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 9 hours ago

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 18 hours ago

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 21 hours ago
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 Thursday

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?

Comment by Janine Nxumalo on April 11, 2018 at 6:49pm

Hi Keith,

Thank you for your insightful response, it makes me even more excited and a lot more relaxed!

I had a look at Smart Shanghai and the apartments are so beautiful! I am confident that I will find something similar in Fuzhou.

In terms of the visa for my husband, I have all documents authenticated and await a further update from my visa correspondent. I would appreciate an update from you once everything is sorted on your end.

Awesome, I actually have a better understanding now of the process. Thank you SO much! It certainly feels like a lot but I know its definitely worth it!

Hope you're having a good time so far, and hope you're settling in well.

Please continue to keep us posted.

Best wishes!

Comment by Keith Downing on April 11, 2018 at 11:45am

Hi Janine, 

You have a lot of the same questions I had before I arrived. Lets start out with the easy one first.

1. I had to see 20+ apartments in Shanghai before I found one in the right price range with enough room for my wife and daughter to fit as well. A good place to look is Smart Shanghai just to get an idea ( in your city there may be a different website to use and your on boarding team will be able to tell you more ), I actually ended up choosing an apartment I had been looking at for months before I arrived. Just know they will try to over charge because an apartment is in a certain area. I decided to move a little bit further from work ,but the 2 bed duplex apartment with garden makes it worth it. Make sure you just look at as many apartments as you can and it will make you decision easier. 

2. I would check with a visa service for specifics. You can send off for both your visas at the same time I know its important to have any document like your marriage licenses authenticated not so much to get the visa, but once you arrive to become a resident in China they require authenticated documents.

 I am currently waiting for my visa to be changed to a resident permit so I can bring my family over on a S1 180+day visa and then working with the visa team to make them residents as well. I can provide you updates on this process as I am currently trying to track down others in the HQ with Family Visa resources.

The only reason we arrived separately is my wife was extremely pregnant and unable to fly at the time so just make sure your recruiter is aware and the visa team will help guide you. 

3. The plane tickets are again specific to your situation, I believe some people get their flight payed for and some pay for there own as well. Personally, I paid 450 for a one way ticket and then upgrade to a better seat...its a 15 hour flight from the east coast and leg room is key. Basically, once you send a copy of your visa to your recruiter they tell you what day to book the flight for as you have to pass through customs on a specific day. 

I hope this shed a little light on how it all goes down, the process can be long, but its totally worth it!


Keith Downing

Comment by Jack Williams on April 11, 2018 at 4:08am

Great insights Keith, many thanks for sharing your experience.

Also enroute to Shanghai in June - I'm sure there'll be a lot of wandering off in the wrong direction, confusing locals with broken mandarin etc. etc. etc.... Mistakes! All naturally part of adapting to new environments.

Hope all is well for you and the family, safe travels to Pudong.

All the best,


Comment by Janine Nxumalo on April 10, 2018 at 7:26pm

Hey Keith,

Thanks for offering your assistance for the many questions we may have.

Like you, I am also moving to China (Fuzhou) with my spouse and I would like to know how that process works in terms of the Visa process for my spouse, how the plane ticket process works etc.

Also, how easy/difficult was it for you to find an apartment for you and your family?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Comment by Kagisho Khokutle on April 10, 2018 at 2:17pm
Hey Keith!!! Thank you for all the insight!!.

I attended one webinar which wasn't of the best quality as the sound kept cutting so a lot of vital information was missed.

You have given me a better understanding of my arrival!!! I appreciate your help!!!

See you in Shanghai!!!!
Comment by Keith Downing on April 10, 2018 at 10:26am

Hi Kagisho,

You have some great questions and I am happy to answer them. 

1. So when you first arrive, your on-boarding group with do a weeks worth of regional induction training. They cover a lot of information on what to expect as well as some teaching methodologies. You will cover the product you will be teaching and how to access all of the EF resources. Some days will be 8 hours of training other days will be a little more relaxed, like setting up your bank and all of your apps . You will receive a schedule before you arrive which will give you a better idea of what to expect. Don't worry though the training moves at good pace and you won't feel too overwhelmed. 

2. The weather has been quite nice.. I would liken it to the North Carolina of China for geographical reference. I have experienced days in the 40's and days in the 80's since arriving. 

3. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and I payed a 200 rmb deposit which I received back upon my check out.

4. I am currently awaiting my reimbursement approval and should have it back soon. You will learn all of that in week two when you go to your individual department. If you are going to be in Shanghai like me you will probably have a mentor to help you with all that. If not, I can't speak on what happens in other cities.

5. I have started my demo classes and will finish my third demo today. Some departments move faster it all depends who and what you will be teaching. 

I hope these answers helped, if you need more information don't be afraid to reach out to your recruiter. There are no dumb questions so pester them... thats what they are there for. 

Please feel free to ask more questions!!  Also please attend the webinars EF provides as they are very helpful. I believe they posted one on facebook recently. 

Good luck and hope to see you in Shanghai!

Keith Downing


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