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Top Tips for Preparing for China

Author: The expert team from ICC-Portal (China-Blog und Interkulturelles Training)

What is especially important when preparing for the Middle Kingdom? What should you not forget when you move to China for work? We asked some German expatriates in China and put together a list with the best tips for your China mission. The investigation took place in two survey steps: first 117 visitors to the ICC portal were asked which of the following aspects deserves the most attention so that the adjustment from Germany to China takes place with the least amount of problems.

Among the choices were: 1. Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for your time in the country. 2. Informing yourself about the living and working conditions in the country. 3. Making organizational preparations for the move and new start in China. 46 percent of the responding ICC readers found the mental attitude extremely important. 33 percent thought that research about the country was crucial, and only 21 percent thought so about the organizational preparations. We wanted to know more specifically what preparation for China looks like in practice. So in a further step we took an open survey of 75 Germans, asking their opinion of the most important preparations, with several answers being possible. Here is the list with the most frequent recommendations for the move to the Middle Kingdom.

Top 5 Tips for Expatriates in China

1.    Take a course
Taking a training course or seminar for intercultural preparation was recommended a total of 36 times, to get ready for your time in China. While this wouldn’t solve all problems, it could at least reduce the initial uncertainties.

2.    Get into the habit of openness

Openness was indicated as being important 24 times, and was frequently mentioned in relation to curiosity or flexibility. One should try to remove the “German eye-glasses” so you could “start anew” in China.

3.    Acquire language competency

It’s well known that Chinese can’t be learned overnight, however many felt that this point was especially important. 18 of the respondents felt that you should linguistically prepare for China too. You should at least be ready with the bare minimum for everyday use.

4.    Acquire patience
Not only a virtue, but in China a good helping of patience is an absolute must, found 13 of the respondents. This was recommended equally for the daily routines of work and private life. Because he who is impatient in China, only makes life more difficult than necessary.

5.    Plan ahead for medical care
Nine people explained that whoever goes to China should take care to get the necessary vaccinations beforehand. (This is more important for certain regions of China than for others.) Special medications and drugstore items shouldn’t be forgotten either. Some creams and deodorants are actually expensive or difficult to obtain in the Middle Kingdom.

The respondents had some weird ideas too. These are not representative and probably not all are meant seriously, but we don’t want to withhold them. It should be noted however, that they do not reflect the opinions of the ICC team. Some of the unusual tips were: “Learn to drink a lot” (2x); “Get a divorce” (1x); “Start smoking to get used to the air” (1x); “Take licorice along!” (1x).

This survey also shows that German expatriates believe that intercultural training along with the right attitude is the correct way to prepare yourself or others for China. Incidentally the number of offerings of intercultural trainings in China, with which the Chinese prepare themselves for foreign countries, is on the rise.

Helpful tips for the expat life in China are offered by the Deutsch-chinesische Knigge.

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