Who are you?
My name is Pavel, a am working and living in China, Beijing. I previously worked for EY (formerly Ernst&Young), that’s how I came to China in the first place.Now, I have founded a sharing-economy startup in China, focused on helping expats to buy things from abroad and deliver to China, as well as sending them from China to their country. I work full-time on the project now (wechat: Bagit八宝平台), love to travel and spend time with my family.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I am originally a sinologist, loving China, its history and finding its language really interesting to learn! So, it was just a matter of time until I got to China. For my family, this moment happened in October 2014.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Language was not a problem in my case (although I have found that there are still lots of things to learn!), but unavailability of items I’d got used to in everyday life back at home – which in the end led to idea of creating Bagit – was definitely a challenge.
How did you find somewhere to live?
Thanks to EY, they did all the procedures, which significantly decreased the “mafan” of finding a place to live. 🙂
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, we have found that Beijing has many expats here and there. Of course later after relocation to Beijing, we found that Shanghai or Shenzhen have even wider expat communities, but we quite like Beijing still and we’re enjoying our stay.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
We have some friends here and there, for me it is mostly colleagues at work. We also have quite good relationships with our landlord and his family.
What do you like about life where you are?
Well, China offers lots of freedom in living, choosing and developing. We like a lot that Chinese are “hungry” for new things, changes and moving forward. Traveling around China is quite nice too, as well as traveling around Asia in general: we visited Bali, Hong Kong and Singapore – these are the locations my family wanted to visit for years, but never did, until we relocated to China. 🙂
What do you dislike about your expat life?
China is so fast-paced in striving for change and ever greater achievements. This, however, may sometimes create a bit of a headache: new laws, regulations, updates here and there that to certain extent are related to your job, work permits, visas, contracts and more. You are really overwhelmed with info (and people, too! 😉 ) from time to time.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The biggest portion of differences that truly surprised me were not related to life, but to professional habits and ways of doing business in China: meetings are more crowded and longer. Contract talks are definitely longer.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
Chinese cuisine is something I liked since the first time I tasted it. My wife and even kids absolutely love it too! We are less excited about all those fancy types of coffees and teas (we love traditional tea though) with cream, some fluffs, puffs, ice, leaves of something etc, even though many people around us seem to love it.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I believe knowing Chinese language and basic culture may be one of the strongest factors influencing one’s experience in China (I guess same works for all expats in other countries, but for China I think this is even more of a factor then for some other countries).
If you come to work, it is best to find employment before coming as they will help you solve a pile of documentary issues and render organizational support with all sorts of procedures which in China can be time-consuming and complicated.
If you come to study… ahh just come, you’ll love it, I am sure. 🙂
If you bring your family, especially little kids, and are about to sign up for a really long-term contract (say, five years), be sure to read and understand about pollution issues. For (mainly) the same reason, if you are able to choose a city for your stay, I would recommend Shenzhen currently (due to the really diverse expat community, even more English speakers around you among Chinese, as well as less pollution compared to Beijing and Shanghai).
What are your plans for the future?
For work – Bagit now takes up all my time. We plan to build Bagit into an international startup working in several countries.
For travel – we still haven’t visited Zhangjiajie (shame on me!). I’d really like to see those mountains! And for the rest – just to live and enjoy on the go. 😉
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