Three month after our first baby was born we moved from Brazil to the southern part of China. In a subtle way the local Chinese government orchestrated that all Wàiguó rén 外国人 /aliens (‘white noses’) be located in a handful of compounds scattered around the city of former Canton, now known as GuangZhou.We also rented at a compound, a beautiful ground floor apartment overlooking ‘the Greenery’ in the Tienhe business district. The local Chinese government was aware that most of the Wàiguó rén 外国人 /aliens rather preferred Western aspirin to traditional Chinese medicine, so as a result, they had set up small First Aid- and Pediatric Service Posts in some of the alien compounds. At our compound the post was managed by both a Chinese and Belgian doctor. The former spoke Dutch, my native language. Still until todays day I clearly remember what a relief it was to be able to express my concerns about our new born in my mother tongue instead of having to mentally scavenge for jargon.

How is it for you to try to find the right words for your and your families health care concerns, for financial or legal issues while you feel totally lost in all the local rules and regulations. Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to just blurt out whatever it is you have to say on all these issues in your native language instead of having to tease your brain during such visits?

I’m referring to these ‘soft factors’ which weigh in the decision for making the next career step. These so called ‘soft factors’ are subjects of the living and working environment of the international employee and their families and include the following: housing, education, healthcare, childcare, labor mobility for partners, public transport etc. Nowadays more and more cities hosting an international community as seeking ways to serve ‘their aliens’.

To improve their working and living environment, in the Greater The Hague area CheckNL is created where Chinese speaking dentists, Arab speaking counsellors and psychotherapists, Turkish and Polish speaking doctors, Spanish speaking midwives and Farsi speaking realtors offer their services.

In this sort of ‘TripAdvisor for Internationals’ these kind of services are made available to you so you are able to to discuss your concerns in your mother tongue even though you are far away from home.

Ideally your experience abroad would be as if you were visiting your local dentist just around the corner in your home town, in using these services. In sharing my own experience, I pretty much felt thit way during my second pregnancy and evenso when ‘I gained another pearl from an oyster’, a Chinese saying for giving birth to a son.

Many thanks to any and all of you, I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading my blog.