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An Expat Talks about Living in Xiangfan, China

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What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Xiangfan

How long have you lived there?

4 months

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

Haven't really found any but I know there are expats teaching at Xiangfan University as well as Expats teaching at various English Learning Centers.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

I have not seen many differences but people seem accepting of them. There are some muslim people that come from NW China here, that sell food of their culture mostly mutton barbecue and a style of stretched noodles. I don't see many other foreigners, and so I get the typical OMG Foreigner! stares, but most people say hello and the stares are not staring down a foreigner as if how dare you be here, but more in awe of actually seeing a foreigner. I have had people join me while eating to say hello etc. so very friendly to foreigners here.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

There is a lot of clothing manufacturing, but most of my students are working in the auto industry. Most working for foreign/Chinese Government partnership companies, including Cummings and Peugot. In the area near my school it is almost entirely clothing shops, including many famous international brands such as Kappa, Addidas, Nike, and Playboy.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

From what I have seen people usually eat dinner at small restaurants. It was quite busy the other night when I met up with some of my students (I work at an English Learning Center) for dinner. People usually go for dinner around 7PM. People also seem to socialize a lot in the morning and evenings. I live near People's Square (Renmin GuangChang) and there are people practicing Martial Arts and Dancing in the morning and people dancing in the evening. Big organized dancing, sometimes including elements of Martial Arts. This same activity goes on at smaller parks and squares around town as well.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Make friends with the locals. Visit Xiangfan Museum. Make sure your cab driver uses the meter. If you are large sized like me make sure you have enough shoes and clothing as it's very hard to find otherwise. I wear a size 48 here (which is size 13 US ) and most shoes here stop at size 44. I needed some new shirts and had to have them specially made which is very expensive in Chinese RMB. Some of the Restuarants have picture menus so if you don't speak/read Chinese you can point to what you want. I recommend learning at least some Chinese before coming here, as it will be extremely helpful.

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