Rachel McGirr, York University

Rachel joined our programme in the city of Yangzhou in the summer of 2016, please read on for her feedback.

Can you tell me about some of your most enjoyable moments of the trip?

Yangzhou Gobal IELTs encouraged us to travel and helped us with our timetables so that we could explore China and had some of the most amazing experiences travelling around this incredible country from visiting the new Disney Shanghai or trekking up the Yellow Mountains and the Great Wall and rock climbing and white water rafting in Yangshuo. Also had some memorable lessons with students particularly the last lesson that I taught where we discussed memories and celebrations and I taught them the dance to a popular song to dance to at parties and weddings; the Macarena which they loved to join in and do!

Which were the highlights of the lessons, cultural excursions and outdoor activities?

The students were the highlights of the lessons. Their enthusiasm to participate within the lessons was an encouragement and especially when you could tell that they had learnt something from it like a student who joyfully expressed how a particular lesson’s content would be beneficial to her during her post graduate course abroad. Some of the students and Chinese colleagues were similar ages or older than me and sometimes took me out and I got to experience their culture in terms of social life, food, as well as visiting many history museums, historical sites and palaces or important historic homes and also watching performances of traditional Chinese music. China has such varied landscape which enabled me to participate in a wide range of amazing outdoor activities from shopping in Hong Kong and Shanghai, to roaming the presidential palace in Nanjing or doing more extreme and incredible activities like watching the sun set and rise on the Yellow Mountains, toboggan down the Great Wall of China, go on a boat trip down the ‘Venice of China’ in Suzhou and do some once in a lifetime activities during the reward trip that GoToCo gave us by letting us stay in a hostel for free for a few nights in Yangshuo where we rock climbed and cliff jumped, bamboo rafted, white water rafted, drove electric bikes around breathtaking mountainous scenery and went into hot springs and mud baths in a cave!

What was the best thing about your experience in China?

It was amazing being able to experience working life, social life and the culture in China, as well as being able to be a tourist in a fascinating country and build valuable friendships with fellow interns, other colleagues and students all in one trip!

Would you recommend participating to a friend and if so why?

Yes because it is a fantastic opportunity to gain a TEFL qualification which can be expensive whilst being immersed into a new culture and fascinating with an opportunity to use the skills the course teaches you!

How would you say the overall experience has benefited you?

During my undergraduate degree in English in Education, I already had and now have a strengthened interest for exploring language including the teaching of English as a second language and so have highly valued from having the opportunity to put some of the theories that I had previously learnt into practice. Also, my 2 month internship helped to increase my personal confidence that if I do end up living and perhaps teaching English overseas in the future, I can do it and know how to not only physically take care of myself despite not being very familiar with the local language and culture, I have also learnt how to emotionally handle living far away from home and balancing a busy work and social life. Additionally, I have learnt how to lesson plan and developed some classroom management and intercultural skills that are super important and am now tutoring a young Chinese boy who is studying in England and I have some common topics of interest with him and many other Chinese people and friends that I meet whilst at university!