12 Things to Know Before Moving to China for School

A magnifying glass in front of a yuan note.

We all know about the hustle and bustle of China. The business, the rapid growth and change.

People are travelling to China for a holiday, to study abroad or to learn the rich history of the beautiful temples. While a lot of westernized amenities are now available in China, it is still this raw, authentic, ancient country that is looking to be explored.

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Here are 12 things you should know before coming to China to study Mandarin.

1. China recognizes one currency - its own

In China, the official currency is the yuan. It’s also known as RMB and notes are available in 1RMB, 10RMB, 20RMB, 50RMB and 100RMB.

Businesses in China do not accept any other currency, not even the US dollar or Hong Kong dollar. If you don’t have your RMB notes, you won’t be getting anything you’re hoping to purchase.

2. China likes cash

A yuan note in front of a US note.

Head to the bank and withdraw your cash because you’re going to need it.

While many businesses like larger hotel chains and upscale restaurants are accepting Visa and Mastercards, China likes cash. Majority of businesses and tourist attractions use cash instead of the card system.

3. Don’t tip in China

The Chinese do not tip, which means you should not tip either while living abroad.

4. Use your haggling skills

People in China love a good deal. Outside of chain stores, it’s possible to practice your haggling skills. You do not have to accept the marked price or first price offered.

5. Mandarin is the most spoken language

While there are hundreds if not thousands of locally spoken languages, Mandarin is the most spoken language. Download a Mandarin translation app, if you’re not fluent!

6. Listen for the tone

Mandarin has 4 tones in the language. It’s called a tonal language, which means the same word can and often does have four different meanings. To learn more about the tones, read our blog post on the Mandarin language.

7. Driving in China

Cars zooming by each other in kunming, china

If this is your first time in China, you’ll soon realize that roads in China are rather busy.

If you’re particularly brave, get behind the wheel of a car. China drives on the right hand side, which may be the opposite side of the road for you. If you’re not feeling overly brave, you can walk or use public transportation.

8. Bring toilet paper

Think this is a weird tip?

Well, some bathrooms do not provide toilet paper and we don’t want you to be left without. Hotels and nicer restaurants will have it available, but it’s always a good idea to carry a roll with you or a box of tissues.

9. Know a few key phrases

With Mandarin being the most spoken language, to save yourself, know a few key sentences before arriving in China. We suggest knowing the translations for:

-I don’t speak Mandarin. Can you speak [add your first language]? (Characters) 我不会说中文,你能说[ ]吗?(Pinyin) wǒ bú huì shuō zhōng wén, nǐ néng shuō [ ]ma?

-Where is the washroom? (Pinyin) wǒ bú huì shuō zhōng wén , nǐ néng shuō【 】ma ?

-Please take me to [add school location]? (Characters) 请带我去【 】. (Pinyin) qǐng dài wǒ qù【 】

-How much is this? (Characters) 这个多少钱?(Pinyin) zhè ge duō shǎo qián ?

10. Choose your conversations carefully

In the western world it’s normal for us to criticize the government and the people running the government. It’s different in China.

The indoctrination in school and from state media is a normal practice in China, so if you’re planning to strike up a political conversation, know what’s acceptable and what’s not.

11. You could have to cope with air pollution

a woman with an air pollution mask on thinking about what it was living moving to china

Depending on where you live in China, air pollution may be an everyday struggle for you.

Larger cities like Beijing have serious air quality concerns. Many people wear masks daily outside. Smaller cities like Kunming have better air quality and masks are not normally worn.

12. Visas for China

One of the most important things to know when travelling to China is that they do not offer visas upon arrival.

This means before you travel to China, you’re going to need to apply and be approved for a study abroad visa.

To learn more about visas in China, download our exclusive guide to applying for a visa in China.

Go ahead… book your flight

China is a country whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes and rivers. It’s busy with locals, tourists and study abroad students.

With more than 1.4 billion people living in the country, it’s a great option for studying overseas and learning Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world.

To learn more about Keats School in Kunming, China, contact us today. We offer 8 different study courses and we’ll even help you get a Chinese visa.

Topics: Insider, Experience Kunming, Study in China

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