Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How I'm Going to China (Part 3: Paperwork, Planning, and Planes)

***This is a three part series, click on Part 1 and Part 2 for the full update***

As you read in Part 2 of this series, I secured employment despite some setbacks in my job search.  I managed to land a job with a global company that matched everything I wanted in an ESL job (teaching adults and southern China). 

Once I obtained employment, I had to submit additional paperwork in preparation for my visa.  I procured several important documents (copies of my passport, university diploma, TESOL certificate, resume/c.v., head shot photograph).  In addition, I had to undergo a background check (this was quite harmless, it pretty much verified that I had no criminal record and that I attended college); and lastly, I had to obtain references from two individuals (If you’re reading this, thanks for your expedient and awesome recommendations!).

After collecting all of the aforementioned items, I emailed everything to my assigned recruiter for processing (sidenote: this individual is the same person that interviewed me and she’s  been awesome about answering all my questions and assisting me when needed despite the 12 hour time difference!).  From there, I had to wait for the Chinese government to approve my paperwork and award me the following documents-my Invitation Letter and my Work Permit which I have pictured below:

My Invitation Letter

My Work Permit

After a month of waiting, I received my golden tickets!  Now that those documents were in my possession, it was time for me to go process my visa. 

Since the Chinese Consulate is quite a way’s away from my hometown, I looked into different visa agencies that would go to the consulate on my behalf.  I was somewhat discouraged at the prices, but once I read the fine print, I was happy to learn that the prices included the visa itself.  In the end, I chose Oasis China Visa for my visa processing and I was very content with the service I received.  Everything was very efficient and they answered all of my questions in a courteous manner.  After 10 days, they returned my paperwork and my passport complete with my entry visa.  They even enclosed a nice envelope thanking me for my business.  I recommend anyone who needs a visa for China (which is virtually every American, even if you are visiting) to use Oasis China Visa for all of your visa processing needs!

In order to keep myself organized, and most importantly sane, I devised an outline of everything I needed to accomplish before my departure.  This list ranged from medical appointments, to apartment matters, to shopping.  I sat down for two hours one evening and put pen to paper on virtually everything I needed to get done by September.

 Over the course of several weeks, I made calls, scheduled and made appointments, and shopped whenever I had a few, free hours for each item on my list.  I can honestly say that this outline was one of my best ideas when it came to preparing my Chinese journey.  

Besides my visa, the next important thing I needed to do was book my flight.  Once my recruiter gave me the go-ahead to make the booking, I searched several flight sites to find the best prices. I tried bing.com/travel, since they have a price predictor to advise me on purchasing a ticket.  Unfortunately, there was no price predictor for my flight, so I just went to the Delta website to book it directly (apparently, Delta has cheaper flights than any other airline due to their best price guarantee). 

Unfortunately, things did not go my way during the booking.  Firstly, I learned that the airline would charge for a second checked bag (and yes, I will need two checked suitcases).  Secondly, I would have two lengthy layovers at two different blah airports (Laguardia and Detroit).  Lastly, I booked a bit too late and the only seats were middle seats.  I could have opted for business class and paid the $5500 difference (end sarcasm);  but on some real talk, I was not trying to max out my credit card for some comfort even if the flight will be over 14 hours.  So alas, I will be stuck in Coach, squeezed in between two  passengers with crappy inflight entertainment and bland food.  I’m sure I’ll be making the Edvard Munch scream face by the time the 6th hour rolls around...

Photo Credit: http://www.edvard-munch.com/gallery/anxiety/scream.htm

  I can only hope that things pick up from here….

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