Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated November 16, 2018
By Mike Cairnduff

John Mandina teaching in China

In the second of this two-part series, we continue our interview with Texan John Mandina.

John is an English teacher in China and currently lives in the city of Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

What’s been the best part of your teaching experience?

It’s when you see the light bulb going off in your students’ heads and all your hard work pays off in that one culminating moment.

That’s the rewarding part of being a teacher, being able to pass on knowledge and see it take root in your students.

And the most challenging part?

Not knowing any Mandarin.

However, I’ve managed to learn a few words and expressions. That’s been a big help!

How would you describe Jiangsu province?

Jiangsu is considered the Education Province of China. It’s a great place to live and travel as it’s central to most areas for tourism.

Although winters here are very cold and wet, and summers are very hot and wet, I still think it’s the best province to live in as an expat.

What’s your accommodation like?

My accommodation is better than most.

I have a two-story, two-bedroom apartment in the best expat area of Wuxi. I’m fortunate because I chose my apartment myself. Many teachers don’t get this luxury.

I’ve always had very nice accommodations everywhere I’ve taught.

Is it easy to get around in China?

Having travelled to many countries before coming to China, I find getting around is fairly easy.

That said, if this is your first time traveling and China is your first destination, then make sure someone from the school is there to meet you at the airport.

No other country does mass transportation better than China.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m working on my Doctor of Education which, when not teaching, takes up most of my time.

I enjoying going to the gym and traveling.

Shanghai is only 45 minutes away by high-speed train so I can go there for lunch and dinner, or even overnight to hang out with friends or go shopping, and be back the same day if I want to.

American teacher John Mandina has taught English in the Chinese cities of Yangzhou and Wuxi, both located in Jiangsu province.

When John isn’t taking center stage at his high school, he enjoys taking the bullet train to Shanghai.

What do you think of Chinese food?

I like the food. It’s broken up into areas and all areas are different.

Jiangsu province food is known to be sweet. I actually prefer Sichuan and Hunan food best because I enjoy spicy food.

Have you done any traveling in China?

Yes, I’ve travelled to most regions in China.

Geographically, China is much like the USA – there are forests, plains, deserts, mountains and the coast.

I would recommend seeing as much as you can. There are many wonderful sights.

What advice would you give someone considering teaching English overseas?

It’s a very rewarding career, and a great life!

I would suggest researching the country you want to teach in so you can gain a good understanding of the culture.

Most importantly, research the school and its staff. This can make or break your experience.

Any final words about your China experience?

Research, research and research the school you plan to work at.


Have you had a China experience like John’s? Please comment below.

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