Working Abroad: What I learned is openness

In this testimony, Jehenne explains what she discovered after leaving for China. She currently works there as an international HR consultant.

Who are you?


What were your motivations to move?

I moved to Shanghai the first time to join my boyfriend who found a job opportunity
there. I stayed there for one month as a tourist and I loved it instantly. Back in Belgium, I kept thinking about one thing, going back there!

Your experience


What are the difficulties you have encountered ?

Once I arrived, the greatest difficulty I encountered was the language. Indeed, even if this city is international, the majority of Chinese people don’t or almost don’t speak English. Culture shock was significant and communication was very difficult.

What did you learn or discover about the country and its culture?

Wen I went back to Shanghai, at first I attended university, studying the History of China, traditions and customs and its relationships with other countries. It helped me a lot to open my eyes about a 1,000 year-old culture, of which I didn’t know much and which is very different from ours. I also attended Mandarin courses to learn how to read and how to speak but also to learn how to write all these complicated characters! Learning the language is overcoming barriers between us and Chinese people who, for most of them, are happy to talk with foreigners.

What did you learn about life in a company?

Then I started working in a Chinese company as a recruiter. What struck me was their
ways of working which is very different form ours, and the things that seem to be logical for me but are not for them. I am constantly challenged and I learn how to adapt to a way of working sometimes completely in contrast with my methods.



What lessons did you draw about yourself?

What I learned and what I keep learning is open-mindedness. Not to judge a method because I think mine, the one I always knew, is the best. We all have our own culture and a way of thinking, which can be different, without necessarily being good or bad.

What seems to be the most important thing to you in this experience?

The most important thing in this experience is to open up to others, to try to understand instead of judging, to take notice of differences, points of view, and to see that a society can prosper by sharing values different from ours.



What message would you like to give to a future recruiter?

What is important when we move to a foreign country is to have an adaptation capacity and an open-mindedness in order to understand others and to learn from our differences. And it is by pooling all of this diversity that we accomplish great things.

Jehenne Klaï

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