Expat Espresso in China

Excerpts from expat life in China

Welcome to the first in a new series of interviews with expats

‘Expat Espresso’ is so named because when brainstorming the potential title for this series, I imagined sitting in a café with a friend and drinking lovely coffee. I don’t know if it’s a ‘thing’ in my particular expat circles, but we tend to go to a few ‘coffee mornings’ where we can meet new friends and chat about expat life, compare notes and get recommendations for things to do that are local to us. Also, I am rather partial to a bit of alliteration as old friends know. When I had chosen the title, but hadn’t had time to create this entry, someone then compared expat life to a “continual espresso buzz“, which is pretty much true for my life and, I should think, for most of us. Anyway, the name stuck.

I intend to publish a new interview on the last Friday of each month. A great time for a coffee date and I hope you will join us!

Please meet Teresa in China…

Where do you currently live and how did you come to be there?

We currently live in Suzhou, China. We are here for a development post for my husband’s job.

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

People always say home is where your family is and l don’t think l really understood this until we became an expat family. Our home is where we are currently staying. The surroundings are irrelevant.

Do you have a few words of advice on coping with the first six months of a move?

For the first six months be kind to yourselves and children. Understand that everybody deals with the move in different ways. Surround yourself with positive people. Be open to every new experience and push yourself to do something new each day. Equally, celebrate the small stuff, (like getting your phone contract sorted).

Is there something that you wish you’d known before moving?

Nothing really. People did tell me stuff but it doesn’t really sink in until you are actually living it. I think I wouldn’t have worried so much if l had actually known how many people are doing this all the time all over the world and how scary but fab it would all be.

Your best moment to date?

My best moment was on the train to Disneyland in Hong Kong. It was my 36th birthday and my family and I were so excited by the Mickey ears windows. It was what l now know to be a typical expat travel experience. We had a terrible time in an apartment with cockroaches and near death in a fire trap. It made the feat of escape and getting to Disneyland all the sweeter. I remember looking at my little family thinking, “We are so lucky. This is amazing.”


Teresa Gillis and family


Teresa Gillis had a very successful career in the UK as a Speech and Language Therapist (specialising in autistic spectrum disorders).



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  1. What a great idea for a post – I will be following avidly! Funnily enough we looked into a job in Suzhou a few years ago and even flew out to look around – the town seemed rather lovely or at least what we saw of it in the 36 hours we were there. Hope you enjoy your stay there Theresa

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