Are You Headed for Tianjin? Will You be a "Normal"?
It was a year ago that I taught freshmen (with a sprinkle of sophomores) at "TJNU." That was my first post - so far - so I may repeat common FT knowledge about EFL in China generally. Bào qiàn in advance.
1. The base pay is a typical low for uni. work: not enough to live large if you must foot all your own costs. But TJNU reimburses return jet fare and covers shelter, albeit, in my case, a hotel room (in a hotel partly occupied by foreign students, but they do their best to ignore all grumps). There's an allowance if you wish to live off-campus but I didn't ask how much. (I was told 3K rmb/mouth was needed to live in something above "dump.")
However, my base 4.5k rmb was soon pumped up to 7k when a different department asked me to pick up 4 sections. And, soon after that, I was head-hunted by a local high school for a few weekend and evening hours each week. So, without selling my blood, I pulled down between 7.5 and 8K rmb/month.
1.A. Be aware: what the State school giveth, it can also take away. That 2nd dept needed less of me the following term. (It had paid me per diem.)
1.B. I too was read The Law: work outside your contract is illegal. But this is China, so, when I told him of my reservations, the high school's Big Man assured me, "Méi wèn tí," and I was never bothered.
2. Banks in that monster metro have sprouted up on almost every corner and, yet, that huge U pays FTs only in cash. I didn't gripe. Why? Because they made sure I got my pay. Indeed, they will hound you till you make the trip downtown for it. In my case, I appreciated the harassment. (I'm only slightly better organized than a road accident.)
3. It may take several days for the dept. responsible for your housing and personal needs to respond to a question or problem, but a 40/60 mix of patient & persistence should pay off. (I needed this dept. often at first because hotel staff had perhaps 6 words of English among them.)
4. The TJNU bean counters seem to have swords dangling over their heads. They will arrange to take you to a doctor, but don't assume they'll pay for the doctor you see. And DO assume that you'll be urged to try traditional, i.e., cheaper med first. And I was routinely placed on "I'll get back to you" hold. Again: persist. From cab fare to medical bills, TJNU pays by reimbursement only. Get receipts for everything.
5. If you like working for them and want a chance to repeat your performance, FAIL NO ONE for any reason other than failure to show for a solid third of classes. And document that! If students complain about you, you're out. And those gorgeous, open faces will complain to the dept. while giving you no hint they ain't happy. (Sad, really. This hairy barbarian stopped munching on young'uns years ago)
6. I love to walk, I walked wherever and whenever I could, and my lungs may live to regret it. Tianjin air is at least as bad as you've heard. The haze is semi-permanent. Soot blankets anything left outside for a night. Wear a mask? Pointless if you don't mean a military spec gas mask. But if you want to make babies and old ladies smile, forget the mask, say a prayer for your lungs, and "Rù xiāng suí sú!"
Wǒ gāi zǒu le,