Everyone might look at you with apprehension if you suddenly suggested living and working in China. People might start talking about culture shock, weird food and the language. How will you make yourself understand at your job?! When you start thinking about moving to China, you might also have the same questions going through your mind. And the biggest one is probably, how complicated it is to move to China, work, live and thrive there? To reassure you, it’s a lot less of a cultural shock than you might think. And based on where in China you decide to relocate, the culture shock will be even smaller. For example, Shanghai is a city that hosts a lot of expats and English speakers, followed closely by Beijing.
How is the Culture Shock When Moving to China?
Now regardless of your background as an American or a Canadian moving to China, if you followed the news, you might think your welcoming committee is not that great. Wrong! Regardless of what happens in the news, people are people and Chinese are welcoming and love to share food with you or take pictures with you. Despite the difference in culture, your contact with everyone will always be quite friendly. On top of that, due to the huge number of expats living in China, you will find yourself rapidly growing a diverse circle of friends. The culture shock dissipates very fast.
How is Chinese Food in China?
You probably already ordered once or twice food at your local Chinese restaurant. And you’re probably are telling yourself “Oh my god, I LOVE CHINESE FOOD!” Well, food is different in China if you didn’t know that. Food abroad is usually adapted to the local culture to make the flavor more suited for your taste and less shocking. Based on what type of food you try when you travel to China, some might be very spicy while others might surprise you with tastes you’ve never experienced. In any case, if you need a break from Chinese food, there’s no lack of foreign cuisine here from small French restaurants to big branded chains like McDonalds. So food is definitely not something that should stress you.
Do You Have to Learn How to Use WeChat?
When moving to China, one of the first thing you will discover is the presence of WeChat in your daily life. Mainly, the paying function. You will be using it for everything. You might need a bank account linked to your WeChat, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you are working and living in China. That little pay function is more common than money transactions. Even for the small vendor on the corner selling fresh pineapple while in season. So get yourself updated with it as it will become quite a useful tool. On top of that, people barely exchange business cards in China anymore. The norm has been replaced with WeChat as a base reference of building contacts and friendships. Use the function to tag your different contacts as you will see the number growing quite fast.
Is Working in China Different?
If you are working for a foreign company that had their office relocation done recently, the culture around the company should be quite similar. But if you have been hired by a Chinese company, you will find out that the working culture is a little bit different than what you are used to. For starters, hours are not set in stone for most companies. Mainly, the hour at which you finish. It might sound hard to believe but finishing a task despite the hour is important. If you are supposed to finish at 6PM, it’s not in the culture to leave at 6:01PM. It’s more likely that you will have to make sure your work is done for the day before leaving and make a second pass before leaving as the work ethic is very important in Chinese companies.
Is Pollution in China a Problem?
It’s undeniable that there is pollution in China, but many will tell you about the improvements in air quality that happened over the last years. You might think about those polluted days where people are walking around with surgical masks against pollution, but there are two things you need to know. First, surgical masks will not help you given they are not well isolated around your nose and face. If you really want to protect yourself against the pollution, you have to get a fitted mask. But as you come to live and work in China, you will also discover that the pollution is not as intense as it was before, and most places are also fitted with air purifiers. The air quality has improved a lot and keeps improving from year to year. Only real thing you might need is a good air purifier, but on a daily basis, you will be fine.