Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in China:
It’s very easy to find other expats in China. Even though I live in a rather “small Chinese city” (6 million people), it was quite easy to connect to other foreigners on Facebook. I also joined the local “Chinese Corner” where Chinese and foreigners meet for language exchange. That’s very useful to make friends.
Don’t spend your whole time with other expats. If you make friends with expats, you will find they come and go from China. If you make friends with Chinese people, they are far more likely to stay put, and it will give you more insight into the country. They are also more useful in emergencies.
Oh, I think a book can be written about the culture shock alone. A westerner in a strange and foreign country where the language is not understood and quite complex to learn. China is a country that struggles (in my opinion) to keep up with the new but has a hard time letting go of the old.
Fortunately I didn't experience culture shock, I actually expected the culture change, I liked it! I liked and still like to discover new things about China on general and small things around where I live (sometimes, it's just understanding a new street sign).
Life in China is different in many ways compared to my old life in Finland. My culture shock was quite mild, perhaps because I already knew Chinese people in Finland and had always enjoyed reading about Chinese culture, history and language.
Everything differs here than from my hometown. I am from Wisconsin which is full of country roads, hiking, and lush greens. Here in Daxing it's much different and initially I went through some intense culture shock. Not as much green, and the use of public transportation was key.
I think the first year for any expat is difficult in many ways, but if you’re able to make it through without developing the bitterness toward China that is so common among expats, you’re golden.
Be friendly with the locals. Don’t live in a bubble, socializing only with other expats. I’ve met so many people who rarely if ever have a chance to try out their English with a native speaker. They are so happy to have the opportunity. Be gracious about it; you’ve had, and will have, opportunities and privileges they’ll never have.
I did experience culture shock on my first trip to China twelve years ago. The language barrier was difficult and frustrating. It is now a culture shock for me when I go back to Switzerland, where everything is neat and in order, while China still appears very chaotic to me in some ways.
You could get mad when things don’t meet your expectations, or you could just relax and go with the flow. I think all expats lose it from time to time (known as a “bad china day”) but you learn pretty quickly that an entire culture and society isn’t going to change to be more convenient to you. Just go with it. Whatever it is, try not to freak out too much.
There are so many [anecdotes and funny experiences] and you probably wouldn’t believe most of the ones I could tell you. I get a kick out of the local farmers who live near our village in an endearing kind of way. I run on the rural roads a few times a week and I always get funny looks, odd smiles, laughter, and sometimes even claps from the folks walking to their fields. Running for fun or exercise just isn’t something that’s done by locals around here.
Living in China can bring about many different feelings. You’ll feel happy, excited and alive; angry, tearful or annoyed; but there’s usually one thing you won’t be: Bored.
Before coming to China I was preparing myself for half a year. I read a lot about Chinese culture and cuisine. That’s why I haven’t experienced much of cultural shock. For most of those things I was already prepared.