A Different Tone

I saw Steve Aoki at Club Syndrome last night in Kunming. No, that was the night before last night, actually. Last night I downloaded the Chinese dating app “Tantan” and spent HOURS of my life compulsively swiping left on pictures of men in the drivers seat of Audis. Then this morning I was abruptly awoken by the racket of some very entitled construction workers in the apartment above me removing flooring. I’ve watched enough HGTV to name that sound with a degree of authority. I had an angry meditation in the prone position in my bed for about an hour with that as music. The people who moved into that apartment about two weeks ago are usually screaming at each other until they loudly sob and throwing things so I guess I can be grateful about the sound of construction. Maybe they’ll insulate.

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That’s me with my arms out really wide at the show. I got a bit of Steve’s cake on my face and my friend Kassie back home says that means I’m famous now so that’s cool.

I’m at Sal’s Restaurant caffeinating and shoveling Tex Mex flavored calories into my fat mouth. My feet are cold and I’m regretting my conscious decision earlier to not wear socks. Steve Aoki was lit as fuck but to be honest my body regrets it. Everything hurts. Especially my neck. It doesn’t help that Sunday I wrecked my e-bike because I was tired and someone braked really hard in from of me. It wasn’t severe or anything but I’m definitely inflamed. I spent about six hours of Monday jumping and fist pumping and swinging my long sweaty hair around. There are no drugs in China so this wasn’t fueled by anything other than joy and adrenaline. Not that I’m into drugs, I just wanted to clarify. It was a real rave despite the lack of illicit substances. I wasn’t planning on going to this event as I didn’t know about it. I was just at Barfly guzzling my obligatory “freakin weekend” pint of porter when I saw some VERY well dressed people walk in and heard the news of this show.

I transferred 288 RMB to a stranger on Wechat who promised me a ticket, hopped on my e-bike, forgoing the helmet in my excitement even though it was only slightly over 24 hours since my sleepy mishap with the brakes, dropped my teacher trousers at the door of my apartment in favor of some tights with an interesting pattern and a very short, very flattering dress and arrived at the club about an hour and a half before Steve Aoki came on. I brought the party in my pocket and began dancing the MOMENT I walked in.

I got the opportunity to exercise my boundaries with two different men who mistook my clothing and good vibes as invitations to touch my body in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. One was super creepy and one was actually pretty cool, I just didn’t feel like being touched. This has been an issue at the forefront of my mind lately, the whole people touching me when I don’t want to be touched thing. My friend suggested that I simply assert myself by saying “Don’t touch me.” Great suggestion, friend. It worked. It turns out that most people respond immediately and rather respectfully to clear instructions. I’m not mad at the two people and I wasn’t inappropriately touched by them after I clearly stated my boundaries. New skills being learned at the ripe age of 26. No need to silently seethe when we can use our words.

I met some VERY cool and seemingly VERY wealthy Chinese teenagers there who I didn’t realize were teenagers until they asked me how old I was when I was in the front seat of their Audi on my way home at 4am. When they told me they were 19, I didn’t actually believe them at first, but alas, it was true. I told them to call me “Nai nai” which means grandma in Chinese and we’ll probably hang out in Dali when I visit in a few weeks.

Besides swiping left compulsively into the wee hours of the morning, I also had dinner with my friend Alexis at my Chinese teacher’s home yesterday. She lives with her parents in a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood. Her parents were very hospitable. The meal was quite delicious. Her mother is a very proficient chef who studied by watching cooking shows. We were stuffed like the many dumplings we consumed upon our departure. IMG_1684

We all agreed that we were this lovely woman’s new daughters and she will be instructing me in the ways of the Chinese kitchen at a date to be determined. That means my Chinese teacher is my sister, which I’m down with. She’s a wonderfully talented and kind woman, pictured below between friend Alexis and I. This is a tower on top of a mountain that we climbed up to for a beauteous view of the setting sun over Kunming. That’s Alexis on the left there. Olive in the middle, and me on the right. My body was sore but it was worth the climb for the view. IMG_1682

I decided to write all this down because I don’t know why. I haven’t touched this blog since a nice man gave me $50 on Paypal to post a link to his apostille website. I hope he’s well and I hope you enjoyed my rambling. Usually my life here is less haphazard and more deliberate. I just wanted you to know that in case you were worried about the no helmet thing. Love to you and yours whoever you are.

Tips for Crushing Your Visit to the Chinese Consulate

I made four trips to the Chinese Consulate in Houston when I was preparing to move to China. I would like to impart to you the wisdom I gained through trial and error. Employ it or learn from your own mistakes, like I did.

  • Arrive first thing in the morning. Lines form very quickly. If you get your documents in early, you can plead your case and pay a little extra money for same day processing. Even if visa or courier services and the Chinese Consulate website tell you that your Consulate doesn’t do this… as of January 2017, the Chinese Consulate in Houston did it for me. Tell them you live far and you can’t come to pick up in person.*
  • Forms submitted to the Chinese consulate should be TYPED in ALL CAPS, and printed single sided. Have a copy for them and a copy for you. A digitally saved version is always nice as well.
  • Payment is typically done with a money order. I recommend leaving the payment for section blank because they want specific wording.
  • Visa or courier services can be helpful but they will likely tell you a few things that aren’t accurate. I was quoted much higher prices than the Consulate charged; I was also told that same day processing isn’t possible. I wouldn’t know these things were inaccurate had I not gone in person to handle my own documents.
  • If you are applying for a tourist visa as well as getting your documents certified, you should probably make separate trips to the Chinese Consulate. Actually, you will most definitely have to make more than one trip because the information you’re using to get the tourist visa is not going to be accurate**, and applying for document verification for working in China at the same time as you’re swearing that you’re just visiting will raise some Chinese Consular Official eyebrows.

There. That’s all I’ve got. I hope it’s helps you. I’ll update you if and when I get more information. I promise. Tell me about your Chinese Consular experience in a comment. Your experience may help a peer.

*I gave a friend this same advice when she applied for her L visa to come visit me in June 2017 and she was refused same day service. Just try. Smile a lot and if you’re frustrated and feel your eyes getting extra shiny from extended pathetic eye contact, let the tears fall and crash around you. I didn’t try it but it might work. Their website also says they don’t do mail service, but they mailed my friend’s visa to her.

**note that I would never officially endorse using inaccurate information on a visa application but I’ll tell you how I did it and why.

 

 

Chinese Consulate Document Verification

So you’ve found a teaching job in China! Congratulations! Now it’s time to get your documents together AND the best part: get them verified by the Chinese Consulate!

This is… umm… this probably won’t be fun but if you follow my instructions, you’llĀ  save money and time. I didn’t have a post to follow. You lucky dog.

This was the most stressful part of my move to China. I hope the details I have provided below are helpful. Please note that this information is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of January 2017. It is based on my personal experience. Your individual experience may vary. Feel free to let me know how your process worked in a comment or email. The description of your struggle, or lack thereof could help a peer.

If you don’t have the time to deal with all of this… and it DOES take time… and money… I’ll link a site to a company who offers Chinese Embassy legalization in the US. You should still read my post, though. If for no other reason than my comedic sense.

There are two main documents that the Chinese consulate will need to verify as a part of your Z visa application: your university diploma and your criminal background check. For the background check, there are two steps. For the diploma, there are three steps. I’ve also included a short section of anecdotal tips about the Chinese Consulate.

Leave yourself as much time as possible to complete the following to save yourself stress and money.

Background Check:

Don’t get a Federal FBI background check. You don’t need it! Most people get a state or even a local one and it’s just fine. If you do end up getting an FBI background check, it’s ok. I got one. It’s going to be annoying and potentially expensive because you will need it to be certified at BOTH the US Secretary of State in DC* AND the Chinese Embassy in DC. Unless you live in Washington DC, you will probably have to pay a company $100 or more to drop off and pick up your documents.

*I will note here that evidently there is a box you can check on the FBI background check which will automatically get you an apostille from the US Secretary of State. This could save you some money and time.

Step 1: Apostille
If you got an FBI check, you can only get an apostille from the US State Department. If you got a state or local check, an apostille can be obtained from the Secretary of State in your State’s Capital, or anywhere the Secretary of your State has an office that issues apostilles. For Texas, it’s only Austin. Call ahead to made sure they have jurisdiction over your document. If they don’t they’ll be able to tell you who does have jurisdiction. An apostille can be obtained via mail as well if you don’t want to go in person.

Step 2: Chinese Consulate
Take your

  • original document with the apostille,
  • the TYPED and printed form for Chinese Document
    Verification,
  • a printed and digital copy for your records and easy editing if necessary,
  • your passport,
  • copies of your passport and any visas in it,
  • be prepared to get a money order to pay for the authentication process, which you’ll provide when you pickup your documents.

Stand in line and nod appreciatively when it feels appropriate.

Diploma:
Note that I was told different things regarding whether or not I had to get my original diploma folded, marked up, stamped, stapled, and stickered. I happen to accidentally have two original copies of my university diploma, so I was alright with having all of the above done.

Step 1: Notarization
Take your original diploma to your university and have them notarize it, stating that it’s
real and you earned it. You can complete this step by mail as well.

Step 2: Apostille
Take your notarized diploma to the Secretary of your State. See Background Check>
Apostille section for more information.

Step 3: Chinese Consulate
Take the original document with the apostille to the Consulate. See Background Check>
Chinese Consulate section for more information.

Stand in line and nod appreciatively when it feels appropriate.

That’s it!
Only a Kori could complicate that process. I mean.. only a Kori could explain that complicated process.

You’re one step further on your journey. Please check out my other posts for more information about the visa process, finding a job, life in China, why I chose China, learning Chinese, and… other stuff.