My China Story {Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series}

 

 

 

 

 

Asian-Pacific 2015

This year several bloggers from Multicultural Kid Blogs Community have again gathered to commemorate Asia-Pacific American Heritage Month. While some of us don’t live in the US or not from there, we either have an Asian-Pacific background or reside in the region. 

Last year I shared with you a bit of my family’s background. And you do know I have been living in China for the past 14 years. Today I would like to honour Asian-Pacific heritage by sharing you a story – my China story.

Some time in 2001 I had a dear friend moving to China and telling me what an exciting place it was. She kept calling me and convincing that I should try and come here for at least a year. So I applied to various schools and long story short – I received an invitation to work for an educational company that published books (Little Dragon American English –  the program that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore), and sent teachers to kindergartens to teach. 

I remember how I felt going to the Chinese Embassy, getting my visa, getting my flight ticket and getting help from a bunch of supportive friends.

I remember landing in Chengdu, the first city I lived in. It was a little cold (end of November), but not the cold I was used to: it was humid and the cold would reach down to the depth of my bones and joints. Friends used to take us sometimes to local restaurants where I couldn’t eat the food: it was so full of chilli pepper that my mouth burnt for days if I ate at least something. Just as generous they were and treated us, they also soon understood my misery and would always order extra dishes for me that had no spices in them. They also took great interest in how everything was for me and one family used to invite me often to dinners at their house. They treated me with love and respect and made sure I was as comfortable as possible. This is how I first learned about big hearts Chinese have. 

I spent 3 months in Chengdu and then I moved onto Shenzhen – a big city in the South of China. It was the first time I tried sweet & sour sauce they made lots of food with. I really enjoyed living in Shenzhen- I made lovely friends and I worked in 2 beautiful kindergartens.

Harbin – a city in Heilongjiang. I lived there for a year teaching in kindergartens and learning the basics of Chinese language. Harbin belonged to Russia for a short period of time and since it is very close to Russian border in Far East, there are lots of Russians there working and studying and you can find Russian food and many older people still speak Russian pretty well!!!

My next city for a year and a half was Qingdao. I will always hold dear the time I spent in this coastal city. It is by far my most favorite city in China! The climate is not too humid, not too dry. The winter is also not too cold. But there is some mild snow. The city used to belong to Germany for a very short time and there is an older part of the city where you can find buildings built in Gothic style and the streets paved with stones. Beautiful!

After Qingdao I moved to Beijing. It was a city with a special character (which is not there much anymore – the city is still beautiful but the older structures have been replaced with new, modern and shiny ones). Beijing will always be special to me as that’s where my husband and I got married!

So, once I was done with my contract, I moved to Zhuhai, where I am residing now and where we are bringing up our 3 children. I have written about Zhuhai when participated in Neighbourhoods around the World Series.

So that’s just a summary. 

What have I learned so far about Chinese people? I believe Chinese people have very open hearts. They will treat you with love and respect as long as you are true and honest with them. I can’t say I have never encountered anyone here who is completely the opposite of what I said above. But overall and vast majority of people I met were kind and helpful. Even our best friends, people whom we can trust with all our lives, are Chinese.

This doesn’t really change when Chinese move abroad: they still follow their cultural trends, they try their best to bring children up with dignity and patience. Most of Chinese I know are hard-working people and very persistent in achieving their goals. 

I am grateful for China has brought me lots of experience, both professional and personal, and since this is where my family was born, it will always hold dear in my heart.

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Multicultural Kid Blogs is excited to announce our second annual Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series and Giveaway! See our main page for a full schedule, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaway below!

The giveaway starts Monday, May 4 and goes through Monday, June 1. Enter for a chance to win one of these amazing prizes!

Please note that there are shipping restrictions on some prizes. In the event that the winner lives outside of the shipping area, that portion of the prize will be added to the following prize package.

Grand Prize Package

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series & Giveaway 2015 | Multicultural Kid BlogsThe Grand Prize Package includes:

Personal Tea Ceremony Gift Set from Gift a Feast
Includes everything you need to prepare and enjoy matcha, the tea served in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Enjoy being part of the journey of matcha tea from the temples of 12th century Buddhist monks to today! US shipping only

Calin Yang Doll from Pattycake Doll Company
For the parents of Multicultural, Biracial, Black or Asian children, finding that perfect doll used to be a challenge. But today all that has changed. Pattycake Doll Company is the recognized source for Black, Asian, Hispanic, Biracial, and Multicultural Dolls as well as Dolls for Boys, and donate 10% of profits to children’s charities. This month’s contest winner will receive the most popular Asian Baby Doll in the world – Calin Yang by Corolle.

Asian Kites from Tuttle Publishing
Kids will learn how to make colorful kites while exploring Asian culture and history with this easy-to-follow crafts for kids book.

All About Japan from Tuttle Publishing
2012 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award Winner! A cultural adventure for kids, All About Japan offers a journey to a new place—and ways to bring it to life! Dive into stories, play some games from Japan, learn some Japanese songs.

Hello, Bali from Kids Yoga Stories
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1st Prize Package

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month Blog Series & Giveaway 2015 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

The 1st Prize Package includes:

Udon Noodle Bowls from Uncommon Goods
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Japanese House Architectural Blocks Set from HABA
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All About Indonesia from Tuttle Publishing
A book for children that takes them on an adventure through one of the world’s largest and most culturally diverse countries. Along the way, kids are introduced to Indonesian culture and history, the food, the language, and the natural beauty of this fascinating country!

Fun with Asian Food from Tuttle Publishing
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Indian Children’s Favorite Stories from Tuttle Publishing
This colorfully illustrated multicultural children’s book presents Indian fairy tales and other folk stories—providing insight into a rich literary culture.

2nd Prize Package

second prize Collage

The 2nd Prize Package includes:

Sushi Slicing Play Set from Melissa & Doug
This elegant 24-piece wooden sushi play-food set is packed in a beautiful storage box and includes sliceable sushi rolls, shrimp, tuna, easy-use chopsticks, a cleaver and more. Sushi rolls make realistic chopping sounds when sliced! US/Canada Shipping Only

Countryside from Kevin So
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Book from the Maui New Zealand series from Global Kids Oz
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Angkat: The Cambodian Cinderella from Lee & Low
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Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose About Chinese Musical Instruments from Lee & Low
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Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story from Lee & Low
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Chinese New Year: An Expat’s Experience {MKB Chinese New Year Series 2015}

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This week is all about upcoming Chinese New Year! I have recently published a craft activity – Chinese New Year Card; and I have one more post coming up to review a great CD I got from Little Mandarin! So stay tuned!
Today’s post is a part of MKB Chinese New Year series which started in January and is going to end right about the Lantern Festival in March. 
I have already shared with you on celebration of Chinese New Year here in Zhuhai and Hong Kong and Macau. 
Today I just wanted to talk a little more about the importance of Chinese New Year (or rather known as Spring Festival) to Chinese people. 
This Festival has been celebrated in China for over 4000 years. And needless to say, it is a very old holiday which is especially treasured here. 
There are many different things people do for CNY decorations and food wise. And those vary from province to province and get changed and altered with time. However, 2 traditions that never change are cleaning before CNY and gathering with the family.
Cleaning wise it gets absolutely crazy here: roads are renovated, malls get thorough cleaning, schools and offices get places cleaned that haven’t been cleaned for year. And besides, everyone puts around gorgeous decorations: lanterns, stickers on their doors and hanging decorations on trees and gates. Beautiful statues are made, flowers are planted. 

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Family gatherings are really something: the whole day on CNY eve everyone cooks and cooks and cooks. Families finally sit down for a meal around 6-6.30 and you would be surprised at the number of dishes. In general, in China people make and order more food than they can eat. But apparently, it comes from the times of hunger and having a lot of food on the table, no matter how simple, is a sign of prosperity and generosity. The picture below is not from CNY, but just a small example of some things you would see on a typical Chinese table.

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After the meal, families usually watch TV shows, share stories, have snacks (fruit, seeds, dried eatables, like cookies and nuts). Around 8-9pm everyone goes out to play with firecrackers. It gets awfully noisy but very beautiful as the dark skies are lighted with gorgeous firework designs.
After 14 years in China, observing people during CNY, I can’t say too much changed: it is always the same pre-new year rush for shopping and gifts (traditional gifts are fruit baskets, seeds, nuts, special cookies, sometimes alcohol and red clothes; also, if you are born on that particular year – as in, if it is your Chinese Zodiac year – you have to wear red undergarments for CNY to bring yourself and your family luck!). And it is the same happiness and joy: people around here work hard and they only get to see their families once or twice a year. Some migrant workers leave their children back in their hometown so for them CNY is especially important as they get to see their little ones. 
If you ask me, out of the traditional holidays, I prefer CNY  as compared to NY and Christmas  –  it is just so colorful and special.
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Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Chinese New Year series and giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Enter our giveaway to win one of these great prize packages, and don’t forget to link up your own posts about Chinese New Year on our main page!
Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.
First Prize Package
All About China
From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.
Long-Long's New Year
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long’s New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year’s treats for his mother and little cousin.
A Little Mandarin
From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.
Second Prize Package
US shipping only
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei’s grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.
The Sheep Beauty
Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.
Monkey Drum
From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children’s performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.
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Chinese New Year Card


CNY title
Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year) is celebrated in many countries of the world. So this year some members of KBN decided to create a blog hop to commemorate this wonderful festival.
The year 2015 is the year of the Sheep (Goat or Ram). So in order to relate to this particular year, I have created an activity I made with children in my ESL classes: Chinese New Year Card. It is a simple and fun activity, aimed at children from the age of 3+ to 8 years old. You can use this activity to celebrate any Chinese Zodiac Animal.
If you want to know which Chinese Zodiac Animal falls on a certain year, check this article from Wikipedia.
I also like this video from DreamEnglish.Com that teaches children about Chinese Zodiac Signs:
So, let’s make the card! It has 2 sides: 1 side is an ornament made by weaving method; another side has a Chinese character for Sheep:
The picture is the courtesy of Han Trainer Pro
Materials needed:

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Construction paper – 2 pieces of different sizes (I used a quarter of A3 paper for the card and 1/8 of A3 paper for the ornament)
Stripes made of softer paper (I had a kind of crepe paper, but slightly thicker, which I cut into 5 stripes for the ornament of one color; and stripes that will be used to make the character representing the world “sheep” or “goat”)
Scissors
Glue
Process:
1. Fold the smaller piece in half, then fold the top where the opening is a bit. Cut 5-6 times until that fold (so the cuts remain within the paper but you don’t cut off the pieces).
2. Open the paper and take the stripes you made for weaving and start weaving. I taught the children words “over” and “under” in order to introduce the weaving technique. You should get this result:

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3. Now, use some glue and stick the pattern in the middle of the bigger piece of construction paper, like this:

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4. Let’s turn the bigger piece around and create the character by sticking the pieces you made for it onto the surface. It will look somewhat like this:

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Note: younger children will need a lot of help with both weaving and character making!
5. You can give the card to your friends, family members or teachers. You can also add a string and hang the card up!
We are looking forward to Chinese New Year as my husband and my daughter get 2 weeks off for it!
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Please visit the landing page over at Pickle Pie to learn more about this blog hop!
cny
Check the list of participating blogs below:
Chinese New Year Fortune God Mask from Witty Hoots
Chinese Lantern Sun Catchers from The Gingerbread House
TP Roll Chinese Lanterns from In the Playroom
Thumbprint Chinese Zodiac Craft for Kids from Fun Handprint Art
Cheese Chinese Lanterns from Danya Banya
Wool Painted Fans from Crafts on Sea
Sheep Stick Puppets from Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Felt Shape Sheep from Mama Smiles
Sheep Letter Recognition from Something 2 Offer
Chinese (non firework) Firecrackers from Peakle Pie
Chinese New Year Card from Creative World of Varya
Chinese Dragon Puppets from Messy Little Monster
Paper Plate Chinese Dragon from Kiddy Charts
Dragon Painting for Preschoolers from Learning and Exploring Through Play
Bubble Wrap Sheep Craft from Multicraftingmummy
Chinese Dragon Dance from Study at Home Mamma
Chinese Zodiac Animals in Lego from Planet Smarty Pants

  Link your activities and craft for Chinese New year below:    

Making Christmas Traditions in China

Last year MKB had a very successful Christmas In Different Lands series, so naturally, this year we decided to create one more! It has now because MKB’s tradition to ask various multicultural blogs to participate and share how this big holiday is celebrated around the globe. The following post is a part of Christmas in Different Land 2014 Series!
vegetables
I have already written about Christmas in China and I have also mentioned that as Baha’is we don’t view Christmas the same way the others do. Nevertheless, we are not against this holiday as it has integrated in many cultures not as a religious holiday anymore but also in a way to have fun and enjoy time. This is the case in China: Christmas is not a public holiday, however you will see so many beautiful decorations all over and parties, especially for kids.
As an English teacher and a foreigners I am often asked to help facilitate a Christmas activity. Recently I was teaching a class on baking Christmas cookies!
XMAS1
We have also learned that in the area where we live once a year expats gather on 24th afternoon for a Holiday cheer and share snacks and socialize.
Since just as every expat we learned to build our own traditions, I thought I could share some thoughts and quotes by other expats and local friends who live here and celebrate Christmas in China:
1. Putting up  a Christmas tree is easy – they are available around Christmas all over the place, even in small towns. But if not – taobao.com  (local web, similar to amazon) will have it all for you1
2. Inviting friends over or spending time with the family is a great way to bond. Chinese are very fond of foreign holidays so they will gladly partake in festivities.
3. Attend local Christmas parties and events: they can get loud but nevertheless they are festive and fun! There are always great promotions around Christmas too.
4. Don’t have high expectations and learn to adapt: it is never “like back home” because it is a completely different place. But you can still get the best out of it since the whole holiday spirit is a state of your mind!
xmas
Here are a few quotes from local expats:
“For us, we celebrate Christmas day in the office/factory, working (if it falls on a workweek). Sadly, Christmas day isn’t a holiday here. That’s why whenever possible, we take a vacation leave to our home land to celebrate Christmas there. But whenever we are left here in China, we celebrate it with co-Filipino families. We either prepare homecook meals or we dine out in restaurants with special Christmas menus. In Shenzhen and Guangzhou, the Filipino community holds a yearly Christmas Party (usually held just before the others have their Christmas vacation)” – M.R, Philippines.
“Go to church at Hong Kong or Macau, back Zhuhai dinner with some friends.. if anyone want celebrate together are welcome” – H.J
“Depends if hubby can get the day off work, but generally we spend it the same way as we would in the UK with family, presents and a BIG CHRISTMAS DINNER YUM!” – C.T., UK (Wales)
“In Christmas eve we will send apple to each other ,because Christians eve in Chinese is “ping an ye” and apple is “ping guo”- ZHY, China
“Family and friends together for dinner and a fun game of present swapping/stealing game!”- J. L, USA
“For me growing up Christmas was all about tradition! So it’s exciting now trying to recreate some of that w/ my own family. We bake cookies to leave for Santa tonight and for M to take to work. Then tomorrow my hubby makes a seafood stew. He is SO proud of his recipe. After some time In Australia we’ve adopted Boxing Day now too and of course as Christians we celebrate the real reason for Christmas by acknowledging and showing gratitude for Christ’s birth.  Unfortunately no church service here for us, but we will share the story with [our son] and give God the joy.” – S.G, USA
“On 23rd we bake cookies, then we have family dinner on 24th and open presents on 25th! It is not like back home as there is no snow, but it is still magical” – S.T, USA

 

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To learn more about Christmas in other countries, please click on the picture above!
I wish you Happy Holidays and I hope you get the most out of them!

China 101: Giving Birth in Zhuhai Part 3 {Things to Take to the Hospital}

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If you read my ABOUT page,  you will learn that I am not just an expat and a stay-home mom: I am a qualified professional and I try my best to form my opinions as neutrally as possible in order not to sugar-coat the life here nor to make it sound like China is a horrible place. It is really neither and like everywhere it is a special place with its own tradition, rules, regulations and culture.

When I first got pregnant I came across a lovely lady who was about to leave Beijing and who gave me several books on pregnancy, including Best Friends’ Guide to Pregnancy which I loved. She had also shared with me a list of things I would need to take with me to the hospital which I later modified and elaborated to suit hospitals in Zhuhai.

This list I shared with a few friends and they all agreed that it was quite helpful especially for first time moms and expat moms planning on having a baby in Zhuhai. I guess some of it would be appropriate for local moms, but as I said above – the cultural trends on whole childbearing are at times quite different. So if you are a local mom you will benefit from this post by learning what hospitals here have to offer. If you are an expat mom, besides the former,  you will also learn what will be useful to you in the hospital and what you shouldn’t bother preparing.

Note: make sure you have your passport with you and your hospital file!

Before I share the list with you, here’s what local hospitals don’t offer to new moms:

1. There is no well-estahlished breastfeeding support. You will find that while everyone is for breastfeeding,  formula industry is intertwined and pushed to hospitals here.  So if you plan on breastfeeding,  your best shot is BTDT moms, family members and YouTube. You are also welcome to engage my professional services as I am a breastfeeding consultant and a baby massage instructor;  and I can teach  you the basics of newborn care. For more information please contact me via my email address or via my other website – Zhuhai Family Connections

2. As I mentioned in Part 1 – you will not be allowed into the NICU ward for as long as the baby is there. There are some visitation hours but you are not allowed to hold your baby or feed him.

3. There is no food service at the hospitals. There are some canteens and restaurants around but usually the food is brought by family. I personally think it has to do with the fact that every family has traditions on what women should eat postpartum. But may be hospitals just don’t want to bother with it.

4. No one will teach you how to swaddle the baby. So you have to ask someone to show you or watch some videos online and practice on a doll.

5. No one will teach you how to bathe or massage your baby.  Well, they might show you how to bathe the baby but they won’t let you try under their supervision.

6. No one will bother with the car seat. So get your own if you feel like having one.

As I get more feedback from fellow expats I’ll be adding and editing.

Now, here’s that list you’ve been waiting to read.

Things for Mommy:

1. Hospital clothes. If you are of a small or medium size, you don’t need to bother with special clothes for hospital as they have pajamas they give you to wear. If you are of a large size and above, you might want to bring your own clothes to wear. Don’t bring anything fancy as it will get stained in all possible ways.

2. Hospitals provide with maternity sanitary pads and while some of them are super comfortable especially for women after c-section,  some are not and are incredibly hard to change or wear. So do your homework and bring your own. Plus you’ll save some money on that!

3. Hospital doesn’t offer any soap or other personal hygiene items.  Tooth paste,  tooth brush,  soap, body wash, sponges, shampoo,  towels – all should be yours. Note: it is not customary here to shower after having a baby for some days (just sponge baths), so you might be told you can’t do it. I personally wouldn’t recommend making your c-section scar wet for about a week so it has time to close over better.  But go with what is usually done back home!

4. Cooling/heating pad. You won’t get ice to put on your scars or sore areas.

5. Important: phone charger! You do want to be in touch with the rest of the world.

6. Painkillers. You are given a gelatinous IV that slowly melts for pain.  But it is not enough for some. So you can consult with a pharmacist back home and bring your own painkiller with you. Just to get something as simple as paracetamol requires doctor’s prescription there and you might end up waiting for a while as there are just too many people and few doctors!

7. Lanolin cream if you plan on breastfeeding. I found Medela has the best type and it can be purchased in Macau or Hong Kong in baby shops.

8. Nursing pillow is good but not a must. However it does help a lot if you had a surgery and plan on breastfeeding.

9. Slippers. Because you won’t get any at the hospital.

10. Cups and cutlery.

11. Toilet paper. Yes, don’t be surprised – they often run out or don’t even have any!

12. Nursing bras or comfortable cotton bras if you won’t breastfeed + nursing pads. Whether you breastfeed or not , milk will come in and it might start leaking, more for some than for others.

13. Comfortable old underwear that you can throw away or disposable underwear. I don’t need to tell you why. The type we call “grannie’s panties” will be your best friends for at least a month.

14. Load your phone/mp3 player/ iPad with  favorite music. It will help you relax when they baby is sleeping and you can’t no matter what everyone says about sleeping when the baby sleeps.

Things for  baby:

1. Unless you want to take fancy pictures of your baby there is no need to bring clothes to wear at the hospital – they will give clothes and blankets for the baby which you give back when discharged.

2. If you want to use your own clothes for the baby don’t bother with too many:  onsies and swaddling blankets will be enough. Plus baby hats and socks. You will probably need onsies 2-3 per day.

3. Going home outfit.

4. Diapers and wipes. They will give them to you at the hospital but they will also charge. Plus if you want to cloth diaper, you will definitely need your own. Here’s a little secret: babies “go” quite often. Some babies don’t. But majority do. So your big expense will be diapers – choose your brands and deals wisely!

5. Pacifier/binky if you plan on using one. Hospital will not give you one nor introduce it.

6. Burping towels/cloth. Bring many! I had at least 10. Regular small towels would do.

7. Diaper cream or just plain Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly). Plain Vaseline worked the best for us as it is truly hypo-allergenic and it prevents moisture and newborn’s poop from irritating very sensitive baby’s skin.

8. If you plan on formula feeding, I suggest bringing your own formula and gear. While hospital formula is fine, you will later give another type to your baby and he may not accept it. Plus, formula at the hospital is expensive and distributed by their own schedule. You can wash the bottles right there and have your own electric steriliser handy.

Few words for dads: bring yourself a pillow and a blanket, and changes of clothes plus whatever else you need. Even in Super VIP room there is only 1 pillow and 1 blanket for moms!

Well, that’s about it. If you have more suggestions based on your experiences – let me know!

China 101: Giving Birth In Zhuhai Part 2 {Birth Registration, Certificate and Visa}

birth
After getting so many responses on Part 1, I decided not to wait and write about a very important part of having a baby in Zhuhai and China in general: obtaining birth certificate, registering the birth with local authorities and obtaining visa.
When our first daughter was born in 2008, I was one of 2 foreign women that year who gave birth in Zhuhai. So at that time we took time to get the birth certificate, we never heard of nor did we register the birth, and we got the passport when we got it and then got the visa. I think it took us nearly 3 months for everything. No one minded. No one said anything.
In 2012 when I was just having my 2nd child, a friend who had given birth 6 months before, was trying to exit the country with her baby and was subjected to a big fine. Reason? No birth registration, no visa obtained at a proper time. As I found out later, this was the second family that had suffered the consequences of that mysterious birth registration.
I was on a mission: I went to the exit-entry bureau and I said I had a baby. They nodded and said OK. I asked whether I needed to register it. They told me when she’d get her passport. So, off I went.  We tried to register the baby at the police station with a birth certificate but were told there was absolutely no need.  And off I went again.
When we came to apply for her visa over a month later, we were told that we … didn’t register the birth! I was so shocked and I started crying because I ran a scenario that my friend just recently went through: big fine and the child HAS to leave the country to get a visa to re-enter China. To be “fair” (but really not because my friends were never told anywhere they HAD to do it within certain time!), my friends applied for everything when their baby was 6 months. So, perhaps just because we were late by a couple of weeks, or may be seeing my “crocodile” size tears, all puffed with one baby in a sling and another one in a stroller, we were sent to a “back door” where a female officer came in, interviewed me, wrote down something in some kind of a form and we were let off with a warning.
This made me gather all possible information on how birth registration is done and the 3rd time around I made sure we had all documents ready (even though it cost me some running around 10 days postpartum after a c-section!).

 

Note: this process applies when both parents are not Chinese. If at least one parent is Chinese and you wish your child to be a non-Chinese citizen, the process might be somewhat different.
Birth certificate:
 I gave birth at Women and Children’s hospital, so please use this just as a general reference. The process might be longer in other hospitals and/or slightly different. The procedure at MCH is quite simple: 7 days after being discharged from the hospital (or any time later), you need to gather the following documents:
1. Pink paper slip you are given at the hospital when you are getting discharged and after you have cleared all your bills. They WILL tell you that this is needed for applying for the birth certificate.
2. Receipt stating you have paid all the hospital bills.
3. A copy of yours and your spouse’s/partner’s passport page where your name is written and your picture is located.
Once you have gathered it all, you go to a designated at the hospital place on certain days (e.g. at MCH it is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm ONLY). You take a number and then when you are called you will give your documents, fill the form (if needed – with the 3rd baby I filled it all when I was getting admitted to the hospital and only had to fill in the baby’s name) and wait for about 15-20 minutes. There is no charge for the certificate – it comes as a package with your birth.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend laminating the certificate since sometimes the authenticity may need to be proved (e.g. when we were applying for the passport and had to translate and legalize it at the Notary’s).
And don’t forget to ask all the questions from the staff on birth certificate – often the information is not volunteered!
Congratulations!
Birth registration:
Every Embassy takes different amount of time to issue the passport and has different procedures for that. So, first of all, here’s what the law states on foreigners having babies in China: all foreigners must register birth within 1 month from the time the baby was born. They must also obtain a passport and a Chinese visa for their baby within 3 months from the time the baby was born.
Here is how you register the birth:
1. First and foremost, you MUST be registered at the place of your residence despite the type of visa you have (tourist, business, employment or family).
2. Take your police registration, yours and your spouse’s passport, your baby’s birth certificate to your local PSB and ask your baby to be given the same registration at the place of residence as yours.
NOTE: They may have NO clue how to do it. So instruct them: there is no need for a photo, there is no need to fill anything except baby’s name as in the birth certificate, date of birth, birth certificate number and address. THAT’S IT. Expect them to call their bosses – INSIST on them calling their bosses for clarification.
3. Next step is the registration of birth at the exit-entry bureau (also known as the immigration bureau – a place where you apply for your visa).
Address in Chinese: 珠海市公安局出入境管理处珠海市香洲区香洲香华路493号
咨询电话:0756-8640525 0756-8640526
You will need the following documents:
– both parents’ passports + copies of the visa pages and information pages;
– baby’s birth certificate + a copy of it
– baby’s police registration + a copy of it
– both parents’ police registrations + copies of them
Take all these documents to the office Monday through Friday 8.30 am to 12 pm and 2.30 pm to 5pm. Check all the documents on the 1st floor, on your left as you enter at the tables. You will be given a number and you will be directed to the 2nd floor. Once the officer on the 2nd floor accepts all you documents, you will be given a kind of receipt with a bar code on it and your child’s name. THERE IS NO FEE TO BE PAID. You must keep this receipt and once you are back to apply for the visa, you must present this receipt along with other documents.
There. After jumping a few hoops, your child’s birth is now registered and you can go on with the passport and visa application. Once your received the passport, you need to repeat the police registration process. This time only the visa space and the date of entry to China will remain empty. This registration sheet will be needed for visa application.
NOTE: If your Embassy/Consulate is able to issue a passport before your child is 30 days old, it means you can apply for visa right away and you can skip registering birth with the entry exit bureau. You will just need to register at the police station with the passport (not birth certificate).
Visa Application:
The final step after which you can sit back and relax!
You will need the following documents:
1. Both parents passports and baby’s passport + copies of visa pages and photo pages.
2. Both parents and baby’s police registrations + copies
3. Bar code pictures for the baby. What is it? You go to any Photo shop, take a regular passport size photo + ask for the bar code picture – each photographer has an access to a special website where this bar code picture is registered.  This is possible to arrange right at the exit entry bureau on the 1st floor. But it will cost some 10 yuan or so more. As well as you can take copies of all your required documents right there.
4. Filled application form – you will get it when you give your documents for a check on the first floor at the tables.
4. If at least one of the parents is legally employed in Zhuhai and has a valid work permit, you will need the original work permit, copies of all filled in pages. PLUS, you need the following letter to be filled with your information and your baby’s information and stamped by your company of employment. Remove English text before printing this out.
Disclaimer: the original source of the letter sample is located at VisaChina.Com However, it has been modified for a particular city and a particular situation.
*********************************************
申请函
珠海市公安局:
现我公司员工:
姓名(Full Name):
国籍(Nationality):
护照号码(Passport Number):

的家属
姓名(Full Name):
国籍(Nationality):
护照号码(Passport Number):

需要办理家庭签证,望批准!
致敬
公司盖章(Company stamp here)
     年  月
*********************************************
In case if you are here on a business or tourist visa, you may be asked what your purposed of stay in China is. But that’s quite rare!
So, here. If I missed anything, please let me know! If you have any questions – please contact me via comments or email me!
Stay tuned for the next post!

China 101: Giving Birth in Zhuhai Part 1 {How to and hospitals}

Having a baby in China for an expat is a unique experience. In general hospital experience here is very different from the one in the “West”: long lines, impatient patients, sometimes rude nurses, sometimes incompetent doctors… But overall, I must say the experience of having 3 babies in Zhuhai, prenatal, post-partum and general medical care so far has been mostly a positive experience.
In this series of posts I will summarize certain experience of that and those of my friends, plus share some important information on what to do birth registration and obtaining visa. One of the posts I will write exclusively in Russian as I wanted to summarize the experience and procedure of getting a Russian passport for my children in all details – I had such a hard time collecting all the information and it was given to me in bits and pieces. But… that’s for later.
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So… you took a test. You found out you are pregnant. You are in Zhuhai. What’s next?
Step 1. You go to the hospital and take a test to confirm the pregnancy. If you are over 6 weeks, you will be offered an ultrasound to check for the heartbeat. Once it is established that you are indeed pregnant with a viable fetus… you’ll be sent home and asked to come back at 12 weeks. Before 12 weeks the pregnancy is not observed, unless there are complications, such as bleeding, in which case you will be given a course of treatment accordingly. There is no blood test offered to check for beta/HCG levels, however, you can insist  on getting one.
Note: you can always request more tests based on your previous pregnancies or family history. E.g. I had to get progesterone treatment with my first, so with my 2nd I insisted on checking my beta and progesterone levels and after discovering they were on the lower side, I took a short course of treatment.
Step 2. Once you have reached 12 weeks in pregnancy, you will see your obstetrician and given a bunch of blood work papers and other tests. Your SO will need to come in as well to check his blood type (they are just looking at your and his Rh). Then you just see your doctor once a month until week 27, then every 2 weeks until week 36 and every week until birth.
Estimated cost of prenatal care is close to 3-4 thousand Chinese yuan. That includes several B&W ultrasounds, 2 growth ultrasounds (3D).  However, you will not be told the gender of the baby. It is strictly prohibited in China and punishable by law if a doctor or a technician tells you the baby’s gender. So many people go to Hong Kong or Macau if they want to find out the gender and the gender ultrasound costs anywhere between 400 and 800 Chinese yuan.
Step 3. Birth. If you are having natural birth, there is no way to book a room. You will have to suffice with what is available at the moment. Good thing is that you can see a doctor anywhere, even back home, and then just show up at the hospital for birth (either natural or a c-section).
If you are having a c-section, you need to book the surgery. However, you can’t book it more than 1 weeks in advance. If you want a particular doctor to perform a surgery on a day he/she is not on duty, prepare to give a “red envelop” to said doctor – a monetary gift for him/her to take “trouble” to change his/her schedule. Or you can inquire when said doctor is on duty and have the hospital book for you accordingly.
You will also need to book the post-partum room. That can only be done 2-3 days before the surgery. Unless you have a friend who has strong ties with the hospital and can guarantee you earlier booking, usually even with regular connections it is not possible to predict when and how many rooms, and which rooms will be free.
Estimated birth and post-partum care cost:
Natural birth – 3-6 thousand Chinese yuan
C-section – 7-15 thousand Chinese yuan
The cost depends on a doctor who performs birth/surgery, type of the room you get (common room where you share with 2-3 other women; regular VIP room; or Super-VIP room which some hospitals offer; number of days you stay; procedures and medicine you get during the stay).
Normal duration of stay:
Natural birth – 3-4 days
C-section – 4-5 days
You can, however, insist on being discharged earlier. For example, with the 3rd baby I was only given antibiotic drip plus other stuff for 2 full days. On 3rd day there was absolutely no treatment. So I insisted on being discharged a day earlier as I didn’t see a point of paying for an extra day where no procedures were offered to me or the baby.
Step 4. Once you are discharged, for the first 3 weeks, once a week you should have a nurse/doctor visit you at home to check on how you are healing, check on your baby’s weight gain, growth and umbilical cord stamp. It is also a good opportunity to get some practical advice if you are a first time parent and register anything abnormal. These visits are free of charge. However, the doctor may not speak any English (though mine did a bit plus u can speak some Chinese.)
You will also be given some papers from the hospital that you present at yours and your baby’s 42 days check up. Note: it should be preferably be done at the hospital you have birth at as they have your record. But another hospital would do.
Here is a list of 3 hospitals which have had foreigners give birth in before and are considered the best in Zhuhai:
Maternity and child healthcare hospital (MCH) – also known as Women and Children’s hospital
Address: 541 Ningxi Rd, Xiangzhou, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
Tel: +86 7562313088
珠海市香洲区柠溪路543号
Short review: by far considered the best for maternal and child care. To see the doctor one needs to wait in line. It is possible to prebook your visit, however you will still need to get a number in the queue.
Offers 3 types of post-partum rooms:
– common room (2 to 4 people share, offers a bed for a mom and a baby, shared TV set, bathroom & shower shared; you can pay a small fee extra to get a folding bed for daddy or a family member to stay overnight);
– VIP room (2 beds and a baby bed and a simple sofa, own bathroom & shower);
– Super-VIP room (own little kitchen or/and living room, microwave, own bathroom & shower).
No food is serve at the hospital. There is a new renovated wing with better rooms. Excellent NICU, however parents aren’t allowed inside (general policy in China).
There is no English speaking service but some doctors and nurses can speak some English and guide you through the process.
#1 People’s hospital – also known as Ren Min hospital
Address: 79 Kangning Rd, Xiangzhou, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
Tel: +86 7562222569
珠海市康宁路79号
Short review: decent care. To see the doctor one needs to wait in line. It is possible to prebook your visit, however you will still need to get a number in the queue.
Offers 2 types of post-partum rooms:
– common;
– VIP.
No food is served at the hospital. However it’s location is close proximity to many good restaurants and Aeon shopping mall (with Jusco supermarket inside – a franchise of Japanese chain of supermarkets).
The English speaking service aka VIP department is in a process of being established. There are quite a few English speaking staff who can help guide you through the process.
#5 Zhong Shan University Affiliated hospital – also known as #5 hospital or Zhong da hospital
Address: Zhong Da Wu Yuan, Xiangzhou, Zhuhai, China
Tel: +86 756 252 8181
珠海市香洲梅华东路52号
Short review: it is located quite far away from downtown. The main positive thing about this hospital is the foreigner- oriented VIP department: a nurse will assist you through the whole process and there is no need to wait in long lines to see the doctor nor to do tests. However, the rooms are quite old (though more or less clean), so may not deem attractive to everyone.
KEEP IN MIND: you can’t really expect “Western” standards in Chinese hospitals. The system is far from perfect but it works. At some point or another you WILL get frustrated with the system. But this is the best you can get at the moment and there are quite a few foreigners who managed to have quite successful birth here, myself included.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I will write in more details on how to obtain your baby’s birth certificate and what to do next.
If you have more questions – leave a comment and I will get in touch with you!

China 101: Moon Festival

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I am sure you have heard it all about Chinese Moon Festival: it is celebrated anywhere in August, September or October. Traditional food is mooncakes – stuffed cakes, that often contain preserved eggs or two (significant to Chinese tradition and the history of the Festival).
However,  you may not know that Moon Festival is the time these mooncakes are heavily… traded. Yes, I didn’t make a mistake. We have ourselves have “recycled” the mooncakes since the number of boxes we have received in the past was simply overwhelming. I remember few years ago we had about 10 boxes plus several coupons to receive more boxes. So we gave many of them away,  shared with friends who came to visit and ate them ourselves.
In 13 years in China I only tasted 2 types of mooncakes which I could honestly eat and eat and eat: one was given to my husband by his school. Each teacher only got 1 mooncake as apparently it was from some very expensive bakery (we were never told the name!). And no wonder – it was so tasty, it was literally melting in my mouth!
And the other one  – Häagen Dazs ice cream mooncakes. Now, those were absolutely delicious!
If you are eager to try the mooncakes, there is one tip from me to you: don’t ask detailed list of ingredients unless you are allergic to something and don’t want it to be there. Some ingredients might kill your desire to eat a mooncake (e.g. pig fat, also known as lard).
Other than that, enjoy the holiday if you are celebrating and be careful in crowded places and lock your bikes extra well – holidays are always the time when pickpocketing and bike stealing are on the rise.
Happy Moon Festival to you all!

China 101: Tips And Experience Sharing {Intro}

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I have been getting an increasing number of inquiries from expat families  planning to move to China, in particular to Zhuhai,  where we currently reside. I have also been told I should write a bit more about our hands – on experiences here with schooling,  birth, medical care and whatever else would be beneficial to families and/or single expats planning to come here.
So I have decided to start China 101 series in order to share this useful information.
Meanwhile if you have questions about life in China and Zhuhai in particular – welcome to contact me and I will do my best to share the necessary information!

Creative Tuesday: Snow Flower

After a break, I am back with Creative Tuesday and hope to bring more interesting activities and crafts!

snow flower

In China people celebrate Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, usually end of January-beginning of February. It is considered a time when we say good-bye to winter and welcome Spring. This year Spring Festival day falls on January 31st. To celebrate the end of winter, I created this simple, yet engaging craft – Snow Flower.
What you need:
Few cotton balls
A paper cup
Glue
Scissors
Crayons
How to make it:
Cut the sides of the cup down to the bottom into 8 parts.
Open the sides and turn the cup bottom up – facing you.
Brush the glue over the parts, pinch small pieces of cotton and stick them over.

snowflower 1

When finished, take crayons and color the middle. I asked the children to color with different crayons in layers. It creates a very nice combination of colors!
You can also add a ribbon or a thread on the side to hang your Snow Flower.
snow flower 2
This activity helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. And of course, it encourages creativity!