Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some thoughts about moving to a new country (and packing for it)

As I enjoy my last day in Düsseldorf, there are lots of thoughts going through my head.  I remember the first time I moved abroad back in 2005 as a college student -- I actually sobbed to my mother for three hours.  Maybe more.  I recall wailing to her, "But why am I even going abroad?!  I feel comfortable where I am and I like it here!!  What am I doing?!?"  Nine years later, eight of which have been spent outside the U.S., I can only laugh at my college self and think, "How cute."  Because honestly, I wouldn't change the last nine years at all.

I have the feeling that in Shanghai, I will constantly be comparing it to my German experience.  I realize though that this is unfair.  Düsseldorf consistently ranks in the top 10 most livable cities in Europe, if not the world, according to the Mercer Quality of Living Survey.  On the other hand, China ranks as the number one country for expats according to the BBC.  But does living as an expat actually mean a good quality of life?  I don't think it necessarily does, but this will probably be one of the bigger questions I answer in China.

One thing that worries me about living in China is being Chinese-American, but my Mandarin is only so-so.  Of course, I'm eager to improve it, but there is an expectation that if you look Asian, you speak the local language.  It's a common problem in Asia that I encountered in Beijing, Tokyo, and Kyoto.  The attitude is, "Why don't you speak the local language?  You're Asian!"  This video sums up my experience really well:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm going to be an expat squared. Or expat hoch zwei.

It's been awhile since I wrote about being an expat, but it turns out I'm moving to Shanghai on Thursday.  Yes, in 72 hours I will be sitting on a plane on my way to China.  It's kind of crazy to think that after eight years of living in Germany, I'm moving to a new country and not back to the U.S.  I never thought I'd actually have the chance to move to China even though I've been saying I would like to do it for a really long time.

You might've noticed I've renamed this blog from "Deutschland, na klar!" ("Germany, of course!" which was basically the title of my German grammar book in college) to "Expat Hoch Zwei," which is a mix of English and German.  It means "Expat Squared."  I actually wanted to rename it "Expat Squared," but doing a quick Google search brought me to another blog that someone else got to before me.  Oh well.

So, tschüß, Düsseldorf:

The question is...what have I been doing up to now?