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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!

I have been looking through the threads but can't find answers to all of my questions, I will give you some background information with actual questions in bold.

So, I am a British student looking at a program to teach English in China for a year after studies. I do not yet know where I will be located, I know that a lot of things will vary depending on location but all I know is that I will not be eligible for the Beijing or Shanghai posts as I do not have enough teaching experience.

I have a daughter who will be 4/5 at the time and I am hoping to get her into Chinese kindergarten (for cultural benefits as well as finances) but my research puts me at a dead end with regards of expected costs and enrolment (I will only be in China a couple of weeks before starting as a teacher but I may have help from the program in placing her) and I was also wondering if the children are expected/encouraged to use chopsticks and the squatting toilets as I think my daughter may find that the hardest to adapt to. She also has a nut allergy and I'm wondering what problems that might lead to...

I was wondering how much roughly living will be as after kindergarten I'm not expecting to have loads of money left (through the program we get £100 a week with free accommodation and utilities)

I'm a tall woman (5'9) of [British] average build (UK 16) and slightly large feet (UK8) so I'm not expecting to have a lot of clothing available to me so I was wondering what type clothes I should bring with me to last a year? I know weather goes from very hot to very cold but are there any specific pieces that I should bring that I won't be able to buy while there?

Anything else I should know about living in China that I have most likely overlooked? I have done quite a bit of research but I'm sure I've overlooked a lot of things.

Any information you can give will be appreciated and help towards my planning. I have about a year and a half to really make up my mind about taking the opportunity and right now all of the benefits outweigh the costs. Even just knowing about potential issues mean that I can think of ways to overcome them before getting into a position where it's too late.
 

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1. Not sure about kids education.

2. Living cost

Assumptions:
- tier 1 or tier 2 large cities but not SH or BJ
- clean, comfortable living, not "corporate high flyer" type.

Budget:
- Rent: 5000 - 10000/m
- Electricity, water, gas, etc: 500-1500/m
- Travel (some taxi, some public transport, you don't live too far from where u need to go regularly): 1000-2000/m
- Food: for reference, per head, 10 for Maccas/KFC breakfast, 20-50 for a decent regular work lunch or simple everyday dinner, 100 for a good full course dinner in a chinese restaurant, 200 for a western dinner. Good Chinese food is not pricey. Average Western food is very overpriced.

Clothes: can buy anything you need here. What to bring depends on the city you're going to.

Overlooked: medical & health insurance. Very important.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rent and bills (excluding telephone) are covered by the school and I know my estimates for medical/health insurance :)

Thank you for the food estimates, very useful! I intend to immerse ourselves into the culture so it will be mostly Chinese food although I'm hoping to do some [Chinese style] home cooking more often than not

I was under the impression that as a fat giant (5ft9/48 inch bust/40 inch hips/10.3 inch feet) I would have difficulty finding clothes and shoes to fit me
 

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Hi Laura,

There are actually a lot of places to buy clothes that would fit you. Shoes can be a little harder. As for what to bring, it varies a lot from city to city - if you are in the north, you'll need cold weather clothes, the south is pretty warm all year round.

One thing you will want to bring, randomly enough, is tampons. You can't really get them in China. Also roll on deoderant.

Chopsticks they teach children quite young here - they have special ones for children to get them used to it. The nut allergy could be an issue as it's not common here and I think they use nuts in a lot of cooking. I would recommend she carry a card to show people with the Chinese on it. Also make sure you let her school and everyone she will be with know and reiterate the point a lot.

You get used to the squatty potties pretty quickly so I don't imagine it will be an issue. A lot of places have Western toilets as well but the Chinese prefer the squatties because they think it's more hygenic not to share a seat. I don't know if that's true or not as some squatties look pretty disgusting to me!

Banking could be a problem. If you want to transfer money home, it can be difficult and also, banking isn't centralised. If you open your bank account in shanghai and then lose your card, you can only get a new one by returning to Shanghai. It can be frustrating.

Medical insurance is important too. There are VIP sections of most hospitals in bigger cities but the cost is higher.

I would actually estimate travel around a city as much less than 1000RMB/month if you use public transport. Even taxis are a lot cheaper outside Beijing and Shanghai.

Make sure you check you are getting the right kind of visa. Working illegally can lead to deportation and not all companies follow the correct process. Double check that your company is fulfilling all the legal requirements before you take a job and never use an agent for emplyment as they often rip you off.

I can't tell you about kindergarten prices, I'm afraid but it sounds like an amazing experience for you and your daughter!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great response Rainbow99! Near enough everything I could have hoped for and very reassuring and encouraging :D

I had read about the tampon and deodorant thing elsewhere so I think I will make a big point of having those in our packing

I have now ordered some learner chopsticks from eBay for us to practice with so that we aren't completely clueless when we get there, I have some normal chopsticks for us to move on to once we get the hang of it too. I expected nuts/nut oils to be used in a lot of cooking so the card is a brilliant idea!

I can see the logic in squatting toilets as seeming more hygienic; if you aren't touching anything you cant catch anything (although we know a lot of health threats can be airborne)

The bank is interesting, definitely one for me to look into more once I'm there

I don't intend to do much travelling as we will be living more or less on campus and I hope to be lucky enough to have everything within walking distance. I am planning on a massive trip around China during our Chinese New year break and from what I've read it should be interesting to see just how much goes to plan - as long as we get back to our home before the end of our allotted time I'm not too bothered as it's all part of the experience

I'm really looking forward to this! :D even if I am really ahead on my planning haha
 

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Glad to have helped!

I would make sure that the card about nuts is really specific as to the consequences. I'm allergic to mayonnaise and no matter how many times I tell people, they'll still give me mayonnaise unless I'm really, really clear as to the consequences (and my allergy isn't nearly as severe as I imagine your dayghter's to be).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, I can imagine people are a bit oblivious toward allergies, I think of them as a very Western thing haha. My daughter's allergy is surprisingly not so severe for a nut allergy, so we're all hoping it's one that she grows out of (we have a test every year to check), if so then that major concern won't be an issue any more :)
 

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Hi Laura,

First and most important, RECONSIDER whatever school it is you are looking at teaching with! 100 pound a week only comes to less than 1000 a week and that is a huge rip of considering you are a foreigner! Experienced or not many many schools will hire you simply because you are a foreigner, and they want a face to show. Not sure why exactly you are considering this program, is it because it's something your school offers?

Anyway, I know a couple of schools you can contact about jobs and if you are interested feel free to send me a private message and I can give you e-mail addresses to the Directors of those schools. It will pay a bit more and I have worked for one of them personally for over 4 years and have not been disappointed. Plus they can really help you with everything to do with your daughter as well. Down to just researching schools for you to find out the best one to suit your needs.

As for clothes, you are right that it is difficult to find clothes sometimes, and I think it's best to come prepared. No matter where you go in China (I live more towards the South in a province called Zhejiang) the winters are quite cold (to me, but my British friend seems to handle them a lot better than I do!), and you will definitely be needing some lined leggings, thermals, and a nice thick winter jacket. But also, summers are sweltering hot (if you are in the South) so pack plenty of tanks, shorts, dresses, and skirts. Anything that is cool and light.

It is difficult to find clothes, but not impossible. There is online shopping on websites like Taobao (which you can get the automatic translator on Google Chrome, and it makes shopping easier). I'm sure any of your new co-workers would help you to figure out how to shop online once you got there. That's my go-to website for all of my clothing needs.

Another tip I would suggest, especially considering you are bringing your daughter along, is to ask to see photos of the apartment they are providing you with first. Some places are really just not safe for children. The apartments I originally lived in were very old, had electrical problems, and in my co-workers apartment in the same building she had one whole wall covered in mold. When we took these issues to the school they did nothing about them. Now, however, due to the complaints, they have moved the teachers into newer apartments. So I would definitely ask to see photos (and even then its not a guarantee! Who knows what they'll say just to get you there!)

As for your daughter, the chopsticks and the toilets. First, the toilets. In a lot of public places (including schools), they do not have Western toilets, so yes she will have to try to adapt to that. And as for the chopsticks, you could always pack your own cutlery and send her to school with it, and carry it with you when you go outside that way its always available to her. But you honestly may find she might want to try to use them, she may find it interesting and want to experiment with it. In which case I'd let her try for sure! hehe.

The biggest thing you're going to need to worry about is the NUT allergy. Yes I'd say thats something to be concerned about for sure. I'd say always carry her epipen with you just in case. And have someone translate 'My child has a nut allergy, do any of these foods have nuts or nut oil in them?" on a white card and LAMINATE it so you can show it at restaurants. And DEFINITELY educate her teachers on how to use an epipen and explain that ANYTHING that TOUCHES nuts can and will hurt your daughter. Honestly, if I were you..... I would take the time to fix her meals and lunches at home and take them with her. Just to be safe!

As a teacher (and expecting momma! I'm due in 9 weeks time!) who has lived in China for 4 years, I am always available for questions and whatnot. Just shoot me a private message and we can exchange e-mails and/or Skype information if you would like to further discuss living in China. I personally love China and do not plan on moving back to America permanently. I just suggest making a few alterations to your plan STARTING with whatever program it is you had researched, as they are really ripping you off pay wise!

Good luck doll. =) Hope this long over winded post was of some service to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Amber,

I looked into other programmes but this one is much less demanding on my time with only 18 hours contact time a week (compared to 25-30 that a lot of others are asking) and a total of six-seven weeks in holiday time during my contract (compared to around four for most of the others). I know the pay is low but a lot of the programmes which are available to UK residents seem to pay a lot less than those available to US residents (at least that's what I had found when looking). In addition to that, when I contacted other programmes regarding my situation, most had straight up said it was a no-no and others seemed to dance around the subject with phrases like "we're okay with but schools are only expecting to accommodate one adult so they probably won't be happy, but still apply anyway and you might be lucky" *facepalm* Oh, also a lot of the others didn't provide accommodation or utilities and although the pay is enough to cover it with more in pocket per week, I'm too lazy to be dealing with all of that in a foreign language :p

I would definitely be interested with having a chat with your school closer to the time though :)

The online shopping is one I've already looked into, Taobao did confuse me a bit haha but I found it comforting knowing that a lot of UK stores will ship to China for a fee (although I would have to get a friend to order them as a lot of the websites don't seem to get through the firewall)

I will be sure to express the importance of a decent apartment before signing the contract :)

I think my daughter will adapt quite easily, she definitely likes to mimic those around her to become part of the group.

Just a quick thought: are peanuts and nuts a different word in Mandarin? Because I usually term it as a nut allergy but it's technically a peanut allergy (although we're told to stay away from all nuts until further notice). I will look into that and have both terms down if necessary. Like I said earlier, she looks like she may be that one in ten under five who grow out of it. We should know by mid December :)

Thanks for your post, and good luck with the pregnancy and baby!
 

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If you are worried about language, culture procedures and all kind foriegn related you should try coming to Zhuhai in guangdong. they have fare enough size of foreign community and its next to macau. There an agency that helps with interpretation and accompaniment. It really made my life easier. check out China expat guidance.
 

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Hi, I strongly recommend you bring some shoes to here, because local staffs can barely speak English. Little tips for you: When I was in London, I fit size 3.5 when I were buying shoes, my feet in Chinese is 36. In Chengdu. it very easy to buy shoes from size 35 to 38, over 38 is difficult for female. You can estimate you Chinese size by my feet size. Hope it helpful for you
 

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Hi, there. Hope you are doing well so far.

I have a daughter who will be 4/5 at the time and I am hoping to get her into Chinese kindergarten (for cultural benefits as well as finances) but my research puts me at a dead end with regards of expected costs and enrolment (I will only be in China a couple of weeks before starting as a teacher but I may have help from the program in placing her) and I was also wondering if the children are expected/encouraged to use chopsticks and the squatting toilets as I think my daughter may find that the hardest to adapt to. She also has a nut allergy and I'm wondering what problems that might lead to...
It is depend which city you will work. It is easier for you and your daughter if you can work in some big cities. i.e. Guangzhou, Dalian, Shenyang. There are some private international kindergartens, where you can always feel free to discuss your requirement.
 

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Hi Laura,

There are actually a lot of places to buy clothes that would fit you. Shoes can be a little harder. As for what to bring, it varies a lot from city to city - if you are in the north, you'll need cold weather clothes, the south is pretty warm all year round.

One thing you will want to bring, randomly enough, is tampons. You can't really get them in China. Also roll on deoderant.
Hi Everyone!
Now it's quite easy to find deodorant roll in all Watson or Mannings, few brands and not too expensive.
For tampons, sometimes you find ob tampons (digital tampons) or Wishu a brand of applicator tampons. I know you can buy in some groceries in Shanghai or order online on their website, on Epermarket (foreign online supermarket) or Taobao (chinese online website) and not too expensive also. ;)
 
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