6 months on… 半年后

Been back in the UK for 6 months.  😯

It’s been an interesting experience, some things have sometimes not gone as planned and It has been tougher than I expected. Now things are starting to get better, though I still miss my life in China.

There are many frustrating things about moving back to your home country that you don’t consider until you’re actually back here. Thins which you don’t consider before leaving. I knew the transition would be quite difficult, I had planned for it to be tough, but still there are many things about life here that is just so infuriating.

Over the past few weeks I’ve written some of the more frustrating things I’ve come across in trying to reintegrate back into UK life.

What I’ve noticed is that you start get used to things after a while, but that necessarily doesn’t mean that you like those alll of those thongs. For me the biggest advantage (or disadvantage perhaps 😕 ) of being outside the country for a while, is that I now think about many things about my life in the UK that previously I never even gave a second glance to. It’s certainly made me more critical of things and as a result of this sadly I’m getting more and more cynical.

I think there are many things to worry about living here that I never had in China.

It isn’t all to do with money but the incredibly high cost of living is a major factor- but there are other wider issues that concern me about living in the UK.

I think you basically have to realise that there really are no systems in place for British nationals coming back after living abroad for a while. It’s as if you are being punished for daring to leave the motherland! 😈

Many people are supported in various ways in the UK, actually pretty much everyone except you – because you don’t exist – and even if you did you can’t be trusted until you’ve been resident in the UK – but of course you still pay tax – Children, Old people, not-so-old-people, sick people, disabled people, certain ethnic groups, single parents, married couples, unmarried couples, gay partners, transsexuals, fat people and prisoners, the list goes on…

I wouldn’t be complaining if I paid little tax and could opt out fromt the system, but I can’t.

My views about taxation have changed considerably since living in China. I agree that people should pay tax, what I disagree with is paying such a high rate of tax on everything; inproping up an overblown controlling state apparatus, in effect supporting the system I disagree with.

As someone that has come back to the ‘motherland’ (I’m searching for a noun for this) You do not exist.

You are a non-person.

You may think (as I did) So what? What difference does that make anyway? Well, from my experience, it can make things really hard because if you have not been in the country, basically, you are not on any of the big-brother computer systems that dictate whether or not we can do something.

Because I have been out of the country for 3 years, OBVIOUSLY, I have had no UK addresses since then. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. But to the authorities you surely have something to hide, nobody leaves the UK to live abroad, right? To the government you are lower than a person that has just come out of prison, at least in their eyes they knew where they were and what they were doing!

The thing is, I can actually prove where I have been, I have various rental contracts and contracts of employment that show this, passport stamps, visas – but this is of no use to anyone in the UK.

To the UK government if you go to live in a place like China you might as well have gone to live on the moon.

For me this is exacerbated because I left here straight after university, meaning I have no investments in the UK i.e property; had not paid into the tax system, – I had nothing to link myself with here.

Here are some other issues I’ve encountered from not being in the UK:

Not eligible for many jobs. Can’t pass basic security clearance (and so many jobs unnecessarily require this) – criminal records checks. Can’t pass credit reference checks ( and so many jobs unnecessarily require this too!!!) Ineligible for many government jobs (probably a good thing 😉 ).

I just think it’s all gone too far. It’s beyond a joke – westerners may complain about many Chinese not being able to think for themselves, not being able to join-the-dots – but here people have seemingly have lost the ability to use common sense. People are constantly looking over their shoulders, worried about breaking some rule or regulation, frightened about saying something that may offend despite it being the right thing to do… Anyway

Can’t open Bank accounts as – No UK utility bills, not on the electoral roll (even though I have the right to vote, UK nationals can’t vote at UK embassies- must have UK address) no UK tax receipts, no rental agreements, mortgage statements, etc etc etc…..

Basically nothing that I can use to prove where I have been living for the last few years that they will accept. So I am an outcast It’s so annoying as there is no flexibility in the system – you are either in or out.

I feel as if every single corner of your life is tightly controlled by the government, but of course this only affects the law abiding people. It’s normal people who suffer, and so I my eyes you are effectively punished for being law abiding. This is partly why I have come to the conclusion that government and over regulation is the problem, not the solution.

The irony is that the UK is meant to be a capitalist country and China a communist, command economy – but to me it’s almost the opposite. People in the UK think that this is a democratic country, think they have rights, when in reality it is a very shallow democracy and your rights in the UK are being eroded everytime parliamant makes another law. Afterall therei s is no entrenched written constitution in the UK, and all the political leaders have been to the same schools, came from the same backgrounds;- its the same whichever country you live in…

I’m not saying thatthe Chinese government is perfect, far from it. They have some disgusting practices and cause so many people to have hard lives, but my point is that generally speaking for most people living their lives, most of the time the government takes very little interest in your own affairs.

Contracts 合同 Part 2 – Bad Contract

Here are some of the more important parts of a particuarly bad contract that I once signed with Star Education – It’s bad but not the most unfair contract I’ve seen in China. Most teaching contracts are set out in a similar fashion to this and do I hope this can be of help to anyone who wishes to sign a contract to teach in China.

In the contracts there’s all sorts of waffle that really isn’t so important to you, most of it is there as it’s government policy to put these things into work contracts.

Below is taken from the annex or the part of a contract that is written by the host institution (i.e a company/language centre), not the government SAFEA booklet as that’s standard accross China and only used by mainly public universities and colleges.


This is a real trick that could get you into a lot of difficulty with a dishonest employer. Usually you should ALWAYS have the amount of hours you work PER WEEK – and state that what exactly a week is i.e. – Monday to Friday.

Having hours per month means that you will probably have different class times each week, no real fixed schedule. It will mean lots of travelling between schools and will kill your free time.

The employer will say that 20 hours a week = 80 Hours a month, If so then why not put 20 hours per week into the contract not 80 hours per month?

The worst thing is that if you only get paid if you work all of the hours in the contract (i.e handing in timesheets) , and if the company you work for can’t give you all the hours – for whatever reason – you will not get paid fully.   Also if the company says you must work 60 hours this week to make up all of the hours you are meant to work in a month, you have to do it – essentially it puts lots of strain on your time


It is in the employers interest to have contract that specify monthly hours, not yours. It is a practice used by farming companies and some private schools.


This is too general, try to get it narrowed down to exactly what you will be teaching. I.e oral English, English writing or whatever it may be.

Again far to broad. Changchun – although not a big city in China – still has about 7 million people living there.  Also the way the Chinese designate their cities through the various sprawling districts, you could end up working 40km away from the city centreitself as it’s still classed as Changchun.  I once worked an hours coach trip from the centre of Changchun in a place called shuangyang (双阳)which is still considered part of Changchun by the government.

This means that you may have one class in the east of the city in the morning and anoter in the west in the afternoon.  You’ll have no time for lunch because it will take you all the time to get there.  You may have to take a taxi because the buses take too much time and and the end of a days work you may have made very little and be totally exhausted.

Try to get the locations fixed, the names of campuses, buildings if possible.  If you have to work elsewhere – get transport (i.e taxi) paid for – good schools will have no problem doing this.   


Again get it as specific as possible unless you don’t mid teaching all ages.


This is a trick clause and should be removed from all contracts before signing.   Bsaically what it is telling you is that the company/school probably can’t get you enough classes  and so don’t want to pay you all of your salary.   It puts you in a very diffcult position if the employer has no work for you, as you are still employed by them but are not being paid!   A good employer will never have anything like this in it’s contract, if you see it in an initail contract it’s a big red flag.  Avoid.


So leading on from the previous point, when you dont work 80 hours a month you will only be paid pro-rata at 62 an hour.  This is very bad indeed.  Furthermore as most classes last 40 or 45 minutes you will only be paid 42 or 47 yuan per class.   If a class is cancelled (as they often are) you will  have to make up the hours in your free time. 

 To put this in perspective, I know Chinese English teachers who make more than this per hour and they work far fewer classes a week.

Good organisations do not do this.  A class, whether it be 30 mins, 40, 45, 50 or 1 hour is classed as a teaching hour.   Again, if you see this in a contract – run.

4.3, 4.4

 Repeats the above condition. Just remember, why would an employer put a clause like this into a contract?  What are his/her motives?   It certainly isn’t in the interest of his employees… 

You get paid  for the months classes, so if you start mid-month, will only get 2 weeks pay.  Basic meaning is that you will be paid in arrears.   Universities don’t pay in arrears, they pay on a fixed date (usually the 15th) and the pay is for the full month.

 Agreeing to this could cause you to lose half a months pay – as you may never see the pay for the arrears worked.   

Your overtime will be paid at 80 yuan an hour – but only if it exceeds 80 hours a month.  So if you have only worked 70 hours in the month, there is nothing stopping your employer making you work 10 hours in one day and you will not see any overtime.

This clause protects the employer from ever paying overtime to his employees, he/she will give the work to those people that have not made up 80 hours a month rather than pay over time.   Incidently, overtime is always paid at a miniumum of 100 Yuan an hour and personally I wouldn’t put this into the contract.  I would deal with any overtime as it comes, on case-by-case basis, and negotiate at the actual time.  I have been paid 200 yuan an hour for some jobs, It depends on the actual situation. 


 No holiday or vacation pay.  Very bad indeed, everyone should get paid for at least the October and May holidays.  And make up the classes missed.   No winter vacation pay, so will have at least 2 months where there is very little work available and no guaranteed income.  Unless you moonlight. 


Probably the most straight forward part of the contract, you get 800 Yuan for rent each month.  This is extra to your salary and you get it each month regardless of how many hours you work.  800 really isn’t enough to get a decent apartment in central Changchun, for that you need more like 1500 yuan a month.   

Actually I was told that this 800 would not be paid to me as the company had no classes for me – and so I wouldn’t be teaching for 2 months – As you can see that is basides the point, I get this regardless of how much I work.  This eventually led me to perform a runner from the company as it was my only prudent choice of action at the time. 


Note the wording ‘fulfill the contract’ this can be misconstrued and twisted by any employer.  Get dates i.e. 31st July 2007 will get paid …. for  Flight ticket – this leaves no ambiguities.  Also only from Beijing, you still have to get to Changchun.  Wihout discount that’s another 2000 Yuan to your ticket price.  To be honest to get to the UK from Changchun return, if you include all transport costs is 7000+.      

The final passage is next to meaningless as it says should not, which in legal documents means nothing whatsoever.


Again badly worded, can be misconstrued.  Get exact pay dates into the contract.


This is potentially disasterous for the teacher.  If a school re-schedules, you MUST obey any class shifting – even if you are only given 30 mins notice.  This should never be agreed to, it must be reasonable.


Standard government stuff, but is far to sweeping and needs to be tidied-up.  Not to enagage in any mass activities is far too excessive – you could argue that by signing this you cannot teach as that in itself is a mass activity!   😉  


Ignore, not important – almost all contracts have something like this in it.  Just don’t tell party A,  but make sure other work does not clash with one this work. 


Ignore.  Just dont tell them, it’s  none of their business what you choose to do in your free time.  They are trying to cover themselves if you get hurt or injured whilst not working as technically as an employer they are vicariously liable for you.

It's a secret!!It's a secret!!10.4

Designed to scare you more than anything else.   I highly doubt whether this is based on actual fact, but to be honest it’s not important.  You have to ask the rhetorical question – Why would somebody ‘ sudden disappearance/departure of party B from his or her post’ ?

Clearly they have had problems previously and are trying to scare people into not running from a contract that has been dishonoured by the employer.   In my experience people don’t just run for no reason.  Some are home sick and leave very soon after arriving in China, but most do it because their employer is screwing them/going to screw them.