The Black Expat: What It’s Like To Live And Work In China
By DeAnna Taylor
Angelique is a 30-year old educator who grew up between New York and Ohio. As of August 8, 2018 she has been living and working in China for a decade. She recently moved from Hong Kong to Zhengzhou where she is employed with Fort Hays University at their satellite campus.
We had the opportunity to speak with her about her experience as a black expat in Asia:
Travel Noire: Why did you make the move abroad?
Angelique: After I graduated from college, I wasn’t able to find employment so I decided to return to China to study Chinese. I had just returned the previous January from my study abroad in Beijing, and planned to return for six months. Six months has morphed into ten years today, and it’s been an amazing learning experience.
TN: What challenges do you face as a black expat in China?
A: I’m currently working on a semi diverse campus so there aren’t as many issues compared to other places ( within Asia). The biggest issue I have is people bad mouthing me ( around China, not specifically where I am currently located) in Chinese not knowing I am fluent. I realize some of what is said is ignorance out of just not knowing about POC outside of what you see in the media. I have learned it’s not always a negative reaction, but more so of a curious one to me. It can be difficult to be stared at, touched or constantly have random photos and videos taken of you.
TN: What is the best part of living and working abroad?
A: The best part for me would be getting to use and improve my language skills. I also love traveling and trying my hand at local languages and cuisines. Although I admit I am not a representative of all black Americans, it’s also nice to break down some (not all) barriers or misconceptions of people who look like me abroad usually over a meal, a glass of wine, or Laos Grias. (A sangria with an extra flare)
TN: How does life abroad compare to life back home?
A: I have a proper work life balance that I don’t think is as available stateside, especially if a person works in education. In China I am able to travel and experience things I could only dream about stateside. This is due to the cost of living and travel being so low compared to the price stateside.
TN: Do you see yourself returning stateside? If so when?
A: I’ll tell you the same as I do my family: I am not sure. However, if/when the day comes I’ll update you.
TN: What advice would you give to those looking to move abroad?
A: Do your research on the country you’re moving to. Also, do your due diligence when you are looking at offers from various schools, programs, and agencies. You can never be too careful in your research. Know the laws regarding living, working, part time work, overtime work, special holidays, etc. It all matters and it is all important. Read everything you get thoroughly prior to signing, and make sure you are aware and agree to any special working conditions/arrangements the country has.
Other than that, I’d suggest looking for people who look like you ( yes that’s extremely important) as well as others who live in the country you’re considering. Ask them their experiences, ask for advice on where to go and what to do. If anyone is considering China, Korea, Hong Kong or Macau I am always open to answering questions. You can contact me direct on IG @melaninmoncheri.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.