EF Education First Teachers

Hello EF Teachers,

If any one has any questions about the on-boarding process, what to expect, or just generalized questions feel free to ask on this post. I have been in Shanghai for about three weeks and I work in the Kids Online department of EF. Currently, we are based at the Shanghai HQ , but will be moving to our new office space in the Pudong area. I know a lot of you have questions or maybe you feel like your situation is different than everyone else. Please feel free to ask, I know when I was going through the process no one could give me a straight answer about being married and moving your family abroad as   I am 30 and a lot of the new teachers are much younger. I am happy to help any way I can. 


Keith Downing

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Comment by Keith Downing on May 1, 2018 at 1:27pm

Hi Desiree,

Get ready to enter the future! We use Ali Pay for just about everything, so paying rent is really easy! Your phone will become your wallet and it's very convenient. EF will take you to the bank in the first week of being here and you will set it up at that time! When it comes time to pay your landlord and agent you just transfer the funds to their account. It is a very simple process so don't worry too much and get ready to enjoy your time in China!

Please let me know if you have any other questions!!!

Keith Downing

Comment by Desiree Mogorosi on May 1, 2018 at 2:53am

Hi Keith

Thank you for the insightful information. 

How is the paying process after finding an apartment? 

Comment by Keith Downing on April 24, 2018 at 3:20pm

Hi Sierra,

The first time they sent out for my work permit there was an issue with my paperwork and it was rejected after 40 days of waiting. This pushed my arrival time back a few months, but the second time they submitted my paperwork the permit was issued after only 12 days. I hope you fall into the latter of the two categories, but either way don’t let it get you down as you will face many obstacles on this journey. Best of luck and I hope you hear good news soon!!

Keith Downing

Comment by Sierra on April 24, 2018 at 8:11am

Good Morning, I was able to speak to her about the flight and she explained to me that I wouldn't be able to fly out a day ahead of time to keep from being jet lagged. i'm still gonna look for other solutions to see is there anyway I can come at least a day ahead. How long did it take your work permit to come? Some people say they received their permit in two weeks others say it took over a month for their permit to come in.

Comment by Keith Downing on April 23, 2018 at 6:28pm

Hi Sierra,

So I’m not sure that would work and you would need to check with your recruiter. I believe they need you to pass through customs on a particular day. I booked my ticket a week before and I was also concerned about jet lag. Your first three days are pretty light and won’t be too overwhelming and then you have two days to look for apartments before your first full week of training. I stayed awake the entire flight to China so when we did finally arrive it was very easy to fall asleep and adjust.  I would reach out to your recruiter and see if he can find out from the visa team if your request would cause any issues. I am sorry I can’t be more helpful with this question. If you have any other questions please feel free to ask !!

***After further thought you might be able to fly into some place closer like Tokyo stay a few days and then on your China arrival date take a shorter flight to reduce jet lag. Just confirm with your recruiter. 


Keith Downing 

Comment by Sierra on April 23, 2018 at 2:25pm

Hi Keith, thank you for answering all the questions that we have. I wanted  to know how soon will they fly you out to China. My start date is June 20. I don’t want to be jet lagged on my first day of work. I’m willing to pay for a couple of nights in a hotel if I can leave early. 

Comment by Keith Downing on April 21, 2018 at 10:24am

Hi Bryan,

I always happy to help. 

1. So it is basically the the same as in the United States. You will receive a temporary insurance card when you arrive so if there are any medical emergencies you go to the hospital and call the number on the card for assistance. I believe you will use your ssn for your insurance provider until you receive the actual insurance card. The only difference is you pay at the beginning of the visit instead of the end. I have been to the doctors once for the medical check when we first arrived and it was a very quick process.

2. The majority of apartments you see will be furnished. You will have to buy cooking utensils, pots, pans, pillows, plates, sheets, cleaning supplies and things like that. The furniture will all be provided and if you want a bigger tv or  anything not provided you can always negotiate with your agent/landlord.

3. When you first arrive things go day by day, but after a month or so you should have a more structured schedule. Obviously, it will depend where you are teaching and things could always move at a faster pace. I just received my permanent schedule and I have been here one month today.

4. You will be happy to know that you can access all social media with the use of a VPN. There are lots of free VPN's out there, but I would recommend using a pay version like Express VPN or Viper VPN. At 100 USD a year its a good deal and there is 24 hour live support. I am able to use Facebook and Instagram with no problems. If you don't have a VPN you will not be able to access these social media applications. 

The most popular app here is WeChat and if you have friends and family download it before you leave, you will all be able to speak without the use of a VPN. 

Please let me know if you have any more questions I can clear up!!


Keith Downing

Comment by Bryan Hu on April 21, 2018 at 1:11am

Hi Keith,

Thank you for opening up this opportunity for me to ask questions before my arrival. 

1. How does the health insurance work or how does seeing a doctor work in Shanghai? For instance, do you get a health insurance card and present the card upon seeing a doctor just like in the United States? (Only if you have an answer for this question)

2. Did the apartment provide what you essentially need to live there comfortably? furniture, tableware, and etc.

3. Do you usually get a set schedule or it is different every week? 

4. What is the main social media platform in Shanghai expecting the mainstream social media platforms will not work there?

Thanks again for keeping us posted.

Best wishes!

Comment by Keith Downing on April 20, 2018 at 10:26pm
Hello Nicole,

I am happy to answer your questions!

1. Yes, it is just the KON team moving to the online center in Pudong. If you find yourself working at the Shanghai HQ, you are in for a real treat!! There are a ton of great places to eat close by and HQ is a really great place to work and network. Some of you will be there for regional training make sure you meet new people and take the advice of others as everyone at EF wants to see you be successful.

2. Yes, I found an apartment within a week of being in Shanghai. Use SmartShanghai.com to get an idea of what you might find when you get here. Once you arrive in your city (if not Shanghai )your department manager and coworkers will give you the lowdown on what agents to use. EF provides a large list to help you with your search don't worry too much about the apartment before you arrive as that will be the easiest part of your initial arrival. Everyone deals with the assimilation to asian culture differently so arrive with an open mind and know that EF will provide lots of support to make your transition easier.

The hotel situation is great, we were in a Holliday Inn Express for two weeks (4 star hotel in China). The breakfast was free and interesting, the internet worked, and you have hot water. You will be seeing lots of new and interesting things when you arrive, so the hotel often felt like a home even if it was only for a short time.

3. The airport situation is pretty easy when you come out of customs look for someone holding a sign with your name. If you don't find them right away don't freak out just walk back and forth where they are standing and they will find you. EF also has instructions on what to do if you can't find the representative and you will receive a on-boarding document a week before you arrive that will help put your mind at ease.

Customs is easy just hand them your passport and they will stamp and let you through... no one in my group of 15 had any issues.

The money conversion is something to do at the bank... you will get ripped off at the airport. I believe our fourth day we got our bank card and set up Ali Pay to make your spending a lot easier and the rate was better at the bank.

I recommend using a company like Travelex to change a little money before you arrive. You can do it online with a debit card and within a few days have some rmb delivered to your home. I was over prepared and had a thousand US dollars (6200 rmb )converted and I am still using the money I arrived with to live on. This is not a must do, people in my group arrived with no rmb and survived.

These are just my thoughts and experiences. I hope this helps with your future transition and I hope to meet all of you when you arrive!!!

KON Teacher
Comment by Nicole Castillo on April 19, 2018 at 10:17am

Hi, Keith! I have some questions.

1. You said that the office is moving to the Pudong area. Is that just the Kids Online Department? I would assume the entire Shanghai HQ is not moving locations, correct?

2. Have you found an apartment yet? How long did it take and what was the hotel situation like?

3. Was the airport process hard? Such as: finding your EF representative at the airport, getting through customs, switching your money currency?


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