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8 Ways That China Has Made You Better At Life

Living in China can give you a particular set of skills.  Click here to read 8 ways that living in China has made you better at the game of life.  

We expats spend so much time bellyaching about China's crowds, language barrier, hygiene, pollution etc, that we've lost sight of how these so-called cons have also made us stronger. Yes, even the smoggiest of clouds have a silver lining. Here are 8 ways living in China has made us better people. 

1. You can handle uncertainty

Each time your flight is delayed and there is no explanation or anticipated departure time, you have a choice to either lose your cool or try to remain calm and use the time to power through some emails. This is still inconvenient and your time is valuable, but you have control over how you manage your reaction to what comes your way. Living in China has taught you that life is unpredictable and you have to roll with the punches.    

2.  You appreciate the little things

When the person next to you on the metro covers his mouth when he coughs, you feel grateful.  It’s the small things that make a big difference. Experiencing gratitude in your daily life can add to your overall level of happiness. Consider keeping a record of three things you are grateful for each day as a way to stay positive when Shanghai gets you down.

3.  You have a wide-angle worldview

When you consider a topic, your time in China can make you more likely to recognize that other people have different maps of the world than you. This map of the world is shaped by experiences, values and beliefs and differs within, as well as across, cultures. Your map influences how you view things, but living in a variable atlas of maps can make you appreciate that your view isn’t always ‘right’ and that there are other roads to arrive at a solution.  

4.  You are a champion charades player

Your ability to use non-verbal communication (whether in China or other countries you’ve traveled to) makes you appreciate how much is said without saying anything at all. When you engage with others, keep these communication skills in the front of your mind and consider what is being said is communicated by your hands, facial expressions and tone. And not the mā vs mà vs má kind.  

5.  Things are just things

An international relocation is a debate over what you’ll be able to find in your host country and what you’ll need to make your new space feel like home. At the end of the day, you aren’t what you own. Most expats will tell you it is the memories and experiences from the places they have been, more than the souvenirs they have acquired that have shaped them. Take advantage of your time abroad to take stock of what things and relationships really are important to you and what makes them so valuable.  

6. You hug trees

You used to laugh at the idea of earth day, but you now realize that clean air, food and water aren’t things that you can take for granted. Rather than feeling all is lost, consider what impact you can make, however small, such as reusable water bottles and turning off the lights when you leave the room.

7.  You are the 1%

You can afford Starbucks, Wagas and taxis to Pudong Airport. Whether you are here on a local or international contract, you have more than most people. Be thankful, not grumpy.  

8.  It’s seriously not that serious

Piggybacking on being the 1%, how many of the things that drive you nuts fall under the #FirstWorldProblems or #ExpatProblems umbrella and how many are actual #Problems? Brownie mix costs 55RMB -- is this life threatening? 

Living in China can put things in perspective. Before getting irritated, you may be more likely to stop and think about what the actual consequences are for the situation. If getting upset won’t help to solve the problem, take a deep breath, get a foot massage and appreciate that this costs as much as a beer at a Major League Baseball game.