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Author Topic: Moving to Hefei very soon!  (Read 7974 times)

kloke

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Moving to Hefei very soon!
« on: August 04, 2013, 11:02:35 AM »

Hello to all the expat community,

I am from Portugal, Lisbon.
I had a job offer for the Wanbo Institute of Science & Technology in Hefei, so i am still sorting out my visa application, but hoping to move to Hefei in the end of August or beginning of September if everything goes well and smooth with the work visa application.
Does anyone here work or know anything about this University in Hefei? I am just trying to get some references as it´s my first time in Hefei and China.
It´s a really big life move for me, as i am changing everything in my life (Country, continent, Language, culture, job).
I have some questions on how do you handle money when you first move to Hefei, do you transfer from your home bank account our you bring some cash with you and exchange when you arrive in China, or you use your credit card?
Any tips on finding a good 2 bed room apartment near the University?
Any special tips for a newcomer?

Every comment will be very welcome as i know very little about Hefei and Chinese culture.

Thank you all

Nuno
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Aussie Mike

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 03:21:00 PM »

You have a great university to work for.
They will sort you out, they may offer you an apartment on campus.
You can draw cash out with your home ATM card from many banks here.

Feel free to ask questions.
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 08:18:20 PM »

Really appreciate the feedback Aussie Mike :)
It´s great to know it´s a good university and that it has good reference.
The apartment option is not for know, maybe in the future because the told me to find one as soon as possible, so if you have any contacts or websites i can use to find apartment i will be very grateful.
Thank you very much for the ATM tip, i will do that at least in the beginning.
   
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 09:04:38 AM »

Thank you very much for the tip, but this is not a English school, it´s a Chinese technology university, so they told me they will help me with the process of finding a apartment but i should take an active role also, but i will talk to them again about this subject.
As for the visa they are sponsoring the Z visa i think, as i am getting all the papers from them this week, including the formal invitation and the work permit from the Chinese gov, i hope this is enough for the Z visa?
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x0vash0x

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2013, 11:32:56 AM »

I would strongly suggest asking to live on campus for the beginning of your stay here. You will not be able to rent an apartment sight unseen and frankly you wouldn't want to. The quality of apartments is night and day in some cases. I would strongly suggest asking if you could live on campus. It might not be the best accommodations, but frankly worrying about a place to stay is not one of the things you want to be faced with immediately upon entering china. Plus, it gives you time to figure out if you're going to stay. If you can make it in China after three months, and think you might want to stay longer, then look for an apartment in an area of the city you like. But, I would advise living on campus for the first few months here, get adjusted to life in China, and then look for an apartment.

As for the school itself, it's north west of the city center, near a small hill (they call it a mountain, but it's not really a mountain). It's a vocational school, not a college in the traditional sense but a vocational school. USTC (University of Science and Technology) and Anhui Univesity are the two local traditional colleges. I've never heard of it until you mentioned it. So, just realize you'll be teaching below average students on their Gaokao (Think Chinese SAT) which placed them out of ability to go to USTC or Anhui. Some other students simply choose to go because they don't want a typical college experience. If you're teaching English, you shouldn't have a big problem with the quality of the students. It's not uncommon for students who want to learn Business English to go to a vocational school. However, if you're teaching an actual subject you may find the ability of the students lacking.

As for money, I took $100 USD with me to travel. I also went to my bank and ordered 600RMB. It took about a week to order my RMB as banks in the U.S cannot directly convert Dollars into RMB. So, I'd go to a local bank and just say 'I'd like to get 'x amount of RMB', how do I do that?' and they should be able to help you. So, I came to China with both RMB and USD.

Best advice when you first come, make friends both Chinese and Laowai. There's a relatively small group of teachers in Hefei, according to Mike only about 200 official teachers. There are a lot of foreign students at USTC and Anhui, but I personally don't have out with them much. I'm a bit beyond my college days. In any case, make friends and ask lots of questions. We're a helpful bunch and we all know what it's like to be new in China. We want to make your transition as painless as possible.

And finally, yes. If you have a formal invitation and a Foreign Expert Certificate, you should be on a Z Visa. There's some shady things some training (English) schools do, but Wanbo isn't going to screw you over.
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 02:24:26 PM »

I have no words to express my gratitude, thank you all for the kind support and valuable information you have shared with me.
I am not going to teach English, i was hired as a Visual Design and multimedia lecturer, so i am hopping to teach various technical subjects, I didn´t knew it was a vocational school :(
Well at least it´s going to be my entry in China, for me it´s just a way to start a new life in a very different culture and environment, i was hopping to do that to break out of European routine life.
One of my main goals is to learn the Chinese language and some of there culture as well, so i will try to follow your advice on making friends both local and foreign.
Does any one of you speak and read Mandarin? if so how was the learning process? any tips on starting to learn it?
I have spoken to them about the apartment and they told me that they will provide 7 days of payed accommodation in a near by hotel after my arrival, so i can start to fit in and find a apartment, but i will ask them about the on campus apartments, this would be really much better.
I have signed a 3 year contract with them, with 6 months test period, so i think in these 6 months i will see if i can adapt to the Chinese culture and to the school.
I am really glad i found this forum and community, it really gives me hope to make this transition with your help and information.
I am going to read all the links and info in detail so i can start to prepare everything, i hope i can meet you all and invite you for a drink when i arrive there :)
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2013, 02:46:56 PM »

thank you 大枪 i will wait to read that section :)
Going to look in to that school for mandarin, really appreciate the share.

Well i am getting the full payment in these 6 months probation period, but i will talk to them about this subject, and i think it´s because of the 3 year contract, but i will look into it, thank you very much for the tip.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 03:16:49 PM by kloke »
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x0vash0x

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2013, 02:48:27 AM »

I would get into the mindset that you cannot teach like you would in the West. Teaching in China has a fairly steep learning curve to it. Do not get dismayed if your teaching style doesn't work in China, the Chinese education system is, for lack of better description, completely messed up. If you start teaching and you don't seem to be getting through to them, it's normal. You cannot teach Chinese students like they are Western students, it will not work nine times out of ten. For the best students, it wont matter, but for the poorer students they'll just stare at you with a deer in the headlights face.

I'm not sure if you've taught before, but I would get it in your head that you're going to find Chinese students rather difficult to teach and deal with until you learn how to teach and manage them. In my opinion (I deal with high school students) they desire strict but fair teachers and respond very well to punishment rather than reward (i.e. Extra Credit will get you no where, but punishing students who don't do 'Extra Credit' will). Also, except for the best students, there is a lack of critical thinking skills. Open ended questions do not work. You cannot ask a Chinese student 'What do you think?' they will immediately freeze up and go 'Uh.... Uh.... Uh....' trying to find out what the correct thing to think is. Chinese students are told the answers to almost every problem they will encounter, so asking them to come up with the answer on their own is a scary thing for them. This is because in their educations system they are always punished for a wrong answer. So, they're afraid to say something wrong, even if the questions has no right or wrong answer! It's almost like they're programmed, which they are from their education, to be like little robots. You gotta push the right buttons to get them to do what you want. The better students are able to pretend to be like robots but are able to think outside the box as well. You'll love those students, but they're not the most common.

There are only two foreign teachers who I know that speak fluent Mandarin. I would say a sizable portion of us know enough to get around and order some food, but not fluent by any stretch of the imagination. Also, because Hefei is a 'small city [of nearly eight million]' not many people who you will meet on the street speak a lot of English. The Chinese here tend to be very friendly and helpful, but it's not like Shanghai.

As far as learning the language, you have three main options: self study, going to USTC or Anhui for Chinese classes, or hiring a private tutor. It depends on your learning style. USTC and Anhui are taught by Chinese teachers in the Chinese method which is memorize, memorize, memorize. A friend took a class but dropped out after she said she learned very little useful Chinese, it was just all memorizing vocabulary (which is how they learn English). I personally bought two books and have begun self studying (my preferred method).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080484299X/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415700108/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

My goal is to study for the HSK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanyu_Shuiping_Kaoshi) which is the Chinese language proficiency test. I'm figuring it'll take me three - five years to become relatively fluent. But, it really depends on how much Chinese you want to know. You can be fine living in Hefei with very basic Chinese, but if you want to interact with the local people (since the vast majority don't know any English) you're going to have to become conversational at the very least.

And like  大枪  about the probation period is to make sure you're getting paid full salary.

Oh, as for life in China, I'd check out these two websites to read some news about China....

http://www.chinasmack.com/
http://www.tealeafnation.com/
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/

One final piece of advice: Get a VPN before you come here. I use https://12vpn.com/ but I know lots of people who use https://www.astrill.com/ as well. They're all about the same price.

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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 10:37:09 AM »

Thank you so much x0vash0x and to all of you also, really great advices here!

Sorry for my late reply, i gave been dealing with all sorts of bureaucracy to get the visa process going :(
The teaching advice is really amazing, i have never taught before, i only gave small technical workshops here in my University, but at the Institute they hired me because of my professional curriculum, they said that they needed much more professional knowledge then teaching experience, that is why i applied for the job, so at least i do not have that much of a conflict with traditional western teaching practices :)
This is going to be a really big career turn for me, as you can imagine, so the only thing that is really frightening me at this time is really the teaching part, as you mention in your teaching advice, it seams that the Chinese are not very easy to teach, I hope i can handle the pressure.

As i said one of my main goals is to learn Mandarin, so i have to see what will be the best approach for me, but thank you very much for the book suggestions, i will definitely look into to them.
Thank you for mentioning the Chinese language test certification, i didn't knew that, will look into it also, might be a good option to get that certification if i stay longer in China.

As for the 6 period probation time it´s all settled now, i had a chat with them and i will be fully paid :)
But Thank you all very much for bringing  this matter to attention.

Those links about China are really nice, i am starting to go thru them now and learn a bit of the Chinese reality.

As for the VPN you use the cheaper option on 12vpn? as the world option is a bit pricy, but i will look more into it later and make a decision.
I am looking at these free services also, will test some of them and then report:
http://sucras.com/top-free-vpn-services/


« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 11:02:28 AM by kloke »
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x0vash0x

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2013, 03:51:33 AM »

Yeah, I use the cheaper VPN Option. I chose 12VPN because they specialize in the China market and they have a China Expat client. And again, Free VPNs tend to be really unreliable in China. The Chinese government likes to every so often change how The Great Firewall works which breaks some VPN Clients. The paid ones usually get fixed fairly quickly while the free ones (because they're free) may never get fixed.

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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2013, 06:49:26 AM »

Thank you 大枪 for the excellent tips on teaching :) I have the portable HDD and some more resources, They told me they have a class curriculum for me to follow so let´s hope it´s a quality one!
I am reading some teaching manuals as well so i can have a general idea of teaching and some class preparation material.



Free VPNs are really unreliable in China. To save your sanity, I suggest you pay for a good quality VPN.

Don't be too intimidated by teaching. I advise not to fall into the trap of apathy. i.e. Regardless of whether the students are responsive or not or whether the school is supportive or not, keep putting the effort into creating lessons and materials (for your own teaching benefit).  

Buy a portable HD and keeping absolutely every teaching plan, activity sheet, PPT, or anything else you create or find online. You can use these things again and again in the future.

I would advise: Because there are such varying standards within the Chinese education and training system, be prepared that the existing curriculum may be completely inadequate, you may receive absolutely no professional or academic support from the administration, and you may be left completely to your own devices in the classroom.

Of course, it's not always like this, but you have to be prepared in this way.
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2013, 06:52:27 AM »

Thank you x0vash0x
I will look into the 12VPN service and make my decision very soon, just trying to get all the visa application sorted out and buy the plane ticket :)

Yeah, I use the cheaper VPN Option. I chose 12VPN because they specialize in the China market and they have a China Expat client. And again, Free VPNs tend to be really unreliable in China. The Chinese government likes to every so often change how The Great Firewall works which breaks some VPN Clients. The paid ones usually get fixed fairly quickly while the free ones (because they're free) may never get fixed.


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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2013, 09:29:21 AM »

Any of you have any tips on what type of cloths to bring to Hefei? How long does the summer last there? How cold does it get?
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x0vash0x

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2013, 06:17:52 AM »

Agreed.

It doesn't snow very much here either. Maybe a few inches at a time, but nothing major by any stretch of the imagination. Same with rain. I personally don't think it rains too often.

Basically, lots of summer clothes, a winter coat or two, and some basic wet weather gear, and you'll be fine. Expect to sweat a lot when you arrive. You'll have about two months of fairly hot weather and not every place has air conditioning. So, you might find yourself eating hot food [Chinese don't really eat cold food], drinking hot or warm water [Chinese don't really drink cold drinks], in near 40c temps. It's easy to sweat like a pig here.

So, not sure how you deal with hot weather and being hot in general, but hopefully you can adapt.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2013, 06:19:45 AM by x0vash0x »
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kloke

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Re: Moving to Hefei very soon!
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2013, 10:30:38 AM »

Thank you very much for the fast reply!

I really don´t have a problem with high temperatures as i am used to those, here in Portugal it´s 40 celcius today, my problem is with humidity that can be really weird as i am used to very mild humidity and mostly dry climate here and never been to high humid countries, is there a big problem with electronics? as i will bring a lot of circuits and electronic stuff with me and it´s part of my work also, maybe it would be best to get a dehumidifier there?
Thank you for the air conditioning and heater tip, i will talk to them about those and make them top priority when looking for a apartment.
Thank´s for the cloths tips also i will definitely be bringing more summer cloths :)
How are the air pollution levels there? and the water quality? i know China has a very high pollution index in the cities and with the humidity so high it must be a big problem?   

 
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