What Do China Expats Like Most About Their Lives?

What Do China Expats Like Most About Their Lives?
May 11, 2021 By Fred Dintenfass , eChinacities.com

Us China expats tend to do a lot of moaning and groaning about our lives here. We find it somewhat therapeutic and it serves as a regular bonding exercise. But most of us end up staying here for at least a couple of years, and some a whole lot longer. There are, therefore, obviously a lot of things we like about life in China. I spoke to a bunch of China expats to find out what they are.

China expats
Source: Fred Moon 

The Kindness of Strangers

One of the things China expats love about life here is the generosity and friendliness of the Chinese people. Liz from Chicago speaks for a lot of expats when she says, “I love China because so many Chinese people are willing and open to share with you – be it food, conversation, or the excitement of seeing ‘other’. The hospitality is amazing.”

My sister, who studied in Russia for a year, was amazed by the friendliness of the people she encountered on her first trip to China. When visiting the Great Wall one day, our driver offered to take us to his home to see how people like him were living. My sister was envious of the opportunities I have to learn the local language and culture from the source.

While there are of course A-holes everywhere, we’re sometimes blind to the kindness and patience bestowed on us each and every day. Since most of us are far from fluent in Mandarin, the pains many Chinese people take to accommodate our bumbling attempts are more than just a nicety — they are crucial to our advancement in the language and the success of most of the things we do here.

The Food Culture

Like all great things in life, evidence of the warmth and generally inclusive nature of China can be found around the dinner table. “The eating culture has changed my life,” says Liz. “Sharing food, eating in groups, serving other people before yourself… I love it.”

Even on our darkest most confusing Bad China Days most of us are revived by a table full of yummy dishes and a group of friends armed with darting chopsticks and big appetites. “Food becomes a new substance, something more than nourishment,” one expat told me.

The Safety

Another thing many of us love about China is the feeling of safety. As Vera from Indonesia puts it, “I can walk on the street anytime I want. You just need to be careful of the traffic.” I have rarely met a foreigner, either a visitor or an expat, who doesn’t comment on how safe they feel here.

Despite the typical income disparity between foreigners and locals and the amount of expensive toys we tend to carry around, no China expat I know has had anything worse happen to them than the occasional stolen bicycle or a taxi scam.

Some of us, in fact, worry about returning home and having to relearn the wariness that Western cities dwellers rely on. Contrary to popular belief in China, not everyone in the US has a gun. There are, however, enough guns and enough crazies to make many American cities at best nerve-racking and at worst lethal.

It’s Never Boring

Among the favorite things of many expats is the ever-changing state of China itself. With a constant turnover of new venues, concepts, and cuisines in China’s biggest cities and a society that’s progressing at warp-speed as a whole, living here is always interesting.

Due to the ever-changing landscape and the manic push towards modernity, it sometimes feels like we’re living in a house that’s still being built. Every day, we wake up to new rooms, new furniture, and windows with new views. Gordon, a US national working in Shanghai, says, “My favorite thing about living in China it is the rapid pace of change. I’ve lived through what would take a whole lifetime to experience in America in just a few years.”

The Challenges

Surprisingly, one of the things China expats love about life here is the fact that life can be tough. “I love China because I am so completely out of my element and that forces me to feel, think, and be aware of being alive on so many levels all the time,” says Colman, who moved from LA to Beijing.

Liz agrees, pointing out that with great challenges come great opportunities. “When you speak your native language and are in familiar surroundings and situations all the time, it's easy to live habitually and become numb,” she says. “There's something beautiful about living in a place where a simple trip to the post office is a learning experience each and every time.”

As much as these challenging daily transactions might drive us a bit crazy at times, each trial does indeed represent a chance for us to test ourselves and discover how we fare. Are we the kind of person that packs it in the first time someone doesn’t understand our garbled Chinese or when a picture-less menu is placed in front of us? Or do we rise to each little challenge with perseverance, ingenuity, and a whole lot of sign language? For many expats living in China, the experience of overcoming these obstacles gives us thick skin and a confidence we might not have acquired so quickly in our home countries.

What do you like most about living in China? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Keywords: China expats


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Nov 21, 2021 11:36 Report Abuse



I always wonder why people get so upset and 'triggered' when women recount their experiences of 'casual' sexual harassment. Many guys i know would want women, even those they don't know, to be safe and feel safe when walking on the streets. And I would certainly advise women of what to be aware of when in China - that is the compassionate, caring and human thing to do. The fact that there is poster who 'demands' evidence is itself a symptom of the misogyny in China. Apparently women 'deserve' to be harassed in public. God knows what women 'deserve' to have done to them in private !! as I said, most normal guys would not respond in such a hostile or triggered manner. Sadly it confirms a lot of the experience not only of myself but also ALL the foreign women I knew in China when walking on the streets during day-light. and the longer the 'victim blaming' mentality persists. Grow up China, the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one.

May 19, 2021 17:03 Report Abuse



Without evidence, your self fabricated stories is created with ill intention with anti China rhetoric, plenty of which can be found in Facebook, Youtube etc. You are being by no EXCEPTIONAL here. A liar as always..... Here is the list of the 10 countries ranked as the most dangerous for women by the survey: 1. India 2. Afghanistan 3. Syria 4. Somalia 5. Saudi Arabia 6. Pakistan 7. Democratic Republic of Congo 8. Yemen 9. Nigeria 10. United States Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/which-are-the-worlds-10-most-dangerous-countries-for-women

May 19, 2021 14:21 Report Abuse



debunking. points in chronological order. 1: butt kissing is required first to acheive that 2. hygeine, food safety- say no more. 3. safe? yes - because cameras in every single corner and doorway everywhere. 4. only cities worth being in are BJ SH and possibly Shezhen. The rest ARE boring to live in. Sure a visit or a trip isnt but living outside those three places and you will eventually run out of things to do apart fron internet and beer. 5. Challenges actually means a place the loves to be different on purpose and make things difficult for outsiders to accomplish. I could go on but there is my 50 cent worth.

May 13, 2021 14:10 Report Abuse



I would like to think that someone(s) was(were) trying to stir a debate out of this article, so this website gets popular again. As a Chinese, I'm getting ignorant of what's happening every day, some days I appreciate what life offers me, other days I get pissed. But as a foreigner, how you feel indeed gives a new perspective, it is welcome.

May 13, 2021 10:35 Report Abuse



when people visit my home country, I will point out the dangers to be wary of as well as tips and tricks to make life easier. If a foreign visitor points out something they don't like I listen to understand their frustrations / upset etc and see if I can help in any way. Chances are they are spotting the same thing local people don't like as well. It is never pleasant when flaws in a country are obvious to non-natives, but the ADULT thing to do is listen and TALK in a civil manner, and try to find a solution.

May 13, 2021 21:51 Report Abuse



well my family is one of the good things,my wife is Chinese we have been married for 8 years.our son is 7 years old and he goes to a good public school. I got my play station 5 for my birthday with out any trouble. China is ok it has its good points and bad points,most of the time i dont really think about it i just do my own thing.

May 13, 2021 05:30 Report Abuse



Well written, China is indeed one of the safest country of the world. Many foreigners tends to have a different perception since leading media organizations continue to prioritize stereotypes and narratives over the truth. Despite how many times it was debunked, western anti China propaganda refuses to acknowledge the facts.

May 12, 2021 10:47 Report Abuse



of course personal experience of life in China as a foreigner is also valid. But then that does not matter does it, if it does not fit into the image China wants to portray to the rest of the world, does it? I'll help you out with what you want to hear - " China is the most wonderful place to live in the world. I miss being told how to behave and what to think and anyone who says China is not perfect is a BAD FOREIGNER" Here is some more: "China is perfect in every way. All foreigners are liars and bad people. I have to stop all the lies about China, even if they are based on someone's personal experience." That good enough for you? LOL. Cue 'hurt feelings".

May 12, 2021 14:07 Report Abuse



I would like to ask you, why do you think it is ok for people to ignore the sexual harassment of foreign women on the street that occurs at a greater rate in China (to me it occurred every day in China DESPITE the fact that i dress a lot more modestly than local Chinese women) when compared to other countries. But then I know you will ignore this question and probably get 'upset' at my responses. Should this sexual harassment be ignored? Or do you just think there is nothing wrong with it? I would not class myself as a 'victim' as the majority of the (Chinese) men who sexually harass women could not really be described as 'men', but I would say I am someone constantly amused at those who persistently deny or childishly get upset when people point out uncomfortable truths about China. Maybe you have never been sexually harassed by creepy (Chinese) guys (I don't know), but pretending that it does not happen because it does not fit in your image of China is amusing. I suspect that you will just give me a 'down-thumb' and not actually address my points. ;o)

May 12, 2021 14:27 Report Abuse



I await your response with anticipation - you are such a stimulating correspondent.

May 12, 2021 15:51 Report Abuse



Wow, despite the ignorance on the previous comments . A big applause ..... It seems that the wild stray dog is once again awaken and barking again.

May 12, 2021 17:35 Report Abuse



According to Thomson Reuters Foundation- India was named as the world’s most dangerous country for women in a survey of global experts released. United States, being the only western nation in the top 10 and joint third with Syria for the risks women face in terms of sexual violence, including rape, sexual harassment, coercion into sex and a lack of access to justice in rape cases. The survey came after the #MeToo campaign went viral last year, with thousands of women using the social media movement to share stories of sexual harassment or abuse. I would suggest you spend more time on doing a research. What really blindfolded you is nothing than prejudiced view. Stay away from China and live in your mother land, that will certainly keep you a peaceful mind.

May 12, 2021 17:46 Report Abuse



No one is interested with your claim...blah blah blah. No country is perfect in this planet. There are many foreigners who enjoys living in China. There are plenty of them in youtube who tells the truth by real video captured . Being a foreigner, you are guest, therefore by respecting other nations culture is nothing more than a common sense. There's no universal value. It is crazy when someone come into your house and demand you accept the way they practice. If you truly unhappy , please leave China and find a place that will satisfied you. Perhaps your own country, if that can serve your purpose by all means including earning a good salary in order to keep you satisfied 24/7.

May 12, 2021 18:03 Report Abuse



thanks for your reply - straight to the name calling again, whereas I can remain civil ! Kudos. I wait for your civil response - if you are capable of it. I notice you don't address my points about the sexual harassment of foreign women in China AND you dismiss not only my personal experiences but the personal experiences of the majority of foreign women of my acquaintance. Well done ! you never fail to disappoint with your language.

May 12, 2021 18:56 Report Abuse



OK, I will remember to treat 'guests' in my house as poorly as some people are treated in China. I also love the way you to dismiss personal experiences. Are you one of those so-called 'men' who thinks it is acceptable to sexually harass women? Just asking, because I notice you don't condemn when this happens. LOL, congratulation's on trying to divert the conversation by name-calling and the 'if you don't like China then leave' response. Well done. You would have more credibility of you actually responded to the actual point. You have not disappointed at all with your replies.

May 12, 2021 19:14 Report Abuse



Your answers sound quite defensive in the way you don't even acknowledge the issues foreign women (and ALL women) face in China. "China is not as bad as blah blah blah" and "if you don't like China then leave". Are you a foreign woman in China? Are you a woman? Thought not, so just because this is outside your experience you resort to dismissing the sexual harassment that women are subject to. This is not an article about other countries than China, it is about China. I recounted my experiences of sexual harassment in China (which is not unique to foreign women) and you have responded true to form. PLEASE keep it up !

May 12, 2021 19:27 Report Abuse



It's amusing that you sound like like sexual harassment doesn't occur in your home country. Sexual violence is everywhere ... Sexual harassment and abuse are not just about individual relationships or ... It happens in every age group, setting, country , social class, race". If you can claim anything so as anyone and vice versa. Who cares about your situation? Your highlight is without evidence. Without any proof , it's just another wild accusation. It seems like you don't enjoy your life in a china, please leave with all means. China will certainly has nothing to loose without a parasite. Anyone with sane mind will avoid places that can't fit theirs expectation. Don't tell me you enjoyed being harassed. Oops , it's such a pity that your life is stuck in country that keeps you unhappy. It's even more pathetic , if your country of origin can satisfied your financial needs, I don't think you left your mother land to torture yourself. Lol

May 12, 2021 19:33 Report Abuse



thanks Kenneth for replying using the 'guest' alias - yes I know it is you replying ! you say 'who cares about my situation' ? WOMEN would care because it is WOMEN you are being subject to the sexual harassment. So you are dismissing the experience of 51% of the worlds population? Are you saying that you don't care about women? Yes sexual harassment happens in every country but it happens openly in China and as your comments seem to confirm, casually dismissed as not important. So you would dismiss your mother/sister/cousin the same way if they said they were sexually harassed (in public), Would you also demand proof from them? Do you want pictures, witness statements? are you "china's police' ? You seem quite triggered by the fact that I can point out that China is not perfect. Neither is my home country, but i don't get 'upset' or 'aggressive' or 'defensive' when someone points that out. I try to understand the problem from the other person's point of view - you know the EMPATHIC thing to do. Thankfully I am no longer in China, but i can still share my experiences of life there with others (and you). You are such a joy to know !!

May 12, 2021 19:45 Report Abuse



Who cares your course of action. It's a complete waste of time reading your bullshit or talking to a people who complaint all the time. Leave China and find a better place that can fulfill your dream, where perfection exist. Oh don't forget to lodge a report at your embassy before you leave for good.

May 12, 2021 19:51 Report Abuse



so you can not have a civil discussion. How sad for you. Would you give the same sort or responses if this was a face to face conversation? Or would you have completely lost any semblance of patience and hit me ? If you had actually bothered to engage in a civil conversation you would certainly leave people with a better impression. as it is, your lack of civility does no one a disservice but yourself. Have a nice day and my best wishes to you.

May 12, 2021 19:57 Report Abuse



Go write an article about harassment. Show the world how pity is your life. Who knows you can earn the best author for the century....lol. It ain't bother me either. Your can keep barking....as always. A good guard dog never fails to bark.

May 12, 2021 19:59 Report Abuse



Love you too ;o) And remember, civility costs nothing, especially online.

May 12, 2021 19:59 Report Abuse



All your comments is showing the negative side . You are free to write your stories. It's nothing fall short being bull shit to me.

May 12, 2021 20:03 Report Abuse



Any wise person who write with integrity substantiate with facts, evidence. Failing so, any tom dick and Harry can do the same without exception.

May 12, 2021 20:06 Report Abuse