A common thread when meeting ex-pats on their journey through Shanghai is that most of them have much more experience being “away from home” than you do. As a first-time ex-pat, the events, activities, adventures, and feelings are all new for me. But for many of the women I meet, this is just the latest experience of settling into a new life in a new country.
For career-minded women, the leap from country to country can be extremely challenging. China can pose even more challenges for women looking to work than other countries. The work visa can be hard to acquire here because as a foreigner you need to prove you can do a job better than a native Chinese, which means mostly jobs focusing on ex-pat needs. Or you need to speak fluent Mandarin, and without years of study ahead of time, this is almost impossible to do.
For Jen, a Malaysian woman of Chinese descent, these parameters have put a damper on further career aspirations until her husband is transferred out of China. For Emma, a Hong Konger by birth and Cantonese speaker, the same issues prove true. So, if full command of Chinese is nearly impossible for those who haven’t been born on the mainland but are still Chinese by birth, how can any other foreigner hope to work here as a trailing spouse?
How do you look at your time here in China? Are you frustrated by the lack of job opportunities for you as a foreigner? If you are successful at finding a job, what secrets can you share with others looking to work here in Shanghai?