Westerners stand out in China, and they can be easy prey. Be careful when you’re out and about.
It’s OK to go out alone, but for your first few weeks in China, it’s better to hook up with friends or ask them to meet you before you head out.
Keep a business card for the school you work for and a name card with your address so you can remember how to get home.
Be wary of over-anxious English speakers you haven’t been introduced to. There are scam artists everywhere and some of them speak English quite well.
Expect to pay more at markets than the locals do. If you’re not sure how to make purchases at the local markets, try standing behind someone and watching what they’re buying. Try offering the same amount as the previous buyer, but don’t get upset if you’re asked to pay more. Paying a ‘foreigner’ price is a fact of life in China.
Most taxi drivers are honest and fair, but sometimes you’ll meet one who wants to take you on the scenic route. If you can’t express that you know you are being cheated, and you don’t want to pay the few extra RMB he is scamming you for, just shout out, “TING, TING, TING”, and the driver will stop.
Never carry more money on you than you can afford to lose. As in most cities, pickpockets are everywhere.
Don’t drink the tap water.
Do not eat street food during your first few weeks in China. Wait until your system has had time to adjust properly.
Markets are best in the morning, especially for things like meat and fresh produce. It’s ok to bargain when you shop.
Always take tissue or toilet paper with you when you go out. Most public facilities do not have toilet paper.
It isn’t necessary to carry your passport and residence card with you. Make photocopies and leave the originals at home.
(By Carrie Kelenberg)