Survive while living in China with these Expat city magazines, blogs, and comic resources
When you’re over the initial honeymoon phase excitement of planning your adventure in China, whether for travel, a gap year, a volunteer commitment, or an internship abroad or may be just a summer internship in China, you’ll have to sit down and think about what it means to live in China. Why? Because China is a large country and you’ll have to decide which city you’ll land in, where you want to travel, etc. Plus, it helps to know in advance if you need to stock up on medications, cosmetics, or even food items, right? You should find out know if you need to budget for an extra suitcase.
In our avoiding culture shock article, we talked about ways you can familiarize yourself with Chinese culture so you can be prepared and avoid shell shock post-arrival. We also gave you a packing list and have several city guides on Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Qingdao for your convenience. You can research China and its multitude of cities, but most will read like a travel guide, telling you of its history, exotic destinations, and rich food culture. You’ll be done with that by the end of the first week. What you really need to know is what foreigners thought about living in China, and specifically, what they thought of the city you’re thinking of making your next home.
We’ve gathered online resources that will tell you just that. Websites with blogs written by actual expats who currently, or at least recently, called China their home. Read up on what they loved, what they found challenging, and what they hate while deciding on your next destination. Then, take notes on where they dine out for comfort foods, where they shop for import goods, and what they do on the weekends for fun—that way you’ll have an action plan you can rely on when you have a bad China day. Don’t worry, everyone has bad China days, even Chinese people.
Especially useful for expats in small cities without city/region-centric guides, the site includes everything an expat could want to know in China, from news to how to understand tones.
Funny doodles about expat life in China, often poking fun at the typical “obnoxious expat” rather than Chinese culture.
Expat Lingo is a blog/website about life in Hong Kong and China, but we find their cartoon section most applicable to us. Check out their parody section if you like their humor.
A local magazine and website for international English speakers in Beijing, well-known for its active Classifieds, daily blog, and community forum.
Part of the “Time Out” series, the Beijing Time Out doesn’t disappoint with its events, things to do, and restaurant information.
Better in Shanghai, the Beijing City Weekend is also a city guide powered by both local expats and experts in the entertainment industry.
A community forum for local expats—a good place to take a peek at what Beijing expats are thinking and doing.
A blog written by an American mom who’s since left Beijing with her family, but her blog stands to provide good insight into what living in Beijing is all about.
Priding itself on the provider of China tidbits and Shanghai food and events, the Shanghaiist is a great resource even for tourists.
Curated, opinionated Shanghai Living guide with a lively classifieds section.
Shanghai Expat has a blog covering fobbish China-related questions on visa processing, learning Chinese, and everything else a future Shanghai expat could want to know.
A critical guide on everything Shanghai, including events, food and culture, hotels, and shopping.
City Weekend Shanghai prides itself as the most trusted entertainment guide for Shanghai expats.
A lively directory of Shanghai listings, reviews, and events with an even more popular classifies section.
A news-portal covering business news and analysis for both Shanghai and overall China.
A recently discontinued blog about life in Shanghai where Detroit-native, Howard, writes about him and his family’s day to day life in Shanghai.
Life of Guangzhou is the leading (and perhaps only) English city portal for foreigners in Guangzhou.
Guangzhou Stuff considers itself a social network for Guangzhou nightlife and events, but also has a forum and blog.
A recently discontinued personal blog about life in Guangzhou from a family perspective.
The go-to resource for events, food and drink, and travel in Qingdao.
A blog about expats surviving in Qingdao, by an expat in Qingdao.
Expat Exchange has interviews from expats all over the world, read this useful interview by an expat living in Qingdao.