For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

When I came to China the process of legally entering the country, with the intention of working there, went like this –

1. An invitation letter/working permit from your employer was to be delivered to you (at the 11th hour I received mine and drove straight to the Chinese embassy for same day visa processing).
2. A medical check-up to the standard the Chinese Government wanted has to be performed (even though you are to have another one when you land in China anyway).
3. An up to date passport.
4. $200 NZD.

The first visa was relatively easy to acquire. You enter China with an ‘L’ visa, this is the tourist visa, and you have one month to change it to the resident visa or ‘Z’ visa. Your employer should help you with this and should pay for it (my school asked us to front the money which would then be added back to your pay at the end of the month, slightly annoying process but it meant less paperwork for them and in China that can mean a lot of time saved).

One small annoyance was that the new ‘Z’ visa expired after six month, whereas my contract was for a year. The official reason I was given was that Hebei, the province I work in, has very strict visa rules (especially pertaining to foreigners). My guess is that it’s easier for your employer to have a lot of leverage over you if your visa is so short and requires continuous renewing.

This leads onto my second (well, third) visa acquisition, the reason for this post, and what has been a huge headache for the past month.

Your visa is aligned with your employer, which makes sense, as they are the ones who employ you and house you in China. My first and second visa was with my former employer, Shijiazhuang Foreign Language School/43 Middle School. At the conclusion of one years work they offered us another contract. Before signing it I explicitly told the Foreign Affairs office that I had been looking for other work and that the visa paperwork should be a more open process so that, if the situation arose, I could pay for the current processing and transfer it to a new employer should it be needed.

Well I did get another job, at Kede College Art Institute in Beijing (and quite frankly one of the coolest employment opportunities I have ever had). Did my soon-to-be ex employer follow up with my initial requests? Hahaha, nope.

‘Apparently’ there is no paperwork that allows transference of ‘Z’ visas between different employers in China. Your visa is important for another reason, it’s the dates that you are legally allowed to be in China. My plane tickets had already been bought and paid for so 43 Middle School knew my leaving date (24th June) and knew my visa date expiration (15th June).

In a perfect world the scenario would’ve gone like this –

1. Erin gets a new kick-ass job.
2. 43 Middle School extend the working visa for eight days to cover my legality of leaving China/give me time to pack my things.
3. Z visa transference to kick-ass job in Beijing.
4. Sweet mental bliss.

In reality here’s how it went –

1. Erin gets a new kick-ass job.
2. 43 Middle School outright pulls my passport from the visa paperwork.
3. 43 Middle School says you have until the 15th of June to acquire an ‘L’ visa or you cannot live at the school anymore (huge hassle as I finished work on the 14th, not a lot of time to pack).
4. Kede College need me to sign the contract asap (travel to Beijing, sign four contracts, ask what paperwork is needed for them to start the ‘Z’ visa, siphon it via multiple emails).
5. Travel to Shijiazhuang police station to start ‘L’ visa process.
6. Need photocopies of my passport.
7. Travel back to school for it.
8. Need photocopies of my working permit.
9. Travel back to school for it.
10. Need bank statements.
11. Travel back to school area for it.
12. Need a release letter from 43 Middle School.
13. Travel back to school for it. (I love how the school neglected to tell me this part for the entire process).
14. Need photographs at a specific size of 48x33mm.
15. Collect all my strengths and deliver it to the police at the nth hour of processing application delivery.
16. Have a friend collect it for me the next day as I had to work.

However all is well now, and I can stay in China for another eight days before I vamoose back to New Zealand on the 24th June. Getting back in should be relatively easy, but I said that once before. Hope this information helps some of you who are considering moving to another country and need visa work for it.

E.

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How to get a perfect score.

Kids say the darndest things.

We are currently performing the end of year exams. The students have to read aloud a passage we’ve chosen, tell us the meaning of two words and answer one question. It’s pretty easy.

Until things like this happen:

The phrase as it’s meant to be read aloud – “I have always wanted to go fishing. Last summer I went on a trip abroad. On the last day of my vacation I went fishing on a beautiful lake. Unfortunately I didn’t catch any fish and I got bored.”

Now replace the word fishing with fisting.

Have full marks, take them. Take them all.

E.

Job interview questions.

So I might be moving to Beijing.

 

And this thought (irrationally) terrifies me.

 

Update: I am progressing upon the idea of not working at 43 Middle School next year. I cannot deny that it has been a great learning experience, but the time has come for me to move on to something that gets me closer to what I actually want to do.

 

(I’m not sure exactly what it is I want to do, however a change of pace usually gets me closer to it; do not attempt to dislodge this logic as it’s all I have going for me).

 

I have had two prospective work places contact me so far. One is for a high school graduate training school in Shijiazhuang. The other is for an oral English teacher in Kede College, Beijing.

 

Pros for Shijiazhuang:

 

I know the city already.

The city is very cheap to live in.

I have friends here.

 

Pros for Beijing:

 

Hi-tech art school (with their own fricken 3D cinema mayun).

Two days work for twice the money I currently make.

Capital of China.

 

They both have their respective cons as well, but I want to look on the bright side of life when making this decision do doo bedoop bedoop bedoooop.

 

But I must pause on this discussion, and write the reason for today’s post:

 

Today I had to give a demo lesson to the job in Shijiazhuang. They gave me an elementary level book that they have in their curriculum (published by Oxford, so already very promising), and asked for a half hour lesson to be provided. So I biked over with a .ppt in my pocket this afternoon and showed them what I came up with. There were no students to test the lesson on, so I had teacher’s sit in and watch/discuss my methods and approach to the book. One teacher, and the main character of my story, was named Liam.

 

Liam arrived late (already promising) but was polite during my lesson completion. At the end, when we had time to discuss various points, he was very interested in listening to a native English speakers opinion to how the Chinese textbooks continuously have damaging English mistakes, which permeate within the entire English development of China.

 

Then this question appeared.

 

“Are you religious?”

 

While somewhat taken aback, I answer truthfully and said “No.”

His reply to sum up was “That’s great, most of China is not religious either.”

 

I have had this question before, and while it is a little rare it’s still something foreigners are expected to be asked once or twice in China.

 

Then another question, “What is your blood type?” Again a little taken aback I say “B negative.”

 

“B is what a lot of Chinese are!”

 

Ok this is getting weird. But then conversation resumes back to the job so I think the strangeness is over.

 

Alas it was not. The grand finale, complete with a dead-pan serious face, “What is your star sign?”

 

“Aries.”

 

“Ah, the fire sign, I knew it.” And he proceeded to rattle off the many reason he knew I was a fire type. (I didn’t know I had stumbled into Avatar). Then he asks, “What do you think I am, I’ll give you a hint, I am a water type.”

 

And so my brain, not knowing how to play this game, automatically things Aquarius, logic being aqua=water=correct.

 

“Aquarius?”

 

The look of sadness and horror as I said this to him is unbelievable, and hard to describe using the limited vocabulary I know.

 

“Aquarius is an air type actually.”

 

Well shit son, my bad.

 

/story.

 

So that’s a quick update about my brain. Chat to me, what school do you think I should look into? I’ll put on record saying I would be immensely happy with the Kede College job. My inhibitions are currently stuck in the whole ‘moving to another place where I know absolutely NOBODY’ phase. How do I get out of this, any tips guys?

 

Until next time, China you stay classy (and crazy).

 

 

 

E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The future is dead.

Aside from my usual Tuesday – Friday job, I privately tutor students who want to enhance their English skills. Basically this means I get paid to ‘shoot the shit’ with students about any and all subjects available.

 

Every Sunday I tutor one student, Charlotte*. Charlotte is unlike most Chinese students in the fact that she has recognized politicians indeed have the capacity to lie. This is remarkable for such a young person (she is ~15 years old) and even more so because she is a young Chinese person. Today we ended up in the discussion of how news content is delivered to people. I started by saying it’s common in New Zealand for families to eat dinner at 6pm and watch the national news channels for one hour. China on the other hand has blanket coverage across all channels between 7-7:30pm for national news delivery. Charlotte said there is a running joke about Chinese news that goes like this –

 

The first ten minutes are about the various leaders looking busy.

 

The second ten minutes are about how China’s economy is growing and everyone is happy.

 

The last ten minutes are about how every other country in the world is functioning badly.

 

I then asked if she was interested in becoming a journalist at all when she finished her education. She said when she was younger she loved to write articles about current topics, and the thoughts she had regarding the morals behind these topics. I asked why she stopped doing it. She said that as she got older the schoolwork became overpowering and now she has no interest or motivation to continue writing. I saw the eyes that said these words, and they were dead.

 

The school system has told Charlotte the only careers worth investing your time into are –

 

Teacher

Political Leader

CEO

Scientist

Engineer

 

Five careers. That’s it.

 

Charlotte said there is no more room for doctors or lawyers in China because her parents were told these careers were the only ones worth doing. so everyone did. I asked her where are the writers, the artists, the tradesmen, the chefs, everybody else? She said they do not make money so they cannot survive.

 

Of course, in the land of Communism ‘Cash is King’.

 

This made me really sad. China is losing the potential to have very unique individuals inscribed in its history books, and instead is breeding a future of technically capable yet goalless/soulless individuals. I wonder how many abstract thoughts the world has lost because this education system beats it out of them from the moment they learn to think.

 

Sadly these dead eyes already give me an answer.

 

 

E.

 

*fake name.