New arrival Jake
I was offered a job at Premier English back in February after an interview process that cast away any doubts that I had about moving to China. Daniel, the Managing Directer and Glen, the Academic Directer, interviewed me over Skype. They were very understanding about concerns and questions that I had. They appreciated that moving to China is a big step no matter how old or experienced you are.
After I accepted the job the process of sorting out paperwork began. The most important things you have to do, before actually filling in the visa application form, are the legalization of your degree certificate and a police check. This can be expensive and time consuming so make sure you do it right first time by using an agent! Alan, HR Manager, guided me through the process and made sure I didn’t mess anything up. There are no stupid questions so, if in doubt about anything, ask!
The final stage was to go to the visa centre. Provided you have filled in the online form correctly and got all the documents required it takes an afternoon. Alan at the school made sure all the information on the form was correct before I submitted it so I didn’t have to worry.
During the period between signing the contract and actually getting on a flight there is a lot of waiting. This is the time for you to prepare mentally as well as practically. I found that sometimes I was quite anxious. I had nervous dreams. Most of the time I was just excited. You have to be prepared to embrace the unknown and only concern yourself with things you can actually change. Asking “what if…” is not a useful way to prepare. Neither is browsing the internet for TEFL related horror stories. Use this time to say goodbye to friends and family, but not in a soppy way, have a big party.
One of the most frustrating things about the process is not having a departure date until quite late. You will inevitably encounter delays with the visa application or waiting for documents, so don’t book any flights until you have your visa in your hand! Once I got my visa, I booked flights the same evening and was Heathrow bound within 3 days.
Having moved abroad previously, albeit only to France, I have some advice about saying goodbye. If you can, say your goodbyes at home. There is no worse environment for saying goodbye than an airport or a train station. If you’re going on an adventure you don’t want to start it by trying to look at a departures board through teary eyes. Saying goodbye at the airport will just add to your worries when you are already stressed about having forgotten something or missing your flight.
Upon arrival, provided everything goes to plan, you will be met at the airport by someone from Premier English. When I arrived Alan and Sunny, Head of Visa Processing, were there to greet me. It was reassuring to hear Alan’s northern accent as we drove to my new flat. I dropped off my things and then went for a look around the school. At this point nothing really sinks in. The best thing to do is try to get some sleep on your hard Chinese bed. Yes, that part of your research is true. You do get used to it though.
The next day everything is still a bit of a blur, but its important to get out there and orient yourself as soon as possible. I started training that day, just for a couple of hours but you should try get into your routine as soon as possible. I started by watching some classes and meeting the kids that I would be teaching. In the morning I walked around, went to the park, got my bearings in a new city. I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful everything was. I was expecting lots of grey concrete but Chengyang is so green, there are flowers everywhere. I arrived in spring so the trees were covered in blossom too. Get yourself to the supermarket to buy some food. Fresh vegetables are great here, very cheap and lots of variety.
There is a close, if small, community of English speakers in Chengyang so make sure to socialize with people from in school and outside. Don’t turn down any invitations! And before you know it you will have a large circle of friends. After being here for about a month I already feel at home. You will find your first few weeks zoom past.