Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.
Q. Is there a good app for studying for the HSK?
A. Pleco is quite popular among expats who are learning Chinese. It has a flash card function and comes with the HSK vocabulary installed, broken down according to the different levels. It makes it really easy to practice your vocabulary on the subway. Memrise is another free Chinese-learning app available on for desktop, iPad and iPhone.
Q. I’m looking to send clothes, toys, books, etc. to charity. Any ideas?
A. There are many well-established charities in Beijing where you can donate unwanted items. Here are just a couple:
The charity cooperates with many other volunteer and charity groups in the city and assists 48 different charities in China through different means. Their donation center is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but you’d better call or send an email first before venturing all the way out to Shunyi.
2. Beijing Foundation
Beijing Foundation is a charity run by a group of foreign and native Beijing residents who volunteer their time to facilitate charity and volunteering for the benefit of Northern China.
Q. I have an internship on a business visa. But I want to change the city now. Can I take up another internship in a different city on this visa, which is valid for 5 more months?
A. You’d better go to the Public Security Bureau office in the new city and ask them for an answer. Their answer is the only one that really counts, after all. And remember to do it before quitting or moving. There is no need to worry too much about it. A business visa doesn’t bind you to one company (unlike a work visa).
Q. Where can I rent a storage space in Beijing? I need one which is safe, accessible 24/7 and with a separate, locked room.
A. Our expat friends suggest Koala Self Storage. It is accessible 24/7, and it provides clean, temperature-stable storage rooms. The company is currently expanding in Beijing.
Q. What’s the best free Chinese-English translation app for iPhone?
A. It depends on your current Chinese level. If you know some Chinese phrases and are looking for certain characters to use in your daily life, then we’d suggest you get K-Dict; it’s free and works great with multiple words. If you are a complete beginner, then go to Google Translate. It only works on a web browser, but it can handle more complex sentences such as messages from your bank, the weather, etc.