It has come to my attention that this is a family run business. Nicole seems to be the boss. I don't know what the man does, but he must be her husband. Jessica is the younger sister. The woman has not been around since. The receptionist that worked there when I started has quit. She's not related to them. Be very careful out there. As I said before, it's common practice to pay to link another business/school's name with one's own business.
At this point I only have 75 days of my six month visa left. YCC has decided to stop my classes. Hmmmmm that's not an extra month's worth of FREE classes. Whatever. I have quite a few more interviews lined up. From their end, not one is related to hotel or conventions as we spoke about in my initial emails and the first month of my being here. I have decided to just take up one of the jobs if they offer. However, I must explain the way in which everything was set up.
I have been forwarded a bunch of emails, but some information doesn't match. Manager names with the wrong company, an address that doesn't make sense, etc. I also have not been contacted to confirm any time schedules or anything. I see one email asking for writing samples and references. I stop and think "I'm not a writer. I haven't done any. I'm not into journalism." I email Nicole back and she responds quite nastily complaining that I have no experience at all and that I don't communicate with them. Remember the last yelling match? I definitely no longer bring up any conversations with them. Any question I have that they deem negative is met with hostile voices, faces and words. I don't really have time for it as I'm serious about getting an internship.
I ignore the email for a bit to focus on researching something about these other companies. In the morning, I check my email and see that it's been updated to say meet up at 3pm. I call that company and ask if a bit later is ok because I've got another interview across town. They comply. In my first interview, I'm excited that we came to the agreement that he would consider it and he even called a few friends during the interview to inquire about visa details and possible placement at another place.
I get an angry text about me missing an interview and am told that YCC will stop all services "NOW" and to never contact them again. I find it odd and double check my email. Since it's a long list of forwards in one, I double check each line. Turns out that journalist position was scheduled at the same time as this one. I think to myself, "why didn't she send each interview schedule as a separate item?" Forwards only show the last conversation had.
I send her an email at the end of the day that she's the one in the wrong because from day one they have had my email, phone number and WeChat and that if communication was that important to them, they would have talked to me about what they could and couldn't do, if my resume was not written well, or what companies they had and what the time schedules were.
I don't like to have blame placed on me so I emailed the journalist company explaining that I simply didn't know they had been rescheduled as the last thing I told Nicole was that I don't have any writing experience. I don't know if they will accept it though because I tried to call the company and they wouldn't take my calls or they were actually quite busy and couldn't. I guess I'll never know.
What I do know, is that I recommend everyone stay far away from this "school". Especially if you are the type that asks questions and tries to learn about the progress of anything. I promise I'm not the only person to feel cheated but I may be the boldest blogging about it. I just don't want anyone else to waste money. I'll do an update in a few about how to find jobs in China with or without Chinese. It's harder without established relationships but it can be done.
I was in class when I got a WeChat message from Jessica about an interview. The office is across from my classroom but we don't really greet each other from across the hall, but I still find it strange that she didn't wait until after or during a break to discuss it. I asked if it was a hotel or convention company. She replies it's a mixed company... I go on with class and a bit later she tells me that it's to do business development. I say fine and check out the company details after class. At this point I may as well see what they are about. I do the interview and find that I had to speak English because the Chinese manager wasn't present. I figured I did ok, but the company is looking at other candidates too. I was told to wait for a call from the other manager. I was sure they needed to test my Chinese. So I did. Nicole asks what happened at the interview a few days later. I explain what happened. However there was no call from the other manager. Oh well, maybe she had found someone better? Fast forward a few days. I am being sent an interview opportunity every twenty minutes. Well, just three. Again I'm in class, but I'm the only student anyway so I tell her to reschedule one as I had some trouble that I needed to sort out at that time. She tells me she'll send me an email and I can reschedule on my own. Well, I suppose. After all, I know my schedule best. Time to try try again!
Ironically I have to remind myself that I'm not wrong. Let's start with some background before you all get angry with me too. ;)
I didn't see any other schools offering a partial refund in the event that the school couldn't find an internship for you. I took that as a final sign that YCC would be a good choice because, although some of you may feel it shouldn't make a difference, there are times that Chinese people don't want to hire Black people and in this country each resume must include a picture. I wouldn't dream of faulting the school for that, so it gave me peace of mind.
[ I see that the site has changed that clause and replaced it with offering "one-two months free classes".]
I still have no opportunity of an internship. The last call I got was a lady asking if I'd like to interview for a sales position. I have no experience in that. In fact, I suck at it. I declined and definitely reminded Nicole that I needed to find either hotel or conventions as that is my only significant experience besides teaching. She said talk to Jessica. Jessica said the convention company didn't want me because I didn't have experience. True, I didn't know they built sets for conventions, I don't have any experience for that. However I also have zero sales ability. She asks what kind of job I want in a raised tone. I tell her to calm down, I'm simply asking we stick to my original plan. I ask how the search is going a couple of days later and am told she is waiting to hear from companies.
FAST FORWARD TO THIS WEEK!!! hahaha well, Monday. Today.
My speaking teacher has quit and my writing teacher suggested I push a little to get my internship. So I went to speak with them after class again. I asked if they'd still honor the partial refund since my classes end this week. They claimed they never had that kind of rule. I informed them that it was my final push to have me choose their company and that it's fine if they've changed the rule but it was there. Nicole slams her fist on the desk and yells that they have not made any changes to the site. It clearly states that they'll offer free classes. I say in a louder tone, "Ok, I'm fine with the change but I have another question." Jessica steps in and says she changed the site last year.
Now I'm annoyed because Jessica has stood up out of her chair to ask me why I'm even in here yelling at them. I laugh and ask why they are yelling at me when I've simply asked a question. They even lied as Jessica is clearly admitting to having changed the website. They update it themselves. Nicole asks for my proof. I tell her I obviously have none, but I wouldn't forget (or make up) that kind of clause. Again, I say I'm fine with the change and ask how my internship search is going. However Nicole is fuming over the previous question. I ask her the show me proof instead, of when they changed the site. Jessica finds something and prints it off, but no words print along with the picture. Nicole says she can't believe I don't believe they haven't changed the site and yells again. Jessica slams the office door shut but no one else is in this place. I laugh again at this ridiculous scene and shout I can't count it as proof. Now I'm joining in on this childish way of arguing a point.
Jessica pulls out her camera to video me as Nicole rants about how I'm a ridiculous person that doesn't understand anything and tells Jessica to ignore me. I pull out my phone and turn on the record app saying, "wait, I guess I should record too." She puts her phone down and sits back down again. I asked why we couldn't both record just in case a misunderstanding arises and we need to pull out "proof" again. I try to go back to my next question but again Nicole is not satisfied. She tells Jessica to text me their unprintable "proof". Jessica asks for the failed print back because it's the company paper...
I ask them again how the search is going and they sneer that no companies have replied to them. I ask them how many they are waiting on and am met with "a few". I ask them to please let me know the companies so that I can research them and prep for potential interviews. Nicole shouts again, "NO! YOU WILL GET THE INFORMATION BEFORE THE INTERVIEW! THAT IS OUR RULE FOR EVERYONE ELSE." I don't join in on the yelling this time, but I tell them that rule is not on their site so I don't have the "proof". I also explain that it makes for a better interview if I can prepare.
This is when Nicole asks, "Do you know why you don't get any offers?" I ask why believing she would say something the companies have said. She rolls her neck back and forth with a "because you have a bad attitude." Ok. Now I'm dying. I must brag a bit and say that my past jobs have absolutely loved working with me and my last co-teacher recently sent an email saying she wished I still worked at the school in S. Korea.
I tell them ok but at least give me a full 24 hours before any interview to research whichever company replies to them. At this Nicole lowers her head in a scowl with a smirk and says in a sing-song voice, "Our website states that we only need to set up two to five interviews and then we've done our job." I inform them I've only had ONE so far. They say fine. Nicole ends with a stern "we will send you the company information 24 hours before the interview. Is that clear?" My eyes get wide and I jiggle my shoulders and say, "I asked you for a 24 hour notice. Are YOU clear?" I've fallen into the act like a child trap again. Nicole's final words amidst Jessica's bad mouthing are, "I'm very clear so you can leave!" I chuckle and end with I'll leave when I want followed with, now that class is done I guess I'll leave.
Let's see if they still find me an internship or give me free classes. After all, my study part is finished.
Many students no longer show up to classes. The culture classes have disappeared altogether. I'm waiting to get some interviews done. So far I've had one class to practice cover letter and resume writing. I had sent an updated resume to Nicole to send to companies because my original was my teaching resume. I sent that by accident. Flash forward to now! I finally have an interview with a convention company! I'm hoping for the best however, I didn't get any information on them. I asked them to schedule it on Wednesday since I have an open morning. The man who works there pulled me aside to wish me luck and to accept even if they offer a low salary of 1000 yuan. Afterall, it's only an internship and you want the knowledge and experience that comes with it. I kept that in mind and waited for the confirmed time. Around 8pm Jessica informed me by text that the interview was scheduled for 2pm the next day. I asked her what I should do about my class and the midday English class I had offered to help them with. Jessica: "But don't you think the job opportunity is more important?" Me: "Will there be a makeup class? Class is something I must pay for. It's not confirmed I will get the job. I guess I'll also need to cancel the English class because it ends at 1:30." [[This class is actually a favor to them...They aren't an English school.]] Her: "Okay, I will cancel the interview. We will start arranging interviews after all you classes finish." Me: "I would prefer to do interviews now so that I'll be employed by the time classes finish. Her: "Ok." Me after 10mins: "...so what's the plan for tomorrow?" Her: "We extend one more classes for you. Won't make up. Please inform your English class students come half hour earlier." I guess no one has asked about that before me, but I thought if all classes start at two anyway and they knew I didn't need to teach their impromptu English class Wednesday, the scheduling would work out better. Oh well. They forgot to tell me which specific position I was to apply for but at least I can look up the name of the company.
School is not what I thought know I read on the website. The teachers are not professors at all as the site claims. The textbook for advanced is definitely advanced but they don't know how to teach it. If the teachers a company hires are not actually professors they should say as much to help students make their decisions with no regrets, right? The schedule wasn't given out until the second week in and it says:
Monday 2 - 4:45 Speaking and Listening
Tuesday 2 - 4:45 Reading and Writing
Wednesday 2 - 4:45 Reading and Writing
Thursday 2 - 4:45 Speaking and Listening
Friday 2- 4:00 Culture
There is little to no speaking going on on Mondays and Thursdays. We read the vocabulary and go over the meanings for an hour, the teacher reads the text and then moves on to the questions. Then we look at a PPT of grammar points; some from the book and many not. Although it's advanced class there is a lot of English coming from the teacher to explain most everything. It's like a nonstop radio with 15 minute breaks each hour. There is no book for Tuesday and Wednesday. We read nothing. We talk for two and a half hours on any given topics, again, with 15 minute breaks each hour. Felt more like a free chat class. I eventually asked if we'd at least write. My one other classmate didn't want to but we did for the last 10 minutes. I could only pray to do more in the future. Chatting is fun, but I was definitely lost on the purpose. An English explanation also accompanies each new word. After being a teacher/tutor for years since the U.S. I know that at a certain level you describe in the target language. In a good classroom you will hear.
Student: "I'm sorry what does 'naive' mean?"
Teacher: "It describes a person that is new to everything. Not stupid. Simply doesn't understand how the world works yet."
- or -
Teacher: "Do you understand the word 'criminal'?"
Student: "I'm gonna guess someone that does 'crime'?"
If that fails, the dictionary is a student's BEST friend. You know I used to tell my students it was their foreign boy/girlfriend.
I talked to Nicole about my disappointment in the teaching styles. Their site says they have a great method but I know for a fact that this is no way to improve well. Her best answer was (and the other two times I would ask in the future) to take it up with the teachers. The speaking class made some improvement as our suggestion to watch a movie or see a TV show for listening was agreed to. However pausing a movie every two to five minutes with breaks effectively took the whole class. Randomly selecting 成语* idioms that are popular became more of a hindrance than a help. However, we finally stopped getting 5 related vocab words for each new word in our textbook. Each chapter already contains 70-100 new words with 3-10 supplementary and at two classes per week, it was becoming crazy. We also finally received 10 minutes per hour to write about a given topic during writing...I was trying to write well though, so I usually needed to use the break times as well. Every time the teacher kept asking, "Are you finished yet? We don't have much time." My teachers are nice people so I won't name them, but they are definitely not teachers. I know the same is said about people that travel and teach English but some people end up actually being good at it so I'm fine with that if I know upfront. Although these people have the Chinese equivalent to a TEFL certificate, sometimes, it doesn't mean they can teach. Culture class? 0.0 Well, it's all in English and more of an arts and crafts thing. Same teachers but definitely not detailed. More of 'Chinese people like this picture let's paint one together!' (Insert big smiles and a hand raised for a high five)
**************************************************************** DISCLAIMER: My friend that is in the intermediate level says Wendy is an awesome teacher. She gets down to business and spends no more than 10 minutes on any day with gossip. I name her because greatness deserves praise and advertisement right? Do you know any Chinese teachers that may not be licensed but really rock the classroom? Put their info in the comments!
I landed and found my way to the school. Although someone should have been at the office, I had to call. Jessica is the first person I met along with a man that drove us to find me a hotel. As I'd guessed, the apartment wasn't ready. They told me to come in tomorrow (a Sunday) and I'd be able to talk to Nicole and see the apartment. Sunday, I went in and Nicole and I discussed how the school worked, the visa and health regulations, apartments, and internship wants. I'd explained again that I just wanted hotel or conventions as I only have done any work in that in the past, besides of course retail...like much of the States. I didn't mention it. I definitely didn't come here to do that! haha She said fine and I ended up needing to pay the full price through Paypal. I'd only brought enough cash to do the apartment fees (usually a month's deposit and three months rent). She told me that in order to get the apartments I wanted I should have told her earlier. Ok... Later we'd see the apartment... T'was dark now and we quickly walked down lane through an apartment complex somewhere in town. It'd started raining and Nicole was having a hard time unlocking the building gate. We hike up three dimly lit flights of stairs. A couple seemed to be shouting at each other, a clanging sound is going on and a man yelling something or other to someone on the next floor up. After a knock on the door, we can enter the apartment. It's also dimly lit but as a stickler for cleanliness I knew one thing was certain, although there's no way to capture the dank smell of the place, it was not clean and it wasn't what I'd seen in the recent set of pictures. One of the men inside said he was already living elsewhere but hadn't moved his items yet. I didn't need anymore time to conclude that I couldn't live there. I can do old buildings, but I can't do dirty. With a grouty bathroom and thick smell, I just couldn't do it. I told Nicole I'd need to find a different place. And then I was left to do just that. They gave me a website and said to look and call around. Without I phone I'd asked if they could assist and they agreed. Every place I selected they turned down as too far or an offer too good to be true. I told them that like their website stated my budget was 2300 a month. The man whom turns out to work with them laughs and says I need to budget around 5000 a month. In fact one of the men last night said his new place is 10 for just a room and a few roommates. 0.0 I decide to try Airbnb instead but when I checked in it was a disaster. I wanted to cry and told my language partner of the place. He had a good laugh and I sighed and went to sleep. This has nothing to do with YCC so you can just read the comment on the website. Now I'm frustrated and back in a hotel until I can trust anything again. I confronted Nicole about the apartment not being available despite telling her in November that I'd be applying to the March 9th program and again and again since the start of the year! Her tone quickly changed into a mocking that I didn't tell her that. I let it go and reminded her that the apartment she showed upon arrival was not the same. In a louder tone she said it was exactly the same. I asked her to print the email, now that I could see her anger, and she did. She said she took the pictures on her own camera herself. Naturally, I figured I'd better ask before or after the men moved in. She said before. I could see her confidence and decided to hit myself instead for not finding my own place before arrival. I simply asked if they could at least look at the contract since I'm now on my own and I've been hearing of quite a few scams and immediate evictions due to fraud. She and Jessica agreed. Another woman in the office helped me call a few more "landlords" and found all but one to sound like a 骗子* cheater. I felt a bit defeated and simply left. I could barely focus on anything now.
*************************************************** Do you have any tips for apartment hunting in Shanghai? Post them below!
It all started back in October of 2013. I decided that I would indeed undergo graduate studies somewhere in the middle kingdom. However, I knew that I wasn't prepared for my major. I searched the web for insight on the best step. Should I do an intense summer study to regain lost language skills? Should I just find a job and hope to recover some of the lost language skills? Could I do both legally at the same time? Well everything ended up boiling down to the hybrid of a language school program. Study for three months and then do a three month internship. This started to make a lot of sense and take the pressure off of trying to do both. I dug into various websites and browsed quite a few offerings:
and a few others that, believe me, no one even needs to remember they exist. I should have looked clearly into Intrax Global Internships or Go Abroad China :( A company with established relationships. (Find your own personal experience reviews as I have no information on them.)
I decided I may have the better experience using Yudefang International School [http://www.yccshanghai.com/] or YCC Shanghai as they claim to be an affiliate of Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics. I saw them on LinkedIn and Facebook and decided to ask the Chinese Forums community. It turns out that one guy was indeed in the process of using their services! He had some visa issues in the beginning and then stated that he was satisfied with their beginner classes but was not on the internship program.
"Alright!" I thought to myself. This is a real company and I can live on or off campus if I choose Hangzhou, but I should probably do Shanghai. In my initial conversations I made sure YCC was able to provide either a hotel internship or something related to conventions or events; things that I have some experience in. A language partner of mine warned me that although the site seemed OK, "it's probably just somebody paying ZUFE to use their name and they aren't really part of a university. Simply out to make money."
In my clouded with recent life event judgment, I decided it must actually be related otherwise, how could they really do business?
Fast forward to 2014 my excitement to return to China is going on an emotional roller coaster. I am anxiously studying and practicing the HSK 6 exam. I will need it when I apply to my graduate studies program in the fall of 2015. It's November and HSK 6 is laughing at me a month away. I contact YCC and say that I'm ready to apply to their program for the coming Spring. They let me know they have an advanced class starting in March. This is perfect! My contract in Soko ends on February 28th exactly! I'm seeing the stars align. I send the application fee through Paypal, a widely used and fairly trusted deliverer of money. Weeks go by and I've heard nothing. I let the program know that I passed HSK 6. Completely unexpected! I get a congrats and personally feel happy that I can skip the incoming student exam that they claim to have. January arrives and I'm a bit worried. I email about the visa forms so that I can secure a student visa and get into one of the apartments listed on the website. Shanghai can be expensive but they are offering a shared room for 2300 yuan! Can't mess this up! They say they'll send the forms but some issues with DHL delay the process. They tell me to use a copy of the letter but the consulate won't accept it. They ask if I can just come in in February for a new class and use a tourist visa. I can't do that. I'm working and entering China on a tourist visa to work is illegal... A friend of mine suggests I call DHL. They resolve the issue and the paperwork is here! I rush myself over to the consulate and they are not willing to do the visa because the dates of the paperwork don't match up. Nicole, the owner(?) of YCC tells me this is not an issue and that the government's form always allows for a full year. I tell the consulate but they don't trust it. They apprehensively consent to a 180-day visa. No problem! That's all I'll need to finish their program do an internship and visit my family in the U.S. before starting grad school. I'm satisfied...but what about my apartment? It's mid February and I need to not only move out of my current place but also mail a few boxes to my new place! Classes start on the 9th. I ask if something's wrong and the apartment is unavailable? Maybe a current student is there? I ask if I should start searchin on my own. Finally in March Nicole says there is a place that the student will move soon and says I can send my packages to the school or there. If I don't like the place I can opt to find my own apartment. The pictures look good but the school seems like the safer option. I send them on and feel better. I can fly out now and simply do a hotel for the weekend.