One of the unique parts about teaching at Sias is the community living. Most teaching jobs in China provide a housing stipend, but the teacher has to find an apartment to live in all on his own. That is an overwhelming process when you don’t speak Chinese. It was a major relief for me to find out that Sias provides the apartments for the foreign faculty. Not only does that mean that you don’t have added stress on needing to find a place to live when making the move across the world, but it also means you get to live with English speakers who will understand whatever culture shock you go through. Community living is often thought of as an extrovert’s dream and an introvert’s nightmare. Due to the large number of introverts living at Sias, I’d have to say that’s not always true.
There are apartments for singles and large families in two connected buildings called Peter Hall. Peter Hall has an amazingly diverse community. There are people from all over the world living together with the same passion of teaching English. Because there is such a variety of backgrounds, there are hundreds of ways to be involved in the teaching community here. Knowing that you’re coming live with a group of friends can make the daunting move to China much easier. After I signed the contract, I was put in a group chat with all the new teachers. I was actually able to become friends with everyone before even meeting them! When I arrived at Peter Hall, I already felt at home as I recognized people I had been texting for months beforehand.
If living in a new place has you stressed out, don’t worry! There are clubs and groups for everything here. From archery, to creative writing, to crafting, to game nights, to book studies, to ultimate frisbee, there is something for everyone. There are also group chats for “garage sales,” advice for cooking in China, and medical tips from our resident nurses. I am in a ton of different clubs. The social life in Peter Hall hasn’t failed to make me feel better after a difficult day of culture shock. People here understand what you’re going through because they too are going through the same emotions.
I always wanted a close group of friends living nearby like in the TV show, Friends. I didn’t get that community at my university’s dorm, but I did get it here at Sias. People stop by each other’s apartments often, bringing snacks and games. Movie nights are common. It has a family feel to it, where everyone is accepted and encouraged to participate. If you are someone who values alone time, that is also perfectly acceptable. Most people have times of the day where they relax in their apartment and get the quiet they need. Peter Hall is flexible. You can join as many or few clubs as you want. You can be heavily active in activities or you can choose to spend more time alone.
It’s great to be living in an expat community and have the option to be with Chinese or English speakers. I highly encourage people to make friends with the local students and workers, to learn Chinese, and to be a part of the Chinese community! There are days, however, when all you want is someone who understands why you want American food (or a food that is anything but Chinese), and someone who understands English. For those times, it really helps to talk to the other expats who will support you.
Social belonging is important when you decide to move away from everything you know. I can confidently say that you will have that at Peter Hall. A welcome team will pick you up from the airport, give you a tour of campus, and be on call to answer any questions! You don’t have to worry about not fitting in or having friends. There is a place for everyone at Peter Hall. Have you experienced community living before? Feel free to comment below with any questions you have!