Travel, Teach, Live in China

Re: Xiangnan University simply not the best choice
By:Peter
In Response To: Xiangnan University simply not the best choice (Phil Robinson)

I realize this thread is old, but I wanted to address some of the misconceptions in it, given the fact that this site is fairly widely linked to.

I arrived at Xiangnan a year ago (September 2014) and was immediately pleased with my choice. I was especially relieved at the housing quality (one hears lots of scary stories on this score!). The foreign faculty apartment building had just been finished, and I found my apartment to be spotless, well-equipped, and reasonably spacious.

Look, Xiangnan University isn't paradise. But neither is Harvard, Stanford, Oxford or the Sorbonne. Simple law of averages should tell you EVERY institution is going to have its share of people who -- for whatever reason -- didn't have a great experience, or weren't a good fit. The "older gentleman" who started this thread's main complaint seems to be lack of medical care and air fare reimbursement. I suspect on the former his bill was under the co-pay limit (I needed a tetanus shot at the local hospital here and I paid -- all of three USD -- out of pocket), and on the latter, he simply didn't stay long enough. We don't get reimbursed for our arrival tickets until the mid-term break (ie, February). That's standard practice in China, for good reason (else tourists could fake the acceptance of a job offer to grab a free flight!). If he fails to understand such a basic concept, I'd humbly submit his credibility isn't very strong.

Anyway, I won't deny Xiangnan's not the best fit for everyone. The expat party scene is limited, and can't compare to big Chinese cities. If that's what you're looking for your best bet is Shanghai or Beijing or Shenzhen. There's no subway, and campus is a good 10 km or so from the heart of downtown, so you'll have to rely on buses or cabs. The expat community isn't large enough to justify the existence of Chinese language schools, so if you're looking to study Chinese, you'll need to rely on self-study, or hire a private tutor. Western goods/services are harder to come by than in large cities, so that's something to think about, too (Then again the existence of online shopping makes this situation easier, provided you'll likely have to rely on Chinese friends/students to help you order, unless you can read Chinese; fortunately most of your Chinese contacts will be more than happy to help).

What Xiangnan (and its home city, Chenzhou) DOES offer is: insanely warm and friendly people; a "true" China experience; fresh air; GORGEOUS mountain scenery; mild if rainy winters (even in January temps usually reach 50F/10C); fantastic, spicy Hunan cuisine; a REALLY low cost of living; a high level of public safety/low crime; and easy access to larger Chinese cities via the bullet train (this is a HUGE plus, and Chenzhou is fortunate to be situated on the main North-South line connecting Changsha and points north with Guangzhou/Shenzhen).

I should add the work load is really reasonable. It'll frankly be one of the easiest, funnest, lowest stress jobs you'll ever have. Finally, the small size of the expat community can be fun: if you're not Asian you'll definitely "stand out" a lot, and get lots of special attention and treatment -- and it makes it VERY easy to pick up part time teaching gigs if you're looking to increase your income.

Anyway, that's my take. Oh, and I renewed for another year of teaching, so, that's something, too. Anyway, if you need clarification on anything, feel free to send an email: bostonpete@qq.com


Messages In This Thread

Beware Xiangnan Univ. -- Phil Robinson
Xiangnan University -- Timothy Hogg
Re: Xiangnan University -- king
Xiangnan University worries... -- Brandon
Xiangnan University simply not the best choice -- Phil Robinson
Re: Xiangnan University simply not the best choice -- Peter
Response -- Timothy Hogg
Xiangnan , not the BEST Choice, not even close -- Phil Robinson
Re: Xiangnan , not the BEST Choice, not even close -- Sean Strickland
Xiangnan University -- Stephanie
Xiangnan Uni -- George

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