I just wanted to make a public post letting you know that this blog will be active again, because I have started a new adventure in China but in a new city. This year I will be working at another university in Hangzhou.
I will be honest and say that I did not update as much as I said I would in June mainly because it was super busy and difficult. Although my last classes ended in early June, I decided that I wanted to come back and teach ESL again in Hangzhou. As I came to my decision in May, I spent all of June moving from Bengbu to an apartment they let me keep everything in for the summer. In addition, I was working with the foreign contact teacher at my new school to renew my VISA. Oh boy was that an adventure.
If you are current foreign teacher in China, the best time to look for new jobs starts in April and May. Here is a breakdown of my experience of my VISA renewal for Hangzhou.
1. Sign the contract, but not before negotiating on edits and changes.
Without getting too into it, I’ll give a general summary and advice on this one. As a foreign teacher who decided to stay for another year, I was on the hunt for a good university job before my contract and VISA ended on June 30th. Once I found a good job, I added my personal changes to the contract (for example, keeping the working hours consistent). I basically emailed back and forth with the foreign contract teacher with firm opinions and concerns but maintaining professional language. After our negotiations, I signed the contract and sent every signed page by scanning and emailing them.
- Don’t sign a contract that makes you feel uncomfortable. After all, normally these contracts last for ten months.
-If you apply for jobs before your current contract and VISA ends, many school representatives will rush your decision to sign the contract. Sometimes they want teachers to sign it blindly but often, they want to submit your VISA for renewal before you return home.
- Sometimes, schools won’t agree with all of your changes. I found that most schools will be just as firm about their reluctance to certain contract changes. I found the best solution is to negotiate changes so you get near to what you want. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with what you disagree on even with negotiations, go ahead and continue looking.
2. VISA Renewal and other Preparation
Once the contract was signed, I had to get quite a few things prepared. That included but was not limited to digging up my recent health forms to apply for health insurance, submitting two ID photos of myself (forgot why) to the school, submitting copies of my former VISA and letting go of my passport so I could have my VISA renewed and residency in Hangzhou established.
Usually I would have to send all of the VISA renewal materials by snail mail but since the high speed railway has trains from Bengbu to Hangzhou, I decided to travel to Hangzhou so I could also start moving my belongings to my new apartment. Once in Hangzhou, I went with the school representative to the Police station where I had my picture taken and submitted my paperwork and passport. Since I had a flight on July 1, the school covered the costs to speed up the renewal process so I could have my passport with me and ready.
Overall I found the process to be simple and the only stress I had was whether I could get my passport in time. Luckily I got it back with time to spare.
Advice: The VISA Renewal isn’t difficult as long as you submit everything when the school asks for it. They really want the VISA done before you go home and you’ll feel so much better once it’s done and over.
3. Moving, the most stressful part.
So once I signed my contract, I was given permission to start moving my belongings into my new apartment and leave it there over the summer. I took two trips to Hangzhou to bring all of my stuff in suitcases.
As I said goodbye to all of my students, Amy, Kang Kang, Bamboo, Qian Qian and Chun Mei came to my apartment. I told them I was officially leaving at 9 am. They instantly decided to come see me off at the station. Not only did they help drag both my suitcases and carry-on but they even brought me breakfast.
These are some of the greatest people that I have met not just in China but in all of my travels. They are some of the most well-rounded and generous people I have encountered. I personally invited them to come out to visit me in Hangzhou.
I realize that I could have paid for a moving company but I was determined to fit everything into bags since I was making the trips to drop off my passport and get my passport back. Surprisingly shoving my way with suitcases onto the train was not the most stressful part of moving.
Remember my bike?
So I decided that I wanted to bring my bike with me to Hangzhou. The only question was how. I either had the choice to take off the front wheel and then driving it onto the train. However, from the Hangzhou East Station, I had to get on the subway to go to my new location and of course, the subway does not allow bikes. So how did I do it you ask?
After having three moving companies refuse to transport my bike in fear of damaging it, Matt recommended a company he used for moving which I had another friend, Lucia call for me in Chinese. They said yes but said that shipping bikes would cost at least 500 yuan.
Reluctantly agreeing to the price, I removed the front wheel and then Lucia and I met with the movers to put the bike in the truck. Once I filled out the forms, they told Lucia that they would evaluate the cost of the bike and have the shipping cost half. Knowing the original price, I was totally upset with having to pay higher than 800 yuan.
Later Lucia called me to tell me the shipping price. 374 yuan. 374 YUAN! I couldn’t believe it! I was over the moon and so thankful for her help and Matt’s recommendation.
Lucia didn’t stop there, she continued to be the communicator between the movers and I so the bike would be delivered to the right location. So after all the time and effort and stress of having Blue Panda shipped, it finally came.
- Get a moving company to help you. I didn’t get a moving company since I was able to fit everything into two suitcases and two to three carry-on’s but if you have more, get your Chinese friend to help and call movers.
- Start packing early.
- Ask for help. I couldn’t have had this successful move without the help of friends. Whether it was recommending a company to me, translating or assisting me in physically getting on the train, everyone has skills to offer and are willing to do what they can.
Anyways, I just wanted to update on what I’m doing. Keep a look out for another post soon!