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Expat Advice: Working in Beijing, China

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


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

I don't know what the main industries are in Beijing. I only have experience teaching although exporting cheap Chinese goods is common. Any type of career opportunities exist if you are a native English speaker, although outside teaching, Mandarin is helpful. Word of mouth and who you know are how most people already living here find work. The internet is second if you don't live here already. Dave's ESL cafe is a good place to start.

What type of work do you do and how did you find your job?

I teach conversational English at a private foreign language school. I found my work via the internet. I narrowed a search to several schools and chose one with the most benefits and less weekly hours.

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How did you obtain your work permit? What advice would you have for others about work permits?

English teachers are in great demand here so all you need to do is find a school and they will give you the letter of invitation with which to get your visa.

Have you taken language and cross-cultural training courses to prepare for your assignment? If so, how have they helped you on the job?

You don't need to speak Chinese to get a teaching job here. You don't need any experience or ESL certification. However, if you are planning to live here for some time I strongly recommend learning Chinese. You don't need to learn before you go, you can find a private teacher or enroll at a school when you are here.

What advice would you offer others about finding jobs and working abroad?

The internet is always a good bet. Ask around and post messages to get feedback from people who already live there. Be careful about contracts and visas, make sure they are all legal and above board. There are so many opportunities in China to teach that you can afford to pick and choose. Shop around for the best deal. Negotiate anything such as pay, insurance, housing etc before you sign and make sure its in the contract. Check the hours carefully, you can live very comfortably on a few hours a day. Make sure you don't need to prepare too much for class as you won't get paid for it. GET health insurance especially if you don't speak Chinese. Western medicine is more expensive than back home, western doctors charge a small fortune. If you move into Chinese housing, make sure you get the address stamped in your visa by both the foreign police bureau and the local police. Be wary of people who are overly friendly or just too friendly. Most Chinese are shy of Westerners and are quite a conservative race. They (the overly friendly ones) DO NOT want to be friends with you, they want to practice their English or see what you can do to help them. To make a Chinese friend takes time and it helps to know the language. Men should beware. Many young Chinese women want an easy way out of China and you'll do. Unless of course that's what you want. Not all Chinese women are like this but having said that the Chinese are a conservative race and shy of Westerners, be aware that a very friendly young Chinese woman may have one eye on your passport and one on your wallet. Chinese women are traditionally not forward with men. For women it's pretty safe although there have been some attacks recently around the bar areas. Do not wear outlandish or seemingly provocative clothing. Try not to drink to the extent you are out of control and don't know what you are doing. (Common sense in any unfamiliar surroundings) Normally a Chinese man will not approach a Western woman in a bar or restaurant. Be wary of those that do, although they are very easy to brush off and will never get aggressive. You may get a few catcalls or whistles, ignore them. Just don't attract undue attention to yourself. There is a lot of prostitution in Beijing. Most prostitution is in the big hotels, bar street and clubs. There are also Russian prostitutes so if you are drunk, wearing low cut or revealing clothes and flirting, you will get mistaken for one. In general, Chinese women do not drink alcohol and don't go to bars. I'm talking about Beijing, Shanghai is more modern or Western and standards are different. If male, be careful of women who want to talk to you and for you to buy them drinks. They will most certainly be prostitutes. Learn the language as most people: taxi drivers, shop assistants don't speak English or any other foreign language. You don't have to be fluent a few friendly sentences will do. Learn how to say where you live as soon as you get there. A mobile is handy for quick translation, you can phone a friend who speaks Chinese and ask for help. If you live in China for any length of time you will certainly have culture shock. Go with it and try and think positively. It helps to write a list before you leave your native country of why you're leaving. Refer to this when you feel down and irritated. Don't expect China to change according to your standards or way of thinking - it won't. Always praise China when you are with Chinese people, even if you don't mean it. Talk about how much you like the food, culture, history and people. NEVER talk about the government or politics. NEVER talk about religion. NEVER criticise China or the Chinese. Keep your views to yourself.

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Comments about this Report

Jul 13, 2011 00:43

very insightful, thank you

Apr 12, 2012 18:51

i am a cardiologist with several board certifications and several years of experience in the US.I am a US Citizen.I would like to work in china for 2 years.I need a job which is suficient to support myself. Could you pl suggest where i could apply and send my CV. Thank you chivukula

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