Laowai trapped in China and trying to leave

16 Comments
Distractions

I caught this video on Hao Hao Report. Basically, Vahram Diehla is a 23-year-old American who is pleading for some advice on how to quickly raise some money to get the hell out of China.

According to his blog he’s working up in Dalian as an English teacher, but the ESL racket has lost its luster and a woman on the other side of the ocean is pulling at his heart strings.

I caught this video on Hao Hao Report. Basically, Vahram Diehla is a 23-year-old American who is pleading for some advice on how to quickly raise some money to get the hell out of China.

According to his blog he’s working up in Dalian as an English teacher, but the ESL racket has lost its luster and a woman on the other side of the ocean is pulling at his heart strings.

***I WILL DANCE AND SING ON CAMERA FOR MONEY***
Or perform similar stupid antics, whatever gets you going.

I came to China from California to pursue an English teaching position and since being here I have realized that I am madly in love with the girl I left back home. I am looking for advice on how to make enough money (~$1000) online as soon as possible to buy a plane ticket to get back to her. All advice is welcome, please comment or message me privately if you have experience in working online.

If you have work that needs to be done that I can do remotely from here, I can receive payment via wire transfer or paypal. I am happy to hear any details, no job is too big or too small. I have written references and resume available. My skype username is daniel.leonhard

About me:
I am 23 years old, originally from San Diego but have traveled across Costa Rica and Ecuador a lot. I speak Spanish well, and am currently employed as an English teacher (it doesn’t pay very well). I am an accomplished writer, salesman, musician and music teacher (guitar, piano, string bass, ukulele, etc.). I am a highly capable young man at almost anything I put my mind to and am willing to try almost anything to make the money I need in a short amount of time. Thanks for taking the time to hear my plight.

I have a feeling that Vahram’s video is likely to elicit some cynical and jaded responses from expats that have been here for a while. Keep in mind, he’s not asking for money, just advice on how to get money (though I’m sure he’d accept donations).

To me the video is interesting as I’d bet a lot of people get stuck in Vahram’s position. I think there is a real push in the West for young people to “go out” and experience a more globalized world. We call it different things — some of us call it experience, some adventure, some individualism. It’s often a “personal” choice to do something different, but we don’t live in a world where global travel is the great unknown it once was. It’s almost commonplace and pedestrian.

But don’t get me wrong, as much as coming to China (or, indeed, much of Asia) as an ESL teacher is a well-worn path, it is an excellent way to gain a wider perspective than can be got by not going. I’m 100% for it, and I think that whatever stereotypes the ESL industry and ESL teachers in China have attached to them, it is driving a more globalized and less ignorant Western population.

But lets face it, a lot of ESL positions suck. If you come to China on the inflated promises of an ESL gig, and that job goes south, you can easily get stuck working for a language mill that holds your wages, return ticket or even passport hostage. Or, even worse, if you fell for the old “just come on an L/F visa, we’ll sort it out when you get here,” you could find yourself dumped and penniless. I’m not sure this is the situation in Vahram’s case, but it’s something I’ve heard told many times.

It’s an easy out to say that the employee should perform better due diligence before taking the gig with an unknown company, but the fact is that it would be tough to find any ESL employer that has across the board gold star employment standards. Even the largest companies/recruiters have a laundry list of complaints online.

The absolute only guaranteed protection an ESL teacher can have taking a job in China is to have an independent exit strategy. Most long-term ESL contracts come with the promise of a flight home, but it’s not uncommon for the contract to be broken (by either party) and that ticket to remain in the ether. My advice for any ESL teachers yet to come, save for an extra couple months before you come and make sure you have your own ticket home (and negotiate with the ESL school to get your flight home ticket in the form of a monetary bonus).

As for Vahram, a $1000 in a month online isn’t that much, but you need some online skills. Most everyone can write, most can’t get paid for it. If that is your only Internet-applicable skill, you’ll need to dig deep or look elsewhere. I would be looking at ways to teach ESL online, and if that fails, start answering surveys or mining for WOW gold.

Really your best chance of making the money is picking up as many part-time tutoring/subbing jobs for ESL. Most pay 100-200RMB/hour and if you’re only goal is to get home and not be Mr. Social for the next month, you can easily hit your target.

Other suggestions for Vahram? Leave them below, or on the Youtube video page.

Talk on Laowai trapped in China and trying to leave


16 Comments
  1. Jaded response here :)

    $1000 is around 40 hours @150 Yuan per hour. In Dalian one can walk down the street for 20 minutes and get that either spontaneously or by walking through the door of one of the many private language schools. Be ethical – explain the situation as summer time short term cover.

    Not a long term strategy, but a quick one.

  2. Mo’ should play his musical stuff on the corner for a few days and see if he can get people putting money in his instrument case. His apartment looks nicer than mine, surely he could teach some off hour classes for a couple of weeks or something.

  3. It doesn’t cost USD1,000 to get from Dalian to San Diego. The guys got no money and he wants to FLY? Tell him to cadge a job cleaning on board one of the ocean freighters then he can pay his way for his passage. Find out which companies do the nearest voyage then go see their local office. Sorted.

    • Profile photo of

      I remember a number of years back looking into this as a way to travel the world cheaply. I read lots of sites that promoted it, but never heard anyone actually talking about doing it.

      Is it actually easy to do? I mean, I imagine the work is tough, but is getting the gig difficult?

  4. The video has been removed by the author,

    too bad, I would have liked to share this on QQ

    I know a good way to get home, however you will be banned from ever coming back.
    Just go to Tiananmen…… do something politically stupid! you will be deported.

    On a more serious note, I live in Dalian, interested to know what school you work for, I am taking names when it comes to shitty schools here.

    I here by give permission for Da man Ryan to give you my email address, I do not use Skype.

    contact me, brother I will help, this is my city…..

    • I took it down because I figured out a plan (let’s just say the video worked faster than expected!), and because I received generous hate mail and pseudo-threatening remarks from expats who take a lot of pride in their way of life and don’t take kindly to others with different tastes. These were my first youtube videos… and already I see the world is full of insecure crazies with nothing better to do but stalk and troll. Sheesh. Thanks for the kind feedback though.

  5. It’s funny how opposite this guy is from my own self. I was one of those that ran into the unpaid mess. It’s hard to tell really what is REAL and what is BS in China because there is no system to tell what is a GOOD place and what is not.

    I wanted to stay and I didnt have the money to go home, renew the visa, or pay the fine when expired.

    Truthfully, on a stormy morning, I was caught on my way out of my 900/month dirt cheap apt. I spent 8 days in jail, mom FINALLY sent money to get a ticket home, I was escorted by police everywhere, the police booked me to LA (my home is in Iowa), then ran off with my money. The Embassy argued that I didnt need to pay the fines since I spent 8 days in jail. Technically jail time is used in exchange for the fine. The assistant to the counselor in Shanghai argued with them and told them I cant afford a fine since I have to get to Iowa on 3000 USD.

    Well, the police took 13800 rmb saying that was for the ticket and the 10 day exit visa (which I didnt understand why I couldnt just stick around in a hotel and buy my OWN ticket since my exit visa had 10 days on it). My plan was to go to HK or Japan for about 2 weeks and then return again because I wasnt blacklisted. When back, I would’ve taken my new visa (legal status) and began a business that needs little startup costs.

    I really dont want to sound negative, but who would be running back to the US for a GIRL? The economy is in the toilet. Everything is expensive. No free wifi at airports.

    When I hopped off at LA, the money I had left I exchanged. I was really laughing and the exchange lady kept looking at me like I was crazy. All the money I had was 500 USD. I tried contacting home, but phones were a mess…just trying to remember phone numbers from 2 years ago. When I managed to contact home, luckily mom was in a good mood to book a hotel for me for a night.

    Well, the good mood has passed. Mom and family are back to their old self. “Shut the hell up about China!! Get a damn industrial job because you’ll need to get a loan for a car!”

    My friends are gone. Everyone has moved. Everyone has gotten married.

    Loneliness, boredom, and failure is setting in. I survived cancer, I survived a car accident, and I survived a tornado that went over my head when I was in Wal-Mart. Now I’m trying to survive my family and everyone around here acting like China is as bad as North Korea.

    I’m trying my best to find a way to go back to China, but money is hard to come by in Iowa. Depression is slowly croaching on me.

    I wish mr Youtube luck with his girl and hope he doesnt regret his decision.

    • No matter what the long term outcome with the girl, it will be worth it to return. I will hate myself for a very long time if I don’t follow through and see how things can work out between us. Also, I already know I don’t want to end up in China.

      Interesting stories you have though. Glad I am not the only one who understands how crazy it can be here.

      • Yea, I guess if it were me I would follow through with the girl too. Even though finding a GOOD job in US is hard, at least you can still work simple jobs like Wal-Mart to make money. In China, YOU CANT! Sadly, that’s what did me in. Before, the foreign supermarkets were all operated at all levels by foreigners, but the chinese were cheaper to hire so now it’s all operated by chinese. A little upsetting because their staff doesnt understand english, and it’s impossible for a foreigner to get a job in the stockroom or cashier. I’ve worked retail for 4 years! I dont want to say it’s my SKILL, but I understand it more than teaching english.

        Another thing that upsets me, you need a BA degree practically for anything in today’s world. Unfortunately for me, I changed the last 2 years for a certified field rather than an academic. Computer networking…definitely not my strength.

        Now I’m just trying to deal with the fact that not only did I fail my goals/dreams, but also the US is so…empty now. Everyone started their own lives and moved. I’m past broke, actually in debt to family which is a hard point to try to explain to Chinese (Chinese families are very close and parents pay for the university and usually give the boys a house because it helps them get a gf whom will marry and take care of the boy’s parents later in life). Yea, I know it’s better to be in debt to parents rather than a bank, but it means I cannot do anything until everything’s paid off. So it’s kinda like being grounded. I was cheated, and now I’m grounded for something that wasnt even in my hands to change.

        Besides that, I’ve noticed people are more cautious in the US. In China I could go on any friend/date site and instantly be meeting people for dinner dates or to play tennis. Here…just getting one reply from somebody on a website is unheard of! All my close friends have moved. Even though they know I’m here, they never call. I’ve become non-existant.

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