She notes that beautiful sea side cities like Qingdao or cities with great climates like Kunming attract so many applicants that the wages there are comparatively low. But other, less glamorous cities have trouble attracting and keeping teachers. I think some folks are nervous about going to any city they've never heard of -- and some of us have heard only of Beijing and Shanghai. I'd certainly never heard of Zibo, where I am now. But after visiting Beijing, I appreciate Zibo all the more. The cost of living is much lower here than in the big city. People are friendlier. And while I am amazed at how pervasive the Western influence is, it is very much a Chinese city filled with people carrying on customs and ways of life that stretch back for generations. So give it some thought -- do you want to experience the real China? Think outside the big cities.
Pretty Woman Spitting, a memoir by a young ESL teacher, offers a detailed and candid account of what it's like to teach in one of the lesser-known cities. The book outlines her experiences (in sometimes relentless detail) from her first encounter with Chinese banquet food and etiquette, to her first time in front of a classroom full of students, to her bittersweet departure. The situations and reactions she describes are common to many ESL teachers, including me. The writer gained friendships that meant more to her than she expected, and also dealt with sudden and unexpected loss. This book will give you a good preview of what its like to be a foreigner in a small Chinese city and it's only 92 cents through Amazon.