Living in China – Learn About Life In One Of The World’s Rising Super Powers With A True ‘Pro’ Expat

Samir is no stranger to expat life, having lived in 6 countries throughout his life to date. He eventually made his way to Beijing, read all about his expat life in China below.

1. Where are you from originally?

I am from Denmark, but I have lived in many countries in Europe like Scotland, France and Switzerland. I grew up in Morocco too.

2. Where do you live now?

I live in Beijing, the capital of China.

3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?

I was actually trying to find a full time job as a teacher in Denmark after a partly failed career-path change, but the recent budget cuts have made this harder. There was a possibility of doing an internship in Beijing for a China sourcing company called China Performance Group CRCC, so I took the chance. Back in Denmark, I tried too to get a full time position as a Logistics/Export assistant but in vain. So I clearly moved to Beijing for work.

4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?

I am staying in a shared apartment for 2 months. I will then need to move to another place for my last month, as I am expecting to fully profit from my stay here (my visa is valid for 3 months).

5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?

I do not expect to speak Chinese after 3 months, but I am taking Chinese Lessons at That’s Mandarin so as to be able to say a few words/sentences at the very basic level which could be helpful in a few situations (not everyone speaks English in China!)

6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?

While I am working for the China Performance Group in the marketing department, I am trying to work part-time as a teacher, which is quite needed in Beijing. I work at my different work places, but it does happen for me to work from home too. In so far, I work only with new, local clients from Beijing.

7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?

Yes, I work online. The internet connectivity is satisfactory. I use for my work standard software in addition to a some online translation software and dictionaries. For new expats who live in Beijing and would like to work and participate to Beijing’s social life (this city has so much to offer), it is advisable to go through some material about life in Beijing as early as possible, starting from a few city-related platforms. Even China Performance Group, the company I work for, posts blogs that offer a wide range of Beijing life-related topics.

8. Are you paid in your new home currency or in pounds/dollars/euros? Do you exchange money often? If so, what service do you use?

I am paid in local currency, so I do not need to exchange money. Besides, you can find ATMs everywhere in Beijing, so using your credit card is no problem either.

9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move? How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?

I am single with no children. It looks as if there are very good career opportunities in China.

10. Did you bring any pets with you? Or leave any behind? How did this work out?

I have no pets.

11. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?

It is better than before since I am working full time i.e. more job security. Even if my internship is temporary, there are in general many job opportunities in China, especially so for native English speakers.

12. What are the best things about living in your new country? Has the move been good for the whole family?

Again, the best thing for me was to have a full schedule in my life, that is working full time, meeting new people and learning new cultures (languages, habits, way of being, etc.). Of course, my family is far away so that a long-term settlement in Beijing is still hard to imagine. But profiting from my stay professionally and culturally is very enriching.

13. What are the most challenging things about moving to and living in your new country?

Distance and probably paperwork too are the most challenging aspects about living in China. Not much so the new culture and language since Beijingers are rather very helpful and tolerant.

14. Are you here for good? If so, why? If no , why not?

I am a probably not staying for good in Beijing. Family and geographical conditions dictate that.

15. Any partings word to people thinking of moving to your country?

If you are still young and would like to try the life of a very big and exotic city, Beijing is definitely a possible candidate. Its people, culture, history are all very different than from what we know in Europe and could only be enriching for one’s personality. Going on your own with no arranging agency (which I did not do) is even more challenging and will test your ability to cope with many new facets of a new, exotic life. A challenge worth taking I believe!

About Samir

I am a 37-year old Dane who grew up in Morocco. I studied Engineering in France and, after moving to Denmark, I worked there for a few years before I took a teaching degree. Because I found it sometimes hard to teach at certain public schools of Copenhagen, I decided to study economics and work part-time. I am now doing an internship at China Performance Group (http://www.chinaperformancegroup.com) so as to relate this new working experience with my latest studies.

In my free time, I enjoy playing volleyball and I use to swim too now and then. When I travel to a more mountainous countryside (Denmark is a rather flat country), I also enjoy hiking in hills and mountains. Otherwise, I simply go for a promenade in parks.

Samir Benjelloun,
China Sourcing assistant at China Performance Group,
Beijing.

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