A Prelude To The Expat Life In China

I’ve chosen not to write about this before simply because I didn’t want to jinx it while I was suffering through the paperwork process; but I feel with the right time is now, and in addition to me feeling extremely bored being back home in Montreal, it is time, so here it is…..



I have landed a job in China as a university teacher in the city of Changchun, and I will be moving to live the expat life in China towards the end of August.

WTF??? China???

Yes, China.

The one country I always wanted to go to but was always too lazy to deal with the paperwork.

The one country I have only spent one night, in Hong Kong on an overnight layover.

And now they have granted me a job…..

Layover night in Hong Kong

So, while I have been playing tourist trying to rediscover the few sights of Montreal (both real and fake ones), I have been mainly busy with dealing with the paperwork the Chinese government requires for the Visa application.

How I Got There

I left home on January 15th 2017 with the goal of spending the next 12 to 18 months away from home.

To be honest, I needed it.

Some things had happened in my life by then that geared me to wanting to be away from it all, get out and rediscover myself while living out my dream of travelling the world.

So I first hit South America, where I spent 3 fantastic months. After that I did a short stint in Mexico, and finally I landed in Europe where I stayed for the next 2 months.

While in Amsterdam where I stayed with a friend of mine, he suggested I send a few CVs to test the waters and see if I would get a few replies.

I toyed with the idea but did not really do anything about it until one fateful day in Slovakia, where I found myself with nothing to do and a nasty hangover. With no possibility of moving, I decided to go for it, and I sent about 4 applications to random schools….Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan.

2 replied, but only China seemed appealing.

After a 20-minute interview on Skype from which I got out of thinking, there is just NO WAY they’re taking me, I received an e-mail the next day…..the school was making me an offer.

Decision Time

While the idea of relocating and living the expat life in China for a year, in addition to earning money while living a real international experience, were extremely appealing, the idea of interrupting my travels was not.

You see, in order to obtain a work visa for China, Canadians have to make the request from Canada. So this meant heading back home at a time when my trip had just started (if you can call 5 months “just started”), and most importantly, at a time when I wasn’t ready to come back.

On the other hand, this would guarantee me living abroad for a full year, and would provide me enough funds to continue to live my dreams of long-term travel for the next 2 years…..

So I took the offer.

Literally jumping on the opportunity…….zwooooosh!!!


Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Have I told you I hate paperwork?


Paperwork were the reasons I never got to apply to an exchange program back in university (I know, pretty stupid reason).

Paperwork was the reason why I never applied for a Chinese tourist visa…..I  just couldn’t be bothered (an even stupider reason).

And so far the paperwork to get this work visa has been insufferable.

I had to get my fingerprints analyzed by the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. I’ve had to run around looking for notaries to get papers stamped. I have been told by the Chinese embassy that my papers were not good enough, which resulted in having to take a day trip to Ottawa for more paperwork, than I had to get more notaries…..EUGH!!!!

Oh yeah, and each one of these trips came with a hefty bill.

My hatred for paperwork has been more than justified. It just hasn’t been any fun…..but it is all part of the journey to lead an expat life in China.

While I Wait

Now that it’s in the hands of the Chinese government to issue me an invitation letter, I wait.

While I impatiently wait, I have been playing tourist for the past month.

I discovered the worst sites of Montreal, while still visiting my favorite places in this city.

I visited Ottawa only to realize that half of the city was covered in tents because of the 150th anniversary of Canada.

I climbed my first mountain on a via ferrata in Quebec City, and zip lined down Montmorency Falls.

And while I continue to make a list of sites to visit in western Canada, I also start to prepare for my new life.

From simple things like looking to install a VPN on my laptop and phone just so that I can browse on Facebook/Google/Youtube, to more complex matters like looking for a place to take language classes, to almost impossible things like knowing exactly what to bring to such a journey.

And while I do all that, I wait impatiently.

Prelude to an expat life in China


Are you an expat or have you ever worked abroad for a long period of time? How was the prelude to your trip?

7 thoughts on “A Prelude To The Expat Life In China

  1. I’ve left home a few times. The not knowing what to pack and endless hoops to jump through are good challenges to have. Most recently, I left just over two years ago. I came back at the very end of May and now am exploring western Canada again as I await my next contract back in Saudi Arabia.

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