Challenges that you may face in China

When the opportunity knocked and asked you to move to China, you jumped up and raced out the door. You might have thought it would a smooth transition, similar to moving from America to Australia, but it is not the same. Unfortunately, there are some challenges you will face once you arrive.

These challenges are not uncommon; they are not impossible to overcome but it will take time, patience and a few motivational speeches in front of the mirror. Don’t give up yet, it will be worth it in the end.

Language Barrier. This is the biggest challenge in any country, whether you’re new to the language or fluent but unable to comprehend the accent. In the beginning, it might seem impossible to get over the lack of communication with the Chinese, especially with their dialects and heavy accents. Although you will notice over time, your ear will become tuned to picking up words you do understand and soon after you will be able to piece sentences together. When it comes to speaking to the locals, don’t be afraid to speak slowly and clearly at the start. It will allow you to practice your pronunciation and use of proper grammar.

Cultural Differences. When you first arrive in China, be prepared for a culture shock and miscommunications between both your cultures. Although, once you start to understand the traditions and customs, it can be interesting. In China, one of the primary problems foreigners tend to face is when it comes to their traditions.

Not to worry though, the Chinese are forgiving people and will try their best to explain what is happening around you.

Feeling like an outsider. Leading on from the cultural differences, it will become more apparent that you’re not at home. After the initial feeling of starting a new life in China wears off, you might feel more like an outsider. As much as you try to sound and act like a local, you can’t help but notice that you stick out like a sore thumb. It’s the painful truth, but it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Don’t be afraid to be the outsider in China, they will embrace you for it. Many foreigners who moved to China say that the Chinese probably accept them more because they are international. The locals take every opportunity to get to know everything about foreigners and their home countries as they would be considered to have a higher status with Western friends.

The pollution/drinking water. This is an issue many people tend to worry about before coming to China, especially Beijing. The Chinese Air Quality Index can go up to as high as 600 AQI and as low as 10 AQI. While it can be a constant concern, the Chinese people have found ways to push past it with masks and air purifiers that can be bought in large supermarkets.

Another challenge for foreigners living in China is the drinking water. While tap water is undrinkable unless boiled, there is an abundance of bottled water in all convenient stores.

However, it is advised to check if the water is clear before buying as some bottles might have been left out for quite some time.

Healthcare. Having access to healthcare in Beijing might be different to your home country especially with the language barrier or if you are particular with your doctors. The top public Chinese hospitals have excellent service although not all the staff speaks English.  If you do need an English speaking Hospital, Beijing United Family Hospital’s staff speak fluent English and have been studied abroad.

Healthcare insurance in China is still at a relative immature stage compared to the rest Europe & America. Foreign insurers are also new to the Chinese market and have yet to make significant progress into the domestic insurance industry.

There you have it, the main challenges that foreigners face when they come to China. Some might call these challenges; others might call them life-lessons. Once you’ve climbed over the obstacles, everything else about China falls into place and soon you’ll find yourself navigating through the Middle Kingdom like a local.

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