Chinese food is delicious and there are usually plenty of delicacies to choose from—spicy and non-spicy, hot and cold, savoury and sweet. Be prepared to try new things, even if you have no idea what they are exactly. The food in China is very different from the dishes you might be used to seeing in Chinese restaurants at home in Europe or North America, so don’t be surprised if the food you’re presented with looks very unfamiliar. It’s all part of the experience and most of the time you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
If you think you’ll miss English food, maybe bring a couple of things with you from home—Marmite, biscuits, crisps and chocolate all help reduce any cravings for home comforts. Tea is also a good example of something which you can get in China but isn’t quite the same as it is in the UK, so if you’re addicted to English Breakfast Tea maybe consider bringing teabags. There will be plenty of opportunity both to try new foods and to buy things which you recognise from home. Supermarkets contain some interesting surprises and can be fun to explore. The variety of flavours of crisps is particularly impressive, ranging from standard flavours to more diverse ones like yoghurt and cucumber.
If you are vegetarian or have any food allergies or dietary requirements, you should ask one of your contacts at the school how to communicate this to others. Get your manager to write it down in Chinese and English, and carry it with you at all times.
If you have a nut allergy, make sure you communicate this clearly before any meals and have it written down to show restaurants. Peanut oil is used quite commonly in China and you must be very careful to avoid it, if you have allergies.
It is not uncommon for foreign visitors to suffer low intensity traveller’s diarrhoea during their time in China, please consider having medication to cater to this if it occurs, and drink plenty of water.