What should expats heading to China expect?

What should expats heading to China expect?

What should expats heading to China expect?

Of all the newly popular expat destinations for the younger demographic, China is perhaps the most challenging.

Over the past 15 years or so, the numbers of expats adventurous enough to choose China has increased to a flood, as the vast, ancient land opens up to the West in a way not seen throughout its millennia of history. Most new arrivals can’t speak Mandarin Chinese, losing the opportunity to make friends within the local community. Initially, newly-arrived expats from the West used local cafes and bars as meeting places, looking and feeling slightly out of place.

It’s all very different nowadays, with social media and expat blogs crammed with personal experiences on first arrivals as well as forums where newbies can ask all the interminable questions about settling in and getting a job. Westerners are now found teaching English in hill towns and rural settings as well as in all China’s massive cities, and the friendly residents of the expat enclaves now arrive from across the world.

Importantly, the Chinese authorities have realised the knowledge and expertise expats bring with them are very helpful for Chinese nationals wishing to breach the cultural divide in order to become world players. The country’s rapid development over the past 40 years is little short of a miracle, with expats in many diverse sectors helping it grow even faster. The only downside for expats is the infamous ‘great internet wall of China’, the tech equivalent of the massive, ancient construction which protected ancient China from the barbarians in the north!

It’s not that living and working in China as an expat is easy – it isn’t – but the challenges it presents are useful for entrepreneurs desperate to get their ideas funded and online. For those finding it tricky to adapt, the concept of emotional intelligence is useful, in that here there’s little that’s familiar enough to ensure comfort. Chinese bureaucracy is now on expats’ sides, helping them to settle and even learn the Mandarin Chinese language without which the expat existence can be somewhat limited.

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