Monday, March 27, 2017

Getting ready for China

Beautiful Guangxi, China (amazing photo from Trey Ratcliff at

Well, it's official now - I've accepted a new job at an international college in Nanning, China. It's located in the Guangxi region, which is in the southwest near the border with Vietnam. From the photos I've seen of Guangxi so far, it looks beautiful and tropical with some of the most incredible landscapes in all of China, especially in the Guilin area.

Terraced rice fields near Guilin in Guangxi (photo credit)

I'll be teaching English to first and second year university students, as well as potentially doing some subject classes. One subject I may do is teacher training for those students who plan to teach English in the future. Teacher training is definitely something I'm interested in doing someday, so it's really exciting to have the opportunity to do that with this job.

Nanning is a small city by Chinese standards, but anywhere else it would be big. It has a population of 6.9 million; for comparison, Chicago's population size is 2.7 and New York City's is 8.4 million. It's actually similar to Santiago, Chile, which has a population of 6.2 million and apparently a much higher population density than Nanning.

Nanning, China's "Green City"
The university where I'll be working in Nanning

It's also one of the greenest cities in China, located in the relatively unpolluted part of the south that you can see on the pollution map below. (Seriously, if you're considering working in China, this map should be your best friend.)

China pollution map (photo credit)

Since it's so far from places like Beijing and Shanghai, the Guangxi area was traditionally thought of as a frontier territory useful for trade, and saw a lot of strife throughout its history. It's home to a lot of the ethnic minority populations in China, such as the Zhuang (China's largest minority group), Miao, Dong, Yao and several others.

The Zhuang people, China's largest minority group (photo credit)

I still don't know much about Nanning, or China in general, so I'm trying to spend my time learning as much as I can about it, as well as studying Mandarin. I'll be leaving for Nanning just as soon as I get my work visa, but the process of acquiring all the necessary documents is pretty complicated. In fact, its been the worst so far of any country I've worked in. Something to keep in mind if you're thinking about taking a job in China is all the money and paperwork needed to get the Z visa; it will easily take you 2-3 months and cost potentially hundreds of dollars.

While the process is not pleasant, it's good to know that I'll be working at a university that cares about doing things properly. If you get a job offer in China and they suggest bringing you in on a tourist visa or anything other than a Z visa, turn it down. It's worth the headache of getting the Z visa to know that you're going to a legitimate school that plays by the rules.

So for now I'm doing everything I can to prepare for life in Nanning. Although part of me is disappointed I'm not headed back to Korea, I'm really excited about the job and the chance to explore a new place. 

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