Guess what?

I need to tell you a secret. I’m working on something. Finally. I just about, pretty much, almost decided to make this happen. It’s something we’ve talked about it since before we moved to China, since this blog was just beginning, and I’ve had friends and readers suggest it many times. But I was unconvinced.

I have had many reasons why I can’t couldn’t do it.

A book.

It’s just too… long.

Plus, I’m not a writer. I’m an artist. I just draw pretty pictures, remember?

Ok, I know I write this blog, but it isn’t the same. I don’t like “real” writing. Where I have to follow the rules and use complete sentences. And not use so many commas. (I like commas. A lot. And incomplete sentences.) In fact, you could probably use a lot of my posts in those elementary grammar lessons where you underline and circle the grammar corrections. They’d be covered in red. (However, most of the time they are purposefully incorrect. I do know how to write correctly, I just don’t like to. I’m a rebel like that.)

And I’m no expert. I’m just a country girl who happened to move around the world. I’m still learning how to “live in China” myself, how am I supposed to tell someone else how to do it?

And I’m not sure what kind of book to write. Sure, I know it would be about moving to China. But what then? Our life as expats? Why would anyone want to read about that? Plus, it’s been done lots of times before. A “how-to” book? Something funny? None of those things got me excited enough to make it happen.

But you know what does get me excited?

Helping people make this crazy transition from Western life to living in China. There are so many things to learn, so much that is over-whelming, so much unknown. I was there. Still am. In the beginning, I remember how much I searched and googled and yet, still felt so unprepared.

Obviously, I’m no expert, and I don’t know all the answers, but I love to share what I’ve learned. It’s become my favorite thing about this blog. Answering reader questions and emails. Trying to make this big scary move just a little bit easier for you. You aren’t alone. In fact, there are a lot of us here going through the same things. Plus, I’m a firstborn. I really just like giving advice and telling people what to do. (Just ask my siblings. I’m kinda bossy. And a “know-it-all”.)

And I learn something new every day. I’ve sort of made it my “mission” to know this city and enjoy my life here. And I want you to enjoy it too. Not just endure it, but enjoy it. I know not everyone will love Shenyang. I know it’s not the easiest place to live. But it has a lot to offer if you know where to look.

Maybe I don’t know ALL the answers, but if I can make it even a little easier for you when you move to Shenyang, then I’d like to do that.

And so, after tossing the idea around for over a year. I’ve finally decided to make it happen. An ebook.

“The Expat’s Guide to Shenyang” by Country Fried Egg Roll

I’m telling you this now so I can’t back out. Because I know, before this is finished, I will want to.

I’m also telling you because I need your help.

What do you think? Do we even need another “expat guide”? I know there are others, although I haven’t seen one specifically for Shenyang. My tentative plan at this point is to focus on moving to and living life in Shenyang. While some things will obviously overlap and could be useful for moving to other parts of China as well, we’ve only lived in Shenyang. I’m not sure where and how things would differ so I’m sticking to what I know.

(I also intend to keep the same tone and voice I use with this blog. Overuse of ellipses, parentheses, incomplete sentences and all. It’s just how I roll. If you’re looking for formal writing… well, you probably wouldn’t be here now, would you?)

My tentative “table of contents”. I expect this to change and morph a lot, but here’s where I’m starting.

1. The Official Stuff – Getting your documents in order
- Visas, Residence Permit, Embassies, Police Registration

2. Getting You & Your Stuff Here
- Arrival, Jetlag, Shipments, Customs, What to pack

3. We’re Not in Kansas Anymore – Cultural Differences
- Life, Business, Tipping, Calendars, Gifts, Weddings, Holidays

4. Need a new pad? – Housing
- Apartment complexes, Hotels, Furniture

5. Getting around town – Transportation
- Personal driver, taxis, buses, metro, getting a license

6. Ting bu dong - Learning Chinese… or not.
- Basic Mandarin phrases, classes, pinyin, translators, apps

7. Bringing the family – Spouses, kids, & pets
- School, ayi, vet

8. What’s there to do around here? – Recreation
- Things to do and see, in Winter & Summer.

9. Managing the Details
- Bills, mail, taxes, banking

10. Can you hear me now? – Communication
- Phones, internet, Skype, Google Voice, QQ/Renren

11. This ain’t your mama’s cooking – Restaurants
- Western restaurants, Restaurant recommendations, Places to eat, tipping

12. Somebody call a doctor – Health & Wellness
- International wing of Shenyang 2 hospital, Global Doctor, English speaking dentist,

13. Where’s the Walmart? – Grocery Shopping
- Import stores, local markets, where to buy what

14. Shop til you drop
- Clothes, shoes, household goods, crafts & hobbies

15. Time to get away – Traveling outside of Shenyang
-Ctrip, Trains, Tripadvisor,

16. There’s more of us than you think! – Local resources
- International Club, List of international companies,

Am I missing something? We’ve been here for a year and a half now and so I’ve forgotten a lot of those early questions and concerns now that I’ve “figured it out” (or learned to do without). Things that I take for granted now may still be difficult for you.

If you’re going to move to China in the future, what do you need to know? What questions do you have?

Or if you’re new to Shenyang, what are you struggling to accomplish? What do you wish you’d known? What do you wish you’d packed? What do you need to buy or find?

Will you leave a comment below? Or email me? I’d love to have your input for this endeavor.


18 thoughts on “Guess what?

  1. I doubt I’ll ever get to Paris nor will I get to China but I follow a lovely blog by David Lebovitz. Sometimes he has recipes, sometimes he talks about people, or exciting places to go but I think if you were to subscribe to his site, you would get an amazing amount of the questions you asked above answered at his website. He has links to so many things that you almost feel like you’re there, in Paris, but you’re at home, wherever that may be. Not too long ago he decided to buy a flat and for many weeks we got to endure what trying to rehab an old flat is like. He had to learn so many new things about equipment, descriptions to the laborers, etc. I really enjoyed it. So give it a try and see what you think.
    Personally, I think that what you listed above is a great start. You might include something about transportation in your fair city.
    Let me know what happens, please. I enjoy reading your site and thank you very much for all your efforts.
    Here’s his website:

    • A great resource… I’ve already checked it out and have really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Thanks!

    • Shenyang has such a great character. I never thought I’d enjoy living in such a huge city, but I really love it here. Let me know if you’re looking for something you can’t find! And do share with me when you find something interesting!

  2. What I would caution you is that the book would be dated VERY fast. I’ve been here 2 years now and Shenyang now is not the city I moved to. I mean, it grow over a million people in our first year alone! Even the stores and malls that are open and here now can be gone in a few weeks or a few months. The International school is talking about moving. Last month we “thought” we knew the new location but this month that’s all up in the air. It’s kind of like the 8 degress of broken to a Chinese person. The book you write today is good for today but not so good for longer. I think your blog is perfect and if you want a book you can use some sites and have this printed off. You are here for a short time and the book wouldn’t be finished before you leave. If you were going to be here for 10 year or more, then a book would be great as you could always have it set to print a so many copies at a time and have it so you can update it as needed. If you really wanted to publish a book, I think you should use your eye for art and do a coffe table style book. That way you can focus more on the artsy side of it and not such hard core writing. China is terrible on perserving photos od their day to day life in print. Yes, they snap their iPhones all day long but they don’t print the pictures off because they don’t have room for the prints or the money to spend to print. So if you did some kind of book along that line, snapping everyday life of China, I think it would be a really great book!

    • Shenyang is a quickly changing city! I do intend to keep the book in a format similar to this blog. And definitely focusing on a digital ebook at this point so it can be easily updated. Still working out the details.
      Interesting food for thought. Thanks.

  3. Anyone who takes out time in their day to try to help out others with a wonderful idea is perfect in my book. A book would be perfect and the fact that you are doing it just to help others before and after arrival to an area of the world that not many know about shows the type of wonderful person you are. Any help you need with locations just ask and from me to you THANKS!!

  4. I think it is a great idea. Most of the information you have outlined can be found but not in any easy way. There are a few books out there, but they are very dry and very short. You are humorous and you have a matter-of-fact way about outlining things. I think it would be a great resource for people that are moving without the help of a company. I don’t know if you have already have it included it, but I would add what you need to do to find a good Mandarin tutor. Also, what you wished you knew when you went. In looking at a move to China, the way you have helped me the most is your information on blogging and what goes into setting up a blog and in China. We are planning on arriving in China in October. Thanks for all you whit and insight!!! Good luck on this venture.

    • Congrats on moving to China!
      If you’re looking to learn a little Mandarin before you come… definitely check out the Pimsleur series. It’s an audio set but extremely helpful. We were able to get from our local library before we left and then ripped it to the computer and iPod. It is really great!

  5. This is awesome. DO IT!!!! I would have LOVED to have a guide like this before moving abroad. I like that it will have your voice and will be fun. I think it’s going to be great!! You go girl!!

  6. I like commas too, your not the only one. I say go for it, if it has not been done before their is always a demand. Plus you can add a section on the music scene in Shenyang. People not find it helpful but would certainly help me out. One the hardest things about China is finding out about China when you not Chinese or living in China. Normally English language sources are either outdated or inaccurate, so i thinking their is always oppertunity to write as an expat.

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  8. Sorry my comment got cut off. I think maybe adding in health clubs and activities like martial arts would also be useful. If you’ve got kids how to look up day care hiring maids and also how to figure out money difference between the usd and rmb? My fiance is a pilot and in a year we plan to move there! Can you ride a motor cycle in Shenyang or is it far to dangerous? I heard lol the chinese can’t drive but neither can most Americans!

  9. Hiya! I’m just starting to read your blog to find out about expat life there. Have you written your book yet? I’d love to read it! I’d be interested in bringing small children and all that that would involve. Thank you for all your advice so far!