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Q: What "Tier" of expat are you? Is there a "Tier" system where you are?

When I first came to China, I thought all expats had one category. The "foreigner category". I used to work in ESL during a time when most foreigners here where back-packers and English teachers. 

 

Over time, I started to hear comments from people when I moved around China (one being my DoS or Director of Study). He mentioned we would be going to an event (as a school) and that we should expect other foreigners (from other industries) to look down on us. In his words, "We were bottom of the barrel". That really bugged me. I never saw myself or the job of educating young minds as "low class".

 

And then I noticed some Chinese shared the same sentiment, one women even saying in Chinese to her friends at a pizza parlor, "Many foreigners come here, most couldn't find jobs in their own country and are trash". So I gues she likes dining with trash? 

 

I noticed in the smaller cities people didn't care as much as the larger cities. 

 

One of my Chinese buddies got drunk on Bai jiu and spilled the beans on how they rated foreigners.

 

If you spoke Chinese, are married to a Chinese national or have been here over 5 years, then you get a little bit of extra brownie points. Here's how the Tiers go according to which fields:

 

1 - Ambassadors or politically related

2 - Large international corporations

3 - Import/Export - Scientific Research or Engineering

4 - Small Business Owners (perhaps models, actors, etc. are in this category)

5 - Intentional or Subject Teachers

6 - ESL teachers (training centers being the possible lowest)

 

What do you think of this, bullshit or truth? Do you experience other expats that "kan bu qi (look down on)" on others they feel are a lower tier?   

8 years 26 weeks ago in  Lifestyle - China

 
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  I guess i'm fortunate in that I couldn't give a rat's arse what anyone thinks of me being a teacher, I think it's a grand thing to do with ones time, if you do it well, but then i'm firmly of the opinion that our criticisms and perceptions of others are projections of our own limited understanding of ourselves, so if someone looks down on me it's actually more a matter of their own struggling self-esteem. Having said that though, i'm number six on your list, am poorly educated, partially dyslexic, and was a bottom rung, box lifting, crack smoking alcoholic back home, so heck, maybe i'm not the best one to espouse the virtues of being non-judgemental, huh?

nicholasba:

thumbs up

8 years 26 weeks ago
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royceH:

HAR!!!  Who isn't, Martian!  Well, I've never taken illegal drugs and haven't stolen anything since a pewter beer mug when I was 18, but otherwise I'm right on your page!

From one 6th Tier loser to another....Here's Cheers Matey!

 

 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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mArtiAn:

  Bottoms UP! 

  Now SMILE!

(That's a good trick if ever i've seen one)

8 years 26 weeks ago
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8 years 26 weeks ago
 
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I reckon the higher the tier the lower your Chinese level.

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8 years 26 weeks ago
 
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I think what everyone has missed is that money trumps all in China for guanxi and status.

While having a lower status job in China has some effect on Chinese people's opinion of foreigners it has more to do with money.

Teachers simply make less money on average than other expats in China....not all but most.

So yes...in a sense there is a tier system for them to judge us but the main reason for this is simply money and not job status.

Chinese worship money more than almost anyone on the planet so of course they will by nature favor those foreigners with more of it over the others....usually for self serving means.

This is the real reason Chinese society in general has become so corrupt and vain.

MissA:

Nice to see you back.

8 years 25 weeks ago
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dom87:

seems some foreigners also went nuts on this system and praising themselves as gods nowadays because they earn 100k a month.

 

money really changes people to dicks

8 years 25 weeks ago
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8 years 25 weeks ago
 
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Tier #2(If this sytem exists)

Baivab:

and I am voted down...spare me

8 years 25 weeks ago
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Iron_Monkey:

On this board, ESL teachers don't even spare other ESL teachers.

8 years 25 weeks ago
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8 years 25 weeks ago
 
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This is an old thread, but I find it interesting.

 

I fall into tier 5.  

I HAVE experienced people (both chinese and from Foreignerland) judging people like this.

 

 

Screw your boxes.

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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Tier 5/6 here - what's interesting about this system is that it's basically the same as how status-obsessed people would view others in the west except the lowest tiers don't exist in China. Politicians, execs, engineers and such would be judged as greater achievers than teachers anywhere in the world. However, teachers would be rated as higher than landscapers, janitors, waiters etc. but foreigners can't get those jobs in China so teachers are the bottom of the barrel. 

 

But if I really wanted to be in one of the higher tiers I wouldn't have made my life choices. I've made my bed and I'm sleeping in it. Sleeping comfortably in fact. 

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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First I couldn't care less about what other people think.

 

I fall in tier 6 and tier 4, I am not a teacher but I do work in and with the ESL industry, I am a manager at a REAL international school (I insist on REAL since there are so many fake international schools in China) I also own a recruitment agency for ESL and non-teaching expats.

 

If it's about money, I very likely make more than other tiers, except maybe tier 1 and tier 2.

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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This is old stuff, but this is unfortunately how Chinese view foreigners in a nutshell.

 

There is actually a Tier 7, which is foreign students. So ESL teachers are NOT at the bottom of the barrel lol.

 

But who cares what these types of people think anyway... most of them are living horrible lives that is all about presentation and little about substance.

Stiggs:

And when some poorly dressed backpacker ESL teacher who is "obviously a loser with no prospects back home" shows up and makes much more money than the average family here, lives in a great apartment, goes out every night eating, drinking and having hot girls chase him, hangs out on the beach in Thailand on his holidays while only working 20 hours a week, has a great lifestyle here then goes home to his developed country (which people here desperately want to sent their kids to) or to another country to continue the lifestyle... while the haters here are still miserable, what does that say about the tier system and the people judging others?

7 years 13 weeks ago
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Robk:

It says a lot, that is what makes Chinese even more pissed off. 

 

They know many ESL teachers get a free pass and snatch their women like hot cakes. Wouldn't you be a little pissed off too if this happened in your country?

 

In my country, immigrants are given free welfare, healthcare and have like 10 kids.. then they take that money and 80% of it back home to their family of 1000 in 3rd world country land. Guess who pays for them with our taxes?

 

They know they would switch with ESL teachers in an instant if they could... until then they will just keep hating.

7 years 13 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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I suppose I'm somewhere between a 4 and a 6, but I'm not actually a 5.

 

I think this tier system they have could use a few adjustments.

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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It is a good question.

Ha ha. I live in a communist country and the "expats" have a class system .

 

Yeah yeah, I know China has a class system too.

 

Me? I am a 7. I am a migrant.  No different from a Russian in America or a Nigerian in the UK.   To most people of course, I am an idiot. Why live in China when I could live anywhere I want in Europe? What an idiot. Yeah well, I have no desire and no need to feel superior to anyone, so I am happy to be where my daughter has her family around her.

 

We could add another class too. Illegal migrants. What number would they be..... erm.... 7 same as me. We are all migrants together. A silly bit of paper does not make one person better than another.

 

Oh well, my search for fellow communists in China continues wink.

 

Wow, has anyone actually met a communist in China? Or even a socialist?

 

I need to go back to Europe where socialists are everywhere

 

 

7 years 13 weeks ago
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ScotsAlan:

ha ha

7 years 13 weeks ago
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coineineagh:

i came to China with some sympathy/affinity for communist ideals, but China knocked that out of me quickly. all those people who told me Communism can't work in human societies- they weren't right-wing naysayers. they were right. marxism was dreamt up by a civilized person deluded by assumptions of social involvement, political awareness, and compassion. as a biology student, i should have realized that it takes more than a million years for a species to stop being animalistic. if ants or termites ever develop intelligence though, we'll be long gone, and they'll be laughing at Marx's pathetic attempts to unify such chaotic, selfish creatures.

7 years 13 weeks ago
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I would like to suggest another class system, if a class system we need to have.

 

First class:  The illegal guys who manage to stay here for years and run a business on an L or F visa. They own factories busy and employ lots of staff. ie, the  manufacturers.

 

Second class:  The traders. Still on an L or F visa, they export massive amounts of stuff all over the world. They never know when the knock on the door will come.

 

I know many people who fit into one class one and two.

 

Third class:  The independents. The people who work on whatever visa they can get, on whatever visa they can get.  ie, the vast majority. I include here gap year students, adventure seekers, hippies, flower power, Teachers, Engineers, Retired people.... 90% of us

 

Fourth class: The corporates. The actual expat class who have private drivers and personal helpers who speak fluent English, or German, or whatever.

 

Fifth class,  The Government people, or the western CEO, who only sees China through tinted merc windows.

 

Sixth class.... Foreign Government

 

10th class..... Foreign press. Especially the BBC.

 

I missed out numbers 7 to 9. We can allocate them to drug dealers, pimps, gang masters and all general criminal classes.  But it should be noted that classes 1 and 2  and 4 and 5 have a lot in common with classes 7 to 9.

 

And all the classes of course have one thing in common. No matter what your visa, no matter your qualifications, no matter your family connections, we could all be gone tomorrow at the whim of a junior official.

 

This gives all foreigners in China something in common.

 

We are all foreigners.

 

We are all members of the foreigner class.

expatlife26:

Why do you think people who own factories and employ lots of staff are illegal? If you have a well-capitalized business don't you think you can issue yourself a visa?

7 years 13 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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I am a 55! An intentional subject teacher, and proud of it! 

angel

 

Are training center teachers the lowest? What about making 5k at a uni? Why the hate for training center teachers? I wouldn't mind working at WSE, for example. 

Robk:

Nah, it seems Chinese have a higher respect for University teachers. Even though they make less money (most Chinese don't know that) they think their education must be higher because they closer to the realm of a professor.

 

Plus to teach as a University, you must have a University degree as it is a government controlled establishment. But a training center doesn't really require one (suppose to but they use loopholes). So it is like half a notch higher I guess lol...

 

Kind of the same thing back home... which usually gets more respect from society... A kindergarten teacher or a University professor?

7 years 13 weeks ago
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bill8899:

ok. thought it was about the  foreigner's approach to foreigners positions.

7 years 13 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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that's almost everywhere not only in China !!!

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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If someone was King of the country known as Waiguo what tier would they be?

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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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My experience and thought has to do with effort to fit in or at least look as if you are!  Try speaking the language and interact in the language even if you suck at it!  what is bad is the foreigner that goes to the same restaurant over and over again and points to what they want. Damn, learn the name of the damn dish and say it already!!

 

Im sure most of you all have been here long enough to know, but for those who don't, if a chinese tells you your chinese speaking ability is good,,,, its a trick! don't say thank you...thats is what they expect...you must say 'nali nali'  showing modesty and actually saying 'where where'.    then you will get some respect....or maybe not    ...he he

if you want to raise your status on this 'tier' scale....get a Chinese drivers' license, locals will be shocked!

Robk:

Yeah, that obviously always helps.

 

To be honest, if you can do anything besides speak English they are extremely impressed lol.

 

Wow, you can use chopsticks! - Wow, you can ride a motorcycle... so cool! - Wow, your Chinese is so good! - Wow, you can fix a bike?! - Wow, you can cook?!

 

It is so easy to have a huge ego in China. But you are right with how to take compliments. It is best to deflect it as they don't always truly mean what they say... it is more for making a happy environment or just pleasantries.

 

I always answer with "hai cha de yuan ne" (still very far to go) or just "bu shi bu shi"... The only way you know if your Chinese is truly decent is if you can talk a Chinese person for about an hour with very little confusion on both sides. 

7 years 13 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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Apologies, Robk.  I've referred to this scale on a few occasions since your original post and always called it the 'Martian Scale'.

Anyway, I'm still a 6.  Middle school teacher, and only speaking to the 10% for whom English is important.  The rest of em are all Mr Potatohead impersonators.

I'm thinking of giving teaching away after this contract ends in a few months but don't know what else I could do.  Perhaps become an advocate, but in a country of drones who would I be advocating to?

 

 

Robk:

If you got the funds, you could open your own little center, train some teachers and just sit back as the figure head of the school (maybe teach once in a bit to inject a little foreign marketing)... then, when you get bored... you just sell it.

 

 

7 years 13 weeks ago
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silverbutton1:

An advocate for drones. That was darn funny. Thx for the laugh.

7 years 13 weeks ago
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royceH:

I sure haven't got the funds.  I have the lowdown on costs for such a venture in my city here in Xinjiang and the number is 7 figures.  Lots of greasy poles out here.  Thank you so effing much Mr Xi!

 

7 years 12 weeks ago
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royceH:

I sure haven't got the funds.  I have the lowdown on costs for such a venture in my city here in Xinjiang and the number is 7 figures.  Lots of greasy poles out here.  Thank you so effing much Mr Xi!

 

7 years 12 weeks ago
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royceH:

I sure haven't got the funds.  I have the lowdown on costs for such a venture in my city here in Xinjiang and the number is 7 figures.  Lots of greasy poles out here.  Thank you so effing much Mr Xi!

 

7 years 12 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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Who cares, my working hours were 8-10 am today and it's 22 degrees outside angel

royceH:

Good grief!  What time do you have to get up?

7 years 12 weeks ago
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manasyt:

I work across the street :)

7 years 12 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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