How to Apply for a Chinese Work Visa (Z Visa, 2018)

PLEASE NOTE: If you are working in Fuzhou, you need to follow the instructions for the notarization process very carefully. I wrote a guide that you can use here. 

Apostille  

Phew! You made it. Now on to the third step.  

You need to contact an agency that can help you with the further steps in this process. An option for those in the Colorado area is the Teaching Nomads group, who are excellent for legalization services.  

Quiz time! What’s an apostille?  

That’s right, it’s like a mega-notarization stamp! An apostille is a diplomatic stamp that is used to show authenticity for documents required for immigration (It’s used for international adoptions, marriage visas, and other forms of immigration).  

Let’s go over the steps to obtain one:  

  1. Contact your HR Representative and confirm once more that all your notarizations are correct.  
  2. When you have approval, contact the agency of your choice and explain the situation. You will be applying for a Z Visa (work visa) and need to obtain the work permit.  
  3. They will guide you through the next steps. Follow their instructions exactly.  
  4. You will COURIER (FEDEX, DHL, UPS) your documents to their office.  
    1. NEVER, EVER, EVER USE THE US POST OFFICE TO SEND OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS UNLESS YOU REALLY LOVE CHASING DOWN POSTMEN AND HANGING OUT IN POST OFFICES FOR DAYS ON END. (Seriously. Five days is the current record for lost documents, and only five heart attacks for the teacher involved!)  
  5. They will take them to the state’s  Secretary of State for the application of the seal.  

After this, the agent should take the documents to the Chinese Embassy, or the Chinese Consulate with jurisdiction over your home state.  

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you went to university in a different state, or in a different country…this step MUST be done in that place and not in your home state. Apostilles can, by international law, ONLY be applied to documents over which the Secretary of State has jurisdiction.  

 

Example of Apostille  

 

 

 

Step #4 – Legalization By Chinese Officials  

Once your documents have the apostille affixed to them, the agency (or a new one that handles this part of the transaction) will take the documents to the Chinese Embassy or the Consulate.. There, the officials will apply a special legalization unique to the Chinese visa process.  

You need to make sure to send the documents to an agent, or go in person, to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your state of residence. 

You should contact the Embassy or Consulate. All list an email on their websites, which is the best way to contact the officials.  

Generally, they do not take phone calls about visas and documents. Officials will most likely respond within 24 hours unless there is a US or Chinese national holiday. 

The legalization process is the fourth step, and the last one before you actually apply for the Work Permit and Z Visa. Here are the steps.  

  1. The agency takes the documents with full notarization and apostille to the Chinese officials at the Embassy or Consulate.  
  2. The officials place a stamp on the papers.  
  3. The agency COURIERS (FEDEX, DHL, UPS) the documents to you.  
  4. You scan and email the documents to Fuzhou.
  5. You COURIER (FEDEX, DHL, UPS) the documents to your company in Fuzhou. Confirm the address with your HR representative before sending.  

 

Work Permit  

At this point, the documents will be taken by an admin at your company to the local government in Fuzhou and you will be underway for the work permit. If all the previous steps were followed, you should receive the work permit via email within 10-14 days (unless there is a major Chinese or US holiday in between). Keep in close contact with the HR representative and make sure that you get back to them quickly with any questions you may have.  

At this point, it is not uncommon to have your documents’ wording rejected. Unfortunately, it is sometimes a matter of redoing the notarization process several times to get the wording correct. Stay calm. You’ll get through this.  

Work Permit Examples  

When your work permit arrives, you can fly/drive/walk to the Embassy or Consulate and apply for your visa in person. This is required by Chinese law, and you cannot have an agent do the application for you.  

To apply at the Consulate or Embassy: 

  1. Print both work permit letters.  
  2. Fill out the Visa Application form given to you by the HR representative. Follow the instructions EXACTLY. Use capital letters and black pen.  
  3. Get visa photos taken, using the EXACT specifications given to you by the HR representative. You may also be able to do this inside the Embassy/Consulate.  
  4. Bring  
    1. your passport 
    2. checkbook or checks from your bank 
    3. the documents 
    4. a black or dark coloured shirt 
    5. a lot of patience 
    6. any additional documents that are required for your visa application.  
  5. On the day you apply, arrive VERY EARLY. You will need to take a number and wait in line.  

When called forward, remain calm no matter what. I saw people freak out and swear at the officials in Chicago. This is unlikely to make them want to help you. 

Hand over your documents and passport. Take the fingerprints required.  KEEP YOUR RECEIPT FROM THE CHINESE OFFICIAL.

In 2-3 days, your passport will be ready to return to you with a Z visa inside. This is your ticket to China! 

In the case that you cannot wait around for three days in the city that you applied in, make arrangements with a local agent to do a passport pickup for you. They will retrieve the passport for a fee, and courier it back to you. This costs $15-$60. You will need to give them your receipt from the consulate/embassy.  

What’s Next?  

When you’ve jumped through all these hoops, you can come through the border into China. Bring extra copies of everything that you submitted to the Embassy/Consulate and emails from your employer confirming that you will be working for them, just in case.  

After arrival, you’ll need to complete a few further steps to obtain residency to legally remain in China. These steps may include:  

  • A full medical check with bloodwork and chest X-ray  
  • Registration at your local government office for your apartment  
  • Go to the Public Service Bureau and hand over your passport once more for the official work visa and permit to remain

If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to contact me using the contact form!

How to Get Notarized Documents for Fuzhou, China (Working as an English Teacher)

If you’ve been hired by a company in Fuzhou, China you need to read this article carefully! 

Welcome! You’ve entered the fray just at the time that the requirements for documents became somewhat more stringent. Lucky you.  

Don’t worry, there are several teachers who have been through this process already and we’ve put our heads together to help you out. This guide will:  

  • Help you juggle terminology like “legalization” and “true original”  
  • Prevent you from freaking out when something goes wrong 
  • Provide useful strategies for negotiating with your local authorities in the US  
  • Act as a checklist for what you may need for your visa for China  

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Documentation requirements are completely up to the Chinese government and the local authorities in Fuzhou. Their rules may change at any time, without warning. If you have any questions about this process, please consult your HR contact for more information.  

In addition, your personal circumstances may be different to other US teachers who’ve gone before you. Pay close attention to the rules and adapt as you go.  

Before You Start

Just a tiny bit of preaching. This is a complex process with a lot of stressful and expensive steps. Keep in mind these important points:

  • Nobody is specifically out to get you. Bureaucracy just crushes everyone beneath its wheels.
  • Immigrants are required to do all this (and MORE) to come to the USA for a visa. Keep this in mind when politicians spout bullshit about “open borders” and how “easy” it is to get into another country for work.
  • You need to have extra money set aside. This whole process can cost upwards of $1000, especially when you consider that you will have to go in person to the Embassy or a Consulate when you actually apply for the visa.
  • Use good Bureaucratic ninja skills! I wrote about this here. 

Terms that you need to know  

Notarization: the process of going to a State-appointed person who can place a stamp onto a document for you  

Legalization: the full process for each required document, which includes at least four steps  

  1. Obtain the documents needed  
  1. Have a local notary certify the document is true and original 
  1. Obtain a state-level apostille stamp from the secretary of state from your home state   
  1. Send the documents to the Chinese Consulate with jurisdiction over your hometown  

Apostille: official documentation stamp that is used for international immigration  

Consulate: official document and services center in a country that is subject to the government of the embassy of another country  

Embassy: official center for diplomatic relations and services within another country, which is technically a part of the nation that has jurisdiction over it  

First Steps  

There are several ways to obtain a work permit and residency card for Fuzhou. You will most likely follow one of the following two paths, although your circumstances may change what documents you will need and how to process them.  

Inexperienced Teachers  

  • A four-year degree from a University  
  • A clean criminal background check from your local state (NOT FBI Background Check. We’ll explain why in a moment.)  
  • A 120-Hour TEFL at minimum (or the equivalent certificate), preferably from a US-based company for authentication purposes  

Experienced Teachers  

  • A four-year degree from a University  
  • A clean criminal background check from your local state (NOT FBI Background Check. We’ll explain why in a moment.)  
  • One or more letters of recommendation from previous employers (THESE DO NOT NEED TO BE LEGALIZED, but you do need to send them to the HR department in Fuzhou to obtain your work permit)  

Obtain these documents, and follow the specific steps below for the background checks.  

State Background Check  

Every state has an equivalent of the FBI that does investigations within the state. You may want to call them before asking for your background check to ensure that they are able to help you with all the following steps. (Please note that some states refer to this as an arrest record, or by other terms).  

Degree Notarization  

I sincerely hope that you went to school in-state. If not, I apologize to inform you that you may have to drive/fly to your university to obtain the necessary signatures in this case.  

TEFL Certificate  

This is why it’s important to obtain your TEFL in your home country. This document will need to be put through the same treatment as the others. If it is from another country, it may be very difficult indeed to get the legalization done.  

The Problem(?)

The local government of Fuzhou is very strict about the requirements for these documents. You must be very careful with the wording of the documents in order to get through and make it to the plane and to your new life in China.  

The government will reject any document that has the wrong wording on it.  

The government will reject your documents if they are not signed for properly.  

You may have to pay up front for multiple rounds of legalization in the case that things go wrong (Companies should compensate you for the cost of the documents).  

They only recently made these changes, and the wording is most likely based on a misunderstanding about how notarization works in the United States. The wording that is required is most likely based on the wording for UK, Canadian, or other English speaking countries’ practices. In these countries, the role of a notary public is much more like a lawyer in the USA. They cannot affix their seal to a document without first authenticating its veracity.  

However, in the US, the notary public CANNOT typically verify that a document is authentic. They simply witness a signature, or administer a legally-binding oath, and then affix their stamp. Typically, US notary public procedures are done on “True Copies” which certify that the original was present and that the notary saw the person who signed it give their oath.  

Unfortunately, this is not adequate for the local government’s requirements. Even if you’ve done a visa for China before, or even a visa for Fuzhou before, the requirements are likely to be different from the previous times.  

In Fuzhou, the documents must have the following wording:  

I have verified that the original document is genuine and I have no reason to doubt that the facts set out therein are true and correct.  

For Fuzhou, the documents MUST NOT have the following wording:  

‘Swearing’ wording can’t appear on the notarization documents  

This is where we get to the possible problem. Your notary public may tell you that they cannot put the correct wording on the documents.

Rejected Examples  

wording1wording2

Approved Examples 

wording3wording4

It may feel like a catch-22, but we’ll get you through it. Follow the steps below for examples of how the wording must be done, and how to finesse your way to success in this epic documentation journey. Let’s start with the criminal record check. 

Criminal History Check (Background Check) Notarization  

You need to obtain a record of your arrests in your state of residence. Please do NOT obtain a national FBI Background Check. If you do, it may be impossible to get the wording required for the notarization. The FBI is notoriously difficult to contact and they are not very flexible about their documentation.  

Here are the steps to obtain a state or local criminal history record:  

  1. Contact the local Bureau of Investigations Identifications Unit. Calling by phone is best.  
  2. Explain that you have a unique situation and need to confirm that they will notarize the ORIGINAL background check BEFORE they return it to you.  
  3. Explain that the Fuzhou government requires specific wording to appear in place of the typical notary public signature witnessing statement.  
  4. Offer to send via email the EXACT wording sent to you from your HR Department.  
  5. Confirm what you must do to obtain the check (fill out application forms, possibly obtain fingerprints from a police station).  
  6. Follow their instructions precisely. Submit all payment and paperwork.  
  7. Wait about one week.  
  8. When your background check arrives, CHECK it very carefully. Scan the document and send it to your HR Department.  

You should be prepared to obtain a new background check and pay once more if your first one does not have the correct wording. In some cases, teachers have been the very first in their home state to request Fuzhou’s required wording.

Be polite, but firm about the wording. Without it, you won’t be able to stay in Fuzhou.  

University Degree Notarization  

  1. Contact Office of the Registrar at your alma mater. Calling by phone is best.  
  2. Explain that you have a unique situation and need to confirm that they will notarize the ORIGINAL DEGREE (either on the front or the back).  
  3. Explain that the Fuzhou government requires specific wording to appear in place of the typical notary public signature witnessing statement. Some universities may not have processed this type of notarization before. You can mention that the United Arab Emirates and South Korea require this type of notarization for teachers in addition to the local Fuzhou government.  
  4. Offer to send via email the EXACT wording sent to you from the HR Department.  
  5. Follow their instructions precisely. Submit all payment and paperwork.  
  6. Most likely, you will have to appear IN PERSON to obtain this notarization.  
  7. Before the notary and registrar official apply their signatures, CHECK the wording one more time against the exact wording sent to you from your company.  
  8. Once you have the notarization on your genuine, original degree you need to scan the degree and send the file to your HR representative.  

Keep in mind once more that you may be the very first person in the history of your university to request this form of notarization! Trailblazing is often fun, but can easily get a little bogged down in the weeds. Stay polite, but be firm about the wording.  

TEFL Certificate Notarization 

  1. Contact the TEFL Certificate issuing authority. Calling by phone is best.  
  1. Explain that you have a unique situation and need to confirm that they will notarize the ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE (either on the front or the back).  
  1. Explain that the Fuzhou government requires specific wording to appear in place of the typical notary public signature witnessing statement.  
  1. Offer to send via email the EXACT wording sent to you from the HR Department.  
  1. Follow their instructions precisely. Submit all payment and paperwork.  
  1. Once you have the notarization on your genuine, original TEFL Certificate you need to scan the document and send the file to the HR representative.  

NOTE: Many TEFL Certificate companies are not based in the United States. If you need to go through the legalization process with a TEFL Certificate from a different country, please note that this ENTIRE process must be completed in that nation. This includes the official stamp from the Chinese Embassy/Consulate. This is likely to be very expensive and a real pain in the mass. Talk closely with the HR Representative from your company about this situation.  

Troubleshooting  

It’s possible that a notary public will tell you that this wording is not possible. There are a few things that you can do to try to work around this problem.  

  • Ask if the word “sworn” can simply be omitted. Check with the HR Department first, but in some cases a “signature witnessing” statement may be a workaround.  
    • In this case, the person who made/issued the document signs a statement about its true and genuine nature in front of the notary public, and the notary witnesses that the signature was done by the person who signed the statement on the date they did so.  
    • Make sure that the person whose signature is witnessed does NOT include any “sworn” language! 
  • Ask if the wording could be changed to “I certify that this is the original” on the notary public statement. “I affirm that this is the true original” may also work. Think of synonyms for the word “swear.”  
  • Appear in person at the office whenever possible. Negotiation in person is often more effective than over email or on the phone.  
  • Everyone hates to be “that guy,” but you may have to ask to speak to a manager. Go up the chain of command at your local Bureau of Investigations if necessary.  
  • Contact your local State and Congressional representatives’ offices and ask them for assistance. This may take a long time, but in dire need it might be worth a shot.

2017: Without Comment

Presented without comment: My favourite photographs from 2017. I’m working on a post about the year, but this is a good start. 2017 was packed with great stuff, and had opportunities for some of the best photographs I’ve ever taken. I’m ready to explore some more in 2018.

For reference:

  • January-April 12 = Busan and Seoul, South Korea
  • April 13th-23rd = Vietnam
  • April 23-June 13th = USA (Colorado and North Carolina)
  • June 13th – September 9th = Iceland
  • September 15th – Present = Vietnam

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Me No English

“Me no English,” states the girl with enough grammar to ape Tarzan. She does this in spite of speaking full sentences and writing them in her book. I’ve heard her say fluent and complete ones before. She and the others use this as a joke.

“I’m not asking you to speak English,” I growl. “I’m asking you to repeat. I say, you say.”

That’s one of my teaching mantras. I use it in every single class. At least five times a class. Approximately once every seven minutes. All day long. Every weekday since the 17th of September 2017.

“Me no…”

“Nope. I say, you say. May….”

“Me…”

“No. Say. Say. May…” Pointing to my mouth. Counting on my fingers.

This girl is eleven. She’s been in English classes for 2.5 years. Today’s lesson is about future tense. Or was. It is 16:07 and class ends at 16:10. I took her notebook off her at 15:35. It’s taken 32 minutes to get through the bullshit this class has been putting me through. Incessantly talking. Frustrating meanness. A total lack of respect. It’s not that they can’t do what I’m asking them to. I’ve seen it happen.

“Let’s help her out, guys.”

Half the class had to come up and ask me nicely to return their stuff. I took it because at the start of class, I wrote the list of supplies needed for English class. I’ve been writing it on the board for the whole month of December, after a kid tried to get out of taking the English semester test by claiming he didn’t know he needed a pencil. The list reads:

YOU NEED:
– A pencil
-Your English Book (closed)

I added the ‘your,’ the ‘English,’ and the ‘(closed)’ due to students claiming that the instructions were too ambiguous. Given that my students still repeatedly interrupt classes to say, “What’s your name?” after having me in their school every single day for the whole semester, I believe that they might just forget that I exist when I step out of the room and go to my next lesson. After all, they say that six month old babies think you die when you leave the room. Maybe my fifth graders have arrested development.

“What is it that we have to say, in order to get our things back?”

This student is the fifteenth in line. I’ve repeated the line with every last one of them. I’ve sent people to the back of the line to contemplate their sins for being a jerk and/or picking their nose while they politely asked for their book.

I took the books because I waited for five minutes for my students to comply with the instructions that do not change and have always been the instructions. That’s the limit. I watch the clocks and count the seconds. I punctuate the moments with points for those who are doing as I ask (In this class, there was but one. One, out of 35, who was ready for class after five minutes of waiting.). Once it reaches five minutes, I start to take books.

I put them on the teacher’s desk, and there they stay until I call the students up to ask me politely for their things back. In this class, I’ve created a pile of rulers, notebooks, vietnamese language homework, several open English books, pens, leaking fountain pens, and a book about no-bake desserts.

I pointed out that even the first graders don’t normally have this much of a failure-to-comply-with-basic-instructions mountain. The line to receive the stuff stretched all the way to the back of the room, the final ten minutes of a 35-minute class in which we did exactly zero of the work they are supposed to complete filled with repetitive, immediately-forgotten, false politeness. The last notebook sat in my hands for two minutes, with me repeatedly threatening to eat it (no titters, usually gold material for primary students).

Only when I opened my backpack and put the notebook inside did the eleven-year-old girl race forward, shouting in Vietnamese, “HEY! THAT’S MINE!!!!!!!”

In this class two weeks ago, I rapped my own knuckle on the board so hard trying to emphasise that I was not asking them to generate the words from the ether so much as read the things off the board in a zombified tone. My left ring finger cracked open. I bled. My students laughed at that. It was probably the first time they actually laughed at something I did all month. Haha. Look at that idiot bleed.

“Me n…”

“Let’s all help her, yes? May…….” The class joins in, or rather the few who noticed that I’m asking them to help a girl out.

“May…..” She repeats.

Counting on my fingers to indicate the second word. The two best students in the class chime in with, “I…..”

“I….”

Counting three fingers. Third word.

“Have….”

“Have…”

Fourth finger.

“My….”

“Me….”  I let it slide, this minor mistake. Let this girl’s English persona be from England or something. That’s what I tell myself.

I have to prompt about three times with my face contorted and pulling my own finger for comedic effect, emphasizing how much a want them to just god damnit say the fucking next shit-arsed word in this sentence of only six words total. The class has wandered in the 20 seconds since we began chanting “May I have my…” I wonder what they chat about constantly. Probably, “Remember how her knuckle bled? huhuhuhuihuh, Yeah that was the best….”

“Book…” Relief. Thank you, one kid paying attention. Thank you, 2% of the class.

“Pook…”

Close enough. It’s a notebook but close the fuck enough. 16:09.

“Please.”

“Piss.”

I pass it over, feigning relief.

“That was easy, no? See, you can speak English! You can!”

Under my black blazer, my shirt is soaked through with the perspiration of a six-word question.

With that, the giant drum rings out and the students instantly start running out the door.

Things that seems normal after three months in Vietnam but actually aren’t if you stop to think about it for a second

I open the Italy lock on the door to our apartment complex. It’s a clunky dimple lock, the kind that it supposed to be secure. For extra security, we have a small hole through which we must put our hand to unlock it from the outside. Measures against bolt cutters.

I pull my bike outside and lock the door through the tiny hole. Then I’m on my way, one of the bustling ant people on the roads in this city of eight million. My commute mirrors the ant superhighway in our house, except that we’re following roads instead of pheromone trails.

It was hard for me to come up with this list, because the things on it have become so normalised.

I want to emphasise that for the most part, our life here is ridiculously comfortable. I feel very happy indeed living in Hanoi. It’s not always easy, but that’s precisely why we wanted to live here.

IMG_8961

That said, this is definitely not a familiar place when you first arrive. I described Hanoi back in April as:

Bustling, but not stressful. Loud, tempered by silence after curfew. Trust and intense connection with a human community, such as must have once existed in major cities all over the world but which is vanishingly rare in 2017. It’s not always confortable, oh no. It’s real, though. It sweeps you up an makes you think about what you’ve been missing, living in a boxy gray concrete apartment and ignoring your neighbours every time you misfortune to find yourselves in the same hallway. If you’ve become a city person, you can eventually relax into it.

And it still is. Despite the fact that I’m tired a lot of the time from teaching, and that I don’t have the certainty that living in the Western world supposedly grants (but doesn’t actually follow through with), I love my time in Vietnam. For Teacher’s Day we went on a bicycle tour and rode through the banana fields that are about 3km from our apartment. I had no idea they were there.

Hanoi is still surprising me. But much is becoming a new home.

IMG_9290

We thought of many of these sitting at Epoque Furniture/Cafe store (which is basically someone’s rooftop of the house converted to bring in a few people for coffee, tea, and cocktails). These situations  feel totally normal after three months in Vietnam (but actually aren’t).

 

  1. Loose, live chickens scratching happily in the gutter outside your cafe
  2. Piles of burning fake money on the sidewalk every 15th and 30th of the lunar month
  3. The infamous ‘bum gun’ in place of toilet paper in all placesdsc_0168-01-1990794196.jpeg
  4. The hardcore gastrointestinal crossfit workout which Russell terms a ‘Vietnamese Poop Cannon’ once a week (at least)
  5. Clapping one’s hands when entering an alleyway, toilet block, garden, or classroom and saying, “Ho, rat!” to scare them off before you see them
  6. Purposefully squashed rats like so many bloodied pancakes outside of schools22548576_10105628614593133_6958832645589720001_o
  7. Ordering something, setting a time for delivery, and having a company call you after the appointment time to ask, “Did you order XYZ?”
  8. Setting a time for an appointment and having people be shocked and unprepared that you are there at the time you stated
  9. Setting an appointment and being asked to ‘take a seat’ for 10-30 minutes
  10. Setting an appointment and being stood up completely
  11. Setting an appointment, changing it according to a message you receive from the person you make the appointment with, and then having a very angry person on the other end of a phone line wondering where on Earth you are
  12. Setting an appointment, forgetting that naptime is from 11:00-14:00 and getting no message about whether the person is coming or not (because they are napping, of course)
  13. A sense greater than in any other place I’ve lived (yes, even Chile or Italy) that there is not a shared cultural sense of timewp-image-1118353373
  14. Pour over coffee (something I’d never seen until 2017 and now my very favourite. I even did a taste test in May)
  15. Sweating through clothing so rapidly that you take three-four showers per day and have to change at lunchtime
  16. Napping anywhere and everywhere at anytime
  17. The excuse, “She’s just very lazy” being not so much a bad thing as a character description without malice
  18. Near misses  on the roads twice weekly (Your weekly sphincter checks! Hope it’s not Poop Cannon day!)
  19. Headlights that looks like searchlights in the night because of the combined humidity and air quality IMG_8956
  20. A single, non-gender correct person dubbing all the voices on a TV show
  21. 22 C being ‘very cold’
  22. Shoe shiners at every cafe, constantly pointing out the sorry state of your worn out shoes (can’t buy new ones because my feet are huge here)
  23. Wearing suiting to go out and have a coffee with all the others in suits having coffee
  24. Eating at a place that makes you think, “Oh well, if I die tonight from eating this, it was worth it.”
  25. Government speakers on lightpoles to make announcements and wake everyone for morning exercise
  26. The fact that “I never do morning exercise” is one of the most shocking statements I’ve made in front of my studentsIMG_9301
  27. Thinking something that costs $2 US is really quite expensive
  28. Wondering why I can’t seem to find XYZ for our house and realising that labour is so cheap here that everything from hairdrying to vacuming is a job for someone in the city
  29. Merging across all lanes of fast traffic with mopeds flying everywhere, doing a U-turn, and then immediately merging across all lanes of traffic again to make a right turn on the other side of the road22366386_10105602467791533_4775423928414036272_n
  30. Questioning whether any product I pick up is authentic or not (and then deciding whether to care if it isn’t)
  31. Tailored clothing being cheaper than off-the-rack for the same quality
  32. Devastating headaches after enduring 76 decibels as the ‘low volume’ of my classes for 70 minutes, and then walking straight back in to another class again
  33. College students who shout, “Hello!” just like five year olds when we pass them having coffee near their classes for the 50th day in a row
  34. Takeout delivery that is from the whole menu of a restaurant, not just pizza
  35. Dragonfruit (riper than in China)
  36. Wedding pavilions that appear on the sidewalk overnight and disappear about 24 hours laterIMG_8576
  37. Children’s clothing with really inappropriate sayings in English on it (favourite so far = “Mother Fucking Airplane” on a pink sweater)
  38. People saying, “Yes” when they probably mean, “No, not at all.”
  39. Wondering where ‘Shoe Street,’ ‘Plant Street,’ ‘Tea Street,’ ‘LED Street,’ or ‘Golden Monkey Replica Street’ are and being dead serious about it
  40. Christmas of course being an excuse to have sales, but not a day off work
  41. Writing ‘No Youtube English’ on the board as a rule because students continuously use the phrase, ‘Fuck you, bitch’ to disagree mildly
  42. Dressing well above my pay grade wp-image-899568256
  43. 35-50 students per class
  44. A totally unrelated hoarse voice after Monday’s classes
  45. Bad behaviour moving from class to class within a school like a malevolent zeitgeist, infecting each group in turn and making a good day of hard work suspect (Who will fall to the star-decimation next?)
  46. Students fighting with rulers constantly
  47. Wondering if making shivs and shanks is actually an instinctual behaviour for the genus Homo, given how young the stabby classes are and how pervasive the drive to sharpen one’s ruler appears to be

    IMG_9247

    Make sure the small child doesn’t have a shiv before approaching (in any country)

  48. Dodging typhoons for all of autumn (I dodged two on the day I arrived to Vietnam, one near Taipei and the other here in Hanoi)
  49. Wearing my hair in styles that work with a helmet (in other words, only low braids and low ponytails)
  50. Sheer exhaustion come 22:00

It’s been a long time coming, this list. I find myself with lots of hours off, but tons to do during them to be truly ready for my work (or at least, tons of relaxing to do to be mentally calm enough to do the work).