China can be a confusing place for expats at the best of times. On the internet, however, you’ll most likely find others who have run into similar problems. From the teacher who’s had visa issues to the traveller who can’t find true vegetarian food, your questions about China have probably already been asked and answered online. Below are some useful online forums and resources for foreigners living in China.
As with almost any other Asian country, the demand for learning English is growing ever greater in China, as, naturally, is demand for English teachers. On the eChinacities’ jobs page, a whole section is dedicated to teaching jobs. Foreigners with the right qualifications can find positions at almost any type of education institution in almost any city. Don’t want to teach? There are also plenty of non-teaching jobs to peruse.
If you want to keep up to date with news relevant to foreigners working in China, our China News page is worth a visit. Here we post news of interest to foreigners working and studying in China, with some stories serving as a reminder of the importance of following the rules.
For example, we recently shared a story about two Irish teachers who were jailed for 10 days in Beijing for taking part-time work outside their assigned school. Other stories are slightly less alarming, offering readers information on China’s most expensive cities to be an expat, for example. Actually, we take it back. That is just as alarming!
While finding a job in China is in itself be a big step, settling down can be just as challenging. Luckily, there is plenty of information online to help make the process as smooth as possible. Expat Exchange features a very comprehensive guide to settling down in China. Information is divided into categories such as tax and finance, visa and legal services, healthcare and real estate.
Once the administrative necessities of finding suitable accommodation or buying health insurance are out of the way, some online resources are worth browsing for the sake of leisure and fun. If you’re interested in Chinese culture, China Expat offers readers a nice trove of articles on topics such as history, literature and art. It’s described on its homepage as “a cultural and literary forum for expatriates interested in China”. Job done.
If you’re brand new to China and still to find your squad, be sure to check out Internations, a networking website that arranges social events for expatriates within the same area. The events can be lifesavers for those who have arrived in China alone, although their reach tends to be limited to the big cities.
For those who want to learn about or partake in traditional Chinese festivals, China Highlights features province- and city-specific information on the dates of each festival, what kind of events take place and how to get involved. Additionally, the site also provides information on how foreigners residing in China can celebrate Western festivals.
And if you want to explore China even further, Travel China Guide offers not only comprehensive descriptions of destinations and attractions in each major province and city, but also practical information on visas and transport. Their website is divided into four topics, including destinations, China trains, Chinese culture and visas & embassies. The latter section provides particularly useful information for those planning to make short visa-free trips to China.
Getting by in modern China is practically impossible without WeChat, the country’s biggest social media platform. It’s a blend of Facebook and Whatsapp that, other than messaging and many other functions, allows users to order food, pay bills and book taxis. For foreigners living in China, groups of a common interest in the local area will also serve as valuable resources.
For example, as a teacher in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, I’m part of two groups: “Q&A – Zhuhai Life, Easier” and “ZHUHAI: Useful daily info”. The purpose of the groups is somewhat self-explanatory. Users tend to post questions and useful information on topics ranging from local bus timetables to good restaurants and bars. Through the aforementioned group I’ve found information on other more niche local groups, such as one for people with pets, one for vegetarians and one for those interested in learning Chinese.
Official WeChat accounts can be found through the app’s search bar. For most groups though, users usually need to be added by an acquaintance.
It perhaps goes without saying that foreigners living in China should always check the accuracy of information online. An official website is probably trustworthy for the most part, a comment by someone on a public forum is perhaps less so. On the whole however, forums and online resources offer an easy way for foreigners living in China to keep informed about this, that and everything in between.
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Keywords: foreigners living in China
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