Jerry comes from the USA. During a short stay in Taiwan, he fell in love with the east side of the world. He settled with his wife in Qingdao, China, seven years ago. Nowadays Jerry and his beautiful blended family are making the most of Qingdao's ocean, mountains, and oxygen. But expatriation is always an option for the future.
I'm a husband, a dad, a trainer, a writer, and an expat who recently discovered he likes to run. American in China on a wild ride with the people I love the most.
Hi Jerry, where are you from and what brought you to China?
I grew up in a small town in the middle of the United States (very mono-culturally). Even then I was a culture vulture. I have always been fascinated by people and places. I have been dreaming of the day I would get to go out and explore the world. I now live with my wife and two children in Qingdao, China. We fell in love with the Chinese culture, language and people when we did a six month college internship in Taiwan. We also adopted our daughter from China so there was a natural connection.
I currently work with an organization called Leadership Development International which runs international schools all over China and in the Middle East. I get to train their new staff and walk with them through their first year. I also get to help develop resources that help us all do this better.
What is the process for an American expat to move to China?
There were a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through to obtain a letter of invitation. Once that was done the visa process was fairly simple. We didn't have much difficulty to get through.
What is your favorite thing about Qingdao?
Three words: Ocean. Mountains. Oxygen. Qingdao is a great city to raise a family, do business (which we were starting at the time), and enjoy life. I am rarely bored here. I love tripping over myself and learning something new from it.
What has surprised you the most about China?
Tourists! The city crawls with them in the summer and foreigners are one of the attractions.
How is accommodation in China, and what type is available for expats?
It's really not difficult at all to find accommodation in China. There are a lot of options – from small, simple apartments in the city, to large, beautiful seaside homes.
What are the local labor market's features?
With local help, we started a company with very few major challenges. There are a lot of job opportunities for foreigners in China. International schools, English teaching schools, and multinational companies are always looking for skills that often are not available locally.
How do you find the lifestyle in China?
I just love it! I like the ocean, shopping, parks... There is so much to do here. We also have a great expat community.
Was it difficult for you to adapt to the country and to the Chinese society?
I think I get to adapt more and more everyday but I still have a long way to go.
How is everyday life for you in Qingdao?
I spend a lot of time at work and with my family. Balance is the key. I am fortunate to work for the company that runs my children’s school so I often get to see them during the day. My wife also works there so we get to collaborate and dream up new ideas together. Dinner time is big for us. If I am not traveling we try to spend that time together.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in China?
It's reasonable. If you work with a company that genuinely cares about your welfare, you can live comfortably and thrive.
How do you spend your free time?
With my family and traveling. I love it when those two things come together.
What do you think of the local cuisine? What are your favorite dishes?
Qingdao specializes in seafood which is not really my thing. So I defer to the standard foreigner loved Chinese dishes – tang cu li ji (sweet and sour chicken), tie ban niu rou (iron skillet beef) and lots of noodles. I could eat chuar (meat on a stick) for every meal if my bowels could withstand it. I may try it though. I think they’ll adjust.
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Without hesitating, steak!
What has motivated you to write your blog “The Culture Blend”?
My heart is to encourage, equip, and educate people in cultural transition. Writing is one way I get to do that but it also helps me process my own transition. I learn something every time I write. It has also been a great way to connect with expats all over the world. I love meeting people (face to face or digitally) and hearing their stories. I also give useful tips to people who would like to move to China.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to see more places, meet more people, and discover more of the Chinese culture. I'd also hang out at home.
If you wish to share your expat experience, feel free to contact us.