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Beijing - first international move help!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by B0018877, Dec 2, 2018.

  1. B0018877

    B0018877 New commenter

    I am about to accept an offer in Beijing.

    This will be my first international move so I obviously have a steep learning curve ahead.

    Does anyone have anything they wish they knew in advance? Anything to watch out for? Any expat groups? Just anything they wish they knew really :)?

    Obviously I will be doing my own research but I’d be daft not to try and tap into the wealth of experience on here.

    Thanks in advance
    StrangePanda and loislane1 like this.
  2. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter

    I would like the same info please :)
    I’ll be moving to Shanghai in the next few months.

    Based from my research, definitely download VPN.
  3. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Prepare clothes for a VERY HOT Summer and a VERY COLD Winter (Beijing)
    StrangePanda and B0018877 like this.
  4. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Join a frequent flyer scheme.
    I left it later than I would with hindsight
    If the school doesn't have a pension scheme make sure you have a plan and are making provision.
    Pay voluntary Ni conts.
    Fill in the paperwork for HMRC (information is on their website and they are excellent over the phone).
  5. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I agree with the above comments, wish I had set up a loyalty card for flights and yes bring clothing for the two extremes. The beijinger is a good expat website. Make sure you bring a pile of cash (maximum allowed is 20,000 RMB) even with reimbursements and good packages you’ll still find money runs away like water during the first settling in period. Shortly prior to arrival, download wechat app and pay for an annual VPN you’ll need to access websites that are blocked. Make sure your vaccinations are updated, ask your doctors for a vaccination history. Each visit to UK I restock cold and flu medicines and deodorants as they are quite limited here. Many lotion products contain whitening here so I bring my own instead. Learn some basic Chinese (although I’m hypocritical saying this - you can survive without it in the big cities). Book holiday flights in advance - during national holidays EVERYONE is on holiday so bookings are expensive. They’ll be many more things I think of as soon as I click reply. Congratulations and enjoy your move to China!
  6. jofox27

    jofox27 New commenter

    Currently living in Beijing, send me a message and I can answer whatever questions you have!
  7. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Although I've not been to China, I agree with @Teachallover that you need cash when you start. Your first few months abroad can be expensive (getting set up in a flat etc) and even a settling in allowance might not cover it.
    B0018877 likes this.
  8. B0018877

    B0018877 New commenter

    I have a bottomless pit of questions at the minute haha!
  9. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    ...and as soon as you get to Beijing download the didi app in English (like uber) and get a Taobao account (like amazon, sort of) - Chinese staff at your school will help with all this.

    Didis are really cheap here - though compared to other places in China they're considered dear in BJ!. If your school is in Shunyi district (where there are many international schools) a trip downtown (about 40 minutes) will cost around 70 Kwai (= approx 7 quid!). Once you order them they usually arrive within 2 - 4 minutes, though it can be longer depending on traffic, time of day etc etc. And you pay for it using your phone, hooked up to your bank account.
    B0018877 likes this.
  10. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Better than Taobao is Baopals - the prices are slightly higher because they seem to charge a commission, but it's in English.

    Bring some basic medication - cold & flu remedies like Lemsip, and ibuprofen (Boots sells them in big boxes of 400mg) as these are difficult to get here and the ones that you can get just aren't as effective. Prescription medication is relatively easy to find but bring as much as you are able to in order to get yourself settled (the NHS will usually prescribe up to 3 months at a time.)

    Bring your credit card / debit card from your home account - getting a bank account set up here can take a while and you will need this to pay for shopping, Didi, etc. Most of the major shops and the expat supermarkets like Jenny Lou's / Jenny Wang's / DD's Market will take foreign cards. Not all bank machines do though - Bank of China does, and their machines have an English option too. Outside of the cities though this may be different and you'll need cash until you can get your WeChat Pay or Alipay set up.
    B0018877 likes this.
  11. StrangePanda

    StrangePanda Occasional commenter

    A towel for when you arrive, until you can get to IKEA. And tampons, if you are female.
    Be prepared for some bonkers roads/taxi journeys.
    B0018877 likes this.
  12. StrangePanda

    StrangePanda Occasional commenter

    Also, if you intend to travel widely, it might be worth looking into vaccinations. I think hep A is a must for many places (obviously not mandated but definitely a very good idea).
    B0018877 and loislane1 like this.
  13. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    I have also just excepted a job in Beijing! Congratulations. :)
    B0018877 likes this.
  14. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Recently this overweight swamp-dweller was visiting his new school in Sofia, where I will be starting in January. There I met two young(ish) teachers who had recently left a school in Beijing. My first question, rather predictably, was, "Is the pollution in Beijing really as awful as everyone says?" Their answer was yes and no. It does seem to depend on where you live and some places are much worse than others. Like the little girl with the curl, the pollution really can be absolutely horrid, they said, but there were plenty of days when there were blue skies and you did not notice all of the muck in the air. These two young (well, just about everyone seems to be young, these days) teachers both said that they did not have any health issues as a result of their time in Beijing. As regular readers of the pachyderm's online ramblings will know well, I am a great believer in "Speak as you find" and so I pass on these pearls of wisdom to anyone thinking of teaching and living in the capital.

    One or two misguided people have wasted their time by reading some nonsense about China on a certain blog called bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com Really this is about Shenzhen and (surprise, surprise) Bulgaria, but it might perhaps be of some interest to those who have never been to the Middle Kingdom and have nothing better to do.
    loislane1 and B0018877 like this.
  15. B0018877

    B0018877 New commenter

    Oh well done! Which school?
    loislane1 likes this.
  16. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Excepted? Maybe not going anywhere ;)
    loislane1 likes this.
  17. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Congrats everyone!!!! I accepted a position in China close to Shenzhen. Working on gathering documents for visa.
    loislane1 likes this.
  18. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    Ah, unable to edit on tes is a pain and so is having dyslexia. :) ACCEPTED
  19. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    I've messaged you.
  20. walkingfred

    walkingfred Occasional commenter

    In Beijing at the moment- a couple of things: if you are remotely large in any department, including feet, bring stuff from home- finding big sizes can be difficult; as already mentioned, buy toiletries and medication at home; it is insanely dry here- good moisturizer and conditioner are musts; I get my pollution masks back in the UK as I don't always trust what I am buying here; definitely download a VPN, and get yourself a Netflix account, and a hard drive full of movies for the days the VPN doesn't work; if you get shipping, you probably won't be able to get it until October- slip some nice treats from home, as by that point it will be getting cold and dark and the homesickness may be kicking in; download Didi, Alipay, WeChat, Trip, and Mobike apps- some of them you won't be able to do anything with until you connect a bank card to, but good to have in advance- try to get WeChat contact details from a new colleague or buddy- and get your family set up on it, too- hard to access Skype and WhatsApp, and WeChat has video calling; learn some basic Chinese- numbers and directions are the most useful- I had an app called Chinese Skill; think about long, cold, dark, sometimes polluted, winter weekends when you are going to be stuck inside- board games, cards, PlayStation etc.; get the most up to date information you can- I have been here for 3 years and it is insane how much it has changed in such a short time. Feel free to message if you have any particular questions.
    Teachallover, loislane1 and B0018877 like this.

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