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Getting Prepared

Passports

You must have a valid passport to travel to China.  If you already have one, please check the expiration date and ensure that it will still be valid at least six months after your last day in China (February of the following year).  If you do not have a passport or if it will expire before the above timeline, see the U.S. State Department site for directions on how to obtain one and apply immediately using their expedited service.

Visas 

To visit China, you are required to obtain a visa.  Before you obtain a visa, check that you have at least one blank visa page in your passport.  Andrew Greenberg in CBE will provide you with a “Visa Application Form for the People’s Republic of China,” and detailed instructions for completing it.  For US citizens, the standard fee for the “F” category visa is $140 (subject to change).

Orientation

Find out about and participate in the China orientation program run during the Spring term by the International Engineering Studies & Programs (IESP) office, led by Amanda Hammett.  This series of about four meetings during the term will provide a lot of useful practical and cultural information that will significantly ease your transition to life in China and your return back to the US. 

Banking

Remember to call your bank and tell them that you will be traveling, so that they don't block your cards for “suspicious activity”. A Bank of China branch with an ATM is located near the main entrance of the university’s Yuquan campus.  You can exchange and withdraw money there – it is open 9am to 5pm, seven days a week.   Bank of China ATM’s accept MasterCard, Visa, Plus, Cirrus, American Express, Diners Club and Maestro cards. Some museums, theaters and small stores and restaurants might accept cash only; if in doubt, ask.
What to pack
Most airlines will allow you to check only one piece of luggage and take one carry-on bag.  Some may allow you to check a second suitcase for free.  Be sure to check with the specific airline your are flying to verify luggage allowances for size and weight.  Label each piece of luggage clearly with your contact information abroad and in the US.  It is also highly recommended that you have some additional clothes in your carry-on bag in case your suitcase is delayed.  

Computers.

Although there might be some computer available for use at the university, many students take their own portable computer. all modern computers have switchable power so they can be charged using a simple adapter plug.  If you need to access those sites, It is strongly suggested to install the VPN (Virtual Private Network) software which allows you to access resources as if you were at the University. Also configure all your internet enabled devices to access the eduroam WiFi network. This way you will be able to connect to WiFi using your UW credentials. Information on how to do that can be found hereKeep in mind that internet access in China is very restricted. Google and most social media sites are completely blocked and you may only access them if you have a VPN installed

Weather

Hangzhou has a subtropical monsoon climate with mild and moist weather and four distinct seasons.  May and June comprise the rainy season, so be prepared for a lot of rain!  The typical temperature in July and August can approach 100F and may be very humid.

Arrival

You will make your own flight arrangements.  It is strongly suggested that you travel with at least one other member of your student group.  In addition to local student agencies (including STA Travel on State Street) and online options, you may also try the follow consolidators who offer tickets at a reduced rate, though they are usually non-refundable and dates cannot be changed: www.travel-depart.com, www.wholesale-flights.com, www.flychina.com (others also available online).  China Southern Airlines is not recommended owing to poor service reported by past participants.

Arriving in Shanghai Pudong Airport:  If you choose to arrive earlier than the group, you can store your luggage at the airport for full or partial days – the best location is between international arrival doors 10 & 11.  Below is a link (in English) to this and other miscellaneous information on the airport’s website:  http://en.shairport.com/2012-11/13/content_15971834.htm.

Buses to Hangzhou: You can take a direct bus to Hangzhou from Shanghai Pudong Airport.  This is strongly recommended if you are just arriving in Shanghai and have missed the group bus.  It is much easier than crossing Shanghai (with luggage) and buying another ticket, even though it will take longer than the train.  Buses leave from the long-distance bus station (Tel: 021-68345743) on the second-floor parking lot across from Gate 15 of Pudong Airport.  Buses depart at 9:30am, 11am, 12 noon, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm and cost roughly 100 Yuan.  The bus takes about 3.5 hours to arrive at the Hangzhou Yellow Dragon Sports Center (soccer stadium), three kilometers east of the International Student dormitory on the Zhejiang University Yuquan campus.  You can take a taxi to the dormitory, which costs about 10 Yuan.

Meals

The first floor of the International Student dormitory has a restaurant that is popular with most students.  Meals are paid for in cash.  The campus also has five other cafeterias.  Generally, hours are as follows, though they may vary depending on the time of year and by cafeteria:  Breakfast (6:30am to 9:00am), Lunch (10:30am to 12:30pm), and Dinner (4:30pm to 6:30pm).  
A prepaid card is necessary to pay for meals in these other cafeterias.  You have the option to purchase a card at the orientation on the first day.  Money can be added to your card as needed, typically on a weekly basis at the cafeterias.  Each cafeteria has different kinds of food – try them all!
Bread, milk, yogurt, cheese, bottled water, and other snacks and staple foods are available at the Education Supermarket (1-2 minute walk from the dorm).  Before you pay, the checker will ask you a question.  They are asking if you want a plastic bag, for which you will be charged a nominal fee.

Traveling in China
Would you like to travel in China outside of the summer lab dates?  Past participants strongly recommend traveling after the course rather than before, because you will then have a better sense of the language, culture, places to see, how things work and the cost of travel.  On weekends expect to have reports to prepare or write up ---  extensive traveling should be saved for after the course, to avoid interfering with your course work.

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