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Author Topic: Info on Hefei  (Read 8016 times)


  • Barfly
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Info on Hefei
« on: June 27, 2011, 01:19:06 PM »
A few months ago I accepted a teaching position where I would be teaching American History and English Lit to Chinese students who instead of taking the test for placement in a Chinese university will instead be taking the SAT and ACT because they are planning on going to college in the US. Initially I was going to be assigned to the #2 High school in Shijianghuang. It was a new school that was added to the program, but today they informed me that that high school is no longer part of the program. Instead I will be assigned to the #1 High School in Hefei, Anhui, still teaching the same courses.

I am curious about any information about Hefei. I would like to know as much about the place as possible.


  • Barfly
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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 01:53:43 PM »
You write:

" I would be teaching ... Chinese students who instead of taking the test for placement in a Chinese university will instead be taking the SAT and ACT because they are planning on going to college in the US.

Those schools are known here as "foundation programs". Search for that phrase on the Saloon and you will find much comment including many people who say such programs are very much to be avoided. Personally, I have taught in a couple and had good experiences, but that does not seem to be a general pattern.

Nearly all the kids will be from rich families, or they couldn't pay those schools' high fees let alone study abroad. Some of the families will feel that as long as they pay the fees, their offspring should of course pass. You really need a director of studies with some backbone to deal with that. I suspect that one of the main reasons i had a good experience where others did not was that both places I worked had good guys in that role.

Most students will have taken and failed the gao kao (Chinese uni entrance exam), or at least got low enough scores that they could not get into a prestigious Chinese uni. That may not mean much; I think it is a fairly awful test. Some of the kids in those schools are a joy to teach, bright and willing to work. Of course, there is deadwood as well.

I've only passed through Hefei, landing at its airport and going elsewhere in the province, so I cannot tell you much. It is the capital of Anhui, an inland province so rather less prosperous than the coast. Much farming. Many of the construction laborers, waitresses, whores, etc. in Shanghai or other big coastal cities are from Anhui.

Hefei is developing furiously. There is at least one quite reputable university: http://en.ustc.edu.cn/ and a number of hi-tech companies, notably Cisco, have been setting up there. Labour costs are low, and there's now high-speed rail to the export ports, Nanjing and Shanghai.

More info at: http://wikitravel.org/en/Hefei

There's a Hefei expat sire which I explored some while back when a move to Hefei seemed possible. I did not find it particularly good, but not useless either. http://www.hefeiexpat.com/forum/
Who put a stop payment on my reality check?

The Local Dialect

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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 03:15:51 PM »
I used to teach at a school like this and they aren't really traditional foundation programs, they're what they call "internation high schools" (the Chinese kind, not the actual foreign kind. ). They're different from foundation programs in that the students are still in high school, they haven't flunked out of the gao kao yet, in fact they don't plan on taking it at all, they're preparing to study abroad starting in the 10th grade. They still have to finish all of their Chinese subjects in order to get their high school diplomas but then they're also preparing for the SAT and, at least at my school, they were taking AP courses as well. The courseload was rather challenging and the dropout rate from 10th - 12th grade was fairly high.

Usually the students at these sorts of high schools are a mixed bag. You have quite a few who have hukou issues that make doing the traditional gaokao route tricky, then you have rich kids who think going abroad is the easy way out, then you also have a good number of decent students who truly think that studying in America is their best path to success.

It is still fairly difficult to get into schools in the States (although more schools are catching on to the lucrative potential of overseas Chinese students) and the SAT (not to mention the TOEFL) is no joke. Students in these programs really have their work cut out for them and often they really aren't prepared for how difficult it is. There are a lot of mickey mouse programs sending kids to places like New Zealand (nothing against New Zealand but ...) and lots of Chinese kids do go into these programs expecting an easy ride.

This is all off the topic of Hefei though. I don't really know anything about the place but I know my Beijing kids found the American high school stuff challenging and the education levels here are generally fairly high so I'm not sure what Anhui kids will make of it all. I did enjoy teaching at that type of school though, so much that I did it for 3 years.

Monkey King

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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2011, 02:33:32 AM »
I have to travel to Hefei fairly regularly for work, though when I am there I am pretty much just working, so I haven't seen all that much of the city despite several visits.

What I can say - it's still very much a third tier city, so you won't have many Western comforts, though as Pashley said it's developing REALLY fast, and were talking fast-even-for-China fast.  Combine this with the fact that it's relatively large but also off the beaten track (for Laowai at least)  and you get a kind of Wild West / land of opportunity feeling about the place.

You'll get some staring and 'laowai' calls in the street, but at the same time the local people there have been some of the friendliest I have met in China. There's still an openness and genuine curiosity that you might not find in larger more developed cities.

The ex-pats I have met there have also been pretty good, there aren't many of them so there's none of that cliquishness or snobbery you may get in other cities.  Basically, I think you'll make a lot of friends quickly in Hefei.

The food seems to be a mixture of everything China has to offer, and there are a few Western style places too, so no problems there.

With the D-train Hefei is about 3.5-4.5 hours from Shanghai, but when the G-train comes (this year I heard) that'll be closer to 2 hours.  It's also on the high speed line that will eventually go all the way to Chengdu via Wuhan and Chongqing (The D-train may already do this run I think) so you'll only be a few hours from several other interesting cities.

Weather - Inland lower Yangtze, so: very hot summer, very cold winter.

Hope that's some help - I always wish I have a bit more time to explore when I am there to be honest, it doesn't seem to bad if you can handle not being in a 1st/2nd tier city.

« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 02:42:29 AM by MK »

The Hiphoppopotomous

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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2011, 04:58:59 PM »
theres a pretty cool forigner bar there called Revolution. I had a lot of fun when i visited, the city is nice too. i'll see if i can dig out the few photos i took....

the people there are less friendly than Nanchang, but still cool. i got some real staring there too.

Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 10:43:09 PM »
Hefei: Like Shijiazhuang, only without all the glamour. uuuuuuuuuu ahahahahah

"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

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we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)


  • Barfly
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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2011, 10:10:46 PM »
Hefei: Like Shijiazhuang, only without all the glamour. uuuuuuuuuu ahahahahah


Heh heh heh.

Monkey King

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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2011, 10:16:34 PM »
I still reckon it's not that bad!


  • Barfly
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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2013, 05:12:06 AM »
Look out BJ! Here comes Hefei!

757 PM2.5 at time of this post. Yikes!


  • Barfly
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Re: Info on Hefei
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2013, 03:10:01 PM »
This isn't with Ameson by any chance?  My current roommate worked at a school in Hefei with Ameson, where their entire foreign teaching staff quit one year because their boss was sexually harassing the female staff. 

Mind you, this is practically all hearsay, as in hear it from my roommate and his former coworker multiple times and telling you now.

Send me a message if you want my roommate's contact.  He can tell you more about Hefei probably.