Life as an Expat in China

China is an interesting country to visit. But it’s very different living there. You might love a city when you visit but have a whole different view when you have to call it home. That’s exactly what happened to me when I moved to China. I loved my first visit to my husband’s hometown of Qingdao, located in the Shandong Province. But living there proved to be much more challenging.

LIFE AS AN EXPAT IN CHINA

Life as an Expat in China

Life as an Expat in China

China is an interesting country to visit. But it’s very different living there. You might love a city when you visit but have a whole different view when you have to call it home. That’s exactly what happened to me when I moved to China. I loved my first visit to my husband’s hometown of Qingdao, located in the Shandong Province. But living there proved to be much more challenging.

LIFE AS AN EXPAT IN CHINA

Want to feel more at home in a place like China? Here’s what you can do so the culture shock won’t hit you so hard.

  1. Do your homework

You probably know of Shanghai and Beijing. They are the two largest cities in China. For some, these busy places are intimidating, but others find it just perfect. I loved Shanghai the most. But other friends of mine were much happier in smaller cities that still had plenty of city life without so much chaos. Other friends insisted the rural China life was the best. I was not up for roughing it, but you just might be. Learn more about a place before you leap to it.

  1. Find other foreigners

I was miserable my first few months in Qingdao because I had no idea how to find other foreigners. Look online for groups in your city or ask your employer for ways to meet other foreigners. Loneliness when you’re miles from home is unbearable.

  1. Learn to make do

China doesn’t have everything you’re used to. I found this out the hard and sudden way. True that you can’t bring all your favorite things with you, you can’t find many of them either. Even something as simple as candy will make you homesick. China doesn’t have Kit Kat or Twix so be sure to pack your stash before you go.

  1. Embrace the culture

Even if you’re super excited about being in China, there will be days where you will hate everyone and you’ll want to hide away in your apartment forever. The culture is really different and it takes some getting used to. Frustration is completely normal and that’s why having expat friends to talk to helps make it easier to endure. People in China are mostly very nice and friendly though so on a good day, make sure to get to know their traditions and customs, particularly for the holidays. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. You’ll never be the same

I mean that in a good way. True that I couldn’t wait to come home to America again, there are things I miss from China. It changes the way you see the world when you live abroad, especially in a place like China that is so vastly different from Canada. While I’m happy to appreciate the convenience and ease of life here, I’m forever changed by the experiences I cultivated by living there. It’s humbling and helps you remember what’s most important in life. It’s not stuff. It’s living it. Get out there and live yours.