Emigrating to China, the Excitement, Challenges and Frustrations

Excited About Emigrating to China, Learn More About The Challenges

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations remain a challenging journey. One morning I woke up and thought I travelled the world and visited many places until I realised the opposite. My so-called travels comprise 10% of the actual world. This means we probably need to live 1000 years or more to reach a point of ticking all the destination boxes. My career with all its frustrations provided me with the opportunity to travel and visit a small percentage of the universe we live in. These few countries I visited mostly included destinations in the UK, Western Europe and Africa. I realised too many other countries exist on this wonderful planet I still need to visit. So, I decided to emigrate to China for various reasons.

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1. My China Emigration Decision – What an Excitement

My decision to emigrate to China originated because of mixed reasons. Some economic, other study and adventure related goals. My academic career allows me to travel the world, but without any stable-like income. One of my dear old colleagues said, as graduates coming from a cultural discipline background, we probably not rich but at least we are happy.

After a few months of finding extra projects in a complex economically declined world, I receive a call from an international school in China. We always discussed teaching abroad, but I just laughed about it. After a couple of crashing relationships, I love the spinster life, never had children, and I suppose became a bit of a loner. My network comprises thousands of connections across the world but a few genuine friends. I decided this is the way I want to live and stay free from your typical heartbreaks or boyfriend problems.

Returning to the China call, it only took a few days to receive the thumbs up and sign the contract. It is only on receipt of the follow-up email describing all the regulations; I felt overwhelmed. My overwhelming emotions like a stormy sea originated not because of the fear teaching but the list of paperwork staring at me. 

2. Visa Application to China – Frustration Starts

The first most pressuring task required a signature on the contract binding our commitment to working permanently for one year. It provides some hope that at least for 12 months on and off, one experiences some stability in our lives. Task two necessitated the legalisation of degrees and it sounds easy enough. Unfortunately, I must highlight applying to the Department of Education to legalise documents takes more than a few weeks. My appointment start date stipulated clearly end of December 2019. I signed my contract in September 2019 with only a few weeks to go before I start my teaching career.   

Already I felt dizzy and sick. Luckily a few friends adopted the emigration route to Australia and New Zealand. They recommended the use of an external agency to assist me with the Visa application. At one stage I thought this is not worth the stress, I rather just live a student life. But my friends gave me hope, and I contacted this magical Visa Application agency.

I explained to the friendly lady; the International School need my degrees legalised and also require a criminal check done. I told her I am so nervous and want to die, but she relaxed me with her positive nature. She allowed me to explain the list of documents wanted namely legalised degrees and stamped police clearance checks. For clarity sake, if a person wants to travel, study or work in China, our paperwork is one of the most important responsibilities to ensure a successful trip.

3. China Work Permit

Every person I spoke with, who travelled to China before, made it clear the importance of carrying the correct work or travel permits. Meaning if you applied for a Travel Visa, do not use your paperwork to work. If you received a study permit, do not attempt to work without receiving the approval from the university. Last, if you received a Visa to work in China, it normally aligns with the province you work in. Also, after arrival within 30 days, you must apply for a residence permit that replaces your entry Visa. It is a requirement and expats must report at their closest police station within a few days of their arrival.

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations allow us to develop a sense of excitement but with fear included. Before I get ahead of myself, I want to return to the Visa application process. So, I asked the gentle lady to assist, and she immediately promised to email me a quote. This is to apply for a police clearance certificate, legalise my degrees and also deliver the documentation to the Chinese Embassy for attestation. So, in all honesty, I knew this process involves an outrageous dollar figure, but my heart jumped when I noticed the price. Then I thought of all the upcoming stress and battles if I decide to take this on myself.

Imagine if I need to phone the Department of International Affairs a hundred times a week and attempt to book an appointment at the embassy?  I thought it is worth the money to spend and closed my eyes while transferring the funds. Altogether it came to a $1000 figure. To me, it is a lot!

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4. China Emigration: My Medical Certificate

While I awaited the Visa logistics agency to sort out the paperwork, I moved on to the next phase. I am required to submit a medical certificate. Already I think of all the things my friendly doctor could highlight about my fancy health. I only visit the doctor three times a year, if I really have to. Definitely not one of my favourite visits. I am healthy according to my standards, but not sure if my approachable doctor will agree. I reluctantly made an appointment and explained my position. After some blood tests and chats with the doctor, I received the thumbs up. Medical forms completed and submitted to the International School allowed me to notice some progress.

Suddenly I received an email from my pleasant Visa application lady. I must please complete the form attached to the email. The agency submits the form with your legalised degrees to the Chinese Embassy for attestation. Already I developed a headache because the document is English/Chinese. Just looking at the Chinese language alphabetic characters made me feel scared. My mind thought no way.

I placed my fear aside and completed the form. Honesty I felt so scared during the completion of the form. The agent made it clear; the Chinese accept no mistakes! I bought an energy and concentration drink, hoping the additional focus may help me to complete the forms. Then I noticed I am required to write my name in Chinese on the form! I quickly typed my name in Google Translate hoping, Google issues me with the correct Chinese name!

5. Travel Guide to China, the Excitement and Challenges

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations ask some mapping and research skills. Forms submitted, medical checks completed, and the Visa agency promised me delivery within a few days.  These documents included police clearance checks and stamped degrees within two weeks. During the next few days I started to think, what do I wear, what do you eat and how do I communicate when in China? Should I buy a travel guide, possibly? Off to the shops, I enter the bookshop and look around for a China travel guide. What a disappointment, nothing available anywhere in the shop. I only noticed travel guides to Spain, UK, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, Russia but no China travel books. I asked the bookshop assistant to please help me because I cannot see any travel guides to China. No travel guides to China, sorry she said. This answer made me feel so depressed.


She said I probably need to look for it online. I thought a hard copy travel journey book suits me better. Out of desperateness, I had an online look. So many travel guides, but they all give me history lessons. After a lengthy search, I eventually downloaded an electronic copy, hoping my mobile phone will last when I walk around in China, aspiring to find my way.  

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6. Excitement and Clothes Surfing

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations. Well, while exploring my new life online, I took part in online clothing surfing. I originally planned to travel to China in December and asked for fashion guidance from friends and family. With my brother living the nomad life and travelling the world before I decided to, I asked for some expert advice. Also, my future colleagues warned me not to purchase a lot of clothes that probably will not work in the colder climates. Rather bring a few basic winter clothes and purchase proper boots, sweaters etc when you reach your host country. Any case, our girls love shopping and I bought a lot of stuff, anyway.

7. Single Entry Visa China

My clothing journey ended and out of the blue my stamped degree certificates arrive. Also, a nice stamp from the police, saying I am not a criminal. I felt all happy and impressed with the progress. So, I emailed all the documents to the school for processing. Within about three weeks I receive an email from them attaching my invite to work and work permit. I thought this is it until they reminded me, I still need to apply for the actual entry Visa. Meaning I have an invitation to work but I still need to apply for a single-entry Visa. The school asked the name of the Visa application centre in my region.

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations require some patience. After checking the Chinese Visa Application website, I noticed the services only offered at two main cities in my country. Already, I thought, well more money. I must fly to another city to apply for a Visa and a clever thought came to mind. I called my friendly Visa agency lady. Immediately I receive a quote, but similar to the cost of an air ticket. I thought no way will I ever pay this and phoned the local Chinese Consulate.

The friendly person at the consulate explained not to worry. They offer a satellite service in my area. Meaning I complete the forms at the satellite Visa application department, they send it to the main centre for processing. Fast and sufficient within 7 days I received my single-entry Visa. I loved the stamp on one of my passport pages; it looked so cool!

The Chinese Embassy explained to me when I reach the country, I need to apply for a residence permit. It allows a person to travel in and out from the province where I aim to work.

8. Emigrating to China: Challenges and What is Next?

The International School stipulated that we should only book a flight after receipt of the work permit and entry Visa. All happy, I search for flights. But because of the December time; the costs increased Everest high, and I struggled to find a cheap flight. I booked closing my eyes and just pressed the button.

I emailed my arrival dates to the school. Suddenly I receive return communication, can I please change the dates because it is the end of the academic year. Also, exam time for students. My heart sank right down to my boots. So; I changed my dates to arrive in the Hubei Province on the 4th February 2020. Then COVID-19 happens and my journey ends until everything turns to normal again or not?

Emigrating to China: My Conclusion

Emigrating to China, the excitement, challenges and frustrations. I aimed to use the article to explain the stresses, the efforts, pain and happiness applicants experience when we aim to emigrate. Also, when we endeavour to temporarily work in foreign countries. People who strive to work and live in foreign countries experience constant complexities to receive basic clearance. All for good and logistical reasons.

The next time we think of travelling aboard to travel, study, work or live permanently, understand the process. It remains critical to know what your host country expects from you. Individuals who want to work in a foreign country should know, it takes weeks and sometimes months to receive the proper authorisation. I hope this article assisted individuals who dream to emigrate, work and live in a foreign country.

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Elize Becker

I am an Archaeologist and Anthropologist with 14 years of experience working with international and locally-based institutions, organisations, companies and public entities. I gained experiences in resettlement and community displacement projects, small business development, cultural-heritage impact assessments and archaeological excavations. Also, I worked as a Project Manager responsible to develop project plans and drive tasks accordingly. Besides my consultancy career, I participated in academic research with a focus on community displacement using an Anthropological approach. Most of my on-site work experiences I gained while working in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Namibia. I also joined global sustainable management teams contributing to projects in Cameroon, Mozambique and Bahrain. I enjoy travelling and exploring the world, working with different communities and cultures. I use my writing career to tell and share my stories I experienced when exploring different parts of the world.

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