Since I started this blog, I always started with “hey guys, my name is” and by this point, I hope that most of you have realized who’s writing here. No? Crap. Well, still Dragos here. Nevertheless, I’m going to update the overall structure of my blog to make it more pleasant to read for both you and the average search engine. Yup, decided to go a bit more public by creating content that is better picked up by search engines and not just for the awesome few people here that are reading this blog. I appreciate you, really! You guys are awesome and beautiful and smart. I basically just want to up the purpose of this blog. If you want to learn how search engines work, you can go ahead and read about it on “Crelong’s Creative Corner” where there’s upcoming articles about marketing, digital media, technology and doing business with China.
When I say it’s time to clean up, it’s that I think it’s about time to be less shy about the things in this blog and the reality of living as an expat in China or as an expat anywhere in the world. So I hope to reach out to other people that might find the information valuable, interesting or just plain entertaining. Since I left Canada, I feel like I went through multiple lifetimes as so many things happen so fast while you’re living in a completely different environment. Yes, I live in China, but I never really felt the big culture shock people tell you might expect. It’s quite easy going to talk with people here. I think it’s more related to getting out of your comfort zone.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone
You don’t always realize you are in a comfort zone until life throws you a curveball. But you don’t need to wait for that shitty curve ball. In my case, I did take that ball face first. But you don’t need to is what I’m saying! Leaving your comfort zone doesn’t mean that you need to experience bad things. It simply means trying something different that you aren’t used to. Part of the reason I chose China almost two years ago was coming from the fact I wanted to have a full flavour of different experiences. And I did. But not only related to culture. My biggest shock was simply with the choice of leaving friends and family to open to all these strangers on a different continent. It’s basically what most expats experience. Now how do you manage the stress of change when you suddenly become an expat and alone… (dramatic cue) ?
Managing Your New Expat Life
First off, wherever you go, you need to make new friends and new contacts. We are a social creature, whether you are introvert or not, you cannot be all alone. And when you go for such an extreme experience as switching both country and continent, you are looking deep down to meet new people. So, you start immediately looking into events. At least, that’s what I did. As soon as you start establishing a new circle of friends, you instantly feel less the “culture shock”.
I was talking with some of my friend here that are planning to move pretty soon, and they’ve been in China for a while. They got used to it, but now is the time for a big move and for the very first time, they will experience being alone as professionals in a different country. How is that different from what they already experienced? Simply that as a student, you have a whole student community and parties and gathering places to build relationships, fall in love, make friends and have fun. School life is the best! (except exams, stress and essays) But as a professional, those environments don’t come naturally. So, you have to make up for it and when you aren’t sure where to start, that can be stressful.
Where Do You Meet New People?
As weird as it may sound, one of the first places I went to was InterNations to start establishing some contacts. It’s a nice little platform with some limits. In Bejing, it became quite clear to me that it can be a bit of a flirting platform for professionals. But you will make friends for sure. Not so sure about doing business. As I said, it’s a good starting point. On top of that, there’s whole other bunch of communities like Travel Massive and LinkedIn Groups that can help you build a group of people.
From there, you just need to be true to yourself. Being an expat is quite honestly an adventure with highs and lows. But it’s worth it as it builds such a different view of the world and allows you to make friends from all over the world. Wished I decided to go on this crazy adventure a lot younger in my life as with the opportunities I get to live here in China, who knows where I would have actually ended by now. I am curious about how other expats out there live their experience in their respective countries? Or even for people that are still nice and comfortable home if they are interested in experiencing the expat life or not at all and why? Let’s have more of a conversation from now on and I hope you guys send me messages!
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