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Moving to teach in Beijing

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Mw223, Mar 28, 2019.

  1. Mw223

    Mw223 New commenter

    I've been teaching 3 years in London and I've just accepted a job at an international British school in Beijing and I'll be moving out there this August on a 2-year contract. I'm really excited but also a little apprehensive about moving out there alone and making new friends, language barriers, etc. I'm just wondering if anyone else is about to move out there too or has recently moved out there?
  2. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I'm here now - have PM'd you.
  3. StrangePanda

    StrangePanda Occasional commenter

    Is it a school that is known for hats or another one with a school in London?

    I moved to Beijing after three years in the UK system and (thought it was a few years ago now) it was a great experience. Beijing isn't the easiest place to get around at first, but it is interesting and you soon learn how to do things/where to get things you need. Generally, international schools are very sociable places and you will find a good group of friends/others in the same position, so don't worry.
  4. TusitalaH

    TusitalaH New commenter

    My boyfriend and I are moving in August too. Excited and nervous, but excitement is leading atm. I'm going crazy with research! Kind of just want to get there now.
  5. MissTilscher

    MissTilscher New commenter

    I'm heading there in August, from Thailand. Drop me a message if you want to chat!
  6. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    We were in Beijing for two years (around 5 years ago) and quite enjoyed it. It can be bit on the rough side (e.g. people, infrastructure, etc.) compared to some place like Tokyo but still mostly enjoyable on a day to day basis.

    If you will be on a good package then financially you should be fine/do well. Much will depend on the quality of the school and your housing situation. If you are happy with your housing without having to go out of pocket then all should be well.

    Many schools are out by the airport in a type of expat bubble suburb, around an hour (give or take) from more downtown, central Beijing. I taught out that way and it was just fine (e.g. good restaurants, shopping, some greenish spaces, etc.). Not much in the way of nightlife, but we didn't really need that. Nightlife, more cosmopolitan, historical attractions were generally located more centrally.

    You could live more centrally but face a long commute if your school is out west. We decided to live more in between as my spouse taught in the southern part of the city and it worked out well for us. We had a very nice 180 sq meter flat in a secure, western style complex with a gym/pool and a gourmet market in the lobby, and good restaurants in walking distance in a more authentic Chinese neighborhood/area. We were around 30 minutes by taxi from each school and only 10 minutes from some of the more expat friendly, western style entertainment areas (like San Li Tun), the huge park area where they had Olympic volleyball (Chaoyang Park) and 30 minutes from historic interests (Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven).

    Transportation can also be a drain on finances and a source of frustration. The subway had limited utility back then so check out where the stations are now. If you can make more use of subway and less use of taxis, it would be better for your wallet and mental health. We had to take taxi's most places which was fine after a while but having to catch one and getting them to understand and agree to take you where you wanted to go was always a bit of a question mark/stress. It worked out fine in most cases but when it didn't (Monday morning in the rain, Friday evening after a great meal and you just want to go home), it could lead to thoughts of violence. We ended up finding a driver and arranging daily pick up and drop off at school for a little cheaper than individual taxis would have been which made life much more predictable and enjoyable.

    Utilities were generally paid and re-upped using charge cards (with meters/recharge slots in your flat). We ran out of everything at least once while we were there but it was fairly convenient for paying bills and tracking expenses once you got used to it. Paying rent involved taking large amounts of cash out of the ATM and taking it the landlord's bank which was strange a little unnerving the first few times but fine after that.

    We found the people to be generally friendly or indifferent to us. There was some curiosity and interest that could be uncomfortable for some people (especially it involved young blonde children) but it was mostly of the harmless, kind of fun type (seeing who would get more requests to take pictures with you when you went to see the Great Wall).

    All in all, it was a fine/good posting for a few years. We made some good friends and saw some amazing cultural sites (everything in and around Beijing plus caught a night train to Xian to see the Terra Cotta warriors).

    Obviously others' experiences/perceptions may vary.
  7. Mw223

    Mw223 New commenter

    Thanks to everyone for their advice/ experiences! They’ve been pretty inciteful. I’m really looking forward to it. If anyone else is flying out this summer feel free to PM me and maybe we can share stresses/ thoughts lol
  8. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Warning. Get all of that rioting out of your system now. They don't take kindly to any kind of protests (or likening their current leader to Winnie the Pooh, apparently).
    suem75 and blueskydreaming like this.
  9. suem75

    suem75 Occasional commenter

    I'm heading to Beijing too, and have sent you a pm :)
  10. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Public transport is very cheap here (especially buses) as are DIDI taxis (like Uber).

    From Shunyi (where many of the Intl. schools are) to downtown will set you back approx:

    By bus: 2 kuai...or 20p...or 30c. You can buy a travel card called a yi-ke-tong and recharge it at subway stations, or use the app on your phone

    By subway: 5-6 kuai...or 50-60p...or 70-80c

    By DIDI taxi: 80 kuai...or 8 GBP...or around 10 dollars...not bad for a 50-minute journey! You install the app on your phone, put in when you want to go from/to, and usually get picked up within a few minutes. And don't worry - it's all in English!

    Locals say that Beijing taxis are dear compared to other parts on China, but then salaries generally reflect this.

    You can also hire a car with driver (not a taxi) for a half/full day. We hired one to see the Great Wall. He took us at 7am, waited there for us, and brought us back around 3pm for 400 kuai (40 GBP)
  11. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    Well, now the worst pollution in the world is in Chiang Mai, so Beijing must be loving that.
  12. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Subway in Beijing has expanded hugely I think since wrldtrvlr123 was here. You can pretty much get anywhere in the city for around 6RMB (about 80p) though prepare for it to take a while if you need to change trains.
    spanboy likes this.
  13. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, I have heard from one or two sources that the air pollution is not quite so bad these days.
  14. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Yep...quite a walk between one line and another at some transfer stations. Not like the London tube where you practically fall out of one line onto the next :)
  15. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    You've obviously never used the Bakerloo line :eek:
  16. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Not being a southerner my experience of the L.U. is limited, but the times I have been there I've found changes of line pretty easy. In Beijing, just about every transfer on every line is a major hike, involving long underground tunnels and/or over-road bridges, and not all have escalators in the 'up' direction.
  17. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I love the Beijing bus network. Many expats don’t seem to consider it but just use Apple maps from and to and I find they’re marvelous for cross city travel. Also at 1¥ a journey (all those Didi journeys start adding up) with bilingual announcements it’s easy. Avoid rush hour traffic just like all other transport.
    spanboy likes this.
  18. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    Yes me too! Went from Shunyi to Pearl Market yesterday and back again (subway + bus combo) for 14 kuai! I see a few laowei on the subway but hardly ANY on buses. Where I and many colleagues live, many of them don't even know how to get to the nearest subway or mall by bus...they ALWAYS use didi. I often just get on a bus at weekends and see where it goes. With my yiketong card the most it's gonna cost is a couple of kuai each way, and I get to see suburbs I never knew existed! Bargain! And...it's also helped me greatly with recognizing characters on the LED displays like: 顺义 (Shunyi), 下一站 (next stop) etc etc. I can now just about read bus timetables in mandarin (for those who don't know, each bus stop shows all stops of a route, but they are always in characters, never pin yin, except for the starting/finishing points.) All the different Chinese people you see too on the buses haha...but still not too keen on the drivers with their retching and gobbing out their side window every couple of minutes lol!
    Teachallover likes this.
  19. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    The buses are great. Took the bus for the first time recently from near me to IKEA pretty much door to door - though no changes on that! My Chinese still isn't good enough for anything more, though.

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