The Halfpat Life: Elias

Friday, March 16, 2007 1:42
Posted in category The Halfpat Life

Elias came from America 3 1/2 years ago and has no plans on leaving anytime soon

Instead of taking the expat route and finding a company that would send him over, he took the plunge and made the move to Shanghai.

Elias currently works with boutique firm that provides coverage of high technology news, companies, and trends in China.

Like many others here, Elias’s first trip was actually to study the language:

I first came on a study abroad program with my university. I had a great time studying the language, history and culture, plus everyone talks about the great business opportunities here right now, so after going back to the States to graduate, I moved back to Shanghai indefinitely.

Plus, I met my girlfriend (and now wife) during my studies over here, so that was another big reason I came back

Language Background:

On a scale from 1 to 10, what level is your Mandarin? 7
How often do you use Mandarin in general? Hourly
How often do you use Chinese language skills at work? 75% or more
While he did study the language, culture, or business climate prior to arriving… he wished he had studied more.

He would suggest reading James McGregor’s One Billion Customers and Pacific Epoch (a shameless plug for his company site). Danwei and Shanghaiist are also pretty good sources for day-to-day China.

Living in Shanghai:

Top 5 things about living in Shanghai:
1) Things are always interesting
2) Able to gain a certain perspective that probably was not possible if I had stayed in the US.
3) Great places to travel
4) The chance to meet lots of different kinds of people
5) Great, inexpensive food

Top 5 worst things about living in Shanghai:
1) It is Always crowded
2) Don’t get to see family all that often.
3) No place for great ice tea and cheap sandwiches
4) the awkward times when I behave like the obnoxious foreigner
5) Hello!

Elias “can’t complain” as his average China day is:

Ride my bike to work, ride home, eat dinner, watch a DVD, hit the sack

Career path:

Like most halfpats, Elias is concerned about what career opportunities exist for him if and when he returns, however his current employer does offer a career path in China and in other countries.

While here, he is:

Improving Chinese language skills, gaining first-hand experience in how the business world works, specifically the financial industry, have been able to learn about the technology industry, some management experience, experience in a multicultural workplace

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

Hindsight being 20/20 … Elias would do it again and would recommend others to as well.

What keeps him in China? China is my wife’s native country, and we both have pretty good jobs and are enjoying our lives here. We are open to moving back to the US, but not right now and only if we decide we have a good opportunity there

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4 Responses to “The Halfpat Life: Elias”

  1. Eric Joiner says:

    March 20th, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    This is a tremendous adventure that I wish I had taken in my youth. I have a great friend who is based in Hong Kong who is American, but took a job in HK as a local employee. He is fortunate to speak 6 languages, one of which is Mandarin. So, he is very fluid in his ability to mix into society in a number of places.

    The business experience that one gets as an expat or halfpat, cant be duplicated. I travel routinely to Asia and Europe but those limited exposures dont compare to living and working in a culture in terms of understanding it.


  2. chris says:

    March 22nd, 2007 at 3:02 am

    I do think it would be interesting for readers of this specific topic if you could give like a notion on what they are earning, their ages and the specific packages they get from their employers.

  3. rbrubaker says:

    March 22nd, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Hi chris,

    All great points, and I released a white paper a while ago on Halfpats (PDF Here)

    In general, halfpats are averaging between 3000 – 5000 USD, however I know some friends making 6000RMB.. and others making 8000USD.

    Age ranges are typically upper 20s to lower 40s

    Packages are typically localized (i.e. no housing, education, etc). If they are able to get benefits, it will usually be a trip home once a year and insurance.

    Hope that helps

  4. Absurdfool says:

    March 26th, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Material gain, in whatever amount, is one thing, opportunities to lead you from here to there (couldbe nowhere) is another. All and all, it depends mainly on which industry you’re in and how strong your background and professionalism are. I think the wage/salary range indicated here truly speaks for itself. As far as I know, it’s quite the range that my expat and halfpat friends in China (Beijing and Shanghai) are now earning.