China requires that you have a full medical check in order to get your residence permit to move into the country. Or maybe it’s the visa. I’m really not sure. To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t figured out the difference in all of these different types of documents you have to have to move here. I do know there are a lot of them. And they take many, many stamps and signatures and passport photos and weeks of time to get it all sorted out. I’m so glad that the company takes care of this sort of thing for us. I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to sort it all out ourselves.
Anyway, back to the medical check. We were told up front that in order to move to China the government requires you to get a full physical, including bloodwork, EKG, chest x-ray… the works. We’d already heard stories from another family who’d been for their look & see visit a couple of months before and had to get their medical check in Beijingâ€¦ let’s just say we were sure we wanted to avoid getting the physical in China if at all possible. Walking around a hospital from treatment room to treatment room wearing one of those sexy hospital gowns in a place where everyone stares no matter what you’re wearing, was NOT our idea of fun.
Keep in mindâ€¦ we’re the guinea pigs. Our company has never sent anyone from the US to Shenyang before. We get to be the practice run, work out all the details for future expats moving to China. (p.s. I just learned that the term “expat” is a term that a lot of people aren’t familiar withâ€¦ actually before this experience, I didn’t know what it meant either. “Expat” stands for expatriateâ€¦ a person who is living outside of their native country. A foreigner. An outsider in a lot of ways. A “laowai” is the term in Chinese.)
Then we found out that if we print out the medical check forms and take them to our doctor, we can have the physical done in the US. Woo hoo!
We don’t have a family doctor.
Yes, I know. Everyone should have a doctor. What if you get sick? What if there is an emergency?â€¦ blah, blah, blah. Bottom line is, we’ve never needed one, thankfully. And with moving every couple of years, changing jobs and insurance companies multiple times it just never happened.
So I’m scrambling around trying to find one that will get us in for a physical. Who knew that would be such a difficult task?! I mean, we’re not even sick, you’d think that would be the easiest patient to see. Apparently, doctors aren’t really in a hurry to see healthy people.
(Although, to see a doctor when you’re sick, you have to have first seen them when you were healthy. But if you can’t get in to see them when you’re healthy because you’re aren’t sick yet, how do you ever get to see a doctor? It’s quite a quandary. Things that make you go “hmmm”.)
Finally we got in at Doctor’s Care in Greenville and they performed our physicals and filled out the necessary paperwork (which took hours by the way. Hours we didn’t really have to spare, but we made time so we wouldn’t have to get the physicals in China). We were pretty nervous waiting on the bloodwork. It normally takes a couple of days and we almost didn’t get it back in time.
Just it time, we got the paperwork in order, packed it in with several passport photos and got ready for our look-see visit.
Then, several days before our flight out, we got an email with our itinerary on it.
There’s got to be a mistake. First thing Sunday morning has someone from the visa office picking us up for our medical exams. No problem, we send off the email explaining that we’ve already got the paperwork filled out here in the States and we’re bringing it along.
Then we get the reply from China.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I do not think you can have the paperwork filled out correctly. It must be notarized by the Chinese Embassy in New York to be accepted. That takes many months. It will be better if you get the medical check here in China.”
So here we are, having just gotten physicals in the US, ridiculously long physicals including x-rays, EKGs, and bloodworkâ€¦ just to get them done AGAIN in China.
And as it turns out, the medical check in China is just as interesting as I expected it would be.