I’m an expat at the moment in China. There are a lot of us in China. I’m not talking about the corporate style expat with a big paycheck and a fancy apartment. I’m talking blue collar expats. We are working class, mostly as English teachers. Most of us don’t have cars or maids and many don’t have anything above the typical Chinese citizen’s level of health insurance.
So who are we? We are without question a rag tag group of random individuals all here for different reasons. While I hate to be cliche, I do think that most of us fit into a few general categories. Here are some typical answers to the inevitable question, “Why are you here?”.
I couldn’t find a job in my home country.
The global economy has been in rough shape over the last few years. The most common answer to the question of why someone would move to China to live and work is usually straight forward. They needed a job and China has plenty of them if you meet a few basic requirements.
I’m someone special here.
One of the the allures for some people to working in Asia if you are Caucasian is that you are often treated very well for no particularly good reason. You are recognized everywhere. Everyone wants to be your friend. If you are someone who enjoys the spotlight and have nothing remarkable enough about you to garner it in your homeland, you can often get it effortlessly in Asia.
I have Asian fever.
It’s amazing how many guys, and it’s always guys, will freely admit they are here because it’s easy for them to get a date. I was initially bothered a bit by this type. Seriously, you moved halfway across the world so you could feel like hot shit with the ladies? Now, I’m more at ease with it. The fact is everyone wants to feel like hot shit. It’s better than feeling like just regular shit. If a different continent makes you more attractive to the opposite sex and that makes you happy, then I guess it actually makes perfect sense.
I wanted an adventure.
This is where I feel like I fit in. I quit my decent job in the states to come here. I was bored. I love travel. China is a huge country with a lot to see. It was an easy choice for me. If I’m writing the story of my life, which I am, I’d rather write a chapter where I moved to China than a chapter where I worked at my corporate job that I hated and spent most of my time thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner.
I like it here.
This is the answer you get from some of the long timers. After a while other reasons begin to fade. You stay for a year, then it’s two years, then it’s a decade. You go back to your home country for a visit and want to come right back. Some people find a home here. Nothing is keeping them here other than this is where they feel the most comfortable.
Of course everyone has their own variation of the reasons above or maybe something totally different. Whatever the reason it’s a fascinating mix of people and a big part of the fun of international living is hearing all the twisting paths that lead someone out into the great, big, wide world.