New expats in China? Here are some tips to follow
1. Being a foreigner (“laowai”) in China
Being a foreigner in China is a true experience that will open your eyes. China is so specific in terms of its culture and its way of life. In certain areas of China, the general public will have never seen a foreigner before, so don’t be surprised if they give a little gaze, in most cases they are simply astonished. Some may even ask to take pictures with you, so take in the moment to be a “celebrity”!
2. Beware to the cultural shock
It’s always good to do some research before going on a trip to China. China’s Orientalism and culture is extremely different to that of the Western.
For example, you will quickly see people spitting everywhere (even indoors, or on the metro), many public bathrooms with no toilet paper (even in restaurants), and squatting toilets are extremely common, and often without doors… In regards to food, there are many safety issues such as the quality and freshness of the product which many people are becoming more aware of.
3. Being respectful to elder
The culture of family China is extremely important. Chinese parents care about not only their child, but their grandchild, and so on. Thus, the idea of respect and appreciation is strongly looked upon. Being respectful to the elderly in particular, as it is considered that the elderly are the ones whom are more experienced and will only give you advice for your own good.
4. Restrictions on Foreigners in China
As a foreigner, there are restrictions such as important administration work, money conversion restrictions, or the need to complete registrations if you are leaving a Chinese city (even just for the weekend). Sometimes it may feel that government and law are catching up to you, but as long as your organization is on top, there will be no problems.
5. Schooling in China
China has many International schools, perfect for expats living in China. In recent years, the Chinese government has pushed its schooling and education system towards higher levels of quality.
Some international schools include: Shanghai American School, Wuhan South Lake International School, and Shenzhen QSI International School. These schools allow for not only better education, but also brings opportunities for families and students whom are driven for better education.
6. Do I need to learn Chinese?
Yes, you do. Learning the Chinese language, even just a little bit, will be useful for your time in China. As English is rarely spoken, knowing the language will be beneficial for day-to-day activities such as ordering food, taking a cab, or going shopping.
7. Moving to China
Moving to China is an adventure. From finding apartments and dealing with landlords, to getting a bank account set-up and finding your way around the city.
One thing you must learn is to negotiate. Everything is based on negotiation, ie. renting an apartment, and always be sure to have contracts signed and confirmed before agreeing to anything.
8. Job Opportunities in China
China is a country of opportunities, business, and tourism. For English natives, teaching English has become a common career for many travellers who visit, and eventually decide to stay. Many countries hire foreign teachers to teach English, whether at schools or private institutions, therefore making job out of your language potential has been very common and rewarding.
9. Medical Care in China
For foreigners, you will be advised to go to an International hospital. In general, medical fees in China are expensive, therefore it will be easy for doctors to understand you. Also, consider taking on a health insurance before departure from your home country.
10. Culture, food, and attractions
Chinese culture is not only very specific, but is also rich, complex, and ancient. Visiting historical places such as Beijing’s ‘Forbidden City’ or ‘The Great Wall of China’ have been tourist favourites. Try out traditional Chinese food such as Beijing’s Roast Duck, or Xiao Long Bao, will expose you to cuisines delicacies. China is all about their culture, and in order to experience it, you must bring yourself here!