City Profile: Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China

Wuxi is split down the center by Lake Tai and is one of the urban cores of the Yangtze River delta region. Known as “Little Shanghai”, Wuxi is one of the origins of China’s modern commercial development. Located in the Golden Triangle of the Yangtze River, Wuxi is a key member of the “Wu” region of China which comprises the triangular-shaped territory near Shanghai and includes southern Jiangsu Province and northern Zhejiang Province.

This area is notable in China for its distinctive dialect, architecture and its unique waterway transportation along the Grand Canal. Owing to its pleasantly warm and moist climate, it boasts a reputation of the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’. Relying on the near-by Yangtze River and ancient Grand Canal, it had been a port city with the busiest rice and cloth market in China before 19th century.

Besides being a rich cultural repository, Wuxi is blessed with charming natural beauty: the vast Tai Lake with its fascinating water scenes, the ‘Sea of Bamboo’ in Yixing, the Second Spring, Huishan Mountain — the ‘First Mountain South of Yangtze River’ — and so on. Various aspects of nature give you a new experience at every turn.

Located along the main intercity high-speed railway, Wuxi can easily reach Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou and other regional hot-spots. The international airport flies directly to most major Chinese cities and other nearby transit hubs in Asia. The new metro line offers city dwellers convenient transportation to points of interest within the city.
With its moderate climate and beautiful natural surroundings, Wuxi is an attractive destination for people to live and work as well as for tourists. With plenty of parks and green spaces, mountains nearby and its proximity to the Yangtze and the Grand Canal, Wuxi offers attractions for all types of travelers, seekers and explorers.

Take a look at the ESL Suite job board for more about teaching jobs in China and in Wuxi City!

City Profile: Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China


The city of Shijiazhuang is the Provincial capital of Hebei Province and located just 170 miles from Beijing (about two hours by train). Just southwest of the capital city, the population of Shijiazhuang has swelled to just about 10 million people.
Shijiazhuang is in the heart of northern China and just a short distance from Peking, Xi’an and Qingdao. The city center is rapidly growing while the surrounding area offers mountains, Buddhist temples and fabulous scenery. The ancient walled city of Pingyao and the sacred Mount Tai are a short and cheap train journey away. Mount Cangyan is famous for its appearance in the movie “Hidden Tiger Leaping Dragon”.

The more frugal minded should be pleased to know the cost of living in Shijiazhuang is incredibly low compared with other cities in China. Buying fresh produce from street markets is very inexpensive and there are restaurants all over the city which are very reasonably priced.

Party-goers will find Shijiazhuang has several bars and pubs and dance clubs in the city including many 24-hour restaurants. In the summer the main attractions are the street restaurants – people set up barbecue pits along the streets and you can sit and eat and drink late into the evening or relax at one of the several beer gardens throughout the city. Several shopping malls have opened in Shijiazhuang which have modern supermarkets and other western staples such as Wal-Mart, H&M, Starbucks and others.

Shijiazhuang is a modern and vibrant city offering foreigners the real Chinese experience – the city only has but a few “外国人” (or waiguoren, which means literally, “outside country people”). Most of the people here speak Mandarin Chinese, so living in Shijiazhuang provides foreigners with an excellent opportunity to be immersed in the language.

Because of its eclectic mix of modern and classic Chinese features, many expats feel Shijiazhuang is northern China’s best kept secret.

Visit the ESL Suite homepage for ESL teaching jobs in China and in Shijiazhuang city!

How to Nail a Skype Interview – Follow These 9 Tips

Webcam
Don’t forget to smile!

“Can you hear me? I can see you but I can’t hear you….wait….OK….no….now I can’t see you, either.”

Sound familiar? The fact is, Skype interviews probably require as much preparation as interviewing face-to-face. An online interview gives the interviewee a few advantages, but several unique disadvantages.

For instance, one good point is that you can keep some notes in front of you out of sight of the camera. That’s great, right?

Well, the bad news is you’re talking to your computer – or a tiny, robotic-eye sitting next to your computer. And some people (such as me) don’t come off very well on camera.

Good and bad aside, there are a few keys which will guarantee you make a positive impression. Most of these won’t be revelations, simply because they’re the types of things you ought to do in a face-to-face interview anyway.

Here they are:

  1. Be on time for the interview. It’s a good idea to be sure you’ve added the interviewer a day before the call. If the interviewer is late on the day of the interview, be patient. Send an instant message if it goes past 15 minutes. It’s possible an earlier interview ran longer than expected. If you can’t connect, send an email to ask if you can reschedule for another day. Something unexpected probably came up, and they’ll likely be happy to chat with you another day.
  2. Make sure the surroundings behind you are tidy, and find a QUIET place. If you have roommates or live together with family, remind them of your interview time so you aren’t interrupted.
  3. Test your equipment the day before and the day of the interview. There’s nothing more frustrating than having technical problems during an online interview. If problems arise and persist, explain politely what is happening and ask to redial.
  4. Dress for the job. If the job is for an ESL teacher, business casual would be best. Men should get rid of the 5 o’clock shadow – shave before the interview. Oh, and if you’re thinking of pulling a “Ron Burgundy” and not wearing any trousers – think again. You never know when you might have to suddenly get up to check your internet connection or webcam.
  5. Smile. This is a no-brainer if you’re interviewing in person, but being personable and smiling are more difficult when you’re in a room alone. Test your appearance on camera before the interview to check for posture, gestures, facial expressions, etc. Try a practice run with a friend or family member and ask for honest feedback.
  6. Use the interviewers name often – it can help develop a connection between the two of you even though you’re not in the same room.
  7. Before the interview begins, tell the interviewer in advance that you will be taking notes. You can politely begin, “I apologize in advance if there are a few pauses here and there, I’ll be jotting down some notes during the interview.” This will ease the awkward feeling when no one is speaking. Plus taking notes will give you a few ideas to come back to when you have questions at the end.
  8. Cheat like crazy. Keep notes about the company handy for easy reference. Being able to glance quickly at information about the position, company or questions for the end of the interview can work in your favor. That said, keep the notes short – if you’re shuffling through dozens of pages off camera it’ll definitely tip-off your interviewer that something’s amiss.
  9. Be yourself. You have a lot to offer to the company – it’ll be more likely to come through during the interview if you’re relaxed!

This list is probably not exhaustive – if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what not to do – just watch this clip:

How to Inspire Trust – WSJ.com

I recently read “Extreme Productivity” by Robert Pozen and was particularly moved by the chapter about using your personal values and morals to guide your decision-making. He quoted investor/philanthropist Warren Buffett, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Sound advice, indeed. The book is excellent and I highly suggest you give it a read.

A day after finishing the book, I stumbled on this article in the Wall Street Journal which echoes many of the same ideas: How to Inspire Trust – WSJ.com http://ow.ly/pFHTH

By focusing on always doing the right things right, you will find decision-making becomes much easier!