What happens when I land at the airport?
Once your programme is confirmed, you will be directed to buy flights and upload your arrival and departure information into an online form on our site, which our partner schools can view for reference.
Each partner school has different airport or train station pick-up plans and you should communicate directly with your Wechat contact (usually the interviewer) for the best plan. We will assist with communication when necessary, but you must understand that it is your responsibility to ensure you have agreed on your pick-up arrangements with your programme team before coming out to China
The first thing you’re likely to notice when you arrive (if like >90% of those that join us, you’re not a Mandarin speaker) is how different the language is from English, and how difficult it can be to understand things once you get out of the airport. It’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed by this, but don’t worry! Follow the instructions given by the school for your airport pick-up or the instructions on how you can make the transit yourself. If you can’t see your meeting group rightaway, stay where you are and call one of the numbers given to you by the school or your Gotoco representative. Most transport hubs/tourist sites have bilingual staff in case you need help, likewise many people in China are able to speak some English in case you need to ask for assistance. Please also read this FAQ on Mandarin.
If you need to travel from the airport to another location for pick-up, make sure you have clear written instructions in English and Chinese, as well as contact phone numbers. Showing the directions for where you need to go, such as a train station or bus connection, to someone by pointing at the Chinese characters you have written down will help you find your way. Though not everyone speaks English, pointing and miming can still get you a long way.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your passport and other valuables when leaving the airport and travelling on to your school – with everything else going on, and the fact that you may be tired from the long journey, it can be easy to forget about your valuables. While petty theft is often less prevalent in many parts of China than in the UK or USA, you should always still be very vigilant with all your valuables – especially in transit areas/tourist hubs. It might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with this list of scams that tourists sometimes encounter – http://travelscams.org/asia/common-tourist-scams-china/ transit hubs/ – tourist areas are the usual places where you could encounter these.
If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to ask for help—contact either the Gotoco team or staff from your school (or both). And if there are problems connecting to a phone network, try looking for somewhere with free wifi or calling options, e.g. in the airport, in cafés, or restaurants.
Once you arrive on your programme, your school should arrange for you to register your location with the police. This is a normal procedure for all foreigners in China. Speak to your programme coordinators to make sure you have done everything you need to do, and contact Gotoco if you have any concerns.