The Halfpat Life: Grace

Friday, March 9, 2007 0:38

Grace came from Australia 4 years ago (not sure when she will be leaving) because she thought China held good career prospects.

Instead of taking the expat route and finding a company that would send her over, she took the plunge and moved to Shanghai on her own.

She is currently an attorney for a large U.K. law firm and has 5+ years of work experience

Language Background:

On a scale from 1 to 10, what level is your Mandarin?
How often do you use Mandarin in general?
How often do you use Chinese language skills at work?
She did not study the language, culture, or business climate prior to arriving

Living in Shanghai:

Top 5 things about living in Shanghai
1) Cheap costs of living
2) Ayi
3) Great social life
4) Interesting work due to booming economy

Living in an apartment, Grace contract does not offer housing, insurance, or car/ driver.

A recent China day for Grace included:

Prior to boarding the plane back to Shanghai from KL, I witnessed a Shanghainese lady putting her Starbucks drink through the X-ray machine. When I was on the plane, I witnessed a middle aged Chinese lady picking her teeth with her fingernails while standing at the front of the plane’s alleyway. I swear my taxi driver exceeded the speed limit by at least 20 km the whole way from Pudong airport to my apartment. I was relieved to come back to a clean and tidy apartment, all thanks to my wonderful ah yi

Career path:

Like most halfpats, Grace is concerned about what career opportunities exist for her if and when, however her current employer does offer a career path in China and in other countries.

Do you have a business plan on the shelves? No
Have you ever carried 2 cards? No

Hindsight being 20/20 … Grace would NOT do it again if given the choice, and she says depending on a person’s background she would/ would not suggest another to take the plunge

What keeps her in China? I love my job. I think I’m working for the best employer in the world

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2 Responses to “The Halfpat Life: Grace”

  1. Eric Joiner says:

    March 11th, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    The first time I went to Shanghai…we arrived on a sunday night on the United Airlines flight. About 7PM. The highway from Pudong airport to Shanghai proper is a beautiful brand new limited access highway. Funny though…I noted a bunch of new sapling trees planted 3 deep along the motorway…for the entire distance… I asked the mini-bus driver taking a few of us to our hotel (Shangra-la Shanghai), what that deal was.

    he advised that when the International Olympic Committee had come to China to review possible venues, one of the (french) delegates commented that there were no trees. (no shit…it used to be a rice paddy). However, with the beauty that can only come from central government planning…immediately trees were planted. No rhyme or reason to the types of trees…was a mixed bag…but there were 20 miles of the suckers 3 deep.


  2. chris says:

    March 14th, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Very typical, I did that for three years in Beijing but after weighing the consequences of living the half-pat life I opted out and decided to go for the full expat package. I have been back to China on occasional trips and met up with some of my other half-pat friends on those occasions, I would agree with Grace that taking the plunge is not that great an idea and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except those with Chinese language abilities, strong perseverance, a decent amount of savings (or other financial back-up), an entrepreneurial spirit and an open-ended ticket out if things get too much.