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Rachel: Woshoudebuhao

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in China makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to China, etc.

My name is Rachel and I’m originally from northeastern U.S.A. My husband’s job brought us to rural China in the winter of 2012 and we’ll be here through the end of 2016.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I decided to start blogging a few weeks after our arrival. It seemed like an easy way to keep our family and friends updated and I wanted to document our experience so we’d have something to look back on later in life.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I think my writing has improved since I started the blog, so my favorite posts are more recent like the entry called “An Overlooked Anniversary” on Tiananmen Square and our Beijing tour guide’s relationship to it. Since my blog is primarily about life in our little area of China (Haiyang), I think another good post to read is “Life Along He Dian Er Lu”.

Tell us about the ways your new life in China differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

Life is drastically different for us here in China where we don’t speak the language and we’re dependent on many people to do normal, everyday things. We live in the middle of nowhere where there’s not much to do, plus we live in a village that feels very much like a college campus. We definitely were shocked by some things upon arrival like little kids wearing split pants, spitting as a socially accepted form of behavior, or being asked very personal questions by complete, but curious strangers.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in China? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

We were as prepared as we could’ve been and we had a good attitude about all the new things we were experiencing. I wish I had learned more about Chinese history and culture prior to arrival and perhaps a bit of Mandarin, but I’ve spent time exploring these areas now that we are living in China.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Wow. There are so many and you probably wouldn’t believe most of the ones I could tell you. I get a kick out of the local farmers who live near our village in an endearing kind of way. I run on the rural roads a few times a week and I always get funny looks, odd smiles, laughter, and sometimes even claps from the folks walking to their fields. Running for fun or exercise just isn’t something that’s done by locals around here.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in China?

  • First and most importantly: read up. China can be a difficult country to live in due to language and cultural barriers, pollution, etc. Having a true understanding of the city or area you are moving to is really important.
  • Second, think and think some more. Ask yourself if moving to China is right for you, your partner, and/or your kids. We live in an area where there are no English schools and where the closest hospital is a two hour drive away. That won’t work for some people.
  • Lastly, learn a few Mandarin words to help you in your first few weeks here.

How is the expat community in China? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Our expat community is supportive and many of us are in the same boat. We’re in a very rural area and all of the expats here are working for the same company and living in the same village, which can be a blessing and a curse. It’s nice to have like-minded neighbors (who are now friends), but we also miss that space between our professional and personal lives.

How would you summarize your expat life in China in a single, catchy sentence?

Equal parts adventure and challenge that will make you appreciate your home country more than you ever did before, but will also teach you to embrace a totally new way of looking at the wider world.

David Thyne

"At the first Shanghai Get-Together I met several American expats. I am very grateful that they shared their experience with me."

Diana Anhaus-Brey

"It is just so easy to find other international people and global minds with InterNations. I didn´t know there were so many in Shanghai."

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