I Hate Visa Time

Time has again rolled by for having to apply for a new visa. I don’t particularly enjoy having to renew my visa; nothing ever goes to plan. I don’t think we have ever successfully applied for ours in one day. You always hear:

“You don’t have this document.”

“You need the original copy of this”

“Where is blah blah blah copy?”

But our 1 year study visa has nearly run out, so it is a must!

Having to sort out visa things a few times now, we sort of know what exactly we need to bring. We were pretty sure that everything would go smoothly!


One by one, each person is called to a desk and the officer looks through our papers and what not. This is the bit that I dread. They could ask you nothing, and simply carry out checking you have the correct documents, or they could bombard you with questions! This time one year ago I was bombarded with questions about working and studying.

So this time round I was a little nervous. I don’t want to say something wrong or stupid and then have them cancel my visa!

I’ve been hearing lately that the visa officers are becoming more and more strict with visas and who they give them out to. In China, the people who cannot get a work visa, decide to enrol with a university and get a student one, but then never come to class and just work 30-40 hours a week. So now officers are checking random foreigners to see if they have the right visa.

But thankfully with my visa everything was going ok… until he said “Today you will have to pay 800yuan for your visa”

What??? I was only prepared to pay 400yuan… If I was staying for less a year, or even just 364 days, then I only need to pay 400yuan.  I thought all my documents said that I wasn’t applying for a year visa.

I started blubbering and saying that I wasn’t applying for the year one, in which he replied “Do you see here on your passport visa, it says this name, but on your work contract there is another name, so I can’t give you an extension because they are different. I know they are the same company, but they gave you a different name of the company on your work contract then whats on your passport visa.”

He carried on telling us that we could either wait until the current visa is about to expire and then apply, or pay the 800yuan. We told him we couldn’t wait; we would be leaving China only a few days after they expire, so it was impossible.

But then, thankfully he said “well if you want to go to your work company and ask them to change the name, then come back tomorrow and we can process your visa then.”

Oh I was so happy when he said that! I really didn’t want to pay an extra 400yuan.

We didn’t want to have to go the next day to sort it out so we decided to go straight after, get it all over and done with in a day.

We went to our work headquarters half an hour away and they filled in another contract for us. We travelled back to the PSB office and the man was surprised when he saw us “Oh you have the correct one now?”

We both successfully paid and we were finished, having to collect our passports in three weeks, then it’s over! No more worrying!



Yay, we got our visas!

Our 2 week wait is finally at an end! This morning we travelled to the centre of Chengdu to retrieve our new year long visas. Although we gave everything that we needed, we were unsure whether we would need to do a Medical exam. We prayed we wouldn’t, so when we handed over our documents, and when they didn’t mention anything about the Medical, then we presumed we were safe. However I constantly had that niggling feeling that they could ask (and I really wouldn’t be surprised) for a health check.

But, thankfully we received our passports with no problems! That is one less thing to worry about, and knowing 100 percent that we can now travel to Ireland. Leaving in 2 weeks, we will be there for a month, time for me to get my procedure done and then time with the family for Christmas.

I missed 2 Christmases at home, so this was a complete surprise that I would be home for this one. After going home for the summer, Christmas was DEFINITELY not on the cards. But oh well, I’ll enjoy it anyway. God knows when I’ll be back.

Although I will be missing a few weeks of Uni, I plan on trying to study the missed chapters at home and also during my private tutoring before I leave. It is amazing what vocab you pick up, and the random ones that stick.

鬼: gui= ghost.

拉肚子: la duzi= to have diarrhoea.

疯: feng= crazy/mad

Ha, I mightn’t be able to ask for directions, but I can confidently say If I have diarrhoea. Also the word for ‘ghost’ is one that I have stored, although quite useless.

It is amazing though, what words crop up during English class with my students. For instance, I was explaining the word ‘famous’, which she didn’t know. I said the Chinese of it to her and she immediately understood. I’m noticing more and more English words appearing that I actually know the Chinese of them, which is great for me! I’m actually remembering them.

My head even translated something into Chinese which I had forgotten the word in English! We were eating some bbq and I noticed this lady was using extremely long chopsticks while cooking; maybe 3 times the length of normal ones. I told Rafa ‘Oh look at the lady using the long…….’

I actually forgot the name in English for chopsticks, and before I knew it, kuaizi popped into my head! ha although this experience may have just been a once off, there is still hope that in the future I won’t need to translate EVERYTHING in my head.

And with regards to my very bad student, I had a short talk with my PA, and before she tried to convince me to take her again I said NO. No way. Although I feel bad for not teaching her, I don’t feel bad having to put up with her.

The PA said ‘Aisling I’m so sorry for putting you through this.’

I replied ‘You shouldn’t be sorry, you don’t have to be.  It’s not your fault and It’s not my fault either. It’s the parents fault for not teaching her daughter good behaviour. ‘

I advised her to give her to a male teacher; she may be more timid with them. But we’ll see how it goes!





Getting new student visas.

So the time has come for us to get a new visa. Because we leave for Ireland in the middle of December, when we arrive back in Chengdu we will only have 3 days before our current visa expires.  I think we could just about get away with it as we would bring all our documents with us to the airport, but I think we just don’t want to risk it! Get the visa done before we leave so we don’t have to worry about it!

We have most of our documents from the school and work so we are going to the visa office tomorrow and see what they can do. Although we want to get student visas, this means the visa is only for the schools 2 semesters, whereas we would need to get a year visa; we will get the visa this November/December. This means having to get a medical done! For working, I’ve had to get one, but we are unsure whether the officer will let us away with it or not. I’m guessing not! They are very strict. If you only have a copy of a document, they will refuse you; asking for the original, they are that strict! We hope we don’t have to get the medical, but I wont be surprised if they ask us for one!

So that has been stressing me out a little. I think anything related with visas is stressful; at the end of the day, they can simply refuse you there and then. We decided to stay in Chengdu for another year and continue studying so getting student visas is a little easier than work ones.

I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad about that fact that I’ll be here another year!? I’m enjoying studying, but now, the only reason why I’m in China is to study. If that wasn’t the case, I think I’d be gone home long before now! Many of our friends that we have met here are also thinking of leaving in the next year; people from my old and new campus are leaving, people from school are leaving….It’ll be us on our lonesomes soon!

But, I’m sure we’ll meet other people!



The decision whether to study or work in China.

When I first came to China, I wasn’t very interested in learning Mandarin. My aims were to; live in a new country, experience something new, live away from my family, gain new working experience. All of these I’ve now done.

My first stint in China was doing my internship teaching. I suppose I choose this as it was only for one semester. It was to see if i’d enjoy China and like teaching.  After that I went home for 1 month, then headed back out for full time teaching. So then I worked one year full time, teaching all ranges of students.

Then I met Rafa and like him, China started to really annoy me. I couldn’t order from a menu without pictures, I couldn’t understand anyone. Doing simple tasks like asking for directions is literally impossible. These were some reasons why we decided to take up studying Mandarin. Plus, my career path which I will (hopefully) end up in needs an extra language, so thats my biggest incentive.

So from working full time, 20 hours a week, to studying Mandarin in the morning and working 10 hours a week, to me, I much prefer the latter!

Now, I feel like I’m actually doing something worthwhile! I’m slowly picking up more Mandarin out on the streets. For example; we had to go to the police station so we could get a form filled out. The police man asked us in Chinese ‘were we here before?’ I understood some words in the sentence so I pieced it together. For me, that was such a huge achievement! Later, he asked another questions like ‘Do we live in the same place thats mentioned in the form.’ Again, I picked up the few words that I knew and understood.

Last March, we were at the station and he asked us questions and we didn’t understand any of them. So in 3 months we can see an improvement!

For me, I think it was a great choice to start learning Mandarin. I know some people may be confused with whether (if they are going to China)  they should study or work in China, There’s no problem to work while studying, most if not all people do it. But for me, teaching full time was becoming an arduous job. My enjoyment of it was starting to wear, and It felt like all I did was work and work. There was no time to go on holidays or travel. Of course, you do get valuable experience from it. but apart from that, there’s nothing else to show whilst in China. I’m mad at myself that I kind of wasted that time only working and not studying. But I suppose it’s better late than never to realise this!

If you choose to study in China, usually the Uni can sort out your visa and they can get you a student visa. You can also work part time also. Or if you would rather work full time but would like to study Mandarin too, there are loads of tuition available from Chinese people at low rates. Some are even free because they want experience of teaching Mandarin.

I know people in Chengdu that say to me ‘aw I’m jealous you’re studying Mandarin, I wish I could study it’. I think, but you can…  I know people can get into work mode; work the hours and get your wage and that’s your week. But you can study and work part time, then do private tutoring. It’s putting the effort into getting up in the morning, studying, then working that puts people off. It puts me off even thinking about it! 

Anyway, private tutoring is great as you can pay quite a high price. The downfall though is that they can cancel at any time. So it’s not guaranteed money. You also need the contacts and networks to gain students. But this is a great way to earn money.

So for me, learning Mandarin has refreshed my take on China. Although it still drives me mad sometimes, one day I will conquer it, and they’ll be hearing no more 我听不懂。wo3 ting1 bu4 dong3  ‘I don’t understand’ from me!



My new student visa!


Because I started studying in the university, I had to go and get a new student visa. My current one for the year is almost over, and seeing that I’m only working part time, the company has to cancel my current one. Now I’m not sure if they HAVE to cancel it, or if they thought ‘well, she’s not working full time with us so we’ll cancel it on her’ but, whatever happened, it was going to be cancelled.

So we took a trip up to the PSB at the heart of Chengdu. This is where they sort out the visas for Chinese and foreign people. We were both hesitant; usually we were accompanied by a Chinese person that can help us and who know all about this. We didn’t have a clue, apart from having papers for this and papers for that. But we thought ‘hey! Sure we’ll give it a go by ourselves, we have the correct papers so it should be fine!’ Well, it didn’t exactly go to plan!

So we arrived and we were asked did we have originals of everything. We knew we didn’t, as the company told us the copy’s ‘will be ok’. One paper was a copy. But we got moved onto the waiting room. ‘Great!’ I thought, this will be handy, we have everything!’

My number was called, so I walked into the room with the officers. I started to become nervous while she was flicking through all the documents. My boyfriend was a few seats down.

Then the dreaded question ‘Do you have a document from the University to say you can work part time?’ I thought ‘what document??? I gave her everything!….thats it, no visa for me!’ But apparently I left it in Rafas bag which he then gave me. Phew! Thats sorted!

But then… another question. ‘Do you have the original document of this?’ I replied no, saying the company said the copy would be sufficient. Bad news, they wanted the original one. Then she said ‘will the company give you the original one?’ I said yes, to which she carried on.

Picture time arrived, and that was when I knew I made it to the other side! She made sure I knew to bring the original document to her when I pick up my passport and away I went to pay the quite impressive visa fee. Rafa was sitting in the waiting room for me.

So, I was very happy then, explaining to him what she needed, until I hear ‘Excuse me Miss’. I turn around and there she was, with my passport in her hand….. I thought ‘Aw no, something went wrong, she’s giving me my passport back.’ She asked me did I work with the company before in which I said yes. Apparently I needed proof to say that I finished my contract with them.

She ushered me back into the room. Talked Chinese to another lady whilst I nervously waited for the verdict. But by luck, and by the fact that she already put my passport through the system, she allowed, or more likely HAD to keep my passport. Her mistake but lucky for me! So she assured me that I must bring the original document and the contract document to them when I pick up the passport.

And then I was free to go.

But not so lucky for Rafa, he was in the same predicament, but his lady officer wasn’t so forgiving, meaning he has to get the same documents as myself and apply for his visa again.

Hopefully though it will go ok next time as we will have all the correct papers!