Shut Out at Home, Americans Go to China

As the prolonged recession has gripped the United States, more and more Americans – especially college graduates, are considering working abroad. And a popular destination, according to the New York Times, is China:

“Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home. Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.”

Last December I met up with a Taiwanese American friend of mine, Jon, who has his own startup in Beijing. He mentioned with the economic downturn, there were a ton of foreigners hanging out in Bejing – especially around Beijing University, trying to learn Chinese. Jon’s perspective was that if you didn’t have a good working knowledge of Mandarin, your chances of finding a professional job was kind of limited. There are plenty of sea turtles (“returnees”) who are both bi-lingual and bi-cultural. There are of course plenty of opportunities in China if  you want to teach English in China, but for many Chinese, they would prefer to learn English from a non-Chinese/Asian American. I really wonder if the majority of Americans who go to China, especially those who do not know Mandarin at all, have any professional success. And I wonder what the social life for an expat in China is anything like Sexy Beijing.

For those who are interested in working in China or Asia, you might want to check out ORIENTED.COM or Wang Li. Those who want to brush up on their Chinese might consider checking out

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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