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Single Semester in a Sub-Third Tier City's Public University
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Omniscientfool



Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Zhangye, Gansu

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:51 am    Post subject: Single Semester in a Sub-Third Tier City's Public University Reply with quote

An example timeline from searching for a job to becoming a fully legal teacher (incl. Mistakes) for only one semester, starting outside PRC... Hope it helps someone, newbie or not. Not intended as discouragement (though most will probably take it as such) or endorsement.

GOAL: 1-semester TEFL job in a Chinese Univ.
MY CREDENTIALS: MA in int'l affairs, Ph.D. student & TA at Univ. of CA, Irvine, on leave for 2013-14, former China Peace Corps TEFL Volunteer & Trainer (but no official TEFL certificate), advanced Chinese language skills, caucasian American/blue eyes/M/33.

TOTAL STATS (Please reply w/ yours!):
From acceptance of offer to signed contract – 23 days
From signed contract to z-visa in hand- 55 days
From arrival in China to residence permit (fully legal status as FT in PRC) – 60 days
From initial job search to actually teaching classes- Approx. 6 months
From initial job search to actually teaching w/ residence permit – Approx. 8 months
From arrival at school to teaching classes – 9 days
From arrival at school to first paycheck in hand – 35 days
Application costs – Approx. $790 (medical exams & visa application)
# Agents replying to 1 message or more – 5
# Agents who charged me a fee - 0
# Interviews – 6
# Job offers – 4
# Job offers meeting 1-semester/university requirement – 1
# of messages from agent before starting teaching - 32
# of messages from school representatives (for university of final job acceptance) - 30
Minimum # of negative online reviews of this university – 2
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=80105&highlight=changzhi &
http://community.travelchinaguide.com/review2.asp?i=4527 (about as bad as a school review gets, yes?)

Aug. 2013 – Started looking for fall position (late b/c had expected to return to Ph.D. program until about July) while in Cambodia.

Mid.-Aug. - Only a few schools offer jobs for just one semester, mostly middle (high) schools. Vast majority prefer 1-yr. Contract. Interview for a few places offering possibility of less than 1yr., nothing outstanding. One good provincial university offers spring job (but expects long-term commitment).

Sept. 5th -Interviewed w/ agent for small, public college in Shanghai. Accepted position in principle. Agent says “school will work on the contract.” Subsequent days spent persuading the school to accept the three months of TEFL training in the Peace Corps as a substitute for a certificate. Turned down other schools' offers.

Sept. 8th – Shanghai college rejects my application for lack of TEFL certificate. FAO representative apologizes for giving impression that a position was offered to me. Told agents for other schools I'd consider their offers again.

Sept. 9th – Looked into getting an L-visa at Phnom Penh Chinese consulate. Short lines, but extra steps for applying from outside of home country not worth it. Arriving on an L and changing to a Z seems inadvisable anyway.

Mid-Sept. - Back in USA. Gave up on fall semester, shift to spring semester as the goal.

Sept. 24th- Interviewed for a public college in Changsha, Hunan, set up by an agent.

Oct. 11th - “head teacher” in Hunan “did not give us a good reply about your candidacy”. Same agent sets up interview w/ public college in Shanxi. Interview ends in job offer, but flight reimbursement only for full year contract.

Oct. 20th – College in Shanxi won't pay any flight reimbursement for ½ year contract. Agent arranged interview with a different college in Shanxi which will pay ½ flight reimbursement.

Oct. 23rd – Interview w/ 2nd Shanxi College goes well, job offered. School suggests coming on a business (F) visa or coming on an L to skip medical costs in the U.S. Will require physical exam at unspecified hospital (recognized by Chinese consulate...unable to find a list of recognized hospitals).

Oct. 29th – Accepted job offer. Contract said to be forthcoming. School still wants me to come on an F, unable to provide guidance on where to get medical exam, online looks like some hospitals are not acceptable.

Nov. 8th – Prospects for F visa look doubtful (legally inadvisable on ESL Cafe, difficult to get).

Nov. 9th – Purchased roundtrip ticket to China for $758 (pretty cheap!), leaving Jan. 8th. Logic/expectations were to have an F or Z-visa by then or go on an L if things fell through. Also was hoping to work a winter camp or two in Jan. for extra money.

Nov. 18th – School decides a Z-visa would be better.

Nov. 22nd – Contract arrives via e-mail. School writes the contract for 1 year to make the Z-visa easier to get but assures me that plans to teach only ½ year won't be affected.

Nov. 26th – signed & sent contract. Agent informs me that a criminal background check will also be required. Still working on where to get physical exam—being uninsured in the U.S. can be pretty lame.

Dec. 2nd – Small local clinic conducting physical exam finds expensive lab tests (x-rays, blood tests, EKG) “excessive”, asks to confirm w/ school that they are absolutely necessary.

Dec. 5th- Agent & school confirm that lab tests are necessary.

Dec. 6th- Resignedly have expensive lab tests done at local clinic (total bill as uninsured American: $650). Ask for details of criminal background check (FBI = expensive, rq's fingerprinting, takes up to six weeks), school “has never actually seen one before,” as this is a new provincial policy in Shanxi.

Dec. 12th – Used a trial $1 membership at www.eVerify.com for criminal background check (just printed the screen saying “no results” for its search)...looked pretty chintzy and unlikely to be accepted.

Dec. 21st – lab/physical exam results sent to school, still waiting for digital x-rays to arrive in mail. School submits application for work permit & invitation letter to provincial authorities.

Dec. 27th – School expects to send invitation letter in Jan. Consider arriving on L visa and trying to find a college which will change it to a Z-visa on HK run.

Dec. 30th – Agent says Jan. 8th flight is “not proper which is obvious according to the late submit date of your health check result form”. Shanxi had already issued the work permit, and agent warns that I should “keep my record clean” and not apply at another school, w/ implication that any further application for a z-visa would be rejected.

Dec. 31st – Changed departure to Feb. 1st, for a $300 fee (total for roundtrip ticket: $1058 – 4,000 yuan ½ flight reimbursement from school, assuming they pay it), against advice of close family & friends. School assures me that costs can be recuperated with tutoring on the side.

Jan. 8th – College receives work permit & invitation letter from Shanxi provincial authorities.

Jan. 16th – Work permit & invitation letter arrive from China, one week after original departure date (argh!). Applied for Z-visa in Los Angeles.

Jan. 22nd – Pick up Z-visa.

Feb. 2nd – Arrive in China. Z-Visa allows me to stay legally until Mar. 2nd (30 days).

Feb. 15th – Arrive in Shanxi on train from Shanghai, as scheduled. Apt. & teaching schedule not ready for a few days, stay in a nice hotel & unexpectedly get a full week to prepare for classes. Register w/ local PSB. Resolve to eat out 2x/day for 10 yuan or less per meal.

Feb. 18th – FAO rep applies for Foreign Expert's card (needed for residence permit) in provincial capital. Teaching schedule obtained by showing up unannounced at English dept. office: 14hrs./week all oral English classes for freshmen English majors, textbook/syllabus optional.

Feb. 23rd – First FAO-arranged request for 1-on-1 tutor. Meet and negotiate times & rate.

Feb. 24th – begin teaching classes.

Feb. 25th – difficulties starting a bank account (i.e. w/out a Chinese name) require canceling today's class. Other teachers receive Feb. salary, 10 days late (though said to be the first time this has happened). Bought a junkyard bicycle & repaired for 100 yuan.

Feb. 27th- apply for residence permit w/ FAO rep, on condition that Foreign Expert's card will be provided to the Entry-Exit Bureau of the PSB. Res. Permit is expected to be ready on Mar. 19th.

Mar. 1st – begin tutoring on side (two teenagers together) for 200 yuan/hr., 1x/week.

Mar. 2nd – begin tutoring a VIP at a training school for 180 yuan/hr., for 1 hr., possibly 2 in future. FAO representative worries that competing schools will report this to the strict, local PSB, get a 5,000 yuan fine. Unsure whether to continue. (The VIP never showed up, apparently too busy also to tell the school that he wouldn't ever show up.)

Mar. 7th – Invited by an English teacher in the dept. to speak at an opening ceremony for a training school for young children, 2-3 hrs. at 200 yuan per hour.

Mar. 15th – Scheduled first salary of 5,500 yuan to paid to bank card (does not happen).

Mar. 19th – Residence Permit expected to be ready. After days of checking bank multiple times a day, school is said to have a problem depositing into the new bank. First salary paid in cash, 5,469 yuan after taxes. (And there was much rejoicing.)

Mar. 22nd- Another middle school student begins tutoring for 200 yuan per hour.

Mar. 28th- Meet formally w/ Shanxi Foreign Experts Management Bureau on campus.

Apr. 3rd- received passport and residence permit, becoming a fully legal foreign teacher at Changzhi University (as far as I know). (Delay mainly due to no one being able to go to the provincial capital to pick up the foreign expert's card, which I have yet to see myself).


So far, the apt. is nicer than the complaints but varies by FT. Have to wait for a salary and buy a lot of basic things for the apt. in the mean time. Air pollution is average for China. Overall, comparable to small-city Gansu in lots of ways, with less celebrity treatment. I'll withhold endorsement until the semester is up, and I've got the flight reimbursement in hand.
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MisterButtkins



Joined: 03 Oct 2009
Posts: 1215

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeez wall of text bro... if I wanted a headache I'd stop drinking all day. can you type something the rest of us can actually get through in one sitting?
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2583
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there have been numerous 'how long' threads over the years I've been lurking on Dave's, to which I've mentally added 'is a piece of string?'
It's over an hour of yarning over a beer or 4, but not a good chat room thread.
Good to see that you got plentiful offers though.
PS I once taught the 'how long is a piece of string' comment to a private student - a doctor who was going to the West to do post grad.
A very clever guy and he he 'saw' the irony right away and said he would use it whenever anyone at his hospital asked 'how long will the lab tests take?'
Sorry to hijack Smile
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Bud Powell



Joined: 11 Jul 2013
Posts: 1459

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it very interesting. The time spans of some promised and expected things matched some of my experiences exactly. It's pretty typical of most of the schools where I have taught.

I don't remember ever seeing anything as orderly as this.

I'd give this a good subtitle so it can be found in a search.

OP: talk to your FAO about your extracurricular work and make sure that he/she will come to your rescue if you're busted by the PSB. If your FAO has party seniority, you might be okay, but since some doubt was expressed, it might be a good idea to have a talk.
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roadwalker



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1537
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a great post! Recommend for newbies and lurkers. It's not going to be everyone's experience but it gives a good timeline of what to expect.

Thanks for taking the time to post OP. I couldn't post a similar timeline, since I've renewed with the same school the last couple of times. Some have posted much faster times for their red tape but I think yours is probably a typical experience.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
roundtrip ticket to China for $758 (pretty cheap!)


Shocked !!!!
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My experience as an outsider has been that PC-trained people are good. Much better than a lot of the hokum peddled elsewhere !
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dongbei united



Joined: 28 Feb 2014
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
MY CREDENTIALS: MA in int'l affairs, Ph.D. student & TA at Univ. of CA, Irvine, on leave for 2013-14, former China Peace Corps TEFL Volunteer & Trainer (but no official TEFL certificate), advanced Chinese language skills, caucasian American/blue eyes/M/33.


Why would you only want 1 semester? Having blue eyes is a qualification? I guess I better get colored contact lens.

Quote:
Application costs – Approx. $790 (medical exams & visa application)


A medical checkup is 400 RMB. I am sure out of China it is a bit more, but I highly doubt $790.

August to April is too long of a search time in my opinion. It would be better to come to China after 1 to 2 months and then scout out a better school if things don't go as planned.

If you are not in China, then it is best to take a job and use it as a stepping stone to another school if it goes bad. You should do more job searching in China. If possible, visiting the school first is a lot better than gambling and flying or taking the train.
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roadwalker



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 1537
Location: Ch

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dongbei united wrote:

...
A medical checkup is 400 RMB. I am sure out of China it is a bit more, but I highly doubt $790. ...



I wouldn't doubt that quoted price in the US at all. I have found, however, that there are clinics that will fill out the form and perform the lab tests for less. I paid a bit more than $200 a couple of years back but I skipped the x-ray. Shop around, but medicine varies by area and affordable clinics aren't everywhere.

From the threads I've read here, it seems worse in the UK, where posters have said that employment medical checks aren't covered under the NHS. The private clinics apparently charge a small fortune for the routine tests.
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Omniscientfool



Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Zhangye, Gansu

PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry if the litany of text/dates are an eyesore; intent is to help those who don't believe in TMI.

Re: why only one semester? Sometimes folks have less than a year to kill between jobs/life events, etc. Myself, I'm nostalgic for isolated PRC backwater lifestyle, got a brother getting married in Shanghai in Sept., plan to go back to Ph.D. program in fall afterwards & hoped ½ yr. would leave time for research.

Re: blue eyes...just included to be clear based on prev. posts where non-native speaking white folks are hired before non-white native speakers. Pretty unfair but seems to happen often in China.

Med. Exam $ is a real bite out of a 1/2-yr. contract all right! The quoted amount was for the tests done in the U.S., not in China (where a 2nd one has yet to be rq'd, so the provincial officials must've accepted the U.S. forms).

Thought about applying for a PRC visa from Cambodia or Vietnam to scout around in China for jobs, esp. since connecting flight came through Shanghai, but the extra step of having an invitation letter deterred me (along w/ not wanting to waste a cross-Pacific flight already paid for).
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SledgeCleaver



Joined: 02 Mar 2013
Posts: 125

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:44 am    Post subject: Re: Single Semester in a Sub-Third Tier City's Public Univer Reply with quote

Omniscientfool wrote:
caucasian American/blue eyes/M/33.



I'm a year younger, but besides that, I only have eyes for yooooooouuuuu...
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Omniscientfool



Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Zhangye, Gansu

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the record, teaching at Changzhi University was a good experience overall.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 4316
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Omniscientfool wrote:
Re: blue eyes...just included to be clear based on prev. posts where non-native speaking white folks are hired before non-white native speakers. Pretty unfair but seems to happen often in China.

However, by mentioning your eye color, you elevate it right up there along with your 'real' credentials---as if eye color is the icing on the cake trumping everything else. Frankly, since you consider it unfair to hire based on such biases, there's no reason for you to join that bandwagon and perpetuate the stereotype by mentioning the color of your irises in your post. Strange, coming from someone with a degree in international affairs.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2583
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomad soul wrote:
Omniscientfool wrote:
Re: blue eyes...just included to be clear based on prev. posts where non-native speaking white folks are hired before non-white native speakers. Pretty unfair but seems to happen often in China.

However, by mentioning your eye color, you elevate it right up there along with your 'real' credentials---as if eye color is the icing on the cake trumping everything else. Frankly, since you consider it unfair to hire based on such biases, there's no reason for you to join that bandwagon and perpetuate the stereotype by mentioning the color of your irises in your post. Strange, coming from someone with a degree in international affairs.


I think mentioning blue eyes inserts that note of ridiculousness that we should all keep in mind when dealing with Chinese employers.
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asiannationmc



Joined: 13 Aug 2014
Posts: 117

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

or a reason to purchase color contacts
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