“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”
It is a shock to see so many people in first-tier cities in China where the city swells depending on a particular time of the year. China is not for everybody. Accepting that you will be staying here, even momentarily, is an adjustment phase. “You choose to be here so get over it,” said Garic. “As a language student and being in a room with other foreign students who have their own businesses or have PhDs, it’s interesting to learn a language because you’re sent back to a kindergarten level very quickly. When we are discussing the color of your hair and that’s all you can say, it brings your walls down. You become vulnerable.”
Outside of China, Chinatowns have been the lifeblood of the Chinese culture, sharing their talents and their know-hows with the natives. This also applies to foreigners who wish to set up their own bussiness in China. “We could bring a little bit of our culture. And bring it to the masses. So that’s a great way to set up a business because you’ve got skills and knowledge that a Chinese person wouldn’t necessarily have,” said O’dowd. These days, Rebel Rebel has been attracting more Chinese locals than before when it first opened a year ago. Many locals have enjoyed the British ambiance and it has stayed true to foreigners’ expectations regarding food, live music and customer service.
When you are in the product development industry such as in the case of Graham, pushing the creative process continues be a challenge for him. “By living here, I’m feeding a knowledge. In my project development department, I’m also giving them new ideas that they haven’t seen before. They see it as an added benefit from me. That they can reuse my knowledge later on in the future.”
This shared knowledge between foreigners and locals have led to lasting friendships for Li. Working for a foreign company has allowed her to be exposed to different cultures that her parents might not have had the chance while growing up. “My experience with one particular foreigner made us best friends because we can share our thoughts together,” she said.