Tips for Living in China
Whether they' re moving to China for business, study or to expand their horizons, its unfamiliar culture, its high population density and the language barrier can be challenging for any new arrivals. However, China is also one of the most satisfying expat destinations in the world for those who make the adjustment. China has a lot to offer I think everybody' s China adventure is a little different, but here are my top most important things I learned living in China:
1. Get as much information about China before you go
Before you go, read about China, get information from Expats sites and ask advise for your special circumstances. I read and still read many books about China.
2. Stay flexible and open minded when you are in China
Not all advice you get is accurate and true. Things are changing rapidly and what was true yesterday is not necessarily valid today. One book advised that Chinese negotiations are very formalized. This might be the occasion for a banking appointment in Shanghai but not for businesses in other cities.
3. Get a good relocation company
Without a good relocation company, it would have been very hard for us to find a good accommodation. Not only we don' t speak the language, we had no idea how to negotiate and what to negotiate. Believe me, if it come for rent and housing, everything is for negotiation. Fix everything before you sign the deal and move to the place. Afterwards will be very difficult.
4. Learn basic Chinese
I fully agree with Ryan McMunn who wrote:
" It' s not as hard as people make it out to be. It shows respect for the country you live in and the people you chose to live with. If you are successful it will add more than you can ever imagine to both your business and personal life in China."
Get a Chinese teacher ( group or one to one ) and start learning the language. In order to practise Chinese, speak to as many people as you can. In the beginning you don' t understand a word but with time, it is getting better and better. Being able to speak the language can differentiate yourself from tourists and with it comes numerous benefits.
5. Try all the food
Once you arrive in China be adventures and try all the food you can get. You will quickly see that Chinese food is even better than you can imagine. It is so different I was used back in Europe. Chinese food is normally fresh and diverse. Some of it surprisingly delicious, some of it disgusting, either way I have a story.
6. Discover the culture
Embrace the 5.000 years of China`s culture and dive into a wonderfully rich culture. The Chinese will respect you for respecting their culture. Learn about Yoga, Taoism, Wushu, Calligraphy and the beauty of the Beijing Opera or the great performance in other...
7. Be Adventurous
Explore. First get out and see the city you' re based in. Then explore the country. It would be wasted time not to explore the beautiful country while you are here. Go to Shanghai, Beijing, explore Yunnan or enjoy a beach holiday in Hainan. That is how you truly know the country you' re living in.
8. Stay connected with home
Find an expat group to be a part of. Despite all the excitement in China, there are times you need to hang out with fellow citizens. It is also a good information source and a great opportunity to share your experience. Sometimes for my family and friends back home it is sometimes difficult to understand our new life as expat in China. It is soooo different.
9. Plan your trips ahead
Back home, travelling was easy. Regardless by car, train or plane. I found in China it is more complicated and takes more time. Normally the tickets could only be issued 30 ~ 60 days prior to the travelling date based on the regulations of China National Railway Authority. All the tickets are under control of the Railway Authority. Unless you are a diplomat or family member of a diplomat, you need to obtain a Chinese driving license. Having a car could be also very expensive.
10. Embrace " Guanxi "
Fundamentally guanxi is about building a network of mutually beneficial relationships which can be used for personal and business purposes. In this sense, guanxi is not so much different than the importance of having a strong network when doing business in any country. However, in China, guanxi plays a far more important role than it does in the West.
What Guanxi is not:
While guanxi is an important part of doing business in China it is not the be - all and end - all of it. Having strong relationships alone will not ensure that you will be able to achieve your business goals in China. Your company will still need to have a strong overall business operation in order to be successful.