Once the summer has passed by, and you have said goodbyes to friends and family, with your paper work in order you’re now all set to head off on your new adventure!
Below we have created a brief outline based on our past experiences of what you should expect upon arrival in China and a few hints and tips:
Please bear in mind that different schools will have different procedures.
What to bring
Packing your entire life into a suitcase can be a very daunting and stressful task. Our recommendation would be… don’t! Bring the essentials, clothes, toiletries and things that you just can’t live without but remember that you are not heading off to the wilderness. Chinese cities cater very well to foreign tastes and you can find everything here. Every city has an Ikea where you can pick up essentials and home furnishings. Supermarkets are always easily reached and big brand supermarkets such as Carrefour are a one stop for all your needs (Kitchen utensils etc.) Also remember that your apartment will be fully furnished so think twice before you choose to ship that heavy chest of drawers from the U.K.!
When moving from one country to another sometimes it will be necessary to ship items of furniture and things that you have picked up on your travels. Be mindful that this can be very costly and a long lengthy process so only ship things that you are happy to live without for a few months.
When shipping items to China, please bear in mind you will only be able to pick up your items once you have your residents permit (See below for more information). Whilst you are waiting for your residents permit you could be charged a storage fee for your shipping which could prove costly, so if you absolutely must ship items to China think about when to send them.
Upon arriving at your destination, you will be picked up by a representative from your school at the airport. Look out for a sign with the school name or maybe even yours. You will then be taken directly to your accommodation. There may even be others on your flight so if you have been put in touch in advance, it might be good to catch up at the airport or if you have a layover.
Welcome to your new home! Your apartment will be fully furnished with all of the mod cons you need to get you started. Furniture is provided and will be to a Western standard, with beds, sofas, tables, drawers etc. Your school should provide you with bedding, pillows and sheets as well as enough kitchen utensils for you to cook a simple meal. Apartments will all have a fridge/freezer and hobs.
Remember, if you do need to buy any extras to keep receipts as your contract may stipulate that you may use your relocation allowance to claim these back.
The first few days are spent meeting your new colleagues and exploring your surrounding environment. No doubt you will visit the school and be treated to a few meals and tours. The first few days can be quite draining especially if you suffer from jet lag. Most evening outings and excursions will be optional so do not feel obliged to participate in everything if you feel like you need to rest. Remember you have plenty of time. However, this first week is a great opportunity to get used to your new environment so try to make the most of what is offered to you if you can.
If you are coming from outside of China, as part of the process of applying for your residents permit you are obliged to undergo a medical in China. This is usually done in the first few days upon arrival. Your school will make all these arrangements on your behalf so you don’t need to prepare anything for this.
Obtaining a resident’s permit
Once your medical is complete and your foreign expert certificate has been prepared by your HR department, you will then have to hand in your passport so that your visa is changed to a resident’s permit. On average this takes about a month. You will also be handed a document by your HR office which enables you to travel around China without a passport during this time but please be aware that you will not be able to exit the country with this. Don’t worry you will get your passport back before any holidays, however if you do have any essential travel plans check with your HR department before making any arrangements.
Bank set up
As part of the orientation process you will be taken to a bank where you will be assisted in setting up a bank account in which your monthly salary will be paid into. Most banks have English online banking which is useful for checking your account.
You will be given the opportunity to set up standing orders to pay money into your English account. This is usually done after you have been in country for a month or so. Take the first month to figure out how much you will be wanting to spend. A common error is to send too much money home and then end up running out of money by the end of the month and having to withdraw money from your English account and incurring the costs from currency exchange and foreign withdrawal charges.
Mobile phone set up
This is also done in the first week, you will be taken to a mobile phone shop and assisted in either buying a SIM for your existing phone (ensure that it is unblocked) or getting a phone package with a new phone. People usually bring their own phones from the UK and buy a pay as you go SIM you can very easily top this up.
Before leaving the UK, it is recommended to download a VPN (Virtual Private Network) onto your computer and any device you are planning to bring. As you may know a lot of social media sites are blocked in China and this is a very cheap and efficient way to get around this. We can recommend using Express VPN.