Some things that I learned about my new home in China - settling in takes a long time!

I've finally accomplished 2 very important things after a month of being here - I have my permanent residency card and am officially registered with Wuhan University. Neither of these things were easy. They required tons of running around and tons of bureaucracy. After all the quarantine health checks, cab rides, unclear answers, unexplainable long breaks, and missing officials - I am happy to say that I've learned a lot about my city. I think this advice is also useful for other cities in China.

  • You need a lot of stamps for anything official, and if one person isn't there, you're screwed. There is not alternative person to stamp your card, you need to wait until they return.
  • In Wuhan, the entire city stops between 12pm and 2pm, and for anything related to the police office and the university, the break starts at 11am and doesn't end until 2:30pm.
  • The 2-3 hour break in Wuhan is equivalent to the Spanish siesta. People sleep at work, eat lunch, run errands like shop for clothes and food, and go online. Although I have found out that a good portion of people use the time to gamble or play games. I have spent time watching what these city officials or administrators do during their break, and most of them who were publicly sight-able were playing mahjong, card games, or games on their cellphones.
  • Do not interrupt policeman or any administrator at any time of the day when they are at their computers watching an online viral video of traffic accidents or anything silly. They will not answer you and will become very upset if you disrupt their viewing time.
  • Though you can definitely interrupt them if they are doing their work - they are more than capable of stopping their work or multitasking to help you.
  • Do not be secure for one moment if you are the first person in line or are already speaking to an administrator that another person won't just cut in front of you, push you aside, or shove their paperwork over your head. You must be prepared to be ousted from your position at all times. So this means that you must speak quickly and be prepared to push someone aside if they try to cut in. Be on the defensive. People are pushy here and will scream at you.
  • If you are cutting it close to their mid-day break, if people care about getting your work paperwork done they will stay until 11:15am, but if they don't, then you have to come back at 2:30pm.
  • Take 30 passport photos of yourself at a mall or photoshop before you take care of any bureaucratic paperwork. Each place will want 4-6 photos. If you don't do it ahead of time, you end up having to pay 3x's the costs and you have to spend additional time in line taking the photo, which then could delay your entire day. RISK
  • Do not trust what anyone tells you, even if it's a policeman telling you info about the police station or a university administrator telling you about how to register at the university.
  • Always say thank you and hello with a smile, even if you never hear anyone else say it. I still believe that a genuine thank you and hello can go a long way - you always will be surprised at who actually smiles back when you smile at them.

So what are your tips for settling into China?