Quarantine upon arrival in China has become a regular procedure since 2020. During the pandemic, foreign nationals and Chinese citizens arriving in the country have to undergo mandatory quarantine and self-health monitoring. From the 28th of September, 2020 to the 5th of November 2020, the Chinese government temporarily allowed all foreign nationals with a residence permit for work, personal matters, and reunion to return to China. This was great news for all the people that had been separated from their friends, families, and lives in China for many months due to Covid-19. Everybody who arrived in China during that time had to quarantine for two weeks to minimize the number of imported cases.  We asked some of our i2 Education teachers who were able to return to China during that period about their experiences. They have shared their tips and thoughts on how to get through the quarantine period.


Came back to: Kunming

Came back in: October 2020

When and how did you know you could come back to China?

i2 Education’s Foreign Affairs Manager called me as soon as the government had released the news, it was 4 am for me at that time. I had been outside of China since the 20th of January 2020. I immediately started preparing for my return to Kunming and a few days later I flew to Qingdao.”

How was the trip back?

“At the time, I had to take a test within 72 hours of departure, now the rules are stricter. They took a swab from the back of my throat and one from my nose. I needed to get the test results notarized by the Chinese embassy. Luckily, this was possible through email. When I was about to leave, flights got canceled, but I was able to find another one. Upon arrival in Qingdao, I could see that China was taking the situation very seriously. The airport staff was all wearing hazmat suits and my bags and other belongings were disinfected. Then I had to take a blood test and another nose swab. After this, a bus which was totally covered with plastic on the inside brought me to the hotel where I would have to quarantine.”

What were the hotel and the quarantine process like?

“Upon arrival at the hotel, everybody had to register and pay the fees that covered our stay and the meals. After the registration process, we went to separate rooms where we would stay for the remainder of the two weeks. We were not allowed to leave our rooms. I stayed in a standard hotel room with a TV, a bed, a table, and an Internet connection.

All the important information was shared through a WeChat group. There was no face-to-face interaction, even our meals were dropped off at the door. If I needed anything, I could order it through WeChat. Then on the 3rd and 11th day, we had to take another test.”

What did you do on an average day?

“I would wake up early and do a little workout. Then I would eat my breakfast and watch the news about the elections in the United States. I had brought my laptop, so I could watch Netflix and play video games. And that’s about it, it was very relaxed.”

How did you feel about the quarantine? Did you have any difficulties?

“Not really, I luckily didn’t have any big issues during the quarantine period. Everything was pretty straightforward and the hotel staff was really helpful. Besides that, our Foreign Affairs Manager also helped me tremendously. The only thing that was a bit frustrating was that I couldn’t leave my room. Although, I knew that we had to do it for our own safety and the safety of the people around us, so I didn’t really mind. The days went by relatively quickly and having to quarantine allowed me to get used to the different time zone.”

Do you have any tips for anyone having to quarantine?

“Bring your own coffee, haha! Make sure you prepare enough things to do, like movies, video games, or some snacks from home that you like to eat. If you come well prepared, it’s really not that big of a deal.”


Came back to: Taiyuan

Came back in: December 2020

When and how did you find out you could come back to China?

“I found out that the borders reopened online. At that time, I was still working for another school. They helped me with finding out how I could come back. I didn’t want to stay with this school, so they then helped me with the transfer to i2 Education. I eventually flew back in December 2020.”

How was your trip back?

“I had some problems getting back, as my first flight was canceled without prior notice. It was difficult to find a new flight because I needed to get a nucleic acid test and an antibody test within 48 hours before the departure. So, I couldn’t fly back on certain days, because the test results wouldn’t be back in time. Luckily, I managed to find a flight about one week later. The flight was pretty empty, people were not sitting next to each other and we were all wearing masks. Some people even wore full hazmat suits. I wasn’t too worried about getting the virus on the plane, because of all the strict testing we had to go through.

When we landed in China, everything got disinfected. We all had to fill in a form that ruled out if we were in any way a potential risk to the people in China. After that, we had to take another nucleic acid test, and then we were allowed to go through customs. It was all done very efficiently and carefully. After customs, a bus brought us to our hotel for quarantine.”

What were the hotel and the quarantine process like?

“At the hotel, everything was disinfected once more. They gave us all the information we needed and then brought us to our rooms. We could contact the hotel staff through WeChat if we needed anything. At this point, the i2 Education staff also helped me a lot. During our stay, everybody was tested twice. I think I got tested a total of 10 times in the process of returning to China. During my quarantine, I stayed in a nice single bedroom which had everything I needed. Even though I was not allowed to leave my room, I felt that it was okay and I wasn’t bothered by it. They had organized everything really well, so there wasn’t really a need to leave the room.”

What did you do on an average day?

“I would wake up around 5 am, because I was still used to my old sleep schedule. Then I would do some research about podcasts I had listened to and play brain games on my phone. Afterward, I would have breakfast, do some reading, and work out a bit. I would also listen to podcasts and then research the topics that interested me further. Then I’d usually have lunch and read a book, study Chinese, and journal or meditate.”

How did you feel about the quarantine? Did you have any difficulties?

“Actually, I was just really happy that I could return to China. I knew it was a step in the process and so I didn’t mind. It was even nice in a way, because I had no obligations, so I could spend more time on things that I usually don’t have time for. It also helped me adjust to a different sleep schedule. It was definitely not as bad as I had expected. The hardest part about it was the emotional roller coaster in the beginning when my flight got canceled.”

Do you have any tips for anyone having to quarantine?

“My biggest tip would be to go into it with an open mindset, let whatever happens just happen. This way you prevent disappointment. I think it’s also good to create a routine for yourself or set some goals for this time. I don’t think I have been bored for even one moment. My last tip is to bring something to work out with. You will feel much better if you can keep yourself fit. I put some resistance bands on the outside of my suitcase, so they didn’t even take up any space.”

In conclusion

As the virus still has the world in its grip, many countries try their best to contain it while also allowing people to return home. Since we don’t know how long it will take, the best we can do for now is to be mindful of our safety and that of others around us. i2 Education also wants to ensure the safety of the students and teachers. Therefore, all the teachers that return to China will self-quarantine at home after arriving in their city. During this period, i2 Education provides teachers with food and helps them with other things they might need. After the self-quarantine, the teachers will take one final nucleic acid test.

Although it might seem difficult, quarantine helps countries to minimize the number of imported cases. On the other hand, with the right preparation, quarantine can be a positive time to take a break or focus on personal growth. In the end, when in our adult lives do we get the opportunity to really not have any obligations? You could finally take the time to read that book that’s been on your list forever, take an online class, or finish some work that you never had time for. Websites like Udemy, Domestika, Skillshare, and Coursera offer amazing online courses that cover many fields. You could also search Youtube or Youku for online workouts or interesting movies and documentaries.

We would like to hear from you. Have you had to quarantine during this pandemic?  What are your thoughts on it?

By Eline Schaap