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Old 09-14-2012, 03:25 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the great info, very interesting read. I was actually looking at a couple jobs in Shanghai a few years back & got rather excited about the prospect (having never lived out of country it seemed like it'd be an awesome experience), but it didn't end up working out. None the less it's great to hear the experiences & impressions. Thanks!
 
Old 09-14-2012, 04:54 AM   #17
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Hi guys,

this month marks my sixth year in Shanghai here, so i may be able to share
some of my experiences here in The Middle Kingdom



Langauge Barrier
this is definitely the first thing that you may find hard to overcome during
your stay here in China, at least for the first year or so.

As soon as you land on the airport, nobody speaks english - not the guards, the police, the taxi drivers - so make sure try to arrange the company to send someone to pick you at the gate, and to be safe try to write down the company/hotel address IN CHINESE along with necessary phone numbers

if you have to take a taxi from the airport to your intended address, prepare a few hundred
RMB in advance, the exchange rate in the airport counters are quite low and they don't open
24 hours so best if you have this prepared before flying in.

Taxi fare from Shanghai PuDong Airport to the city is roughly RMB 140 if traffic is smooth
(there are two airports in shanghai but the other one is primarily for domestic flights so chance is you will touch down in PuDong).

One important thing about the Taxi companies here is that there are a number of companies operating in Shanghai area,
and there are three or four companies that are just downright bad - the drivers are not registered, they rig the meters,
and they drive like nutcase - you really want to avoid them if possible (unless i guess if you are stranded and there is typhoon coming your way).
The way to differentiate the companies are actually very easy, they go by different colors for their cars, the GOOD taxis are: White, Gold, Teal, Light Green;
and the bad ones are: Maroon Red, Bright Red, Dark Blue, Navy Blue

Bank Account
setting up an account here is effortless, the company usually will have an account for you (for payroll) and have their HR take care all the paperworks for you and all you need to do is come down to the bank with them and sign a couple papers and thats it - your bank card will be handed to you once it is mailed to your company.


Housing
in my point of view, renting an apartment in china is kind of split into two categories: first is apartment/flat on Short 6 floors buildings with no lift/stairs only, and second is apartment/condowith 20+ floors and facilities like swimming pool, gym etc. While the first category is more for locals and the latter is for the richer locals or expats,
the latter could go at least double in rent price. I'm renting a 30M2 one bed/one bath with kitchen and tiny living room for RMB 2500 but the contract was a couple years ago, prices has gone up slightly, probably around 2800-3000 today; Condos typically go for 5000-7000. rent here are normally 1 year contract which you pay every 3 months and 1 month deposit. most apartments are furnished with matress bed, air conditioner (cold+heater), microwave but no oven, tv+cable+broadband, water heater. Utility bills are cheap, every month will set you back around RMB 200 (excluding broadband which usually is a year contract for RMB1200 (2MB line) or up (fastest in Shanghai 20MB line)

to make your life much easier, if possible try asking your company to find you a decent apartment that is within your budget range preferably walking distance to where you work or one subway station away.

Living in Shanghai
Shanghai is a huge city with over 20 million population, so get ready to hear loud honking noises, people arguing on the streets, etc.
There are 12 Subway Lines today (was 8 when i first arrived with 4 additional lines built a couple years prior to the Shanghai 2010 Expo)
they stretch for roughly around 2 hours ride for each line; Bus is hard to understand when you first arrive and all the stops are in chinese,
Taxi is cheap anyways and so this is most probably the preferred form of transport in the city. If you're going pretty far you can get to that area's nearest subway station
and continue with taxi from there. should save you some money and time since traffic here sometimes is unpredictable

24 Hour mini marts and supermarkets like Carrefour are plenty. McDonalds are mostly 24 hour if you're into this sort of thing,
Cinemas are not that many, mostly located in shopping malls, there is only one IMAX theater, the rest are 'regular' theaters, and the movies
are OUTDATED! like seriously, Batman and Spiderman are recently showing (out late August).

Food are great, lots of restaurants ranging from small expat owned New York style burger shop to pretentious RMB 6,000 per person French fine dining!
Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean food, Tapas, Mexican, Italian, basically any food you expect to find in a modern city you can find them here.
Drinks are decent priced (depends on the places you go, high end clubs of course charge 'premium' price) and you will find the locals here
CAN DRINK! their preferred drink are 'Bai-Jiu' (pronounced pAi-cheew) which literally means White Wine, but these are not your typical white grape wine,
these are white rice wine that has alcohol level of 50,60,70%! they taste like medical grade disinfectant, and people here boasts they can drink 1 liter of them
in one go! i myself prefer beer and they are cheap here, you can find Bud, Bud Light, Heineken, Kirin, Santory, basically any major western and japanese brands,
as well as local ones and my favorites are the European ones like Hoogarden or Pauliner which is priced similar to the west because it is fully imported

Downside
TRAFFIC SAFETY is my major concern here. everybody drives like madmen. nobody yields to nobody! they run red lights all the time. even when you walk on the 'dedicated'
pedestrian road, you will find motorbikes and cars - yes cars! honking their way through the pedestrian. motorbikes especially is the worst. they will cut through
one way street, speeding! and people here are really really dumb, if your taxi is pulling over - make sure you watch out before you open your doors since those bikes
will 'smartly' pass by from the inside! like... do they even have brains?

----------

There is a very active forum http://www.shanghaiexpat.com/phpbbforum/ where you can browse around and find interesting venues, i use it a lot to find places to eat,
you can probably look at it to gather more info about shanghai before you're coming in.

Hope it helps,

cheers,
andrew
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:39 AM   #18
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I've been here 2 years, but I came from L.A. so the pollution, heat and food quality was never an issue to me. I agree with much of what has been said, but my experiences have been overly positive, which is odd, because the company that brought me here is by no means an EA or Ubisoft. They are small and simple.

I spent the years before in Korea, Philippines and Japan, so I am not at all new to Asia, which may have made transitioning to life in China much easier. I also am very good with language and so for everyday life, that wasn't a problem. Still, while most big studio jobs will focus on Beijing and Shanghai, I want to present another view.

I have traveled all up and down China, to cities big and small, usually with Wacom, doing demos and such. I am at the moment relaxing in a small town that is one step from being out in the country. Things change dramatically when you get out of the big, famous cities. I rented a huge 3 bedroom place, with all the amenities a westerner would expect for about $110 USD per month. Fresh natural food is a given here. It might be growing around the corner from your house. Watermelons are oblong and have black seeds, like when I was a kid, not these strange, light colored, spherical watermelons we see everywhere today. The air and water is clean. You could drink out of the river. The pace of life is slow and relaxed and people are too friendly. Of course, in these kinds of places you will likely never find someone who speaks English, but life in another country is a completely different story when you can speak the language. You have access to things you would never even hear about otherwise.

Back to Shanghai, though. My host company took care of everything and paid for everything. I think any good company will do that for the foreign talent they bring in. I never had to worry about, or even think about, anything relating to daily life. When I had a grasp of the language, I did venture out on my own, shop on the street and get more immersed in the real world, but you don't have to. I know an Australian guy who has been here 16 years and doesn't speak the language. Sometimes I honestly believe they don't want you to. This may only apply to management positions or directors, but it seems that they want the foreigner to be a foreigner, especially when meeting with other big wigs.

I went to the IDGA after party, following China Joy, recently and I met people from all over the world who are working here. Only one guy seemed to have a bad experience and was in a hurry to return home. The rest seemed to be paid very well, taken care of by their companies and really enjoying the life.

If you speak to English teachers, it's another story, though. I have not met a single one who didn't hate the place with a passion and wasn't in a hurry to get out. I guess every industry is different.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:14 AM   #19
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I lived in Shanghai for the past three years on and off, with a couple of months up in Beijing working on features.

I love Shanghai, more so the first year as now I guess I am used to it. It has it's up's and down's though. Obviously without learning the language (which I have) you are limited to mainly hanging out with expats. There are a good bunch there, but also a bad bunch, mainly on the financial and opportunity grabbing side, so there are ALOT of ego's floating around.
This does extend into the work place with everyone chasing the dream. It's sometimes uncomfortable.

The party scene is awesome and the weather is great too, although starting to not be as awesome as the last few months. We have a great flat with a good bunch of people we hang out with. In my opinion, make those different to the ones you work with.

It also really depends what company you work for there. I had big issues working with a company in Shanghai, (not without making some really good friends first) and a lot of people I know had issues working for a particular company up in Beijing.

It's bad form to go into details on that, but China is a lot about saving face. It's very unusual for people to admit being in the wrong or back down. This causes a fair few issues, which normal result in working very long hours, weekends, stressful situations and a real danger to speaking your mind. This of course does apply to places outside China, but having worked in both for a long amount of time, I felt this more apparent in China.

It's going to be a bit hit and miss, but in general a great experience and definitely worth a punt.
Good luck if you head out here.

Last edited by mrcain : 09-14-2012 at 11:22 AM.
 
Old 09-14-2012, 07:57 PM   #20
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Everyone! I would've never imagined that I would get such great and extensive feedback to my question. I am very thankful for all your insights. After reading this, the excited fear I once had has now turned into pure elation and anticipation. I don't speak a lick of Chinese, I have never traveled to an Asian country even, I don't know a soul in China, and YES I am going to take the job there. The thought that I will be in Shanghai in 2 weeks in unfathomable and amazing! Your posts helped me make the final decision. THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH! I am sure I will have many, many more questions in the days leading up to my departure, which I will ask once I settle down and can think straight!
 
Old 09-14-2012, 08:34 PM   #21
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You aught to check out Rosetta Stone. http://www.rosettastone.com/learn-chinese
It isn't cheap but seeing as you are moving there, its probably worth it. I've used it for learning a few different languages and it is definitely the best place to start.
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:44 PM   #22
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That was a great read, Axiomatic. Thanks for posting it. Best of luck to OP in his/her new job there.

FYI, there was an interesting installment of This American Life that talked about Americans working in China.
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:02 PM   #23
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Thanks guys for your experience of working in China. I am originally from China but never worked there. Seeing those big studios in the US are trying to get into Chinese market and sending works there. I am not sure if in the future works will be dried out and I will have to go back.

I've heard a local talent artist there complaining about LOW paid and long working hour. He is talented enough to get accepted by an art school in the US with being offered full scholarships, then was hired by a major feature animation studios after he graduated. Going to an art school in US seems just the way for him to get into the US industry.

So I am curious how are the employers treating employees in China. Will the offers be very different based on their citizenships/Or where they come from? Will there be chances I can get a pay rate similar to what I get in the US?

Last edited by warter : 09-14-2012 at 09:09 PM.
 
Old 09-15-2012, 12:07 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teruchan
Watermelons are oblong and have black seeds, like when I was a kid, not these strange, light colored, spherical watermelons we see everywhere today.



I miss that old fashion watermelon.
 
Old 09-15-2012, 12:04 PM   #25
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Thanks guys for the fascinating insights, Ive had many friends follow the teach English route in different Asian country's, and hearing their experiences both good and bad, but its been great to read your thoughts in an industry retrospective.
Original poster good luck enjoy the first 2-3 weeks of terror
 
Old 09-16-2012, 07:52 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warter
So I am curious how are the employers treating employees in China. Will the offers be very different based on their citizenships/Or where they come from? Will there be chances I can get a pay rate similar to what I get in the US?


The short answer is that pay is usually geared to be competitive with your other options. If you're a Chinese National that usually means less pay because basically your other options aren't going to pay much more. As someone from a western country pay is usually more-or-less competitive with where you trained and practiced your craft. If you're a student or new grad you're going to be paid poorly ... but then that happens pretty much everywhere
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Old 09-16-2012, 12:30 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kelgy
I miss that old fashion watermelon.


Please visit Malaysia

On topic:
Sorry, never been to China.
 
Old 09-17-2012, 06:11 AM   #28
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In any case, it's not a good time to go China if you are japanese!! Scary!
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:23 AM   #29
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The life you'll lead as a foreigner while living and working in China will be very different from the lives that the local Chinese will lead, so it's great that you're getting all these replies from ex-pats who have first-hand experience.

My experience has been completely different, because even though I grew up in the West, I am Chinese and my Chinese is as fluent as my English, so it's very easy for the local Chinese to think of me as one of them, and the kind of dealings I have with the Chinese society in general is drastically different from the westerners. I will see and hear things that no westerners ever will, because the locals will open up to me and tell me things that they would never say to a westerner.

My wife was born and raised in China, and she has businesses dealings here, which allowed me to witness the famous government/business corruption and human rights abuses while in the front-row seat. It is absolutely harrowing (and I'm talking about life and death situations here, but I won't go into detail because I do not want to hear my door being knocked on in the middle of the night). In fact, living here will cause one to lose faith in humanity (again, if you are an ex-pat not fully integrated into the local society among the locals, then you won't fully see the ugly underbelly. What you'll see will be just an inkling of how bad things really are under the surface).

I've taught students here in China (the employees of Net Dragon, the largest online game developer in China), and I can tell you that the local CG industry is nothing but a soulless factory, and every single local person I've talked to described their jobs as soul-crushing and completely devoid of any joy. Again, it's a matter of severity, and it's really bad here. This is not something you, as a westerner, will experience, so at least you can feel good about that. The locals working in western-backed studios also don't have this problem. There might be some studios in the largest cities that are probably a bit better too, because of their close proximity to western-backed studios, and their need to sometimes compete for the same local talent pool.

One thing you REALLY need to consider is food safety. This issue alone is the straw that broke the camel's back, and we're getting the hell out of China because of this issue alone. If you are unfamiliar with the extent of how insanely bad food safety is in China, just read this extreme long list of mind-blowing incidents:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_s...blic_o f_China

Seriously, read that whole thing and then let it simmer a bit. Remember, just because the crap you ate didn't make you vomit or cause explosive diarrhea, does not mean it isn't causing irreversible damage in your body--all the poison and chemicals will stay in your body and cause cancer. The city I live in (Fuzhou), is now ranked number one in cancer in digestive system in all of China. The day my wife read that article was the day she decided we're getting the hell out and moving back to California. And before you say anything about how food problems are everywhere now due to genetic engineering and unhealthy junk food, read that link above and you'll see why it's not the same thing at all. It's all about degrees of severity. And remember, these incidents are happening EVERYDAY, and grossly under-reported, and the same old tricks that has already been reported on in the past years are STILL being used today, because local government officials are constantly bribed to turn a blind eye.

So to sum up, if you are a westerner and will live a life where you don't really need to look under the surface of Chinese society and government, and just go hang out with your western co-workers or the educated local co-workers who speak English, don't get involved in human rights activism, don't have business dealings with anyone local that has political power or is very well connected, and the company you work for is a western one, with a western staff of upper/middle management, then you might enjoy the new experience of working and living in China. The only thing you really need to worry about is food safety.

Last edited by Lunatique : 09-28-2012 at 04:45 AM.
 
Old 09-18-2012, 01:01 PM   #30
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Again I am not going to China but this thread is really interesting for me anyway. Ive always liked Chinese culture and traditions, that's why I find it intriguing.
The things you said Lunatique are really similar to the feeling I got after watching "SANTA'S WORKSHOP" A movie that showed me what human can do to a human in the name of the money. Sorry to go off the main purpose of this thread, but I think everybody should watch this documentary:
It is just half and hour:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF8jUDzz5bE





Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique
The life you'll lead as a foreigner while living and working in China will be very different from the lives that the local Chinese will lead, so it's great that you're getting all these replies from ex-pats who have first-hand experience.

My experience has been completely different, because even though I grew up in the West, I am Chinese and my Chinese is as fluent as my English, so it's very easy for the local Chinese to think of me as one of them, and the kind of dealings I have with the Chinese society in generally is drastically different from the westerners. I will see and hear things that no westerners ever will, because the locals will open up to me and tell me things that they would never say to a westerner.

My wife is born and raised in China, and she has businesses dealings here, which allowed me to witness the famous government/business corruption and human rights abuses while in the front-row seat. It is absolutely harrowing (and I'm talking about life and death situations here, but I won't go into detail because I do not want to hear my door being knocked on in the middle of the night). In fact, living here will cause one to lose faith in humanity (again, if you are an ex-pat not fully integrated into the local society among the locals, then you won't fully see the ugly underbelly. What you'll see will be just an inkling of how bad things really are under the surface).

I've taught students here in China (the employees of Net Dragon, the largest online game developer in China), and I can tell you that the local CG industry is nothing but a soulless factory, and every single local person I've talked to described their jobs as soul-crushing and completely devoid of any joy. Again, it's a matter of severity, and it's really bad here. This is not something you, as a westerner, will experience, so at least you can feel good about that. The locals working in western-backed studios also don't have this problem. There might be some studios in the largest cities that are probably a bit better too, because of their close proximity to western-backed studios, and their need to sometimes compete for the same local talent pool.

One thing you REALLY need to consider is food safety. This issue alone is the straw that broke the camel's back, and we're getting the hell out of China because of this issue alone. If you are unfamiliar with the extent of how insanely bad food safety is in China, just read this extreme long list of mind-blowing incidents:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_s...blic_o f_China

Seriously, read that whole thing and then let it simmer a bit. Remember, just because the crap you ate didn't make you vomit or cause explosive diarrhea, does not mean it isn't causing irreversible damage in your body--all the poison and chemicals will stay in your body and cause cancer. The city I live in (Fuzhou), is now ranked number one in cancer in digestive system in all of China. The day my wife read that article was the day she decided we're getting the hell out and moving back to California. And before you say anything about how food problems are everywhere now due to genetic engineering and unhealthy junk food, read that link above and you'll see why it's not the same thing at all. It's all about degrees of severity. And remember, these incidents are happening EVERYDAY, and grossly under-reported, and the same old tricks that has already been reported on in the past years are STILL being used today, because local government officials are constantly bribed to turn a blind eye.

So to sum up, if you are a westerner and will live a life where you don't really need to look under the surface of Chinese society and government, and just go hang out with your western co-workers or the educated local co-workers who speak English, don't get involved in human rights activism, don't have business dealings with anyone local that has political power or is very well connected, and the company you work for is a western one, with a western staff of upper/middle management, then you might enjoy the new experience of working and living in China. The only thing you really need to worry about is food safety.
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