Hooray, we exited quarantine this week! Next, we needed to get through China’s mandatory medical check in order to secure our working visas and resident’s permits.

Note: this has nothing to do with COVID. In fact, every time we’ve come to work in China, we’ve undergone the same routine. But this time, I thought it might be interesting to share the experience with those who’ve never worked here before.

First, we arrived at the somewhat intimidating compound.

We signed in and had our temperatures checked.

With written temperature confirmations in hand, we were directed to wait in a lobby. It was completely empty and eerily quiet. We sat with bated breath as we wondered what might happen next.

Emily Chang | blog | China medical check | with Minki

Soon, a lady in a small corner room emerged to take our photos – one for each page of the medical records we would populate over the next couple of hours.

Emily Chang | blog | China medical check | Minki photo

We paid for our photos (50RMB or ~$6 for us both), then went to the next building to pay for photocopies of various passport pages (2RMB or $0.25ea). Then, we headed to a third building where official-looking nurses reviewed our paperwork. Once they found everything in order, we were directed to the registrar, so we could pay for the day’s tests.

We were finally ready for the medical check.

Next, we were directed to locker rooms, where we stripped and donned (extremely large) robes. Quietly, we queued amongst strangers to step onto an automated scale that declared our height and weight with all the vigor and volume of a circus ringmaster.

Stepping out of the locker room after said humbling experience, we were directed to the exam area. The bright, yellow brick road made the journey a relatively straightforward one.

Emily Chang | blog | China medical check | robe

Each room awaited us with a different health check, sort of like a reverse trick-or-treat situation. Only there were no treats.

A number of quiet, efficient professionals did everything from check our eyesight to strap electrodes all over our body for an EKG.

For a brief second, I was struck with a dizzying foreboding during my X-ray, when metal shields quietly and menacingly slid up to cover all the room’s windows. But just moments later, my X-ray paper was stamped and I hurried off to the next station.

Near the end of our tour, I particularly appreciated it when our ultrasound station prepared us for the next room, which was the phlebotomist (two vials). Perhaps they supposed we needed light reading material while we wiped the goo off our bodies.

Summing it all up.

Overall, while the medical check provided quite a different experience than anything we’ve undergone in the U.S., we found everyone extremely professional and polite. The medical exam and the 14-day mandated COVID-related quarantine serve as two examples of how closely China regulates incoming residents to maintain public health and safety standards.

We now await the final paperwork, which we will submit for visa and permit approval.

PS I gained 2.5lbs in quarantine. The excruciatingly loud robot scale said so. But those of you in Northeast Asia already know that. I’m sure you heard him.