China fatigue can spoil the expat experience

Published:  6 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, China, Euro
Expats who’ve been working in China for some while are in danger of experiencing ‘China fatigue’

China is a favourite destination for expatriates looking to experience a totally new and very different culture as well as finding either a well-paying new job or assistance with an entrepreneurial start-up. On arrival, there’s always a feeling of excitement, anticipation and fascination with the new surroundings, all of which are part of culture shock but can often morph into more serious reactions of frustration, annoyance, exhaustion and even downright anger. Getting through this stage is essential, as the only real alternative is to give up and get the next flight back to the home country.

The good news is that those who decided to stick it out end up with a far more lasting understanding and balanced view of the culture along with a narrowing of the cultural divides between their old and new lives. It has to be admitted the Chinese version is one of the hardest of all cultures to penetrate and infiltrate, due to its millennia-old beginnings and several thousand years of its development as well as its presence in everyday Chinese society.

Other factors Westerners find it hard to relate to are the huge number of other human beings everywhere, the constant advertising on the streets, on TV and in apps, the inability of the Chinese to form queues and the totally – to expats – illogical bureaucratic red tape. Problems begin to build as new arrivals find they’ve fallen in love with China and its opportunities and don’t want to be anywhere else, but still can’t stand the pressure of everyday life.

The answer is simple – take a break, go on vacation and find distance really does lend enchantment. The expat/China thing is just like any relationship in that a step back is the way forward and there really is something ‘special’ about China, more so than anywhere else on the planet.
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