Arriving in China
What will happen when I arrive at the airport?
When you arrive in China at the airport you'll need to fill in a little yellow immigration entry card with your name, flight number and city. You fill this out and then join a line to enter China just like on any other holiday. Collect your suitcase from the carousel and make your way to Arrivals.
Now I remember being a new teacher myself coming to teach in China and I vividly remember a mixture of confusion, excitement, bewilderment, trepidation and tiredness as I walked towards arrivals just hoping someone would be there because I couldn't speak Chinese and didn't know what to do next. You will feel the same.
Well, the good news was that there was someone from the school waiting for me with my name on a sign – and I can honestly tell you how relieved I felt at seeing her waiting for me. Again, you're going to feel the same!
All of our schools in China have dedicated airport pick-up by a member of staff in the school and they will be there waiting for you as they will know your flight information before hand and will be at Arrivals for you with a friendly smile. You'll then be taken outside to a waiting car and be taken to your new apartment or hotel. It is usual for there to be welcome dinner for you and you can meet the gang, have some hot food and a well-deserved cold beer. Induction training at your school won't start for a day or so, so you can chill and get your feet on the ground.
Will I get a bank account in China?
Yes. Someone from the school will help you to open a new bank account in China so that your monthly salary can be paid in on time. To open the account, all you'll need is your passport. You'll get an ATM card and with this will be able to withdraw money all over China and also abroad.
Can I get a SIM card for China?
Absolutely! SIM cards in China are easy to get and calls are cheap. There are also good packages to choose from depending on how you use your phone, from occasional use to large monthly data packages. WiFi is also absolutely everywhere in China, so if you like using your phone in daily life, then China is a good place to be. Someone from the school can help you to choose the right package for you and can show you how to top-up credit in China.
Are there bus cards in China?
Getting the bus in China is insanely cheap and buses are frequent. You can either pay with notes or coins by dropping the money into a slot next to the bus driver, or more conveniently, get a bus card which you swipe when getting on the bus. You'll not only save money on the bus in China but avoid the hassle of finding small change. What's more, if your city has the metro then you can use this card on the underground too. Again, someone can help you to get a travel card and can help you to top up too.
What is WeChat?
WeChat is an absolute essential mobile app for your smart phone in China. It's like WhatsApp on steroids! There is an estimated 500 million people in China using WeChat to stay connected with friends and it is important that you download this before coming to China or after you get to China. WeChat in China allows you to send chat, messages, photos, short videos, web links all like WhatsApp can, but with the added benefit of having a FaceBook like 'wall' where you can add your China photos and videos to document and timeline your stay in China.
WeChat also allows you to book tickets, transfer and receive money, order food, order taxis, show locations within the city if you are lost and a whole other bunch of cool benefits to the user. Quite simply, WeChat knocks WhatsApp out of the park so be sure to down WeChat on your mobile phone. WeChat is available both on Android and iOS.