I’m going to try something different this week. Instead of randomly writing whatever pops into my head, I’ll try to write about a topic I think people might be interested in.

Whew, I’ve been in China for almost 4 years now. Time really flies by. As cliche as it sounds, it really feels like yesterday when I first arrived in China.

There were so many factors that went into my decision to come to China, that I’m starting to forget some of them. But the three biggest reasons that I recall were as follows:

  1. My Wife
  2. Career Opportunities
  3. Experience Living in Another Country

My Wife

This one should be pretty simple to understand.

At the time, Celine was living in Baltimore, and I was living in DC. We were kind of long-distance, since there’s always so much goddamn traffic around the Beltway.

Anyway, Celine was feeling pretty lonely since we weren’t living together, and she really wanted to come home. It’s understandable, since her whole family is in Beijing, as well as most of her childhood and college friends. And it also meant that she could be closer to her parents, whom she really missed.

So we talked about moving to China quite a bit, since she knew it would be a huge commitment for me, as well as a pretty big challenge. Plus, with my parents being in the US and her parents being in China, one of our parents would always get the short end of the stick no matter where we decided to live.

It got to the point where it seemed like she was determined to come back to China, with or without me, so eventually I had to make a decision.

And of course my decision was to go with her.

This was the main reason I came to China. I guess you can call it a love story. The other two reasons were ways I convinced myself that it was the “right” move (There are never right and wrong in these types of situations, it’s just perspective and how you view your decisions), but honestly, it was mostly so that I could stay together with my wife.

By the way, I was pretty nervous (and also excited) cause I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I popped the question the month before we left the US. So we were already engaged when we got to China. It gave me some reassurance that my wife wouldn’t ditch me when we got here, haha.

Career Opportunities

Of course being a guy, I had to find other reasons to come to China. So the easiest thing to settle on was “career opportunities.”

I convinced myself that if I stayed at my company in the US, I knew what my life would be like 30 years from now. I’d still be doing roughly the same shit, and occasionally get promoted just because I had a certain number of years of work experience. However, being a minority, especially with being Asian, I felt that there would always be some bias against me when it came time for promotions. It kind of bugged me, but I can’t imagine it being much better for black or Mexican people.

So I thought coming to China would allow me to use my bilingual language skills (at the time, my Chinese was only conversationally fluent, but I couldn’t read or write), as well as my finance knowledge, and give me more job opportunities.

I also had an additional line of reasoning. Companies are becoming more global, and no matter what I do in China, I’ll have “global” work experience, which may make me a more competitive candidate for whatever job I do in the future, especially if I return to the US.

Looking back, I don’t think this is necessarily the case. Once I got to China, I realized that American companies tend to look down on people that have work experience in China. The work culture is too different, the work experience isn’t really transferable, and there are a lot of bad habits developed here that make Americans not want to hire Chinese workers straight out of China.

Anyway, this was my second reason why I came to China. I just kind of lumped everything above into career opportunities. I feel like I have a lot more to say about this, so it’ll be a potential topic for a future post.

Experience Living in Another Country

I’ve traveled quite a bit growing up and I’ve even visited China numerous times. I spent a month or so in Beijing when I was like 11 or 12. But aside from that, I’ve never really lived in any country for an extended period of time except for the US.

I’ll admit, one of the reasons I really wanted to come to China was because of all the crazy stories I heard from one of my good buddies Chris C. We had a foreign exchange program during college and one of the destinations was Shanghai.

It’s always been a huge regret of mine that I didn’t go to Shanghai that semester.

One, cause I didn’t get to experience living abroad. But two, and more importantly, everybody I knew that went had so much fun that semester. I won’t go too much into the details, but for those that know anything about China, you’ll know what I mean.

As for me, since I was already essentially married when I came to China, some of the fun reasons were off the table, but I still wanted to know what it was like living in another country. I wanted to really understand another country’s culture. And I wanted to see if I could do it. I knew it would be difficult, but I wanted to see if I had it in me to tough it out, especially during the inevitably challenging times that would come.

 

So yeah, these are the main reasons why I came to China. So far, it’s looking like a good decision.

Calvin’s Corner 7 – Why I Came to China