Hi Sierra! I see that your departure date it today! How exiting! I'll be arriving to Guangzhou on August 22nd. I've just been reaching out to other teachers trying to make some connections. I can't wait to get there and get started :)
I hope your transition goes smoothly and that we'll cross paths when I arrive.
I think everyone has this question and it's hard to answer as we all have different spending habits. There were lots of people who I on-boarded with that didn't bring a lot of currency so don't worry too much. I brought about 6000 rmb (1000 usd) and ended up living on that for the first month. You will have the option to get an advance which will help with paying the deposit and up to 3 months rent that is sometimes required up front. It sounds like a lot, but don't be afraid to ask to pay less as negotiations are expected during this process.
As for credit cards and debit cards, they work just fine here at higher end locations, but the majority of your spending will happen from your Ali pay account you will set up. Also credit cards and debit cards often charge fees for conversion and ATM use so check with your bank. I know my bank had zero fees for using the credit card abroad, but my debit card charged a higher fee for using it abroad.
Hey, they put all the trainees in to a decent hotel. For my group it was a Holiday Inn express for 2 weeks. You get your own room but you will often want to meet with your fellow trainees to explore the place :) That's great that you have an unlocked mobile device! They will take you to China Mobile to get a new SIM where you can start using your iphone in China straight away. I will start training later this week (they leave you alone for apartment hunting on your first and second weekend).
My first day in Shenzhen with EF was very smooth and well organised. Got driven to the hotel on arrival and they pay for 14 nights at the hotel. In the following morning i went with my training group to the EF center to get a bank account and mobile contract sorted (they put you on a cheap 58rmb a month). Then you just sign your contract and they take you on a food tour! I loved it and they ease you in to the experience :)
I had access to Netflix with a VPN before, but I wouldn't worry too much. It's fairly easy to find free streaming sites for shows and movies in China. I've forgotten the names of some, but having an external hard drive with movies also helps!
I've had really good luck with Astrill VPN during past stays in China. It was recommended to us before my semester in Beijing, and my understanding is that most of my peers had better luck with it than Express VPN (which I believe Apple stores have taken down now anyway, sadly). Good luck.
Hey Sierra! It seems like ExpressVPN has strong reviews. Not sure if there are better deals around though. As for what to bring, everyone seems to suggest spices, particularly any brands you're attached to that might not be available. I'm also bringing a mini pharmacy of basic meds- I'm sure they're available but I don't want to have to track them down if I'm not feeling well right off the bat. Momentos from home for the homesick days. On clothes, remember the climate and situation. Anything in non-Asian sizes, quality shoes, clothes that dry quick. Feel free to add me on WeChat! nelsolis17
Hey Sierra, I haven't looked into them properly yet but a few people have sent me recommendations but will be looking into the VPN in detail next week so will update you! :) I haven't really seen accommodation properly, kind of just expecting that to fall into place when I arrive and staying in the hotel. Once your visa stuff comes through and you email your recruiter, you get an email with details of how the first 2 weeks will be planned and there is a whole 2 days set aside to help looking for accommodation etc! :)
Will keep you posted once I'm settled there and try give advice as to what I should have done before arriving :P Ya I do - tazz-93 add me whenever! :D
Have not done a formal apartment search yet since I heard it is best to wait until you get to Shanghai. However, I will start browsing more intensely once I get the last of my Visa paperwork in. I will most likely look for a roommate ...would be nice if I could pair up with another EF teacher who will be in Shanghai around that time or is already there and will need a roommate.