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Author Topic: Moving to Hefei - questions about kids and school  (Read 3907 times)
shellybeans44
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« on: June 17, 2016, 08:30:16 PM »

Hi, my family and I are contemplating a move to Hefei related to my husband's work but we are struggling to find any information about the city or the expat community. Could someone please point me in the right direction for where to look?  I'd especially love to chat with anyone who knows anything about the Canadian International School in Hefei or other options for expat children.  We have two children, aged 8 and 3, and their happiness is a major contributing factor in our decision about whether to relocate or not.  If you teach or have a student at this school I would really love to ask you some questions.

Many thanks,
Michelle
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Aussie Mike
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2016, 10:42:07 AM »

This is the website.
I've met most of the teachers over the few years they have been open, all seem dedicated and competent. The school has wonderful facilities.

www.cish.com.cn

List your questions and I'll forward them on to the school.
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shellybeans44
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2016, 03:38:33 PM »

Thanks so much for your reply, Mike. I've already read the website and looked at every bit of it multiple times but what I'd really like is a contact for someone with actual experience there as a teacher or a parent. I sent the headmaster an email and she sent me a very formal reply with lots of information but what I really want is someone to ask some nitty gritty details that aren't really appropriate to bother the headmaster with. I also can't help but notice on the website that the student body doesn't actually appear to be very international. Are there not that many expat kids in the Hefei area? I've lived abroad before and have a realistic idea of the amount of time real friendships take to form across language and cultural barriers and it's rather important to me that our 9 year old have at least a couple of friends who share English as a primary language. It's the only way I see her being able to cope with the move. Can you offer any insight or possibly get my email to someone with a connection to the school? Do you know of any expat families with children in the Hefei area? Thanks again for answering, Michelle
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x0vash0x
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2016, 07:59:05 AM »

The CISH has an extremely small enrollment of international students. Their largest class is 13 students. Hefei does NOT have a very large international family expat community and your children would be hard pressed to have a very large social group of age appropriate native English speaking friends.

There are very few expat families living in Hefei. There are a few, and it is possible, but it's going to be relatively small. Hefei is NOT an international city.

I've talked to CISH Head of School about working there (but decided against it), and know a few teachers who work there. The campus is in the middle of nowhere and is very isolating. It's nice facilities, but construction everywhere. Send me a PM with your specific questions and I can answer them.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2016, 08:34:11 AM by x0vash0x » Logged
computer_says_no
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2016, 09:08:49 AM »

You might also consider the possibility of locating in Nanjing while your husband works in Hefei. Nanjing has a much larger expat population and greater number of established international schools with foreign students. It's only about a hour from Hefei by train. I've met expats. who've located their family in Shanghai etc. and returned there on weekends and holidays.
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shelly9782
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2016, 09:39:55 PM »

i am a teacher for Kindergarden K2
This is my second semester.
And if you can help not living here, I wouldn't.
My son is 6 there are some expats but very few. We usually take longgggg trips to hongkong when we get breaks or go to Four Points Sheraton to chill for awhile during holidays.
but yes its hard to get a cab. Take it from me its very hard.
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x0vash0x
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2016, 08:52:04 AM »

There's actually quite a few expats here. Seems like you just haven't been able to find them, which is a huge failure of the community here, and we apologize. Have you been added to WeChat groups? Do you even use WeChat?

The trouble is, Hefei is 'real' China. It's nothing like Shanghai or Hong Kong. There's a lot of activities for you son to do, but they're going to be with Chinese kids, most likely. If you're looking to stay in an Expat bubble, which seems like you desire, yeah, Hefei is a terrible choice.

If you're looking to experience a more authentic China experience, Hefei is great.

Also, you live in the absolute middle of nowhere. Of course its difficult to get a cab. You can use Uber and Didi. Great alternatives, and cheaper. I'm assuming you work at the Canadian School, right?

It's unfortunate that you're not happy here, but seems like you expected Hefei to be more of an expat bubble, which it isn't. Need to go to Shanghai, Beijing, or other 1st tier cities for that.
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shellybeans44
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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2016, 02:19:29 AM »

We are coming.  It's pretty much been decided.  I just read your message, Shelly, and my stomach dropped.

Is it really that hard to get a cab?  I won't be driving and had assumed I'd be able to get around that way.

We have about a 9 month gap between now and when we get there.  What do those of you who are there already recommend as far as starting to learn Mandarin now?  I do realise how difficult it will be and that we won't get much of a start on it here on our own but I'd like to at least try.  Best recommendations?

Thanks 
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computer_says_no
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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2016, 08:40:42 AM »

Hi shellybeans44,

I lived in Hefei for seven years and had established life there. The number one rule in my book is don't put too much weight on other people's negative ruminations. Like you, I was initially hesitant to come to China at all after reading so much negativity and horror stories online, but it turned out to be a such great experience and special time in my life.

Everyone has such a diverse range of circumstances, personal outlooks, attitudes and expectations, class backgrounds etc. that affect how they experience a place. Your experience of Chinese cities will depend wholly on your openness, adaptability, resilience, humility, lightheartedness, and positivity. Oh and HUMOR!  Grin That's the good news -- Hefei will be as good as you make it.

In terms of learning Chinese, I suggest you contact Andy Woo http://www.visionmandarin.com/ He was my teacher. Sure, I wouldn't advise against starting early to learn some basic Mandarin but don't stress too much that you're not gonna be able to survive without it. Learn as best you can but don't let it make you anxious.
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luiz_iniciante
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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2016, 11:28:34 AM »

I 'd more or less agree with x0vash0x's evaluation:

Quote
The trouble is, Hefei is 'real' China. It's nothing like Shanghai or Hong Kong. There's a lot of activities for you son to do, but they're going to be with Chinese kids, most likely. If you're looking to stay in an Expat bubble... Hefei is a terrible choice.

If you're looking to experience a more authentic China experience, Hefei is great.

For those who want to step outside that bubble, my practical advice would be try to come to grips with the language to the extent that you are able. computer_says_no is right in saying that can you survive without it, but your ability to communicate with the people around you is important for mutual happiness, respect, understanding... though it is by no means a cure-all for the challenges of being a foreigner in China.

I once wrote a post with a list of Chinese language learning resources:
http://hefeiexpat.com/forum/about-china/english-chinese-book-corner/msg11997/#msg11997

While it is difficult to learn good spoken mandarin outside the country, with a bit of dedication you can prepare yourself for it by learning to read and write the most useful characters. To that end, I'd recommend Remembering Simplified Hanzi (Books 1 and 2).
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shellybeans44
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2016, 04:11:12 PM »

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to read and respond to my questions, especially those of you who private messaged me.  For a mostly quiet forum, I've found you lot to be quite supportive, even though there aren't very many of you here.  Luiz, I ordered the Simplified Hanzi book and I LOVE it.  We've been trying to practice Mandarin but without anyone to bounce the tones off of I worry we are just wasting our time and learning things incorrectly.  But learning the simplified symbols feels like time well spent and that book really connects to my personal learning style.  I'm so glad you recommended it.  It hadn't even come up in my searches for somewhere to start and I think it's perfect.
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Aussie Mike
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2016, 11:56:02 AM »

Thanks for the feedback.

Things will be changing soon.
We are contracting with a Web Development company to revamp the entire site.
The forum itself will likely continue but so much other information will be available.
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