My name is Dragriffin and welcome to today’s topic :
My life as a baby expat
So what happens after the mountain climbing and the life changing decision? That’s the big question one should ask himself. I agree, I might have made a spontaneous decision and that’s why I use “baby expat” in the title. I’m learning things as I go. And there are some consequences to that. Like, now that you made the decision to stay, you need some basic stuff to get through life. Like a place to live, food and probably some work to pay for all of this. Right? Right… It’s not all flowers and roses kids! So after the mountain, I came back to Beijing for a couple of reasons. (besides the Peking Duck)
First off, I have met a group of expats and got the chance to live with them (yey, roommates that speak English!). So finding a place to live was the easiest part of all this. Although please note that it’s fairly expensive in Beijing to rent out a room or an apartment. A lot of things are cheap, like food and clothes. But when it comes down to renting, you’re competing with a couple of million people. Therefore, the apartments also look like a dumpster with windows. Seriously, I don’t want to sugar coat things here. I just want to be truthful. And even with my roommates being so nice and helpful, our daily challenge is mainly to wrestle with the cockroaches for access to the kitchen. And sometimes, we lose. It’s called eating out. These little f*ckers are quite stubborn. Can you do something about it? Nope. They come with the rest of the building. Old, decrepit and full of nonpaying cockroach tenants. If only they paid their share… And with the average rent cost, these guys should be walking with bling if they don’t need to pay for rent. So long story short, I got a place to sleep at and maybe cook some regular food every now and then.
Second reason I came back to Beijing is as simple as “the bendable laws out of necessity”. What is that? I just made it up to describe the situation here in Beijing. People need something. They desperately need it. And they are willing to look the other way to make it happen. Man, it sounds shady! But it isn’t. The Beijingers here have two priorities. Their work and their child (or children for the lucky ones). They also want to have the kids learn English. That’s why there are many, MANY jobs for foreigners to teach English. Do you need to be a teacher to start off with? No. Do you need a degree? Bachelor preferred. In what? Whatever, just as long as you have a BA. How about your English? Be a “native” speaker. Which basically means being from either Canada, US, Australia, England, Ireland. That’s how they define “Native”. South Africa is also accepted, but recent laws make it harder for them.
So I can be a teacher now… For kids. Why would anyone do that? Well, as an expat not knowing the language, culture and anything at all from this country besides the taste of dumplings, it’s pretty much your only option to get some money while you start learning the ropes. People I met tell me it’s not a stressful job. But kids are kids and you are basically acting like a parent. So it takes a toll on your energy.
All that being said, you also need a working visa… For whenever you have the time to do it. Remember the “bendable laws of necessity”? Well that’s where it happens. Schools, training centers, EVERYONE hires without even looking at your working visa, if you have one or when you will have one. Most places will assist you in getting a work visa AFTER you’ve proven yourself. Otherwise, why waste time? You need to hear this right. You get a job with children, without any other background check, confirmation of valid papers or anything at all. You just need to look like a foreigner and be good enough in English so most Chinese have a hard time understanding you. I know, it’s pretty weird. But there’s such a need for it, that they are willing to bend laws to make it happen. But note this, even if Beijing is a big city, reputation means everything here. If you are found out to be a weird creepy guy or have a background of sexual assault, you will disappear into the night. Not jokes here!
What about me?
I haven’t started working (yet). I prefer the legal way. But it seems I’m of a rare breed because no one cares. The rare times the police bust a place for valid working license, they basically release you right after while telling you, “get your papers”. And there’s a hefty fine to pay, by the school. So having a job here is a joke. You’re not a CEO, you’re not a director, you are just a teacher. Probably making more than a lot of directors because you’re also a foreigner. You have no idea how many times I heard this. “It’s easy for you, you’re a foreigner and look like one”. First time I ever felt that as a foreigner, I have an advantage. It’s sad to say, but I never got that back in Canada. Weird name and such seem to make people uncomfortable back home. I always had a hell of hard time finding a job back home. And I don’t lack in competencies. And then, I come to this country, China, where as a foreigner, I’m better received and through a couple of conversations, I already got some offers. It’s not always like that all over in China, but that’s the feeling you get in Beijing and part of the reason I came back here. Let’s see where this whole new chapter of my life will get me!
Today’s item on the list:
Eat as many dumplings as humanly possible (28 is my number…).
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Here, enjoy the sunset until next time!