Tips and Hints if you are a RADicle who wants to come to China to teach.
Teabags: If you are a Brit and you like a cuppa tea then I would bring teabags. Ironically you cannot buy decent ‘black’ tea in China unless you have a thing for that abomination they call Lipton’s English Breakfast tea. You will be here for ten months so you need at least 300 tea bags maybe more if you have a couple of cups a day monkey on your back. Green tea is OK and you get a taste for it. But after a hard 45 minutes teaching I like to get back to my apartment for a cuppa and a digestive. Don’t worry you can buy McVities digestives and Hobnobs here so dunk on. British tea is available on Taobao an online store at a premium price because they are imported. You need to befriend a Chinese colleague who will purchase them for you. But they are light enough to stuff in your suitcase to save the hassle of doing that.
Tampons: In most of the big cities it is possible to buy tampons at the larger supermarkets and a chemist (not a pharmacy) called Watsons. However, they are not that popular in China, and will be difficult to find if you are in a smaller town of city, and if you do find them there is little or no choice. A female American friend had regular supplies sent to her from the U.S. You might have to bring a supply with you until you sort out what the situation is where you are. Tampons are available on Taobao an online store. You need to befriend a Chinese colleague who will purchase them for you. (This is because its all in Chinese and your Chinese bank card, when you get one, needs to be set up for online banking – this is all a hassle, I use a Chinese friend for all my purchases – not tampons btw)
This is in my local Auchan supermarket – its a French supermarket these are all that I could see but the second picture shows that the whole rack of shelving on the left side is for Sanitary products, namely towels. The trolley is halfway down the rack.
Condoms: Sex happens in China. You need to be safe. You can buy condoms in China but do you want to trust Chinese condoms called Jizzbon? Durex are also available. However, the fact of the matter is that Western men are physically different from Chinese men, if you catch my drift. You might want to think about buying a box or two of your favourite brand to bring with you.
Also think about this. If you get a Chinese woman pregnant she must get married. If she has the baby out of wedlock then that child becomes a none person. If will not have an ID card that means it has no access to health services or to the education system – it has no future. More realistically, if the pregnant woman does not have a husband then the Party or the Police will forcibly take her for an abortion.
Clothing: If you are a big guy or gal you will find it difficult to buy clothes to fit you here in China. I am a western L who occasionally drifts into an XL/XXL. A Chinese XL does not fit. A Chinese XXL is tight. There are no XXXL’s that I have seen. There are two stores where the sizing is western – H&M and Uniqlo their XL shirts are OK, sometimes they are a bit tight, they do not do XXL. The trousers and shorts are good too, I am a 36 waist and they are fine.
Find out where your local tailor is an have your clothes made to measure. It’s often cheaper than buying in the stores. I recently had a favourite tweed work jacket copied by my local tailor it cost me 800RMB (£80 approx). I had him copy a favourite Ben Sherman short sleeve summer shirt x 2 for 120 RMB each (about £12). I’ve also had two Linen two piece summer suits made also for 800RMB each.
My other tip for UK teachers is go to Primark buy a couple of work shirts (£8 each) and Tee shirts, even trousers there. They last for a year, then dump them and buy new when you are back in the UK. One of the problems with Nanjing is the humidity. When I get back from my summer break in the UK unless I have protected my shoes, clothes etc every thing gets covered in mould – even if Ive only been away for 3 weeks with no AC on in the apartment.