Teachers have a lot of different ideas about what life in Beijing will be like. Some are anticipating cultural differences and making the transition, while others are busy preparing the list of destinations and attractions they’ve long wanted to visit; Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City – the list could go on. Either way, you need to be prepared for a cultural adventure like no other!
There really is no substitute for experiencing a new country and city for yourself and both China and specifically Beijing certainly bear this out. Our teachers in Beijing certainly testify to this. The cultural diversity is on view at every turn; from visiting ancient temples to witnessing people burning fake money on the streets (sending wealth to ancestors who have passed away) to watching nightly “granny discos” in the local parks to exploring the hutongs (narrow alleyways) that Beijing is famous for – with hidden gems at every turn.
Chinese Visa Application
Obviously to be prepared for moving to Beijing, there is the necessary paperwork to be done, namely the process of applying for a visa to work in China. This visa application process is made a lot simpler by having help from the professionals; once you have signed a contract with the school, they issue you with an invitation letter and apply for your initial work permit. These, together with your standard visa documents, form the basis of your application for the Z visa, which you then apply for at your local Chinese Embassy or Consulate. The process is completed upon your arrival in China when the school will assist you in applying for the full Residence Permit.
It can be confusing knowing what to bring with you to China – you don’t want to pack the proverbial kitchen sink and then pay a fortune in excess baggage! For tips on what to pack, check our tips on packing your bags for China. Another key component for preparing for the move to China, is to develop a liking for Chinese food and an ability to use chopsticks as although the fast food chains are open for business in Beijing – like any other modern city – Chinese food is more accessible, cheaper and certainly part of the cultural experience! However, our teachers do assure us that cravings for “Western” food can be met – while others have their parcels of chocolate or crisps sent out to Beijing!
Learning the Chinese Language
You may be worried about learning the language before you travel to China, but many schools provide Chinese lessons for their teachers and this is certainly a big help. You will probably also develop your acting skills as you improve your gestures, mime and drawing skills as a means of communication! The language barrier will not present a problem in school, however, as assistant Chinese teachers are often on hand to assist you.
Travelling Around Beijing
Many people are concerned about the public transport in China and how they will manage to get around with the crowds of people and the language barrier. However, our teachers have been pleasantly surprised to find the subway system in Beijing easy to master and the signage in English. Like in other Asian cities, getting around unscathed can be a challenge or an adventure, (depending on your point of view), with personal space at a premium especially at rush hour! The advantages of being able to get anywhere in the city on the subway, cheaply and quickly, though, far outweigh the perils.
Beijing is a major city and does make the news regarding air quality – this can be a factor on some days in the year; on other days the sun is shining and the skies are blue. So many of our teachers have commented that pollution wasn’t a major issue and they were able to go for their run and carry on as normal.
As one of our teachers in Beijing has commented, “I wish I could go back and reassure myself during those days before the move that I would not regret coming here – that I would see more of the world, have great new experiences and make wonderful new friends”. Come to Beijing and experience it all for yourself!