Monday, September 11, 2006

The Next Alex Cabrera/Tuffy Rhodes

A friend of a friend is thinking about moving to China for work and wanted to get my thoughts on the subject. While I've only been here a short while, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the subject and have spoken to a number of people who have relocated here "permanently" (whatever that means for my generation -- more on this later). My advice? Be prepared to be the next Alex Cabrera or Tuffy Rhodes.



Alex Cabrera is probably the best baseball player and a household name in Japan over the past few years. Here's some more information about him. I'd post a link to the wikipedia site but for some reason, I have a very hard time connecting to wikipedia from China. Tuffy Rhodes was another great player in Japan who is relatively unknown in the U.S.

While China definitely has a great deal of opportunity for ambitious and young people (click here and here to read my posts about this topic), it's still not the U.S. Even if you hit 55 home runs a year in a foreign country, people will still question whether you can hit a Major League curveball. My advice for people who want to come to China would be:
Personally, I believe China has a long way to go before it becomes the center of the business world (if in fact it ever does). And even if it does, China doesn't pass the second of litmus tests for places I want to live. First, I refuse to live in a place where owning a windshield scraper is required. And second, I will only live in a place I'd want my children to grow up in. For all the bad things about the U.S. (e.g. the Religious Right and Limousine Liberals), it's still the ONLY society as far as I'm concerned that is based on the personal freedom and belief in the individual.

I would apply this to expat work, generally, and also add a situation where you're displaced from where you thought you're life was going (I don't know, say a divorce?).

Expats have more fun. If I weren't coming back to law school I would have tried to work in either Bangkok or Singapore. Probably Bangkok, as you sportsfans probably know that Singapore is the nicest, cleanest, safest, and most boring city in the world.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I think extremely introverted types like me thrive in that situation, because expats seem extremely tight with each other. Also, if you were trying to live up to any external expectations or lifestyle in your home life, working in another country would throw you so far out of your comfort zone that pay and status level become secondary.
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