Just when you thought the holiday season was over, you decided to come to China and take on the life of an English teacher, where the Year of The Monkey will soon be upon us.
Before the new year hits, you’ll quickly learn that timing is everything. While most well-adjusted teachers will be off exploring other countries during Chinese Spring Festival, you might want to stick around and see what China has to offer. We can’t blame you, you’ve just arrived!
We must admit, there is plenty to keep yourself occupied within country. Especially when astonishing percentages of the locals have decided to leave, allowing you to selfishly soak up the normally busy cities all to yourself.
The Chinese migrating to other parts of the world during Spring Festival has its many ups and downs. However, if you don’t come prepared, the downs will quickly outweigh the ups.
Remember when I laid down the law on getting through emergencies in China? As you know, most of them were first-hand experiences that took thick skin and fast-thinking to overcome. Being ill-prepared before new year hits can quickly lead to a serious dilemma. Just think of your car breaking down December 23rd. Can anyone really help you during that time? Likely not.
It’s no surprise you’ll need another survival guide on not only how to celebrate the new year, but also, how to be prepared for days before and days after China’s biggest holiday:
3 MUST Do’s Before Chinese Spring Festival
Pay Your Utilities
Just imagine being in a freezing city and waking up to your electricity being out. This means no heater and no hot water. Unsurprisingly, it happened to me in Inner Mongolia, not once, but twice. Luckily, I was within walking distance from my school and had a key to get in. The boyfriend, my dog, and me literally shacked up in our school until we had someone who could help us pay our bill.
Electricity shouldn’t be your only concern. Water and gas going out are a serious doozy. Not being able to clean your house, shower, or have gas to cook with (unless your stove is electric, then again, pay that electricity) for five days to a week would be the ultimate letdown for any newcomer in any country.
You’re probably wondering how to pay the bills. Some cities have a re-up card system, some apartment complexes just leave a note on your door that most n00bz can’t understand, including me. Ask your school to help you take care of utilities as soon as possible. There should be zero issue with them aiding you.
2. Stock Up on Groceries
Having experienced Chinese Spring Festival in both the big and small cities here, it’s no surprise that there are major differences. In Hohhot, every little fruit, veggie, and meat vendor was closed down. If they weren’t closed down, prices on produce were skyrocketing because of the demand and the cold.
While major markets remained open for every day except the New Year, it’s more so about the inconvenience of having to get to the name-brand places in the snow. If the locals are having a hard time hailing a taxi, imagine what it will be like for expats that are assumed to have no idea where they’re going.
Do yourself a solid and get a few days worth of food to stock up on. Going hungry while most families are gorging on the Chinese Spring Festival feast would be beyond depressing. Up yourself and snag an invite to one of your newly made Chinese friend’s houses. It’s an incredible experience that’s not to be missed.
3. Pay for Your Phone and Wifi
Being products of the digital age means one thing: as long as we have a fully charged smart phone with data, we’re happy.
While this isn’t the case for everyone, the vast majority of us can concur that when we have nothing and no one, we at least have the Internet. I’ve talked a bit about phone plans, and wifi is just as cheap. We snagged the fastest Internet speed we could for about 1200rmb/year. That’s about $15 a month for wifi, something completely unheard of in most developed countries.
Get your internet figured out, so if all else fails and you’re too cold to go outside, you can at least stream English movies to PPTV, China’s version of Netflix.
Be sure to act ASAP with these tasks. I’m sure you’ve already noticed colleagues at your school heading off to their hometowns to spend time with family. Do your best not to disturb them by being prepared for your first Spring Festival in China!
What have you guys done to avoid emergencies during this busy time of year? Any other tasks to add on? Leave them in comments below or share the article with a friend in need!