Ten things to do in your first month in China

When you move to China, everything will happen so quickly.  Though one or two years seems like so much time now, it will go by before you know it.  As you pack your bag and get ready to go, you’ll also want to make your own checklist of things to do when you arrive.  All those goals you have for your life in China should be organized so you can be sure your time is meaningful, rewarding, and as memorable as you imagine it will be.  Your goals might be different from ours of course, but here are our suggestions for getting your time in China off on the right foot:

  1. Apartment set up– you have to get an apartment either way, so be sure you take the time to get it set up completely. When I first moved to China, I did the basics of getting what I needed to survive, but it wasn’t until six months in that I got pictures on the wall.  Until your living situation is a haven, you won’t be able to fully settle and while it might seem manageable, you don’t want to carry the low levels of stress that come with not having a home you can relax completely in.
  2. Learn the job – like the apartment set up, this is something you’ll be doing this no matter what, but it is best to be deliberate about the process so you’re set up for success. Take good notes, ask questions, and most importantly, figure out who you will go to when questions come up along the way.  Getting your new job (and new career for some people) off on the right foot will help you to be able to focus on life outside of work and all the adventures that await you.
  3. Explore your city– Over the next few years you’ll be taking trips all over China and throughout Asia, but the first thing to do is see the sights in your own city. Far too often we get caught up in the day to day of living and forget to see the famous tower, that museum, or the city wall.  If you do this in the first month you’ll be able to save money by staying local and know the sights for when your first visitors come to town.
  4. Sign up for Chinese lessons– While you can get around China easy enough using English, the more of the language you know, the richer your experience will be. Research the lessons and find a place to study or at least a tutor early on while you’re still motivated and forming habits.
  5. Call your mom– or whoever is at home worrying about you. While you know you are safe and having a great time, somewhere in another continent someone is waiting to hear from you.  There is so much going on in your life at the moment it’s easy to forget this detail but set your family and friends at ease and give a call or at least send an email so they know you’re safe and happy.
  6. Sort out your finances – if you need to send money home, this is something you’ll want to figure out early on how to do, as it can be somewhat cumbersome if you’re new to the process. If you don’t need to send money back, you’ll still want to get your budget finalized.  Adjusting to a new currency can take time for some people as the numbers and costs are new so review your spending habits, your rent, and set goals for savings so you can afford that first trip when you get time off.
  7. Download all the apps you need– WeChat, Alipay, Mobike, are just a few things that will dominate your life in China so get them all set up! Here’s what Shane has to say about at least three essential apps:  https://enreacheducation.com/three-essential-apps-for-china/
  8. Keep a journal– or some equivalent. The most important thing here is to document this incredible journey you’re on whether you’re writing in a notebook, keeping your Instagram updated, blogging, or something that can serve as a record when you want to remember this time in your life.  In addition to serving as a record, it’s also a healthy way to evaluate your feelings, alleviate stress, and a healthy outlet overall.
  9. Join the gym– speaking of healthy outlets, don’t let your workouts slip while you’re in the middle of all your new habits.Gyms are abundant and affordable in China so you’ll be able to find one that suits your needs.  You definitely don’t want to put this off for six months and then realize you’re out of shape, so research this and get it done straight away.
  10. Enjoy the process– you might be thinking this is really obvious, and it is, but because getting settled in a new country can be really overwhelming, it’s important to remember to see the challenges that come along the way as part of the adventure.

So pack your bags, make your checklist, and get ready for the journey that will change your life!

–Jessica Keller