Italian Expat Living in China - Interview with Chiara

Published: 28 Apr at 9 AM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Filed: Interviews,China
Chiara is Italian, born and raised in Rome. She holds a Ph.D. in Architecture and she has always been following her strong passion for contemporary art and fashion, which brought her, soon after her studies, to begin her career as a store designer for Fendi.
Since then many things have happened and at a certain point of her life she had the (amazing) opportunity to travel together with her dear boyfriend (newly husband now) Giorgio and to explore the world. Business brought them to Denmark first and then eventually to China.
Beijing is her home now; she has been working, dreaming and having fun here for the last four years and totally love it.
She doesn’t know where her life will take her next, but now she is sure she’ll keep everyone posted! Chiara's expat blog is called Chiara's Coffee Table (see listing here)

Chiara's favourite flower!
Chiara's favourite flower!

Here's the interview with Chiara...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from Italy. I was born and raised in Rome.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm currently living in Beijing, China, the country of dumplings, noodles and Mao.

How long have you lived in China and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been living here for the last four years and I've enjoyed (almost) every second of it. I stopped making plans a long time ago. I'm not sure how long I'll be here for... but read my blog and I promise I'll keep you posted!

Lost in thought
Lost in thought
Why did you move to China and what do you do?
I moved here to follow my boyfriend (newly husband now) Giorgio who relocated for work. I've always been working as an architect and interior designer, and now I'm responsible for the Beijing branch of RCFZero, an Italian young architecture firm.

Did you bring family with you?
I'd rather say that my family brought me here!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition was tough, especially considering that I had never lived abroad before! But it was a necessary process, and I feel I learnt so much while going through it!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Making friends here in Beijing is a daily happy happening. Beijing is a crossing point, people come and go. This is why everyone is willing to share this experience, to recreate a family bond. Of course I have friends from all over the world, but some of the closest ones are in fact Chinese.

Strolling in Beijing narrow alleys
Strolling in Beijing narrow alleys
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
I recommend to take a couple of days to visit the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven - my favourite spots to hang out and take in some genuine China-ness. But if you feel lonely and far from anything you call home, head to Sanlitun. Close to the Embassy area, this is the place most foreigners go out, have a drink (or two), shop and dine.

What do you enjoy most about living in China?
Beijing is vibrant, chaotic, exciting, different from anything else. I like it. And people don't simply walk in the street - they catwalk like it's a fashion show!

How does the cost of living in China compare to home?
In general, cost of living in China is way lower than in Europe. But given Beijing is a big business metropolis, and thousands of expatriates are working and living here, nowadays the cost of living is comparable to New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore.

Enjoying the spring in a traditional Chinese courtyard
Enjoying the spring in a traditional Chinese courtyard
What negatives, if any, are there to living in China?
Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is pollution. Some days the air is so grey and dense that the only thing I can do is prepare a strong coffee, grab a book and cuddle up on my sofa. Then I read the day away, waiting for the greyness to be over.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to China, what would it be?
Start studying Mandarin from the very first day! Not only your daily life will seem easier than before, but you'll understand more about how locals think and act. And you will learn how to love them!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest aspect is probably being physically so far away from my home, my family, my childhood friends. When something bad happened in my family, it literally took me more than 2 days to go back. And in some situations two days in a long time.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
Well, I'm afraid it will we be extremely difficult for me and my family. Now I am used to an international environment, I am a world citizen. I feel I don't belong in Rome anymore.

Cold Beijing winter
Cold Beijing winter
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Study Mandarin. Study hard, both spoken language and characters. After a couple of months, you'll be thanking me for this advice!
  2. Get a second-hand bike. It's definitely the best way to explore Beijing, that has wide bike lanes and is completely flat. And beautiful.
  3. Sign up for the great wall marathon. It takes place yearly. It's exhausting, but you'll be so proud of yourself. The view is amazing. And you'll remember it for the rest of your life.
  4. Always bring a camera when you go out. Even if you are just going to the local market to buy fruit & vegetables. Actually, some of the best shots on my website were taken during random walks.
  5. Hurry up and find your favourite sweet treat - it could be a decadent cupcake, a delicious cheese cake or a rich mango milkshake. This way you'll know where to head to when feeling sad and lonely!
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I have had the idea of this blog in my mind forever.
Chiara's Coffee Table is a virtual space for me to share my feelings and happenings. I write about my passions, that are fashion & design, books, travels and beauty. It all comes with a strong Asian focus.
I write for my family and my best friends, wherever life, love or work has taken them, but I hope in the future more and more people will find my blog interesting and useful.
So... you are welcome to come along wearing your best smile and bring your dearest ones.
Please grab a coffee and take a seat!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Feel free to drop me a line or to contact me via my website!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingChiara is an Italian expat living in China. Blog description: Blog about my life in China, with daily posts about my passions: fashion, design, books, travel, beauty and food.
Please share:

Grab a featured expat badge that links to this interview!

Copy and paste code to display the Featured Expat Badge:

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Articles by Category

Now featuring 633 expat interviews


Latest Headlines