience? A: Applicants without 2 years of teaching experience (school teaching or other settings will be considered) may be required to come to Sias early to complete a TEFL certificate.
Q: What are the financial commitments? A: The cost for the extensive, professional training is as little as $1,500. There are several training options depending upon your circumstances. This money will cover three weeks of room and board, language/culture training, team building activities, and visits from cross-cultural experts while you are in China. This training is optional, but highly encouraged. Learn more at www.academicsinasia.com/lit
As part of the visa process, teachers will need to get a physical exam, and will need to “authenticate” their diploma and a police report. These can cost anywhere from $300 to $600. Sias will reimburse teachers up to $200 for the expenses related to the authentication process.
Depending on financial circumstances and number of dependents, most teachers find the salary from Sias to be enough to cover expenses while they are in China. Make contingency plans early to prepare for the 2 months during the summer when you do not have a salary from the university.
Q: What level of education must I have? A: You must possess a minimum of a four-year bachelor’s degree. Some institutions award a three-year bachelor’s degree, but this does not meet the minimum educational requirements established by the Chinese government.
Q: What are the age limits? A: Because of the difficulty of obtaining work permits for both very young and retired applicants, the university suggests applicants be between 22 and 60 years old.
Q: What are the dates for the program? A: Your contract begins on August 15th and runs through July 5th. Your pay begins two weeks for new teachers, and one week for returning teachers before the first day of class. This day is the last Monday in August, or the first one in September. Pay will end a week after classes end usually at the end of June.
Q: How do I apply? When is the application due? A: See “Connect – Apply Now” for this process.
Q: Will Sias provide Flights from my home city? A: Sias will buy tickets up to the port city. A Port City: A City (Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, etc to name a few) which has non stop flights from a city in the U.S. to a major port in Asia (Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing , etc). Any domestic sectors from home town to port city would be borne by the teacher.
Q: Will I get transportation from the Airport to the University? A: Yes, Sias will arrange transportation both to and from the airport for you
Q: Can I buy my own tickets and get reimbursed by Sias? A: Yes, Teachers would first need to get a quote from Sias and Sias would reimburse your tickets up to the quote. If your purchased ticket is below the Sias quote you would get reimbursed up to the purchased ticket amount.
Q: How Much Money Will I Make and Save? A: Go to our benefits page for updates to salaries/benefits. Here is a tool for estimating how much you will make and save in a month or year: Download Salary Estimator Tool [Updated April 2017] Here is another tool you can use to compare Sias University to other offers: Benefits Comparison Tool [Updated April 2017]
Q: How Much Money to Bring With You? A: We recommend that you have around $500 in your bank at home or in cash to exchange when you first arrive. Money will be used to get your apartment set-up to feel homey. Teachers can survive on much less, but there are some initial expenses, that will require some money.
Q: Do teachers need to pay income tax in China? A: Any income above CNY 4800 is taxed by China for Foreigners. That being said China has international agreements in place which allows a tax free environment for foreign teachers provided they show the Chinese government that they have filed their tax returns in their home country.
Check with the IRS as to whether you qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. Likely, you won’t be able to claim this your first year in China (unless you lived overseas before coming to Sias).
What if I can’t file in time? Overseas taxpayers are automatically eligible for a two-month extension if they are unable to file their taxes by the April 15 deadline. There is a form to complete to claim the extension. Please note that an extension to file does not mean to have an extension to pay. If you owe tax, interest will accrue from the April 15 deadline.
Since I live overseas, aren’t I exempt from paying? Some overseas taxpayers may qualify for the Foreign-Earned Income Exclusion. However, there are strict qualifying criteria. Please consult with the IRS or an accountant to learn if you qualify.
That part of income in excess of 5,000 to 10,000 yuan
That part of income in excess of 10,000 to 30,000 yuan
That part of income in excess of 30,000 to 50,000 yuan
That part of income over 50,000 yuan
Q: Can I pay my bills back home from China? A: Yes, you should be able to pay bills using online bill pay with money you have in your bank back home. Otherwise we suggest that you appoint a family member to take care of your bills.
Q: What if I have student loans and other debt? A: Student loans and other debt do not have to keep you from this adventure.
While it is possible to gain deferments for student loans, many teachers raise financial support back home to help cover these expenses. The first step will be to approach your lending agency and explain that you will be working for a year with a non-profit organization. Ask what type of restructuring is possible to allow you to experience this opportunity. There is usually a 6-month grace period between graduation and debt repayment for student loans. If your debt is limited, it is possible to use part of your salary to make very small payments.
Q: Do teachers get Medical Reimbursement, if so how much? A: Every teacher as per contract is entitled to CNY 5000 per year for out patient medical expenses as long as they provide the right Fapiaos (Receipts with Red stamp).
Q: What is my salary? How do I get paid? A: See the Benefits Page for Salary updates.You will be given a monthly salary based upon your academic degree (6000 RMB/month for Bachelor’s, 6700 RMB/month for Master’s, 8000 RMB/month for PhD). Your salary will be automatically deposited to your Bank of China account, and can be withdrawn at the ATMs on campus or throughout China.
Q: Do teachers get paid during the summer break? A: A typical one year contract is for 10 months and since academic year is from September to June , teachers do not get a salary during the summer. If teachers, are on a multi-year contract ( 2 and 3 years), teachers signing 2 year contract get one month base salary in the summer and teachers signing 3 year contract will get a 2 month base salary.
Q: How does money work in China? A: For the most part, China is still a cash society. Expect to make your purchases using cash.
You can use a debit card to withdraw money from your U.S. bank account. You will need to
notify your bank before you leave that you will be using the card in China. The Bank of China in the provincial capital (an hour away by bus) will allow you to take a cash advance on a VISA card but will not accept MASTERCARD. The local Bank of China exchanges U.S. dollars and cashes traveler’s checks (you must bring a passport) but does not accept VISA.
The Chinese currency is the Yuan (also called Renminbi, RMB). A common colloquial word for Yuan is Kuai. It is similar to the way Americans use “buck”.
Roughly, one US Dollar = 6 Yuan (check for current exchange rate).
Q: What subject will I teach? A: Our program includes Oral English classes and various academic courses. The university hiring committee reviews resumes and conducts interviews to determine placement.
Q: What does a typical academic school year look like? A: Orientation
o New teachers arrive mid-August for two weeks of orientation and training.
o September: Classes begin for teachers of sophomores, juniors and seniors.
o Candle Light Ceremony for welcoming the freshmen to the university.
o October 1st: China National Day. The campus closes for one week and teachers may travel during this time.
o October (after the holiday): Classes begin for teachers of freshmen.
o International Culture Week (Oct or Nov). A campus-wide celebration of international cultures.
o Thanksgiving Day (No classes for foreign teachers): A Thanksgiving feast is served for all of the foreign faculty sometimes after a good game of American Flag Football.
o Fall Semester lasts 17 weeks for Oral English and 18 weeks for Academic Classes. Final exams are administered in late December / early January.
o Our departure date is usually in early January with about a 6-week break with no interruption in pay.
o Teachers can travel and/or leave the country, but they will need to pay for their own airfare.
o Sports Days: This is a two-day event filled with athletic competition and team building activities. It is a great bonding time for faculty and students.
o Homecoming/Graduation weekend: Held at the end of May, but classes continue into June.
o Summer Holiday is about 8 weeks long from mid-June to mid-August.
Q: How many hours do I teach per week? A: You will be teaching 12-18 hours per week: 12 hours per week for academic classes and 18 hours per week for Oral English classes. Classes have 90 minutes of instruction with a 10-minute break in the middle. Schedules vary considerably, but no more than 3 classes will be taught in a single day.
Q: How much time will I have to spend outside of class to prepare for teaching? A: This depends a great deal on your experience as a teacher, your course assignment, and the level of your students. The university will provide support to you in this area as well, through team meetings and the sharing of resources.
Q: What sort of things are within walking distance of campus? For example, is there a large supermarket (like Carrefour or Dennis), or just small local ones? Is there a wet market? Any places of note? A:
1. Waka supermarkets
2. Convenience stores
3. Many restaurants
5. Several drinks shops (tea, fruit drinks)
7. Nail salons
8. China Mobile and China Unicom shops (for servicing cell phones)
10. Copy shops and Photography/Printing
11. Gift shops – “box stores” (students rent out sections of the store to sell variety of items)
12. Fruit stores
13. Stationery stores
14. Post office (pick-up international mail)
Near Campus/5 minutes walk
2. Fruit / vegetable markets
3. Many restaurants
4. Coffee house
5. Internet cafes
6. Karaoke (KTV)
8. Flower shops
9. Barber shops / salons
10. Bike/electric bike rentals
11. Amusement park
14. Street food
Downtown/5-10 minutes by taxi, bus, bike
1. Waka department store
2. Dennis department store
3. Many restaurants
5. Peoples’ Park (open square)
6. Furniture market
7. Clothing (including baby clothing stores)
8. Indoor mall
9. Movie theater
10. China Bank, China Construction Bank, China Agricultural Bank branch offices
Zhengzhou/60 minutes by taxi/van, 90 minutes by bus
2. Good website overviewing Zhengzhou attractions
3. We love Metro in Zhengzhou for buying imported food!
4. Walmart, Carrefour, and Dennis are in Zhengzhou, too.
Q: Do we get time off? A: You will get a week off in early October, a winter break lasting about 6 weeks from early January into February (depending upon the lunar calendar), and a few other days off for other Chinese holidays. We are also off on American Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. The holiday calendar will be provided upon your arrival.
Also, teachers receive 5 paid sick days each year.
Q: Are we allowed to bring pets? A: You cannot bring pets from home. Generally, pets are not allowed in your apartment; but You are allowed to purchase small animals that can live in an aquarium or small cage. These would include fish, small reptiles like turtles and lizards, or small rodents like hamsters.
Q: Do we get to travel? A: Yes! Teachers often travel on weekends and holidays. The winter break provides a great opportunity to see other parts of China/Asia, or return home for a visit. Outside of the roundtrip airfare provided by Sias for the beginning and end of the contract term, and one to two culture trips per semester, traveling expenses are covered by the teacher.
Q: Can I work out? A: Yes! There is a workout gym on campus which we can join for a fee. In addition to the standard gym equipment, they also offer exercise classes. There are also other gyms off campus that some foreigners have joined for a membership fee.
Q: Can I be involved in sports? A: Yes! Basketball is the most popular sport, with many students participating in pick-up games. Tennis, golf (driving range), swimming, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, badminton, American football and running on the track are also enjoyed. Pick up games are organized weekly, and occasionally more organized tournaments are held.
Q: What is there to do for fun? A: You are encouraged to enjoy the community of students and the other foreign teachers. Together you can travel, work out, watch movies, go to karaoke, shop, play sports, eat out, get massages, , etc. There are also open invitations to any one in the community to participate in role playing games, movie nights, board game nights etc. Many people enjoy a leisurely scooter ride around town. You can rent scooters outside campus for under $1. The community is always looking for teachers to lead or help out with various extracurricular activities such as speech team, music, or drama. Whatever your interest, you’ll find it available, or, you can make it happen!
Q: Where will I live? A: All teachers are housed in private apartments in the foreign teacher’s building called Peter Hall. There are different layouts for singles and families. Check out the “Sias-Housing” tab for additional description and photos.
Q: What does a typical day look like? A: Your class schedule will vary by semester and so will your daily schedule. Breakfast in the dining hall is from 7-8 on class days, or you could choose to eat a light breakfast in your apartment. Morning classes run from 8:00-9:40 and 10:00-11:40, after which you would head back to the foreign teacher building for lunch (or go out to eat). Afternoon classes run from 1:00-2:40 and 2:50-4:30. Most classes are scheduled for Monday through Thursday, leaving a three day weekend. You’ll get your teaching schedule once you are at the university. When you’re not teaching you can go out with students for a meal, play sports (tennis, basketball, ping-pong, billiards, weight training, and track are among the students’ favorites), explore the campus and the surrounding city, and learn Chinese, along with many other life-impacting activities.
Q: Can I go home in case of emergency? A: Yes, the university will do everything possible to give you time off in the event of an emergency. They may even be able to assist you in some of the logistics. Any cost associated with travel will be yours to cover. Any subs who cover your classes while away will be paid from your salary. You may qualify for 5 days sick pay, if you are leaving for a medical emergency, or 7 days of bereavement leave if a close family member passes away during your leave.
Q: Can my family visit? A: Yes, the university will instruct you on the proper paperwork to be filed in order to get visas for visitors. You may rent a room in the foreign teacher’s building for a small fee, have them stay in your apartment, or host them at the Sias Hotel. This can be a great way to share your new world with other people in your life.
Q: How about safety issues? A: The university is patrolled by security guards at night, and is guarded at the gates. The foreign teachers’ building has an attendant that watches the front door and locks it at night. The Chinese government is extremely effective at crime control, and terrorist attacks in this province have never proved to be an issue. Feel free to consult theUS embassy in Beijing for any specific information for travel in China.
Q: What is the weather like? A: Autumn and spring both have comfortable mild weather with intermittent rain. Be prepared for hot and humid summers, and cold, damp winters with some snow. See weather for the current month here on www.weather.com.
Q: What is the key to the best possible experience in China? A: FLEXIBILITY! We strive to be as honest and accurate as we can in answering all questions,
but the reality is that things will change that are beyond our control. Living abroad, especially in a culture that is very different from your own, is a wonderful but often unpredictable experience.
Q: What will I eat? A: Meals are served buffet style three times a day in the dining room located on the ground floor of the foreign teachers’ building. Meal times are 7:00 am – 8:00 am, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, and 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm. The schedule may vary slightly on weekends and holidays. The food includes Western and Chinese dishes. Many teachers eat a few meals a week off campus at the many local restaurants. Eating out is extremely cheap, and provides a nice change of pace from the dining hall meals. Watch a slideshow of the variety of food served (thanks Dr. Todd). Go to Dr. Todd’s
Q: Can you buy international food? A: There are more and more western food products appearing on the shelves of the major supermarkets in town. There is also a western-style “super store” about a 45-minute drive from campus where you can buy many western products. Also many teachers will buy almost anything found in their home country on taobao.com, a shopping website similar to amazon.com.
Q: Can I drink the water? A: You cannot drink the tap water, but there are drinking water dispensers in each floor, and clean water available in the dining room. Bottled water is also sold throughout China. Many teachers purchase a hot/cold water dispenser and have water jugs delivered to their front door.
Q: Do you offer Chinese language courses? A: Yes, we can audit Chinese courses taught by faculty on campus at no charge. For those who may not want to commit to a set schedule, private tutoring is available.
Q: How easy is it to navigate China without knowing the language? A: It is certainly possible to travel in China knowing only basic Chinese. Many signs are in Chinese and English, and workers often know a few words of English related to their job. Traveling independently has its challenges, but can be a good way to develop more ability and confidence in the language. Teachers can travel on university-sponsored trips in groups and often take students with them when they run errands in town. Your students are a wonderful resource for you and are often willing to assist in translation. Having an electronic dictionary on your smart phone is also very helpful.
Q: How much is language a barrier? A: Our students have studied English for several years and speak it at varying degrees. Some are only able to hold basic conversations, while many are capable of carrying on a complex discussion. Students are generally eager and willing to put in the effort to communicate.
Other staff at the university may or may not speak English.
In town, very few people speak any English.
Q: How to Mail Care Packages to China? A: Mail for the teachers is delivered to a post office on campus. Packages usually arrive in 2-3 weeks. The easiest service to use is USPS.
Include the mailing address in Chinese characters to expedite the shipping process (see below).
Be aware that any mail may be opened. All letters sent from the University should be mailed in specific envelopes sold at the campus post office.
Q: Would I have a TV? A: Yes, a TV is included in your apartment with a few Chinese stations. The
programming is almost all in Chinese however, so most teachers watch TV shows online. Many teachers stream sports games live on their laptops or download TV shows and then watch them with friends. The community has also created a large database with many movies and TV shows that can be accessed for a fee.
Q: Should I bring my cell phone? A: If you have an “unlocked” phone, you will likely be able to use it in China. All phones must have a SIM card slot in order for them to work in China. Most teachers choose to purchase a cell phone in China. Adding money to the cell phone plan is very convenient at several local stores.
Q: Can I bring my computer? A: Yes, you are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop. You will need to use your own computer for classroom presentations or for work or pleasure in your apartment.
Q: How do I communicate with friends and family back home? A: Our residence hall has wireless internet, with connectivity in our rooms as well as a computer lab. Most teachers keep in touch via email. You can also use Skype, FaceTime or Googletalk to call other computer users for free. The Chinese social media app WeChat is very popular in China, and with the foreign teachers. Friends and family in your home country can talk easily using the voice or video chat.
Q: What kind of shape do I need to be in? A: You will need to be able to climb a few flights of stairs on your own (elevators are not standard in buildings under 7 stories) and be able to walk around a college campus. There is an elevator in our residence hall and the administration building.
Q: Do I need to get shots before I leave? A: Our best advice is for you to contact your doctor to be sure that all your shots are up-to-date and talk about other immunization options. Many doctors may not know what immunizations are recommended for extended travel to China. A great resource for your doctor is the United States Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/. You might even want to take a copy of their recommendations to your doctor’s appointment.
Q: What are the hospitals and medicine like? A: The university has an on-campus clinic for minor illness and injury. For any conditions which require additional resources, there is a local hospital in town that has a lot of experience treating foreigners. If you are currently taking medications, we suggest that you contact the Peter Hall resident nurse to find out availability of your medication in China.
Q: Do I get insurance? A: The university provides reimbursement for basic clinical medical visits and purchases an insurance policy that functions like “major medical” insurance. All medical costs must be paid up front, and will be reimbursed either by Sias or the insurance company. The cost of medical procedures is much lower than in many western countries, so most teachers should be able to cover their expenses until reimbursement. Sias can front you some money, and the community will help you cover medical expenses until you are reimbursed. If you wish to travel outside of China, we recommend that you look into an additional personal coverage program if you do not already have one. Your home insurance may have an option to add coverage abroad.
Q: Can I talk politics? A: We are there to teach and to share our lives and culture, while being sensitive to our students and their culture. It’s not a good idea to bring up politics with your students. Build a relationship of trust before you broach any topics like these. Criticism of the Chinese government may get you into trouble, and will usually be an unproductive discussion, since most Chinese people trust their government, and are very patriotic. In particular, the three “T’s” of Tian’anmen, Tibet and Taiwan are sensitive topics for most Chinese people. (Tian’anmen is becoming less important as it recedes into history)
Q: Will I be thrown in jail or worse because of my faith? A: You must always use common sense and caution. You are not there to draw undue attention to yourself, but at the same time, be free to share the most important part of your life with those that you meet. If you do not use good judgment in the way that you choose to share your life, the university may be required by the government to void your contract and send you home.
Q: Can I go to church? Are there Bible studies? A: The Chinese government allow expats (foreigners) to meet together for religious purposes as long as there are no Chinese nationals present. Non-denominational church services are held on Sundays. There are also small groups and Bibles studies for the foreign community during the week.
Q: Would you recommend this opportunity to newlyweds and other married couples? A: Yes. My wife and I came two months after getting married. The teaching schedule allows you to see your spouse several hours a day. Watch this 15 minute video from Seth and Erin as they go into more detail: