A few months ago I moved to Yantai, China to start my job as a college level English Teacher. I would like to detail a few items I wish I had packed with me and some daily needs to think about.
*Keep in mind my city in China, Yantai, has very few foreigners and does not reflect all of China, especially cities will a large foreign population such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.
I’m a girl, so I’m going to start with the girl stuff–Yantai does not have tampons. Your city in China might not have tampons. I use a divacup and pads. Also in the hygiene game, Yantai does not have deodorant or antiperspirant! For men, I have also heard rumors that the condoms are smaller sized, so load up on your favorites before you come.
Next, pollution. Pollution is getting worse. Read up on pm 2.5 to see what you’re getting yourself into. PM 2.5, refers to particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers. The smaller the particulates, the deeper they can settle into your lungs. Pollution levels peak in the winter. Cities and regions within China have varying levels of PM 2.5, decide for yourself which levels are acceptable. But, no matter where you move, purchase a face mask and possibly a home air filtration system to keep your lungs as healthy as possible.
The food is quite different in China and if you’re North China, it is nothing like the sweet Chinese food you eat at home. Food is mostly rice or noodle based, or dumplings, with a lot of sauce and oil. The people I have met love to eat salt and it along with other seasonings, including MSG, are used in large supply in all the foods. Sweet foods are not nearly as popular as in The United States. I was surprised to find bread as common as it is, don’t worry about finding loaves of bread and cookies, but they won’t have chocolate chips in them. Also, Mexican food is non-existent so bring some Mexican seasoning packets.
My school provided me with an apartment, inside my apartment they also offered a heating plate for cooking. Most apartments in my city do not have ovens. But, you can purchase microwaves and toaster ovens large enough to bake pies. The heating plate is annoying to cook with, the temperature fluctuates drastically while cooking and the temperatures are set very high. I watched my students cook food on my heating plate and was surprised to see them cooking on the highest temperature, a temperature I thought was reserved for Hades.
Food and transportation are cheaper in China. In Yantai a bus ride costs $0.15, an hour taxi ride clear across town costs $20, a bag of fruit costs less than a dollar, and a bowl of beef noodles costs $1.00. But, foreign brands, even ones produced in China run for a higher price. iPhones are $1,000 or higher. Sports and clothing brands like Nike are also more expensive.
Internet, currently Facebook, Google, Twitter are all completely banned in China. The hardest one for me is Google. When I need answers, I go to Google…well, not anymore…Google maps is a God send. If you want/when you need to use these websites, don’t worry there’s a way around it. VPN, or virtual private network is your ticket. A VPN uses stealthy satellite action to login into the Internet from another country. Not all VPNs are created equal. The better VPNs cost money but are more reliable.