Read Accessing China February 2007 text version

Accessing China

March 2007

In this issue... The State of Shopping Tailor Made Clothes for Expatriate Women Five Desired Characteristics of an Assignee Relocating to China An Interview with Guangzhou APA Counselor: Elaine Teng

with Asia Pacific Access' Monthly China Newsletter

Welcome to APA's March Edition of Accessing China

Welcome to another issue of Access China! In this month's issue, we focus a bit on shopping, the ups and downs of being a buyer, from Beijing to Guangzhou, across China. Our local shopaholic Sarelle will give you the low down on what is happening in the malls and street stalls. Also, we have an interview with our seasoned counselor in Guangzhou, Elaine. She'll give you some insights into how she is enjoying China. And perhaps she would also be a good profile of an ideal assignee...something we can check by refering to our article on the five desired characteristics of an assignee relocating to China. Yes, yet another exciting, informative issue! So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and read on to find out more...enjoy the newsletter...and we look forward to hearing from you! Best wishes, Dan Bass Relocation Director Asia Pacific Access [email protected]

The State of Shopping

By Sarelle Hayek, APA Senior Account Manager The state of shopping in China is constantly evolving. In fact, Shanghai in particular now has such a varied and plentiful shopping environment that tour groups have started to tailor their tours entirely around shopping. Currently, Shanghai seems to get all the cool brands first before they make their way to other cities like Beijing and Guangzhou. For instance, in the last couple of years, Shanghai has been the first to get mainstream international brands like Sephora, MNG, H&M and Miss Sixty. As for those living in other big cities, people usually know that it's only a matter of time before these cool brands make it there as well. It's not only mainstream brands that are finding a market in China, specialty items that before could only be bought abroad are now being introduced as well. On the whole, it's still pretty difficult to find a designer bikini, or maternity wear that isn't overalls, anywhere in the country; other specialties such as European fine-bone china crystal, have made it here. Baccarat, Kosta Boda, and Wedgwood now all have stores in Shanghai. Imported baby and children's wear such as Jacadi, and Benetton also have stores in China. Last month, during a trip to Shanghai, I was surprised to see a Vera Wang wedding gown salon in Pudong's Shangri-La Hotel. Shanghai is now a viable market for women willing to pay a premium for their wedding gowns. [email protected] last century French architecture. I usually make a day of it b y also spending time in the French Concession's lovely cafes or restaurants. My favorite shopping streets in the French Concession are Changle Road, Julu Road and Xinle Road. For more international designer brands, Huaihai Road in the French Concession houses such brands as Ferragamo, Gucci, and Sephora. Of course, if you prefer ultra modern shopping malls, there are also plenty of choices all over Shanghai. In fact, you never need to go far to find one. Even in the newer futuristic Pudong area there are two brand new sophisticated malls, Super Brand Mall and Xinmei Union Square. In Beijing, I still enjoy going to the non-touristy markets like Jiayi and Women's Street, on occasion. However, I was very excited to hear that Zara, Aldo Shoes, and a new English language bookstore, Chaterhouse (first opened in Shanghai) had opened in a new mall called "The Place." Beijing has a lot more in store in terms of shopping options. With the 2008 Olympics right around the corner, we'll soon be inundated with new choices. I'm looking forward to the new "Sanlitun Entertainment Street" and the new Legation Quarter ( B e i j i n g 's a n s w e r t o S h a n g h a i 's Xintiandi) being open for business. These two projects are supposed to be very impressive indeed.

For relocation, or shopping assistance in China...

Contact us at [email protected]

I'm sure it just a matter of time for bikinis and maternity clothing. I especially like shopping in Shanghai because the general shopping environment is more interesting. For instance, in Beijing and Guangzhou, most of the shopping takes place in big modern style malls or chaotic and makeshift looking clothing markets. Shanghai, on the other hand has loads of charming shopping streets that house small boutiques. My favorite place to shop in Shanghai is in the French Concession area. Not only are the boutiques quite nice, it's great to explore and even lose yourself in the area's tree lined streets and turn of the tel: +8610 6512 9996

Tailor Made Clothes for Expatriate Women

by Cisca Wikkeling, APA Shanghai Manager

Five Desired Characteristics of an Assignee Relocating to China

By Zanine Wolf, APA Account Manager Relocating to a different country such as China in which the language and culture is vastly different to your own is undoubtedly challenging, and requires a certain amount of personal strength and resilience. The challenges can sometimes seem daunting, but if you commit to focusing on the positive aspects of living in China, of which there are so many, you'll soon find that the rewards far outweigh the challenges and the experience can be enormously fulfilling for you and your family. A healthy dose of the following personal attributes will stand you in very good stead as you embark on your China adventure... Curiosity and enthusiasm for new experiences At APA we believe that a China assignment should be about more than just surviving ­ it should be about thriving. If you're open to new adventures and learning about new perspectives, your time in China is likely to be far more memorable than if you view this as a time when your life is on hold. It may be tempting at first to escape from the seeming madness outside and seek refuge in the safety of your housing complex, but if you make the effort to reach out to people, and embrace your new home, your time here will be more rewarding, and you'll return to your home country one day having learnt something not just about a different culture, but about yourself. Patience In China, as in any foreign country, cultural and language barriers mean that normal everyday tasks take on a very different meaning. Something as simple as shopping for groceries, or taking a taxi, can often end up being a big test of patience. One needs to accept that most chores will take more time here than they would at home, at least until you have mastered the basics of the language or got your new routines down pat. In the beginning these small tasks may seem a bit overwhelming but with time they become easier and more familiar, and eventually you'll feel confident to negotiate life in your new home. Sense of humour Nothing is ever as bad as it seems if you're able to see the humour in the situation. In China there will be many moments where laughter really is the best medicine, as the alternative is to get frustrated, and that usually just exacerbates the situation. There will be many times when you are out of your comfort zone, particularly when it comes to overcoming the language barrier, and rather than get frustrated, try and see the lighter side of the situation, as this tends to diffuse any n e g a t i ve f e e l i n g s o r f e e l i n g s o f helplessness. Proactive Oftentimes you will land in China not knowing anyone, and it makes it more difficult to cope with the stresses of adapting to your new environment without any support structures. But, rest assured there are lots of others in the same position, and making new friends in China is not difficult, provided you make an effort. So be proactive, join social events, and make an effort to get out there and meet new people, as this will alleviate any homesickness you may be feeling, and make you feel more integrated. People will be very receptive to your gestures of friendship. In fact, meeting new people from all over the world is one of the benefits of a China posting, and it can really broaden your horizons. Flexibility/adaptability Being stuck in your ways in China is a one way ticket to frustration. Things that you took for granted in your home country may no longer apply here, and if you are going to cope with these differences in lifestyle, you're going to need to make some concessions to life in a new place. This might include small things such as adapting to a new brand of toothpaste or cereal, or larger lifestyle issues such as adapting to a different style of eating, being comfortable in large crowds, and getting used to a more indoor lifestyle. Tr y a s y o u m i g h t t o r e s i s t t h e s e differences, they're not likely to go away, instead choose to embrace and be grateful for the unique opportunity to be living in one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

For most expatriate women, buying clothes in Shanghai can be difficult. Most of our body types are too tall or too large and it is difficult to find clothing to fit us in most stores. We are fortunate; however, to have three fabric markets in Shanghai. In

addition to ev ery type of fabric available there are also a host of tailors. These tailors can copy a

garment from a photograph or an existing garment for a relatively good price. Dongmen Road is one of the

markets the other two are located at Lujiabang Road and also Cao An Lu, where you can have curtains and bed covers made cheaply.

[email protected]

tel: +8610 6512 9996

An Interview with a Guangzhou APA Counselor

Elaine Teng is originally from Singapore. She has seen a lot of China after living effectively in three Chinas: the affluent Special Administrative Region that is Hong Kong, the island state that is Taiwan, and the Communist Republic that is mainland China. She has been an expatriate spouse since 1993 when she went to Beijing on their first family overseas assignment. She has gone through giving up her career in Singapore, raising their then 4 year old daughter in different international schools, merging into the international community and always packing and unpacking through their relocation from Beijing to Hong Kong to Taipei returning to Singapore and then to Guangzhou in 2001. Educated in a bi-lingual system, Elaine speaks fluent English and Chinese. Before joining her husband in Guangzhou in January 2002, she worked in a wide range of industries ­ from telecoms through interior designers to electronic systems companies, many of them American or European-owned. The result of this extensive experience is a unique ability to look at China through a Chinese perspective, a corporate one, and an inquisitive expatriate one. Since joining APA as Relocation Counselor in June 2004, Elaine has assisted many clients in appreciating the mysteries of this southern city of China with its teeming streets, non-stop noise, strange foods and odours, bright colors and ancient traditions and beliefs. Whether helping you find a home, a school, a language course, or your first friends, Elaine looks forward to welcoming you to Guangzhou. APA: What do you enjoy most about living in China? Elaine: I am amazed at how China has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years. Living in China has indeed given me the opportunity to give up my comfort level of living in a pampered city like Singapore and adapt ourselves to the challenging conditions of China. Had I not been out here, I would have assumed a very conservative lifestyle, a static 9 to 5 job and a `pressure-cooker' education system for our daughter. I have enjoyed mingling with the international community, the different cultures through the expat community and the international school curriculum has indeed given our daughter a chance to excel at her own pace and the valuable opportunity for her to learn to cope with students from around the world from a tender young age. I also appreciate the courage of the Chinese and their entrepreneurial spirit never fails to impress me. They are such hardworking and determined people and I am amazed how well they coped with the demanding [email protected] bilingual) that have sprouted up in Guangzhou. There is plenty of shopping in Guangzhou, which prides herself for her many specialised markets, e.g. Souvenirs & Gifts, Textile, Jade & Pearls, Antiques, Shoes, Watches, Export Outlets, Leather, Tea, Plants, Electronics, Computer, etc. Because Guangzhou is a supplier of commodities going to all parts of the world, one can buy most things at a fraction of prices back home. There are many Chinese language learning schools and private tutors are also available for home tuition for non-Chinese speakers. Here's the chance for you to pick up a new language during your stint in Guangzhou. APA: What advice would you give to other expats lik e yourself living in Guangzhou? Elaine: It's indeed not difficult at all to move about in Guangzhou. There are taxis available at every corner of the street. For non-Chinese speakers, just show the name card of your destination, your enthusiastic taxi driver will bring you there (APA also provides the Guangzhou Taxi Book for non-Chinese speaking individuals). It is also safe to travel around in cabs. For the more adventurous, there are the public buses which are mostly air conditioned and very clean. Alternatively, one could hire a chauffeur driven car either daily or monthly. Rental rates are rather inexpensive and the driver could even work for 7 days a week if you are willing to pay him overtime. International schools do pro vide transport for ferrying children to and from school. Some expat compounds such as Gold Arch, Golden Lake and Castle Hill also provide private buses for tenants' children living on site traveling to and from both the American School and Uthaloy. For families living in properties not covered by both compound buses and school transport, parents can car pool or have their personal chauffeur do the sending and pick-up service. And don't forget the Guangzhou Metro System which now has 4 lines running from east to west and north to south. The system is efficient and the standard of cleanliness is commendable. APA: What do you hope to achieve in China? Elaine: I hope to be able to continue to help expatriates coming to work and live in Guangzhou. With more than 50 diverse ethnic groups in China, there is indeed never a dull moment working and traveling to unravel the mysteries of each province within China!

Sarelle Hayek (left) and Elaine (right)

changes from the early days of communism to present day capitalism. They really deserve the respect of the world for their excellent results. APA: What advice would you give to other expats like y ourself who are deciding to move to Guangzhou? Elaine: I would encourage people (whether y oung or old) to give themselves a chance to experience China by accepting job assignments in China. There is always fear of the unknown for each city. No family support, new boss, new job, new home, new neighbours/ friends/colleagues, language problem, new school, the list goes on. Don't worry though, APA Counselors are always available as your point of contact. We are your first friends and for every problem, there is always a solution. There is also a very supportive women's club, Guangzhou Women's International Club (GWIC) that prides itself with more than 500 members from about 20 different nationalities. Every month, there is a Meet & Greet session for newcomers to Guangzhou; regular morning coffee; afternoon tea; lunch; shopping trips; cultural tours; and activity clubs. These activity clubs include a Book Club, Cooking Club, Bridge, Scrapbook making, Playgroup for toddlers, Tennis, Golf, etc. GIWC has housing representativ es for each expatriate compound and language representatives to support different nationalities. International schools like the American International School of Guangzhou and Utahloy International School of Guangzhou have been successful as learning institutions for children from pre-school to high school. Many expat children have graduated and gone on to reputable universities in the States, Canada, UK, and Australia for their tertiary education. The British International School opened in 2006 and the Nanhu International School is getting popular with their Cambridge and bilingual syllabus. There are also many kindergartens (both international and tel: +8610 6512 9996


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Accessing China February 2007