Bait and Switch

teaching ESL

My last school didn’t keep their promise to provide me with a legal Z visa. The school piggy backed on my prior Z visa and then gave me a F visa that expired 2 days before the end of my contract.

“I can’t teach on a F visa.” I said to the administrator of the school.

“This is China,” was their response, “please move.”

Now, I never missed a class, never took a sick day and my students gave me a documented 90%+ favourable rating.

“I’m sick, I have a bad cold and cough, and schools in Beijing can’t hire me now.” I said.

“We paid you, please move.” They said.

“No problem, but can I stay until the end of the first week of February to find another school?” I asked. (Contract expired January 24)

“No, we have to redecorate. If you don’t move the police will move your things to the street. You don’t understand this is China.” This is what they said.

“The contract stated free Internet to my apartment. When I got here the Internet didn’t work. I was forced to pay 900rmb to connect. I want this money reimbursed.” I said.

“Sorry, we will not reimburse you. Are you going to move or do we have to call the police? You don’t understand, this is China.” They responded.

OK, now I have been job hunting since October and I land a great job doing the course I designed in English for academic purposes, at a wonderful school, and using my material.

Problem is the contract won’t start until September and holiday is about to take effect.

I have been teaching in China for six years and let me warn you about January/pre-holiday. Most of the cheating that takes places happens in January. This is because of the holiday and there is no one around to address a grievance. The school’s always leave you without a proper visa so you have to leave and there is little you can do to bring pressure on them to follow the law. Oh January is a dangerous month. I’ve had two electric bikes, three dogs, and about 30,000 rmb stolen in January.

OK, back to the story, I go to Hong Kong. (1,200 rmb) I get my new spanking 30 day L visa. (1400 rmb) I hired a mover (bill yet to be received) and put my things in storage. I stay in Hong Kong for 2 days, (800rmb) I go to Shenzhen and stay at a bathhouse for 5 days. (1,400 rmb) It’s holiday, nobody is working at the schools and all contract negotiations are dead.

I’m burning money like a good Chinese friend just died, and there is still a month of holiday left.
I fly to Wuhan, (740 rmb) take a three hour bus to Jingzhou (88 rmb) to stay at a friend’s home. I am freezing, my friend’s home has no heat, no Internet, and it is a ghost town at every school during the holiday.

There are 4 or 5 universities that expressed interest in hiring me. The Beijing school offers are now in question because of my beautiful new L visa that will expire on February 20. Seems Beijing’s new strict regulation changes prohibit a school from hiring a teacher unless he starts the visa process in his home country.

So here I sit, freezing my arse off in a local Internet cafe, getting better from a bad cold and on medication. I feel OK otherwise. I don’t have any aches and pains, or fever. Just a nasty cough that brings up some nasty looking green phlegm.

I remind myself and say out loud “this is China” when I spit it up. It’s become my new mantra.

This bait and switch school is owned by a government agency. If a government school can’t show any respect for the law, well then, welcome to the Wild West.

Be careful out there. Chinese have an expression that goes something like this, “In China, everyone’s ass is dirty.”

by Mike McNulty


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