Adventures with the GMAT Abroad: Finding the Location

Since I know several college student from International Countries (or from the US living abroad) also take the GMAT every year, I thought I’d keep you up-to-date on the process I go through while I’m taking it in China. Partly just because it’s kind of a glimpse into how things are different just traveling and surviving abroad. 

The registration process itself was pretty  simple – I did the normal US registration website and everything. Registered an account and selected Zhengzhou, China as my location.  

However, that was the end of the easy part. First of all, finding English study books is a pain though do-able. My students order them off of Taobao (Chinese Ebay) or Amazon.cn.  I went ahead and purchased one while I was in the States on holiday and brought it with me.  As long as its a semi-developed country where many students take the test, I think you can find study books. I wouldn’t count on it in other countries necessarily. 

I don’t actually live in Zhengzhou, instead I live about an hour away. Since the GMAT is less common in China, the testing centers are less populous.  So I was kind of lucky to find one this close to me.

My test is at 8:30am local time, which was the only time slot available. The dates are not as open, and you are more limited as to what time of day is available here than in the US I think. That means I need to arrange a hotel for the night before. Since my test will not end until after noon, that means I would have to rush in order to get to the bus and home on time. So I ended up getting  a hotel for two nights instead–A lot of students from out of town do this I’ve found.  

So the total GMAT cost goes to Test + Travel (for me about $10 for bus + subway + taxi) + Hotel ($150 for two nights).  

Unfortunately, the location itself is clear out in the boonies (sp? — out in the middle of nowhere) and I could never have found it on my own.  As with all good small-town Chinese addresses, it isn’t even a real address.  The location according to the MBA site is at “NEEA-Henan Higher Education Admission Office Zhengzhou HEN, CHN.”  Legit – I put in the name of the location that the MBA site gave me and it doesn’t show up on Google. 

Luckily my ticket had a little more information — HENAN COLLEGE OF FINANCE &TAXATION,  ZHENGKAI RD&KANGZHUANG RD INTERSECTION,  RM 517, ADMINISTRATION BLDG.. Yep – that’s a helpful address – “at the intersection of Zhengkai Rd & Kangzhuang Rd.” I tried looking up the college, and found an address on the opposite end of town (apparently the old address? – I’m not really sure).  

One of the things you learn when you travel abroad is that GoogleMaps can be much less helpful depending on the country. I’ve heard that it’s pretty on spot in Europe. But in Japan, Korea, and China where I’ve traveled extensively, GoogleMaps is frequently not helpful whatsoever. The names on Google are in Chinese (which I don’t speak and certainly can’t write or read), the roads aren’t up to date, the buildings move, everything is a couple years old. In a well-developed city, a couple years might not mean much for a map. But in a still swiftly growing and expanding area like Henan, China just two months might see a complete and total difference. 

I finally just posted the address on Weixin (China Facebook/Twitter) and my students (have I mentioned how much I love them to pieces?) immediately responded with the Chinese map, the Chinese name of the School, the Chinese address, and directions to give to a taxi driver. According to the map, it’s out in the middle of nowhere – land  several kilometers outside of the actual city.  Seriously, it’s at a small community college “on the road between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng” (hence the intersection of Zhengkai road 😛 ). So we all agreed, I’d need to take the subway all the way to the end. Then one student said I should take Exit E (thank God for that piece on information — people appreciate the Exit number not enough!) then go east to the main road. No one knows where the bus stop is (our city doesn’t have a good bus map or layout — so no one really knows when or where it’ll stop). Just that I need bus 102 to the stop (of course it’s in Chinese).  At first they said try to find Chinese students to help me find the bus — then we realized its the holiday and there probably won’t be anyone. 😛

Oh the life I lead!

Of course, because it’s so far out, there were no hotels in the area to speak of.  A couple that were low end – $20 a night- places. But while a cheap motel might be okay in the US, I don’t trust them here in China. Too many horrific experiences (namely one including a plate on the floor outside the hotel restaurant with so much mold on it, it should have been a lab experiment .) 😛  So I had to go further up line 1 on the Subway to find a hotel.

 To be honest, I have no idea how much time this whole thing is going to take me. And I’m kind of dreading the whole “Check-in” and get a computer process. They say the people will speak English, but I’m not really counting on it. 🙂 I’ve been told that before. Anyway, I’ll let you know how the process itself goes. Off to work on my math. Wish me luck!

Advertisements