Archive for August 24, 2014

help out a doctoral student

I haven’t been posting much recently, but I have been responding to the emails receive. The next few post will be a series of questions I have answered over email, but haven’t yet posted about. Maybe some of the answers will be useful to you.
The first is a request we received to help a grad student who needs China expats to complete a survey regarding cultural adjustment. Here is the information:

My name is Natalie R Thornberry. I am a doctoral candidate at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, United States of America. 

I am asking for your cooperation in the completion of my dissertation, Counseling and Expatriate Adjustment. The purpose of my dissertation is to examine the Western expatriate adjustment to living and working in China and variables that contribute to the expatriate successful adjustment. Specifically, I am looking at the influence of counseling and mental health services on expatriate adjustment.

If you agree to participate in the research,click on the following link to an online survey, . You may pass on the link to anyone you think might participate. The survey contains questions you will answer about yourself and your experience living and working abroad. You are under no obligation to participate. Participation is completely voluntary and all collected information will be anonymous.

Again, the link is

I appreciate any help in completing my research and thank you for considering it.

Dear Customs Officials

This post serves as a PSA of sorts. If you ever find yourself receiving a package that gets stuck in customs, here is our experience and how we got our salad dressing released from customs “prison.”


We recently received a package from a dear friend. The package was full of small individual packets of salad dressing. I asked for them to use on our field trips this summer.
Anyway, the box was big and had a large quantity of these dressings, which meant it was stopped by customs. We got an email from them saying we could have the package when we submitted our business license and import license. What? We didn’t have either of those things, nor were we planning on selling the dressing. It took two local friends helping us to get our salad dressing released from customs prison. Turns out, the letter of the law says you can send no more than 10 of any one item. Clearly, we had more than ten packets in there. And we don’t have an import license. So, our next requirement was that we had to submit a letter explaining that they are for personal use and beg for the release of our salad dressing.

I felt inconvenienced and bothered that we were having to call and write letters and go to so much trouble just to get some salad dressing that a loving friend had already paid full shipment price for.
Our local friend wrote the letter to China customs on our behalf to save us the time it would take us to compose such a letter in Chinese.

Below is google translate’s version of that letter in English. Perhaps you can use it as a template of sorts if you find yourself in the same situation.

Dear hard-working Chinese customs officers :
Our whole family for your work extra burden apologize !
We very much enjoy living and working here . However , the eating habits, our family is very special to miss some American food seasoning . Difficult for us to buy these spices from China . So we had to let our relatives and friends in the United States to our mailing these spices. For ease of use , our friends have specially selected individually wrapped , and small size, light weight mailed to us .
We have not asked in detail about the conditioning requirements for customs inspection of China , it is our fault.
We just would like to affirm that all of these spices is to us a man consumed spices . Our families are more like the small package mailed spices , everyone will use several meal , so all of these spices that we will soon be finished .
After this experience we know that the relevant provisions of China Customs , and later we will strictly comply with these requirements .
Thank you !

Aside from the humor of the letter, I just have to say, it’s nice to have friends. Even on my best day it is doubtful that I could have humbled myself to the point of saying sorry for causing a burden to the customs officials when I felt like the situation was reversed or admitted fault in the situation.

Anyway, we’re enjoying our salad dressing now. And we’re thankful for the friend who sent it and the friends who helped us get it to our door step.

We did have to pay and additional 61 RMB is taxes and a fee that allowed the shipping company to act on our behalf at China Customs.