Expats living in Ningbo will find the contrast between traditional Chinese and modern Western culture within the city fascinating. Ningbo is very much a modern, westernized city, yet in many areas you will find cobbled streets with small streams running through and a traditional Chinese way of life. Chinese markets in Ningbo trade in close proximity to international chain stores and supermarkets, and in the business district of Lao Waitan you will find restaurants, coffee shops and bars serving food and drink from around the world. Ningbo is on the east coast of China, at the southern end of the Yangtse River delta. Three rivers run through Ningbo, with many bridges linking the islands and outlying districts. Water holds much significance in Ningbo as the name means “Serene Wave” in Mandarin, and many of the city’s parks contain large lakes on which to enjoy watersports. Temples are also a feature of Ningbo, with the Ashoka Temple housing a bone fragment relic of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, and the Tiantong Temple, which has a distinctive architectural style, situated amongst beautifully relaxing scenery. Many nationalities live in Ningbo, drawn to its commerce and high tech industries, but being able to speak at least some Mandarin is a distinct advantage for any expatriate in Ningbo. English is only spoken amongst the international student and expat population, though some of the high end stores have English-speaking staff. By joining InterNations, the international online expat community, you will have access to forums and discussion groups on which you can network and socialize with other expats living in Ningbo and across the world. The InterNations community is composed of professionals within business, industry and education, and offers friendship and support to fellow expatriates, wherever they are living.
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The Ningbo Lishe International Airport serves the city and Zhejiang province. Ningbo lies at the intersection of two railway lines, running south to Wenzhou and west to Hangzhou, with high speed trains offering fast access to other major cities throughout China, so expatriates moving to Ningbo should not have any trouble getting there. If traveling by taxi within Ningbo it helps to have your destination written in Mandarin as the drivers do not understand English. Bus travel is a cost-effective way of getting around the city and beyond, but destination boards and stops are only displayed in Mandarin, so knowledge of the route and timetable is essential. Expatriates in Ningbo who want to drive a car will need to pass a written test as international driving licenses are not valid, but you can easily hire an e-bike complete with electric motor or pedal under your own steam. Relocating to a new country, with language and cultural differences to consider is a demanding process, even for a seasoned expat, but help is often readily available via the InterNations website. Friendly and knowledgeable members either living in China, or having done so in the past, are able to offer helpful tips and advice as needed to get round a particular problem. The InterNations Expat Magazine further contains a wealth of information on relocation and its pitfalls, and covers a wide variety of general topics relevant for any expatriate moving to Ningbo.
The deepwater port in Ningbo is the second largest in the world, and has made the city an international export and business hub. Ningbo is a major manufacturing city, with electrical goods, textiles and industrial tool production, but its emergence as a center of high tech innovation has established strong international links. Foreign universities have set up campuses, keen to benefit from the expertise and research facilities Ningbo has to offer, as well as forging cross-cultural bonds with China. An expatriate working in Ningbo will often have a nominated Chinese mentor appointed by his or her employer to help with any language and cultural problems, but as an InterNations member, you have the opportunity to find, and meet up with, other expats in Ningbo to enjoy a varied social scene. InterNations encourages the formation of local groups wherever possible, to allow members to take full advantage of the many cultural, social and sporting amenities available in Ningbo and its environs. With so many international cuisines on offer in Ningbo, expats working in Ningbo can enjoy dining out with like-minded individuals and their partners on a regular basis with no fear of becoming bored!