Is it worth learning Mandarin? What about Cantonese?
Most of the general population cannot speak English, making a basic Mandarin vocabulary necessary for ordering food, purchasing goods or asking for directions. Mandarin is very different from western languages in structure, thus it can prove complicated to learn.
The written characters are separate from the spoken language. Though if expats work hard to jump this hurdle, learning the language is hugely beneficial for both social reasons and in business settings.
Knowing Mandarin, even the rudiments of the grammar, is a large bonus for employment in any company in China. Cantonese is mostly spoken in Hong Kong, Macau and the Guangdong Province.
Is there a difference for female expats in China?
There can be strong gender stereotypes in China and often it is difficult for women in managerial positions. A bad dating scene for women is usually a main topic of discussion on expat forums.
Is my Internet censored?
The Chinese government stringently and successfully polices Internet use. Sites that include subject matter about Falung Gong, the Dalai Lama and even the English word "freedom" are among the many that are censored. That said, most sites are still accessible, including foreign news sites; although CNN and the New York Times are only accessible for a short period of time and then blocked again. Illicit sites are often censored as well. This is an ongoing controversy and levels of enforcement and effectiveness change often.
Restrictions on many of the popular western social networking sites also exist, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Many expats use VPNs (virtual private networks) to access blocked material, but lately, even these services have been ineffective in circumventing the "iron curtain".
Is China safe?
China is usually very safe in terms of violent crime. Expats usually feel safe to walk home at night in major cities although obvious risks and bad neighbourhoods should be avoided. Expats do have to be careful in crowds as they are often the victims of petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and scams. The largest danger to expats is food safety as many people suffer from disease and bacteria resulting from unclean or improperly cooked foods.
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