Expat Stories – John Chappele
January 2021   EXPAT STORIES

Expat Stories – John Chappele

John Chappele is a Cigna Global customer. He moved from the UK to China in 1999. He has been living there ever since. This is his expat story.
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John Chappele is a Cigna Global customer. He moved from the UK to China in 1999. He has been living there ever since.

This is his expat story.

Tell us about your expat move?

I moved to China over 20 years ago and I’ve also spent time working in Indonesia and Singapore.

I’m from Gloucestershire and I was working in Yorkshire before I moved to China. I live in Shandong province, which is between Shanghai and Beijing.

What do you do for work in China?

I originally came here for farming and food processing. Now I work as a consultant for a number of different companies on food safety, helping Chinese companies to work towards international food safety standards. 

How much have you seen China grow during the time you have been there?

China has certainly changed beyond all recognition over that period of time really. There was hardly any foreign supermarkets when I first arrived here. So it’s changed extremely quickly over the past twenty years.

What have been some of the biggest highlights from your expat journey?

For me, I would say it is travel. I’m lucky enough to get to travel a lot with my job and I’ve been to most provinces in China. I think it’s also meeting interesting people and getting to visit places you normally wouldn’t get to see as a normal tourist.

Eating food in local restaurants has been another highlight. The cuisine in China is very variable depending on where you are.

Have there been many challenges living in China and have you found it difficult missing family and friends?

The family and friends aspect is a continual challenge but it does tend to change after time. I think most expats typically love the experience for the first year or so, but then it can be tricky with missing home.

Sometimes the cultural issues and language issues can be really tough. But I think if you get through that phase and stay, you can become more immersed in the local community and it can become easier.

There can be challenges with staying in a place too. For example, the longer you stay, the harder it is to return to your home country, the more you miss your family, etc. It is a continual challenge.

Of course language is another massive challenge for me. My Chinese is terrible despite being here for so long.

Are there many things you miss from living in the UK?

I mean the UK is unique. There is great culture, things like theatres, concerts and that sort of thing. The culture here is obviously very different. I also miss the family I have back in the UK.

How much do you enjoy being an expat?

I guess if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t have stayed. I love the challenge of it and I love the fact that there is something new every day. The world here changes so quickly.

What advice would you give to those who are considering making an expat move?

I think the key bit of advice that I would give is to have an open mind for wherever you are moving to. Try and take things as they come and go with the flow.

Also try to get out there and mix with local expat communities. Try and get involved in local things that are going on.

Would you recommend the expat move?

It’s not for everybody but for those that enjoy a challenge, I would definitely recommend it. I feel like I’ve lived two lives, one in the UK and one in a completely different Asia.

I have very happy memories of my time in the UK but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world too.

Finally, how would you summarise your expat journey in 10 words or less?

An energising journey bringing a new dimension to our lives.

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