Soon to be expat in Hangzhou – China!

IMG_2315From a marked in Beijing

I’m writing “soon to be”, but we are not moving before May/June 2015. However, time flies and in my mind I have started to make a plan. Mostly because we are going to Hangzhou in November and I want to prepare if there is anything I can do/check/bring/whatever regarding the move 6 months later.

“Moving” is not true either. We will be in Hangzhou for Mr. No-Backpackers sabbatical (in Norway the university professors have 1 “free-year” every 7th. year) and the stay will last around 14-15 months. I don’t know where we will live, but it looks like we will have an apartement close to, or at, the campus at Hangzhou Normal University.

Although we have both been to China before, it’s going to be very exciting to stay for such a long time and I must admit that I am also concerned about it. Mostly because of my health-problems. Will my stomach go bananas? Will it be possible to find low FODMAP-food and will I be able to comunicate my needs? What about all my medicines and what if I need a doctor and prescriptions? And at last, since I will not be working: Will it be difficult to get a network, something on my own, not only Mr. No-Backpackers?

Luckily it looks like the weather is better in Hangzou, than at home, in the wintertime. The cold months here in Norway is not good for my joints, tendons and body in genereal, so that is a good thing. If I get a multi-entry VISA I will go home every now and then and that will solve the problems with medicines and prescriptions. We also have Chinese friends in Hangzhou, people who have lived in Norway and speak fluently Chinese and English, so I bet we will be taken care of if anything happens with me.

All in all, I think my main-concern is that I will be lonely and without a network on my own. I have been searchin the internet and it looks like there are several Norwegian companies operating in, or around, Hangzhou/Shanghai. Because of that I assume there will be a small’ish community with Norwegians relatively close to me. I’m on the mission to investigate this topic further.

No, I don’t have a plan on using my time in China only with other expats, but I know, from when we lived in Liverpool, that it can be great to get help and ideas from other expats.

Have you, or are you, an expat? Please tell me about it in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Soon to be expat in Hangzhou – China!

  1. Piotr Kaźmierczak

    As a long-term expat who lived in a couple of countries I’m telling you – you’ve got nothing to worry about. First of all, you’re not going there alone, you’re gonna have T with you. Secondly, there are some Chinese people you already know that live there (doesn’t Yi live in Hangzhou?), so that’s even better. My advice though is to not necessarily narrow your networking down to Norwegian companies and Norwegians. Being abroad you should network with foreigners, and being in China I figure you’re gonna have tons of Americans – they’re *excellent* to network and hang out with.

    The only thing I’d be worried about while living in China for a longer period of time is climate:) But I guess you’re used to it by now.

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Yes, you are right Yi lives in Hangzhou and I am sure he will help me/us to settle. When you ahve been an expat you have always had a “mission” and because of that you have naturally gotten a network and friends. I’m “only” the “follower”, så I am afraid it will be more difficult for me… However I am prepared and have already started to look for things to do and get to know people, so I am sure it will be fine. I take it you will come and visit us? 🙂

      Reply
  2. thetrustedtraveller

    Time flies and you will most certainly be heading off in no time. I lived in London (I’m from Sydney) for two years and loved every minute of it. My biggest advise is to just embrace it. Don’t spend your time complaining about the things you miss from home because really, those things will still be there when you get back and your experience in China may not last forever. Make an effort to meet people and don’t be ashamed to meet other expats. Sharing experiences with like minded people is what its all about. Have a blast!

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Thanks for all your brilliant advices! Aw, London… Would love to be an expat in London too… 🙂 Did you work or study there?

      Reply
      1. Jen Seligmann

        I worked there doing short term contract work of a few months at a time and then at the end if each contract went off travelling for a few weeks. Although I didn’t do nearly as much travel as I was expecting because there was so much to do in London.

        Reply
        1. Cecilie Post author

          Sounds fab. to be an expat in London. Although I have been one in Liverpool, I would love to try London! About the traveling…. Hehe, my plan is to travel around Asia, but time will show if it works by plan! 🙂

          Reply
  3. Els

    1 year free every 7th year? Wow, you guys are lucky! 🙂 Must be really exciting and a very enriching experience to move to China for a while! Enjoy and good luck with the preparations 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Hehehe, not *free* like in, “not work”. They have to work, doing research, but they have 1 year off from teaching. 🙂 However it IS a very good practice so I don’t complain about his job 🙂 (I only complain when I have to stay at home for weeks/months when he is traveling. 🙂 )

      Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Thanks! It’s strange how you THINK to handle situations before it happens, and when it happens, you understand you were wrong. I have also thought how strange it was that people from the same country, or even foreigners, here in Norway, tend to get together. After we lived in Liverpool, I do understand why it’s both practical (you usually have the same questions) and social. Getting friends and interact with the locals when you are “the follower” isn’t as easy as one think, I asume. I might take some lessons in Chinese though, but am afraid it’s not enough to comunicate…. 😀

      Reply
  4. Hannah

    Sounds like an awesome opportunity! I’m excited to see how you like it- I bet it will be a big change but change it good 🙂 I was an expat in Ireland for awhile. I loved life was so much more low-key than in North America.

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      I’ve never been to Ireland, but I can imagine it’s not that different from UK. I loved living in Liverpool, although I comuted. Liverpool is not the nicest city in UK, still I love it and try to go back at least once a year to visit friends.

      Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Aw, I can’t wait to get there! The plan was to go to Hangzhou in November, when we were in Chongqing, but I became so sick I needed to go back home 14 days before the plan. (Long story, but thanks to KLM I returned home anly a few days after I had decided to go home although I had a ticket that was not changeable. “If you are ill, we will always get you back home!”) We’re going to Hangzhou (and Chongqing) in November and now I am really looking forward to it!

      Reply
  5. zof

    Great news. Good luck with everything. I’m sure you will find a network and activities just for you, something own to have without the Mr. I moved to Armenia on my own a year ago and I’ve never imagined I’ll find so many things to do and so many great friends to make in such a short time. Expat communities are open and welcoming. You will surely establish great connections. I just know it. Hope the heath issues won’t get any serious, wishing you all the best.

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Thank you for all your positivity! Yes, I am sure I will find something on my own. I just think it’s good to be prepared and go into it with “open eyes”. 🙂 I’m glad to hear that you settled in Armenia, always good to hear “success-stories”!

      Reply
  6. shussey27

    Good Luck with the move! I am an English expat in Prague Czech Republic and I had loads of worries when I first moved here! The key is to network well so you have a big group of friends to help you out with tricky stuff like translating and to explore as much as possible! Expat communities are very welcoming and I have heard there is a rather large one in China so I am sure you’ll have a great time 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Thanks for your advices! I love Prague and I almost envy you living there. 🙂 However I think it will be quite exciting moving to China too and I can’t wait to visit the place in November/December.

      Reply
  7. ashley664

    I’m an expat living in Amsterdam, so I know how excited/nervous/crazy/helpmewhatamIdoing you are. I think the best advice I can give you is to jump in feet first. You’re bound to forget to do something, but go with the flow, and everything will work out.

    Reply
    1. Cecilie Post author

      Actually, we thought about Amsterdam, but hehe… didn’t find it that exotic… 🙂 Joke aside, the reason we didn’t want to go to Amsterdam was because we had the chance to go to China now. That chance may disappear, but because we know so many people living in Amsterdam, the chance of moving there/visit for a longer time, will not go away. Thanks for your advises and enjoy Amsterdam!

      Reply

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