Canadian Expat Living in China - Interview with Clint

Published: 22 Sep at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,China
Over 2 years ago, Clint and his family were living in Atlantic Canada. Life was was beginning to feel unfulfilled. After selling his last business, unable to find another interesting business and frustrated by mounting costs, both in Business and in life, Clint cooked up the idea to move North, above the Arctic Circle!

So off they went, to the tiny hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, in the Northwest Territories of Canada, above the Artic Circle.

Without a doubt the decision to make such a radical change permanently altered the trajectory of this family. The North was life changing. After completing a year in the Canadian North, another opportunity came to them. A chance to relocate to China, specifically Zhaoyuan China.

Armed with a new confidence, after conquering The North, off they went. Clint's expat blog is called glass of scotch (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Clint...

Where are you originally from?
Clint and his family come from the Atlantic Coast of Canada

In which country and city are you living now?
Currently enjoying life in Zhaoyuan China in the Shandong Province.

How long have you lived in China and how long are you planning to stay?
Arrived in Zhaoyuan in September 2014 with the intent of staying at least until the summer of 2016.

Originally, we had committed to staying 1 year, good or bad. 4 Months in, we all agreed to stay another year....maybe more?

Why did you move to China and what do you do?
As a student of history, the writing is on the wall for Asia and China, specifically, to emerge as the next 'power'. For quite sometime, getting here and finding a manner to earn a living was a big question. For selfish reasons, seeing China has always been a desire, but as a father, being able to be in a position to have my children learn Chinese was a tool I had to equip them with.

When given the chance to become a partner in an English Training School and being able to manage the business, there was no hesitation.

Did you bring family with you?
Our family of 4 consists: a Father, Mother and two young girls, 9 and 6 years old.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Living the in the Arctic provided us an environment to see if we could acclimate to new surroundings. That being a success, our family was far better equipped to take on the challenges of our new home.

Chinese culture has many characteristics which do not resonate with Western sensibilities,but they are not wrong or right, better or worse. They are simply different. China and large parts of Asia are currently in various stages of development....We were extremely fortunate in that the Chinese are extremely welcoming, warm and friendly.

Things are certainly rough around the edges in small town China. Everyone visiting has to keep in mind, China is only one generation removed from abject poverty. Some of the successful business people we have come across came from homes where tree bark was a diet staple. So, you will have to pardon them if they do not carry Western Sensibilities yet. They are too busy working and saving.

People act differently but we all share many qualities. We all focus on our children, our families and striving for a better life.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We ARE the foreigners here. In a city of 500,000, we are the Western Contingent.

Making friends and meeting people has been made easier due to being a family. Taking the children to school, meeting parents who bring their children to English Class and being exposed to many walks of life in business meetings has made it somewhat easier to create relationships.

To be quite honest, while seeing a western face from time to time is nice, we did not travel all they way around the world to see the same people I already knew back in Canada.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Zhaoyuan is the Gold Capital of China. 10% of China's gold reserves can be found here.

If you are interested in Gold and Silver, there is a Jewelry Exchange, folks from all over come to visit.

Apart from the Gold Industry, Zhaoyuan is very much a blue collar community. A city of 500,000, they still see themselves as a village. Come and visit for an authentic Chinese experience.

What do you enjoy most about living in China?
Shanghai and Beijing are tainted by all things west. Here in the Shandong province, visitors are guaranteed to get themselves a real slice of China.

How does the cost of living in China compare to home?

Life in "small town" China does not compare to the Big Box, pre-packaged, sterilized life in Canada. The cost of living here is dramatically cheaper. From rent to food to travel your dollar will go much much further.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in China?
If you are not open to different environments, do not come here.

If you are overly concerned with food preparation standards....or do not like the idea of a squat toilet, perhaps this isn't for you.

However, if you are fascinated by seeing an emerging society, up close, and want to meet new and interesting people.....get your butt over here.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to China, what would it be?
Try to learn some Chinese before getting here.

Our relocation was done in a considerably short amount of time, so we were lacking in that area. Learning the language, any language, when visiting a new country is a much better way to go....but do not let something like language get in the way either.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
From a business perspective, learning the nuances of relationships takes some getting used to. Business here has some very different personality traits.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I am afraid that is not in the cards, our family is on the run and wanted in 11 different countries......Just kidding.

Seriously though, we do not see ourselves returning to Canada to live. To visit sure, but life in Canada has become too expensive and over-regulated. Besides, there are far too many places left to experience before a move back to Canada is warranted.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Be open-minded.
    Far too many expats we come across get caught in the trap of comparing and complaining about everything around them. Almost as though they are looking down their nose at everything they see. Let it go.....the West did not just spring up one day with all its 'perfect conditions'.
  2. No matter what family says back home, go for it.

    You could experience the full force of family members who will demonstrate their complete ignorance of the country your are visiting. This can make it hard, but do it anyway. Be the one who can enlighten them with real information, not the garbage they have learned on TV.
  3. Save.

    Begin to save as soon as possible. Going into debt by buying a home, car and all the crap that goes into it will never allow you to explore. With a pocket full of cash, you will also be able to take advantage of opportunities you may come across in your travels.
  4. Even if you are not going to go on to write like Hemingway or Twain, keep a log or journal of everything you do and experience.

    Don't forget a camera, but please do not pollute the world with more selfies, take photos worthy of being placed on your wall.
  5. Do not turn down invitations to dinner.

    We have been so fortunate in meeting the people we have because of dinner invitations. Especially in China, food is the center of all social functions.

    The best meal I have ever had was at a wedding party in a village of 200 in a cement-floored hall with no heat in January, while sitting on tiny metal stools.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Formerly, now, our blog attempts to cover our experiences in an unconventional way. Whether discussing Business Opportunities, Tips and Advice or perhaps less than politically correct views. I hope our site can provide something new or cause folks to think.

Above all, the information provided is aimed at blowing holes in "commonly held beliefs" and encouraging other to just get out and see things. The reader can access posts, not only from our Chinese experiences, but from other locations we have visited.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
The best way to contact us, would be by visiting our site and using the Contact Us link. But feel free to contact via twitter or comment on one of the posts. We would love to hear other opinions and experiences, we certainly do not hold a monopoly on that.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingClint is a Canadian expat living in China. Blog description: That Adventure began in Tuktoyaktuk. Tuk, for short, is located in the Northwest Territories of Canada, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Since then, we find ourselves in Zhaoyuan China.
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