Moving somewhere new can be exciting and scary at the same time. With the many ‘what-ifs’ and countless doubts, it can be a bit overwhelming. While there are something aspects of moving somewhere new that are hard to prepare for, there are some things that you can do in order to be ready for this transition.
While some companies and schools in China now have websites, blogs, and other social media platforms that help connect prospective teachers with the community; this was not the case when I first moved to China. The only research I could do was a couple of expat YouTube videos and my recruiter’s answers. If you’re feeling at a loss for information look no further. Keep on reading to find out some things that I wish I knew before moving to China.
- Almost anything you are craving from home can be ordered online
I brought one suitcase of deodorant because a YouTube video I watched claimed that it was impossible to get normal deodorant here. While certain things are harder to get in shops, you can find nearly everything you want online. There is Taobao and several expat-focused online shops that cater to getting us what we want. Whether it be a bag of Hot Cheetos, a shampoo you like, or clothing that fits, you can find it. WeChat groups that cater to larger clothing sizes, shoe sizes, and expat imports exist too. We have our own community and we manage to get what we want. Whether you’re a South African craving boerewors and Aromat, a Brit that is longing for Percy Pigs or a Canadian that just wants some ketchup chips, I promise you can find it! It will definitely cost you more money than it does for home, but there is no price too high for the comforts of home.
- Learn some Chinese
While this one seems super obvious, not enough of us take is seriously. Take Chinese classes, get a Chinese tutor, or at least get Rosetta Stone. Knowing the basics really changes your quality of life. While it is easy to find a Chinese teacher once you’re here and you will learn some Chinese naturally, it really does help to have some experience before you get here.
- It safe here, very safe!
It is a bit difficult to get information about China when you’re outside of the country. Something that every expat can confirm is how safe China seems to be. The crime rate is very low in comparison to our home countries and you can feel it. Just the other week I left my phone at a shop, came back 2 hours later, and it was still in the exact spot I left it. When you are traveling to any of the beautiful places in China you don’t feel scared to be pick pocketed or that taxi drivers will rip you off. For the most part people are honest and kind.
- People come and go
This one might seem very obvious to some people but my first year was a bit of shock when it came to making friends. One month I was getting close to someone and the next they are gone. This is the nature of expat life. Be prepared to make some super close connections and friendships but don’t get used to having them there (physically) forever. While this might seem sad it actually creates some great opportunities to have friends all over the world. My closest group of friends were all together in China for over 2 years and thanks to technology and social media we still keep up with each other very often, schedule video calls, and consider our friendship to be special and sacred.
Moving to China is full of surprises and wonderful experiences. Don’t be scared of the unknown just hop in and enjoy the wonderful, exciting, unique ride.
By Christian Lopez