China Assignment (Suzhou) bio picture
  • Welcome to my Suzhou blog!

    For the next two years (starting on Feb 14, 2011) I will use this blog to chronicle our travels while on assignment in Suzhou, China. My wife and I (OK, mostly me) consider this a great opportunity to get to know one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. We are excited about the opportunity and hope you will join us as we explore this amazing land and it's surroundings. We encourage you to add comments as you see best.
    Thanks for visiting!
    My assignment ended on March 8, 2013. If you like to follow our next adventure click HERE
    Carlos & Bethe

    IMPORTANT: If you like to know when new posts are added click on "Follow Us" tab on the upper left side of of the blog, and then click on "Subscribe".

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Cultural Awareness Training…

… Feb 17 & 18 – Thursday and Friday – 8 hours of cultural awareness training each day. Found it to be very interesting and with many tips as to how to handle cultural differences in the professional environment; a real must to tackle before you start any assignment in China or Asia.  At the beginning we thought; why two days?  Well, with the history china has and how it has shaped current cultural differences that are so different from what Americans are used to; I found this training a must. I am glad the instructor (Charles H. – a Westerner that has lived in Asia for 20 years and is married to a Chinese lady) was very knowledgeable and had an excellent delivery; he made the training fun and kept us very alert. A couple of hours of the training were devoted to learning about Suzhou; what is available, activities and things to do and avoid. That session was delivered by Phyllis a very energetic chinese young lady who is moving to Germany for a few years soon.

A few pictures of Phyllis and Charles:

Mitch GarrisonMarch 8, 2011 - 8:48 PM

Carlos and Bethe,
Thanks for including me with your blog, it is wonderful. I hope you are enjoying your time together. It certainly appears you are.
Best wishes,

ccausillasFebruary 25, 2011 - 9:55 AM

Thanks for visiting. We did review lots of information in 16 hours. To put it in a couple of sentences (hardly doing the topic any justice) Americans and Chinese have very different approaches in terms of how they relate to others, how they make decisions and how they think. In relating to others, Americans tend to be task oriented while the Chinese are more relationship oriented – by a long margin. How decisions are made; Americans are risk takers while Chinese tend to be risk avoiding. Finally, in terms of how do they think; Americans tend to think linearly, need facts and like to keep it simple. The Chinese tend to think in a more circular approach, facts are not as important and tend to think in more complex terms. Important to note; like in all studies the above represent the tendencies of each culture. There are certainly big variations within individuals in both cultures.

Kori RivardFebruary 22, 2011 - 5:51 AM

Hi Carlos,

I like the blog so far!

So, what are some of the things they taught you in the cultural awareness training? What things did they think would be most difficult for Americans to adapt to?

:-) Kori

We finally arrived!

It was many months in the making, but on Monday, February 14 my wife and I stepped off the airplane in Shanghai after a long 14 1/2 hours flight. Almost two days have passed and we have accomplished much. We have reviewed the apartment we would like to rent for the next two years and the contract is being reviewed by the company I work for, we have opened a bank account in one of China’s biggest banks, my employment visa is in the works, my wife just got her China cell/mobile phone and tomorrow we start a two day cultural awareness training.

Weather has been cold, but not as cold as Indiana. Food continues to be a challenge for us; well, more for my wife Bethe than for me. As I originally come from Peru – South America, eating what Americans would consider strange is not such a big deal with me. However, there are some interesting uses of edible resources in China, but who am I to critique? Let’s face it, they have been around for a lot longer than any other race on record, so they must be doing many things right.

What has been most noticeable so far? I think all Chinese nationals we have come in contact with are very nice and willing to help you even though most do not speak english. They do love to speak as much English as they know, which is so much better than the two or three words in Chinese I know. Lot’s of credit to them for learning what should be avery strange language to them. I hope to to do my best in learning at least the basics of Mandarin since I consider it a sign of respect to at least make the effort. Below are a few pictures from the last two days. Not much sightseeing yet, too busy getting situated.

Please note that you can make comments at the end of each post if you like. A great way to make this blog an interactive experience for all that venture into it.

We visited a mall near the hotel we are staying in. Much like any other nice mall found in the US.

Yes! All is well; Best Buy is in China. We ended buying my wife's phone in this one; like the fact that several spoke enough English to ensure we understood what we were buying.

Happy Virus...?

Did not get it, but the gelato looked real good. Will have to come back for some soon.

The gelato looked real good; must return and try some real soon.

One example of how they keep everything so clean.

A New Year display, not sure what it represents.

Seems like this store "borrowed" Dunkin Donuts colors...

Yes, they do have pet stores. They do not eat dogs in China; at least not in this store since it would be very bad for business.


All seems so Westernised


My wife; very happy to taste familiar flavors!

Dave SchuttFebruary 22, 2011 - 1:48 AM

Carlos and Bethe,
Good news to hear your arrival went well,I found it an interesting coincidence that the CIP Haiti Team is on their adventure at the very same time that you arrived in China,
in two very different settings. Look forward to your updates!!

Ray SlossFebruary 21, 2011 - 11:57 PM

Donna and I will be following along in your great adventure. I gave Jen and Jonn the link, they are excited that you are sharing your time in Asia.

Good luck

ccausillasFebruary 19, 2011 - 7:37 AM

Thanks for the comments. Stay tunned!
Jordan…thanks for the explanation on Happy Virus – hey, I am not worrying and will be happy

Teresa OberlinFebruary 18, 2011 - 12:27 AM

Carlos and Bethe,
Glad you made it over there safely. It will be really weird not seeing you walking the halls. I look forward to keeping in contact and wish you and Bethe the best while you are there.

Charo MunozFebruary 17, 2011 - 5:24 AM

Gracias! Thank you JC for sharing your experiences with us!

What a great opportunity to see a different world from the comfort of my living room.

Hope Bethe is getting situated and soon she will be enjoying the chinese version of the Peruvian "chifa"


Linda KnudsenFebruary 17, 2011 - 3:43 AM

Sephora & Subway! How can you not feel right at home?

Kim SappFebruary 17, 2011 - 1:11 AM

It's gonna be so cool to "follow" you here !! Thanks for blogging and giving the visuals. Enjoy !!

Jordan LeeFebruary 16, 2011 - 9:34 PM

"Happy Virus" as in sharing happiness and making others happy. I think the phrase started in Korea, from a popular song by that name, circa 2009. Reminds me of the popular "Don't Worry, Be Happy" song my kids used to sing.

Jordan LeeFebruary 16, 2011 - 5:55 PM

Carlos – Happy Arrival and Good Luck to you in the New Year (Year 4708)- I look forward to your pictures of daily life in China, and I enjoyed the vicarious trip to a mall – Thanks! ~Jordan Lee

Alison NoyceFebruary 16, 2011 - 4:54 PM

Great post! Keep 'em coming!

Tuinstra!February 16, 2011 - 4:00 PM

Hi Carlos and Bethe! So happy you arrived safely… and on a Valentine's Day you will never forget! I'm very much looking forward to reading the blog and living through the both of you. I love all the pictures as well! Happy Virus!

Deb SilorFebruary 16, 2011 - 3:31 PM

Carlos and Bethe,

Looks like you are off to a great start, still smiling, great sense of humor! Loved the pictures (Happy Virus????)! I am looking forward to reading your blog and sharing in your two year adventure!


LeviatanFebruary 16, 2011 - 1:50 PM

Well Cosmo llegaron y ya empezaron su gran aventura,les deseo todo lo mejor y tienes razon,la cultura China es la mas antigua,pero interesantisima,recuerda que yo estudie 4 años en el 10 De Octubre(Chinos nacionalistas)y hasta ahora podria cantar el himno nacional de alla ,mi nombre es Ley Wa ,bueno compadre aqui estare ,para q' son los amigos,saludos a Beth.Leviatan.

Two weeks before we start our China adventure!

We are fast approaching February 13; we will be leaving for Suzhou, China that day. It has been several months in the planning and while almost there, we have a myriad of activities yet to complete before we can say we are ready to go. Last night, Kassie and John Flanagan (our next door neighbors) hosted a going away party for us; it was great to have our neighborhood friend come together and wishing us farewell. We and our two daughters had a great time and enjoyed the food, John’s toast to us and having close friends together to talk about some of the fun times we all had during the last 8 years. Thanks John and Kassie for hosting such a great party!

Many during the party had not heard about Suzhou (we will be moving to Marina Cove, which is in Suzhou, right on Jinji Lake). The area we will be moving in is part of SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park). It is a massive 288 sq. km. area governed by SIP and it includes the park with many manufacturing facilities, living areas, entertainment, etc. If you would like to get a better idea as to what SIP is all about watch the video below. It is truly an impressive city. Once we get there we will be adding to this blog our experiences — so stay tuned.

Linda RoseFebruary 22, 2011 - 9:45 PM

I wish you both the best adventure for your 2 years. I look forward to the pictures and blog of your experiences.

Marie Clifford SilvaJanuary 31, 2011 - 5:45 AM

Good Luck to you. I pray you are better Bethe… It was good to see you and in two years it will be a most wonderful and happy reunion for your daughters and long lost friends over here. ;=)

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