Hints for successful expat integration into China

Hints for successful expat integration into China

Hints for successful expat integration into China

In many ways, mainland China is the biggest ever challenge for expats due to its language, culture and totally unfamiliar business norms.

Relocating to one of China’s massive cities wasn’t even possible a few decades ago, but it’s now a hot destination for expat entrepreneurs, tech professionals, English teachers and the best and brightest in science and engineering. Due to its comparatively recent emergence on the expatriate stage, there’s lots of advice available online to help newbies prepare and adjust before they arrive.

Learning Chinese is recommended, but the language itself is crammed with barriers to fluency due to its complicated structure. Major cities come well-equipped with English language signs, and expat communities are everywhere, but expats will find the entire China experience a lot more fun if they can chat with local people and read just a few Kanji characters. Finding a good teacher and taking regular tests is the way to go.

If you’re shipping a crate or two of belongings over to China, remembering to fill out the customs forms is a must, as the alternative is paying expensive import duties and waiting for weeks if not months for your stuff. Shipping companies have the correct forms – just make sure they forward hem to you. Chatting with interest groups on WeChat before you travel is the best way to find advice, help and the lowdown on your new life, and getting and using a debit card as soon as you arrive gives you access to numerous expat groups.

Essential advice for newbies stresses the need to watch out for scammers including taxi drivers, vendors giving fake RMB 100 bank notes in change and other low-lives jut waiting to rip off newly arrived foreigners. Generally, expat life in China is safe as violence is low, but you should expect to be targeted when you first arrive. Bureaucracy in the extreme comes as standard in China, with getting paperwork in order a necessary chore. One you’ve an official red stamp on your reams of paperwork, you’re fine, but don’t do anything without it!

This takes time, but making one trustworthy Chinese friend who can guide you through the maze of everyday Chinese life is worth all the time in the world. Exchanging help with the English language for help with the complexities of expat life in the big city is a perfect deal, and personal and business life here run on the same rail. Remembering you have absolutely no rights in China is essential, and laws you didn’t know existed are stringently enforced. Punitive detention without being charged or offered legal representation is commonplace, and visa offences are treated seriously. China isn’t going to adapt for you – it’s quite happy to carry on as it has for well over three millennia!

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