I’ve Arrived in Beijing – So What’s Next?
So you’ve arrived in Beijing and found your way from your apartment to the school – and even to your classroom! You’ve secured that all-important visa and Residence Permit. What to do now? Will you manage a year in Beijing? What can you plan to do?
- First of all, Teach! You may or may not already have teaching experience, but teaching in China could present new challenges, not least among them a class of Chinese children looking up at you expectantly! But no need to stress. The school will provide you with extensive training on arrival as well as plenty of material to use and before long you’ll be a pro! Remember, you will have a certain celebrity status as a foreign teacher in China, so you can use this to your advantage – this would never be the case back home where the kids would be a lot harder to impress! A few Chinese words or phrases here or there will also add to your popularity. Remember, you will be teaching with a team of foreign teachers, so why not pool your resources, and ideas (what works and what to avoid!) – share the collegial love!
- Secondly, Explore! With this wealth of diverse culture and historic landmarks on your doorstep, you won’t be staying inside watching tv! There are so many things to experience in Beijing; renowned landmarks such as Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, Beihai Park, The Great Wall, The Summer Palace – the list could go on… But why restrict yourself to Beijing? With the high-speed bullet train (how cool does that sound?!) at your disposal, many of the neighbouring cities are all within easy reach.
- Awaken your taste buds! Forget about the old reliable fast-food outlets (though there’s always the occasion where nothing else will do!) and sample the local Chinese cuisine – chopsticks will be mandatory, so you might want to practice in your apartment to improve your technique! The hutongs (the alleyways Beijing is famous for) are great for this type of food with duck, dumplings and a lot of local delicacies on offer. There’s always the Beijing equivalent of the breakfast roll too – try out the “jianbing” – a pancake filled with sausage, egg, onion and lettuce – what more could you want?!
- Learn Chinese! Miming and good gestures will certainly see you through certain situations but why not take this opportunity (and the lessons provided by the school) to learn the world’s most spoken language, Mandarin? It will be a challenge, as even your tone can give a different meaning to a word (for example, the word “xiong mao” for panda can become “chest hair” when said in a different tone!!) but it will be well appreciated by your students and the people you encounter each day. Plus you never know when a little Mandarin might come in useful..!
- Take up a new pass-time – you could try open-air aerobics (why hide away in a gym?!) – or if you think that might be strange, try whip-lashing (yes, striking the ground with a whip!). On the more normal pass-time front, you could try skiing in Shijingshan or join a gym or one of the myriad sports clubs dotted around the city – soccer, running, boxing, kickboxing, martial arts and even a big GAA presence for the Irish among you!
- In terms of night life, Beijing is up there with the best! There are new bars and clubs open each week it seems, with a huge selection to choose from depending on your musical tastes and where you are based in the city. Don’t forget that you and your friends can also try out karaoke, open mic nights (if you play a musical instrument), sports bars which televise a vast range of sports from American football to hurling as well as plenty of other expat social clubs you can join.
- Find your inner daredevil and brave the Beijing streets on a moped! As one of the most populated cities in the world, traffic in Beijing is pretty much busy all day. This might prove a bit hair-raising at times but could save you a good bit of time compared to travelling by bus – and this despite the maximum speed of 50km/hr!! Our teachers’ tips include: check the bike over first before you purchase it, drive safely, wear a helmet and invest in good brakes and a horn! Remember, if you can make it here (on a bike), you’ll make it anywhere, it’s up to you (Beijing, Beijing)!
For more information on our opportunities in Beijing, visit our latest jobs. If you’re thinking of teaching in China but the paperwork is confusing you, check out our article on the application process and be reassured: http://www.teachersforasia.com/thinking-of-teaching-in-china-dont-stress.