Living in China can be eye-opening, profound, and rewarding, but it isn’t easy. Every expat faces challenges when they arrive in this country, ranging to the mildly annoying to the absolutely infuriating. We asked you what your challenges have been living in China. You responded with enthusiasm(from wechat discussion and Facebook page). Here’s what we found out.
Visas Are Immensely Stress-Inducing
Nobody likes to be at the mercy of China’s exit-entry authorities. There’s an absurd amount of gray area in China’s visa regulations (for example, no designated visa for interns), and it’s hard to find consistent information on application processes and requirements. Plus there’s just a ton of paperwork.
To avoid dealing with visa woes yourself, find a trusted agent – preferably one a friend has already used. Just be prepared to pay a small premium. If you want to tread the visa waters yourself, it’s always best to go straight to the source and get information directly from the relevant authorities’ websites.
The Language Barrier is Real
Most expats can’t speak fluent Chinese, which instantly makes any task twice as hard to accomplish. Ordering from a menu, opening a bank account, or even being treated at a hospital can be problematic. This also contributes to being considered an “outsider,” which can get you ripped off when it comes to doing business or even hiring a taxi (be sure to check the meter).
The only real solution to this is to learn the language, but it does take time and effort. In the meantime, it’s important to find the translation tools (and possibly a living translator) that help you communicate better.
Too Many Sounds, Everywhere
Visit any city village in China for a microcosm of all the noises that drive expats up the wall. Incessant car and motorbike horns, loud talking outside the restaurants, techno music blaring from the shops, construction, spitting – the whole nine yards.
In Chinese culture, light, sounds, and crowds are enjoyable. They did, after all, invent the firework. Because of this, most locals don’t mind the background noise. If you do, find a go-to place – a cafe, park, or even your apartment – to seek some peace and quiet.