I’m almost certain that there are misconceptions about every country, which spring from stereotypes and the general media. For most, it isn’t until a foot is planted within that country, that the truth really comes to light. This week I want to highlight some of these misconceptions, and do my best to pinpoint some unexpected realities if you do decide to move to China. 

Let’s start by looking at a few unexpected truths…

  1. VPN

Now, before arriving it is important to point out that your everyday internet browsing will be somewhat restricted here in China. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and common search engines like Google are blocked under the country’s policy of internet censorship. To help you prepare, have a look at this complete list of inaccessible websites. However! Never fear, there is a way around this. The use of a VPN will allow you to establish a secure connection and continue browsing as normal. The most popular and reliable VPN is ExpressVPN, but there are many options out there. TIP: sign up and install the VPN on your phone/laptop before arriving.

2. If the shoe fits

A common problem for expats is shopping. Not because China lacks shops, in fact quite the opposite; expect to get your hands on everything you would find back home. It’s more an issue of finding the correct size, especially where shoes are concerned. In the bigger cities however such as Beijing, there are places with expat needs in mind. Sanlitun is a modern area with familiar shops such as H&M, Converse and Adidas. Stock up on clothing essentials before you come and don’t freak out when you come across the buzzing Chinese markets and can’t find the right size – an ‘expat friendly’ area is just around the corner.

3. Rent

The amount of rent you pay upfront and the frequency of which you pay differs a lot. One one hand, you may be expected to pay 3-5 months rent up front, plus a deposit and agency fee. On the other, if you choose to accept the accommodation offered by your company, you may not have to pay anything at all. It’s something to be aware of before you come to avoid unwanted money stress. Here at China Link ESL we strive to give you all of this information as soon as possible, but never be afraid to question this.

And as for those misconceptions…

“China is undeveloped and stuck in the third world.”

WRONG. China has come a long way in the past 50yrs. It wasn’t long ago when the roads saw bicycles in their masses, but now modern cars and electric bikes fill the lanes. High rises are on the increase and constant renovation work is being done on the roads, paving and within parks. China is also home to the impressive bullet train, soaring at speeds of 300kmph – a technological advance that most of the western world still lacks.

A bullet train leaves from Beijing Railway station

“Everything is written in Chinese, there are no English translations.”

WRONG. This again is something that is always being improved, especially in the more populated areas. The metro uses Pinyin (the Chinese alphabetical language), and their tannoy even speaks in English to help you with your journey. A high percentage of restaurants use picture menu’s and/or translate the prominent ingredients. You will find that not a great deal of people can speak English, but the younger generation are certainly improving on this. And anyway, you’re coming to be their teacher, remember!

If you’re struggling to communicate, there will always be some funny Chinglish to cheer you up


Got anything to add? Have some misconceptions and/or unexpected stories to share? Don’t forget to comment 🙂