Cultural Intelligence: The Superpower for Expatriates to Thrive in their Life Abroad

At ASI Movers, we know that taking the leap and expatriating involves so much more than boarding a plane and moving belongings.

Once in a brand new environment, developing a sense of belonging and building a setting and routine that feel like home are the key to a successful move abroad.

Indeed, and as noted by researchers, “although globalization has made the world seem smaller and “flat” in many ways, increasing cultural diversity creates challenges for individuals and organizations, making the world ‘not so flat’ after all” (Ang et al., 2007).

In that context, a central concept emerges: cultural intelligence (coined by Earley and Ang in 2003).

In today’s article, we explore the power of cultural intelligence for expatriates and uncover practical strategies to cultivate this invaluable trait.

What Is Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence is defined as an individual’s capability to function and operate effectively in diverse settings.

Simply put, and in the case of expatriation, cultural intelligence is the ability to build cultural bridges and thrive in new environments.

More precisely, it helps you connect with people from different backgrounds,understand and appreciate diverse customs, values, and behaviors, adapt and communicate effectively across cultural boundaries, and equips expats with knowledge, mindfulness, adaptability, and communication abilities.

A Positive Impact on Your Personal and Professional Life

Many researchers have noted the positive impact cultural intelligence has on the lives of those who live abroad, and how it helps them navigate their new environment!

1.  A Positive Infuence on Your Professional Life

As highlighted by Forbes, cultural intelligence is essential to the success of international assignments. Indeed, developing this skill will likely have a very positive influence on your professional life!

  • Enhanced Adaptability:
    It enhances your adaptability and capacity to transition smoothly to new environments, teams and practices, thus increasing the success rate of your missions and projects.
  • Improved Communication Skills:
    It improves your communication skills, allowing to effectively convey ideas, negotiate, and collaborate across cultural boundaries.
  • Building Meaningful Relationships:
    It allows you to more easily build meaningful relationships and trust with colleagues, communities, business partners, etc., thus fostering stronger connections and facilitating teamwork and networking.
  • Increased Problem-Solving Abilities:
    It increases your problem-solving abilities and capacity to navigate complex situations in diverse cultural contexts, leading to innovative solutions that are sure to participate in your projects' success.
  • Career Advancement:
    It fosters career advancement as global individuals who developed cultural intelligence are very sought after by multinationals, employers, and business partners alike.

2.  A Positive Infuence on Your Personal Life

Yet, the benefits do not limit to the professional sphere. The positive impact of cultural intelligence indeed trickles down to your personal life, making it richer and more fulfilling!

When relocating to a new country and interacting with people from different backgrounds, it can be challenging to feel like you belong.

Cultural intelligence enables individuals to bridge that gap, navigate new environments and circles with more ease and connect more swiftly with those around them!

  • Expanded Worldview and Personal Growth:
    It expands your worldview and fosters personal growth, challenges biases, and enables a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and a greater understanding of global, multifaceted, complex issues.
  • Increased Empathy and Cultural Sensitivity:
    Developing cultural intelligence promotes empathy and cultural sensitivity, allowing individuals to understand and appreciate different values, perspectives, and traditions.
  • Personal Enrichment:
    It enhances interpersonal skills, enabling individuals to navigate social situations, create meaningful relationships, and build trust across cultural boundaries.
  • Greater Cultural Awareness:
    Developing cultural intelligence deepens an individual's understanding of various cultures, their history, social norms, and customs, leading to increased cultural awareness and appreciation.

A Skill That Develops Overtime

The chosen way to nurture cultural intelligence is to stay curious, ask questions, seek engagement with others in an open-minded way, learn about the cultures that surround you as well as the experiences of those you meet on the way!



For the past 15 years, ASI Movers has been accompanying global individuals, families and companies in their relocation journey.

No matter the origin, the destination, the volume, or the project, we design the most adapted moving solution to fit your needs and requirements!

Our goal: to make your journey the smoothest possible, because there is so much more on your mind than moving your belongings!


Why Do We Go Abroad: The Unique Journey of Self-Initiated Expatriates

Living and working abroad can be a life-changing experience, filled with new adventures, cultural discoveries, as well as personal and professional growth.

Lately, a specific type of expatriation has been attracting more and more attention from scholars and recruiting organizations alike: self-initiated expatriation.

Are you one of those adventurous souls who have taken the leap to live and work abroad on your own initiative? If the answer is yes, then you are part of this growing community of people called self-initiated expatriates.

What prompts so many to take the leap and go abroad? What is so unique about this community? What are the pros and cons of this form of expatriation?

We answer it all in today’s article!

There is more to expatriation than a lifestyle choice

  1. For SIEs, personal and lifestyle considerations obviously come into play .
    Unlike AEs, SIEs are more active in their expatriation decision, and intrinsic motivators are thus more prevalent. Pursuing self-fulfillment through novel experiences breaking away from a routine, or challenging oneself, fulfilling their travel dreams, and changing one’s environment are thus often cited reasons for taking the leap.
    Other less-talked-about personal reasons also come into play, notably family ones and relocating to seek a better quality of life for close ones.
  2. However, career-related factors are often primary in SIEs decisions.
    Through expatriation, many seek to develop their careers, career capital, competitiveness, global skills, and network in a more welcoming and attractive job market, given their skills, profile, and aspirations. SIEs are very proactively shaping their careers, and organizations, as well as researchers around the world, have been noticing!

Why we leave, why we stay: Changing motivations

The reasons underlying one’s expatriation rarely remain the same throughout one’s international journey.

More often than not, the lifestyle and personal aspects give even more way to career-oriented motivations.

With experience and after discovering the opportunities living abroad offers, many cite the perspective of professional growth as the main reason why they stay abroad!

The pros and cons of self-initiated expatriation


At ASI Movers, we know that embarking on and navigating an international journey is both exciting and challenging, and that there is so much more on your mind than moving your belongings from one place to another.

That is why our goal is to make your relocation the smoothest possible! Our ethos: provide customized solutions that fit your relocation project. We strive to make moving as simple and stress-free for you as possible.

This article is based on the following research:

* Despotovic, W. V., Hutchings, K., & McPhail, R. (2022). Business, pleasure or both?: Motivations and changing motivation of self-initiated expatriates. Journal of Management & Organization, 18.

The Expat Guilt: Breaking Down this Common Phenomenon

Guilt, as defined in psychology, is an emotional experience that occurs when one believes – accurately or not – that one has compromised one’s own standards of conduct or violated universal moral standards, and thus bears significant responsibility for that violation.

More simply put, guilt can be understood as a social glue which drives us to be mindful of others and take their feelings into account. To paraphrase Sartre talking about shame, guilt is the guilt of oneself in the gaze of the other. The other - and thus his gaze, feelings and opinions about ourselves – can either be real or just a projection.

In either case, the effects on the way we feel and act are real. It can end up paralyzing us through resentment, avoidance, or reluctance to enjoy life. Recently, many expats have spoken about feeling guilty about their condition, for various reasons. As stated, if not acted upon, this guilt can easily hinder expats’ mental health, as well as professional and personal accomplishments.

Today, ASI Movers takes a look at what the expat guilt is, its various roots, as well as the many ways one can solve or overcome this guilt in each case.

The Guilt Toward Those Who Stayed Back Home

This one might be the most common. Many people living abroad have had to answer the question “why are you leaving?”, received texts from relatives directly or indirectly making them feel guilty about doing it or not visiting as often as they should. This guilt is fueled by the feeling of “not being there” for important events, rough times, or more simply for the nonetheless important daily life.

Since even the so-called “guilt trips” back home feel a bit bitter, no matter if the others actually blame you or not, this guilt is still at the back of your head, how to not only overcome this feeling yet solve the root of the issue? Obviously the answer differs from person to person.

One way of avoiding it is to take a step toward those back home and ask them what they expect to share with you during your visits, or even when you are away. Is it regular calls and thorough life updates? Participating in family reunions? To walk down memory lane by visiting places where you shared memories at? To enjoy simple things like cooking together? It will help you and your close ones share quality time that you know are enjoyed by both.

If this doesn’t really solve the issue or if you feel the others are too demanding, remember that making others happy at your own expense is not sustainable. Compromise is everything when it comes to relationships, no matter what they are, and these compromises are based on communication. Even if the first step toward each other might be hard, remember that if some people resent you for leaving, it’s because they care. Thus, seeing you happy is also part of their own happiness, they might just seek to be included in it.

Guilt Surrounding Social Inequity

In many countries, being an expatriate means that your living standard is higher than the one of a smaller or larger part of the population. When unused to it, you might ask youself: why do I have these privileges compared to some locals since I am not even from here?

Realizing your privileges is an important step, but it shouldn’t paralyze you or make you withdraw from the reality of the country you live in. Educating oneself about the latter is key. Giving back in the way you find fitting can also help: charity work, going to the local market and support the vendor instead of resorting to big foreign supermarkets for instance. In these situations, feeling good about yourself actually comes second: you felt this guilt because you realized your privileges, make them purposeful to others by educating yourself and acting upon the social inequity you realized existed.

The Guilt About Your Living Situation

Some expats can feel guilt regarding their living situation i.e. the apparent comfort of their lifestyle. Expat packages, nice apartment, having a housekeeper, travels, living on your companion’s income and not working yourself, or more simply being able to have a job while the job market back home is saturated… In many cultures, hard work is rewarded, and easy lives are frowned upon as undeserved. This can fuel guilt for what you have compared to what you would have had if you had lived a normal life back home. In an article for The News Lens, Nicholas Haggerty quoted a friend saying that “he himself is an economic refugee, only able to have successful career in Taiwan after his dreams crashed on the shoals of the brutal academic job market in the U.S.”, which perfectly reflects how such a feeling of guilt can emerge.

As stated before, guilt is something you create on your own, and which is directed at considering the others’ feelings and opinions in regard to your own situation. As such, it is very likely that others will not see your living situation the way you do, or see you as underserving of what you have. It is key to look at your path with an unbiased eye, at the work you have put in your expatriation, the sacrifices you have made, the efforts which have brought you where you are as well as the opportunities you have been able to seize.

This kind of guilt can also be fueled by the feeling of not doing enough. If it is your case, you might want to commit in activities you think are purposeful and which, as such, will make you feel deserving you what you have.

Talking about this feeling with understanding people is also key. If you feel like friends and family back home wouldn’t, the local expat community or dedicated Facebook groups can the right place for you to do so. People living the same lifestyle in the same environment most likely have experienced this feeling and will thus be able to empathize and maybe even give you some guidance.

The Guilt Over Things You Feel You Should Do but End Up Not Doing

When one moves abroad, it’s always with great plans in mind. More often than not though, you end up not learning the local language, not participating in events, not doing all those cool things that were on your bucket list, not taking advantage of the moment. This guilt is related to feeling you are missing out and not seizing the opportunities.

It’s easy to forget that, apart from your exciting expat journey, you still have obligations and a normal life, and that expatriation is a mentally tiring process. First, everybody needs time to settle down and find their marks in a new place before doing all the exciting things they have in mind. It’s important to give yourself time. Second, planning on traveling every weekend, on participating in all the events which are offered to you, on experiencing every bit of the local life, is actually overlooking the fact that life abroad is very much alike to life back home. You still have chores to do, stress to deal with, administrative work to take care of and rest to allow yourself to take. As such, making less ambitious but more sustainable plans is key.

Nevertheless, it is also important to not indulge in the settling down state, which can be very comfortable at first. Listen to yourself but also give yourself the small impulses which push you to make the great plans you had been delaying for weeks.

As for everything, it’s a question of balance, in this case between self-care and getting out of your comfort zone. It’s actually very likely that the more you go out there, the more your comfort zone will expand and doing these things will become your routine.

The expat guilt is protean and easily triggered by a wide array of elements. Summed up, the expat guilt is rooted in the fear of being a “bad expat”. Many have experienced these conversations with fellow foreigners around what an expat should and should not do. Not knowing the language, having only a superficial knowledge of the country, taking the expat privileges for granted and being inconsiderate of the feelings of others (the locals and the ones back home) are the main characteristics of this “bad expat”.

However, feeling this guilt demonstrates the sensitivity of the one bearing it, as well as the will to change. In his article in The New Lens, Nicholas Haggerty also urges expats to change the view they have of themselves as migrants. The bad expats “are here to live out the middle-class lives that they were born into but are now unable to live back home” says Nicholas Haggerty, or at least they are thought by many to do so. He argues that we should reject the idea that access to healthcare, housing and basic material security are privileges for the deserving, which implicitly means that some migrants are more deserving than others. His conclusion is that any decent society should provide the above mentioned “privileges” and advantages. This means that expats should not feel guilty about enjoying them, yet should however be aware of what they have and mindful of others.

Expatriation is not always as mentally easy as it may seem to some. It actually requires to adapt the way you think and act on a daily basis. At ASI Movers, we dedicate ourselves to make your relocation process the easiest and smoothest possible, because there is so much more in your mind that just moving your belongings!

Immigration Update: Coming back to China Without PU Letter

For several months, and due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 worldwide, the Chinese government suspended the entry into China of foreign nationals holding visas and resident permits. This measure included those holding a valid one at the time of the announcement in late March.

The First Easing of the Regulations: Obtaining a PU Letter

A relative easing in this measure was later announced. It stated that foreigners who are coming for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological reasons, or are needed for urgent humanitarian assistance could then come in the country.

This opening was still very narrow: those aiming at coming and meeting the requirements, had to apply for an Invitation Letter (also called PU letter) issued the China Foreign Affair Office. The latter would then judge whether or not the applicant were indeed needed in China. Those meeting the criteria usually were senior managers of medium and large companies or were involved in research of key projects.

New Announcement on August 10th 2020: Great News for those Holding a Valid Residence Permit and Who Are Nationals of the Listed Countries

On August 10th 2020 however, a very exciting news has been announced by the Chinese government for those outside the framework of the PU Letter issuance. The Chinese authorities have confirmed that holders of valid resident permits (work, private affairs or family reunion) and who are nationals of certain countries, are now able to apply for a visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate in these countries without a letter of invitation. This process is free of charges.

Those countries include Albania, Ireland, Estonia, Austria, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Belgium, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Romania, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom.

It has not been stated yet if this measure will be followed by new ones, broadening the scope of those able to enter the country. In addition, no measures were announced regarding new work visas, and those interested in it still have to go through the PU Letter application process. Yet, it is again a very good news for all those who were awaiting for several months to come back and for the families separated by the closed borders.

It is also important to note that the process might still not be as smooth as it was before the pandemic. Many European citizens eager to come back have indeed noted that the airplane tickets are far more expensive than normally. The fares are nevertheless expected to gradually lower as they did the other way around (China to Europe).

ASI Movers wishes all those returning to China a smooth journey back. Our team is at your disposal to plan and assist you in your upcoming move.

For those who have left China without having the opportunity to repatriate their belongings yet, we also provide dedicated services to assist you in this process.

What Opportunities Can Expats Find in China after Covid-19?

Following the Covid-19 crisis, many expats and “nomads” had to put their international journey on hold, and maybe even rethink the career path they had envisioned. As a matter of fact, some international assignments have been reconsidered, while the job market for foreigners has been shaken due to the extra cost these employees might bring along compared to the local population.

As such, some foreigners used to or considering working abroad are now considering new career options aside from the traditional ones.

A recent report by Startup Genome ranked Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as part of the top cities for those eager to become to entrepreneurs. Among cities such as New York, London, Boston, Seattle or Stockholm; Chinese cities seems to have gained a good reputation amid start-up-savvy people. In anticipation of the post-covid crisis, it is nowadays relevant to have a look at what are the opportunities awaiting those eager to start a project abroad, more specifically in China.

The Situation During the Crisis

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on entrepreneurship in China. As of January 2020, we could already see the pandemic's (at the time only epidemic) outputs:

“When we break down the numbers by region, we see that China saw the biggest drop in funding, followed by the rest of Asia. This is not surprising considering the importance of Chinese capital throughout Asia’s startup ecosystems and the start of the virus in Taiwan and Korea in January” Startup Genome noted. It is worth noticing that this drop was not only due to the Chinese New Year – normally quieter – period. The 3 previous years actually show an equal or higher number of deals in January which highlights even more the effects of the pandemic.

An Economic Recovery to Benefit Entrepreneurs?

Because the pandemic first started and thus ended in China, this is no surprise that the economy will revive there first. The Global Times indeed underlines that after a 6.8% contraction of its GDP (year on year) in the first quarter 2020, the second quarter showed a 3.2% increase.

Even if China leading the economic recovery depends largely on whether or not other countries also restart and thus act as economic partners, Chinese imports and exports both increased in June, showing good signs for the future.

CGTN credits the Hi-Tech startups companies and entrepreneurs for this recovery, highlighting that they created and are creating new business formats which not only answered the Chinese population needs during the lockdown, but also changed the way they think and consume, paving the way for a post-covid business environment.

Experts thus talked of a structural change which favors entrepreneurship, especially the technology-based kind. This is particularly true in China where new technologies have been adopted at a greater rate, and whose use is more widespread.

In comparison to the early effects of the pandemic, startups seem to have done fairly well during the international crisis in China. Calvin Jiang (founder of a high-tech consulting firm in Beijing) stated in his interview to CGTN that “Hi-Tech startups and small businesses are robust despite the Covid-19 outbreak”. It is added that “after the 2008 great recession, top universities in the United States have launched various startup incubation to find a way out there to boost the labor market. According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average employment in 2011 at high-tech and information and communications technology firms surpasses those across the private sector as a whole. In turn, China is experiencing a similar kind of stage currently that a new cycle of job creation is yet to come”.

What Does It Mean For Expats?

The Covid-19 crisis has been the occasion for many creative people to work on entrepreneurial projects they had in mind for some time. It has also been a great opportunity for others to acquire new skills through online resources and e-learning, those skills potentially serving their entrepreneurial visions.

Where can these projects develop then? The article from we previously mentioned, and which is titled “how to succeed as an overseas entrepreneur after the covid-19 crisis”, argued that major cities like New York, London, Boston, Seattle, Stockholm, but also Beijing and Shanghai were interesting options. Guangzhou has also been recognized as an emerging city for entrepreneurs to develop in.

Expats eager to become entrepreneurs might thus find great opportunities in China once the immigration regulations have resumed to their normal state. As we pointed out in a previous article, a Business Startup visa does exist in China. It enables those having it to live in China while launching their innovative business. It also allows them to conduct auxiliary businesses related to their business launch while developing their main activity. Note that this visa is available for foreign students, foreigners planning to invest in Shanghai or to innovate in business, as well as for excellent overseas graduates.

While older and large (and thus traditional) firms are the major source of employment in China, new and young businesses are the ones creating the most new jobs, underlines Donghui Mao in his interview to CGTN. Donghui Mao is the director of X-Lab in Tsinghua University, a non-profit university-based educational platform that aims at nurturing STEM students into social entrepreneurs through international incubation. This acknowledgment shows that new and innovative businesses are the most prone to answer modern customers’ demands, and thus the most effective at grasping opportunities.

The aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis might be a key turning point – either by choice or by necessity – in many creative minds' careers. The general trend as well as the positioning of China on this matter makes it likely that foreign entrepreneurs will find great opportunities in the country to develop their innovative project.

While many in the world are still greatly impacted by the crisis, the progressive reopening of borders enables those eager to do so to envision what their career could be like in a post-covid world.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Covid-19 and Working Abroad: What Is to Be Expected?

The Covid-19 is obviously having and will have huge impact in terms of employment.

Many SMEs’ and even bigger businesses’ activity has suffered from the pandemic and the lockdowns it induced. The OECD predicted that the world will thus register its slowest growth rate since 2019, inducing job losses as well as difficulties finding a job.

The examples of the US and China are quite striking in that sense, as 6 million people have filed jobless in the former and 205 million workers having lost their jobs in the latter, according to the South China Morning Post.

Since the virus is still present worldwide, it is quite difficult to anticipate with exactitude the impact it will have on those eager to or already working abroad. However, some elements indicate a general trend for the so called nomads.

Today we have gathered a relevant summary of what is happening and will happen in a post-Covid-19 world for those who have decided to leave their home country.

The Situation During the Crisis

AIRINC earlier published a report on expat assignments (Pulse Survey: COVID-19 and International Expat Assignments) which provides an interesting analysis on the current impact of the pandemic on the latter.

More specifically, we can see that most expats stayed in their host country and remained on their assignment.

One of the testimonies quoted in the survey stresses that “the greatest challenge has been the relocation and accelerated repatriation of short-term assignees who might otherwise have gotten “stuck” without ability to travel”.

This statement is not only true of the so-called expatriates, but also applies more generally to those working abroad. Since the above survey only tackles expats, it may overlook the larger population of people living abroad, while many have left their host location.

In addition, the challenges do not only apply to those eager to leave their host country, but extends to all those who are unable to leave a place they were only planning on staying at for a short period of time. In a nutshell, global mobility has been put on hold on an international level.

As we touched upon in our previous articles, and this is particularly true of foreigners normally living in China, it created a lot of challenges. Many were unable to come back to their host country, where their job, sometimes family, belongings and overall life remain. Others came home unexpectedly and will not go back to their host country, which means they do not have a place of their own to live in, their children will have to leave the local school they were enrolled in, etc.

Working Abroad in a Post-Covid World

Both multinational and local companies have taken measures regarding the impact of Covid-19 on their business and their management of foreign assignees, namely pulling expat employees out of high risk areas delaying the start of expat assignments, and suspending new hires.

The traditional dilemma between employing expatriates/foreigners and resorting to the local workforce will be highly reflected in a world post-Covid-19. This especially true given the global recession the IMF is currently anticipating.

Except when one is looking for employing very specialized profiles (science, innovation, AI, most of the time, even though the sectors vary depending on the location), hiring a foreigner comes with sometimes deterrent drawbacks.

As a matter of fact, salary expectations are generally higher compared to employing a local worker. For expats usually benefitting from the full package traditionally coming with their status, the cost rises even higher with companies often endorsing the housing and international school expenses.

As such, the International Labor Organization (ILO) expects the chances for expats to get employed to drop. There is indeed a risk that companies will rely more and more on informal employees which means less chances of getting hired abroad.

However, one should not get too pessimistic regarding the situation.

The company Career Trotter (which specializes in international recruitments) for instance, stresses that “despite the Covid-19 virus, numerous companies are still looking to hire multilingual talents”. In addition, they note that many of the companies they work with are “going remote, so [one doesn’t] have to leave the comfort of [one’s] home for interviews, training and the job itself”.

If one thing, the virus indeed pushed many companies to go online and administrate their business remotely. The now widespread use of Zoom is the perfect embodiment of such a trend.

On one hand, it means that the way one works could be influenced long-term by the habits developed during the pandemics i.e. working remotely. Nomads might thus see their work practicies change toward more online tasking.

On the other hand, it means that, even when the world is still in partial lockdown, it shouldn’t deter those eager to work abroad from searching for adequate opportunities. While waiting for the situation to go back to normal i.e. free international mobility to resume as well as the economic impact of the pandemic to unwind. It is indeed still possible to apply, get a formation, and start working remotely. As we touched upon before, an expat status is maybe not the easiest one to get nowadays, yet one can expect more informal positions to open.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Moving Memories – ASI Movers Relocation Story


Some items are simply more precious than they seem.

They carry with them part of your family history, good memories, or simply are familiar objects which make you feel at home.

Whether it's a porcelain set, decoration items, your book collection, this guitar you used to play, or simply some clothes which remind you a certain period of your life, the fact remains they never leave you, no matter where you go.

At ASI Movers, we understand the sentimental value that can be attached to your belongings.

Our 10-year expertise in international relocation from, to and within China taught us that a move needs to be performed with care, for our customers to keep enjoying the things which matter to them.

Our aim?

Making sure that, no matter where you go, the volume, or the nature of the items, you experience an easy and stressfree relocation process, from end, to end.

The recent pandemic has greatly challenged global mobility, some of those living abroad have even found themselves unable to come back to their country of residence. Many have contacted us worried about retrieving the items that stayed behind.

We know how precious some of them can be, and have thus designed tailor-made solutions for those finding themselves in such a situation.

Returning Home: Why It Doesn’t Quite Feel Like Doing So

With the recent development of the COVID-19, and some foreigners now being prevented from reintering China (following the Chinese Government notice published last week), many of the people living abroad have experienced or will experience what going back home deeply feels like. Some of them might indeed not return to China after the epidemic.

Regardless of the latter, and the peculiar daily life it induces, returning to where you grew up, for a couple of weeks or a longer period, often comes with a weird feeling. Most of the environment you grew up in is similar to what it was when you left, and yet, you do not feel quite the same toward it.

The reason is simple: people living abroad go through very peculiar experiences that change what home means to them, as well as their identity. Understanding why and how these two notions evolve can be challenging, especially when being in the middle of it.

Today, we present you with an overview of why and how “home” becomes a blurrier and blurrier notion for those who have made the choice to leave their original one, and how is one’s identity modeled by one’s chosen location.



We also take the occasion to tackle a challenge that recently arose for all those who did not re-enter China before last week's announcement.

With China's recent notice stating foreigners cannot enter the country anymore, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, many people have started to to plan repatriating their belongings from China while already outside the country.

As such, if you or your relatives are in such a situation, ASI Movers team expresses you its deep support in these difficult times.

We obviously remain at your disposal to help coordinate this unplanned move the best way possible.

Stay safe and take care everyone!

Why Does Living Abroad Affect your Definition of Home

You arrive in this new place, whom customs, traditions, and maybe language you are not familiar with. The concept of culture shock is a useful tool to understand how the sense of home is built when relocating.

In The Art of Coming Home, Craig Sorti breaks it up in 4 steps: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and adaptation. It’s also useful to note that, if we consider going to another country after, or back home, the process follows a W shape.

What makes us able to overcome the crisis state, and eventually adapt to the new place we live in, is our emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the psychological ability to adapt to the challenges coming to you by developing psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow you to remain calm during crisis, moving on from the past incident (in that case relocating to a foreign environment) without long-term negative consequences. Depending on the person, this process can take more or less time and effort. For most global nomads, this ability indeed increases, becoming a habit. It's aslo a useful concept to understand our reactions toward the epidemic the world is currently living.

When completed, it nevertheless has changed you as you have indeed faced an identity dilemma. You have accepted and overcome the discrepancies between your past and present lives and environments. It requires you to determine what your core values and beliefs are, which will remain constant throughout your life, which ones will be ditched, and integrate aspects of the local identity into your own. The "nomadic lifestyle" can thus be summed up in a search for congruence in our sense of who we are, no matter where we are.
This integration can also be very trivial and as simple as changing your consumption habits, the way you behave in the street or address people. In that sense, you are changed by your new environment, which now becomes home to you.

Why Going Back Home Often Doesn't Quite Feel Like Doing So

When returning back home, you would at first expect to completely fit in, as you have just got back to a familiar environment and set of known cultural references. However, it’s often not the case, for three main reasons:

  • You have adapted to your life abroad: as stated, following the U-curve previously described, you have adapted to your life abroad, picking up the local habits, the codes, and the way of thinking. You thus now have to go through the second part of the curve i.e. readapting to home. Your whole lifestyle has been affected and might not be congruent at all with your original one.
  • You have changed because of your experiences abroad and what you have learned being far from your home country. What you know about the world, and thus your opinions, have enriched and might not totally fit with the lifestyle you used to have.
  • Home has changed and/or is not similar to the image you kept in mind. Living abroad also means life continues back home without you being completely involved, the environment you were used to (economic, political, cultural, and even physical) has evolved, and even your friends have changed with time. You might also have kept in mind an idealized or, on the contrary, a negative image of home, and comparing it with the reality when returning is can be disorientating.

Consequently, home, more often than not, feels foreign. Not only has it changed while you were away, but you also see it differently, as if you had put new lenses on. In some cases, you can even feel marginalized, become critical toward your home town/country which can eventually lead to exhaustion and depression.

Home for Global Individuals: A Complex Notion

As such, the notion of home has a very peculiar sense for global individuals. This is due to the fact that it is tightly linked to their identity, and the latter is in their case more prone to acculturation (the assimilation to a different culture, typically the dominant one). Remember that your identity is obviously also shaped by your social groups, your role in a given society, your "group memberships", etc.

One can then easily understand how the place we live in affects our identity and thus where we feel at home: a different place means different social roles, different interpersonal interaction, different believes, etc. As such, one is continuously building his or her identity along the way, far from were he or she grew up. Coming back might then not feel quite aligned with who we are now. One is entitled to social roles and practices he or she has grown away from.

Yet, because the global lifestyle means having experienced sometimes multiple places of residence, one has often the feeling of belonging to all of them and none of them at the same time. The identity and sense of belonging to somewhere or something has grown apart from a specific location or culture, and is more linked to the nuclear family one has been moving with, a set of familiar objects, or even just the feeling of being in a foreign environment. In that respect, the sense of home is complex because it is intangible and its construction differs from one global individual to another, depending on his or her own journey and emotional resilience mechanisms.

In normal times, preparing your return, reviewing your expectations as to know which ones might not be met, defining a routine you feel comfortable following prior to coming back, enrolling in projects and activities that stimulate you and are in adequation with who you now are and taking time to reconnect to those who stayed are useful tools to make the best of your journey back.


In times like these, one might be in search for a feeling of safety which one’s home country can provide if the process is handled with enough preparation and care. It is indeed the perfect time to reconnect and share your experience!

For those undertaking this journey, we wish all the best, and good health on the way!

Take time for yourself, your loved ones, and the projects you care about!

International Careers & Global Mobility: What Will 2020 Be About

2020 is here, with all the promises a brand new year can hold. Now that we had a look last week at all the great things that happened in 2019, it’s now time to explore what will shape the upcoming 12 months.

ASI Movers has been helping expats and global individuals to manage their international or domestic relocation for more than 10 years. As such, we have decided to investigate what will be the environment those who place their trust in us when it comes to moving their belongings will evolve in.What are then the evolutions those who work and live abroad will meet in the coming year?

A Quick Historical Background

As stressed by PwC Talent Mobility 2020 report, one can identify 2 major periods when it comes to global mobility.

One, from 1970 until 1990, has been instigated by large multinationals. They were the ones driving international assignees abroad, mainly from their headquarters to the “field” where they were developing and needed talents. They were offering expat packages to compensate the 2 to 5 years spent abroad. This mobility was mainly prompting employees to go from the US to Europe, even though the exploitation of natural resources also fueled talent movements to other destinations.

The second stage lasted from 1990 until the 2010s. The emergence of new markets in developing countries, as well as the delocalization and outsourcing tendency, originated in efforts toward reducing the cost of production, put an end to the polarization of international mobility. Apart from the traditional expat figure one is now familiar with, a new kind of global individuals emerged. The latter are more familiar with rotational and technology-based virtual assignments, and they are international commuters. The talent pools considered by companies also changed, and new ones such as emerging markets (India in particular) have emerged.

For 2020, the report stresses that global mobility will continue to increase in volume, and that talent mobility will become even more fluid.

The report brings our attention on a handful of trends that are likely to shape 2020:

Among these, three appear of particular importance:

1. An Evolution Towards Shorter Assignments, More Flexibility and More Commuter Assignments

As we can infer from the evolution of global mobility in the past decades, the traditional figure of expats is slowly getting replaced by a more modern one. We know too well that long-term assignments represent a huge trade-off both companies and individuals. For companies, it is a huge commitment with no guarantee that the integration will be a success (if we consider the individual is just relocating to the country). On the other side of the contract, the employee also has to evaluate the success of relocation in even broader terms since it englobes both its personal life and its work life. Many parameters can influence the success of taking a position abroad: family, a country’s culture, one’s attitude toward change, the sense of loneliness, giving up one’s social circle for several years, etc.

In the case of a shorter assignment, the risks at stake for both the company and the employee are reduced.

We thus are moving toward more flexibility in the way one can envision working abroad. Companies are actually realizing the advantages of welcoming less traditional kinds of workforce. The latter are placing a greater emphasis on having flexible working hours, a greater work-life balance and higher degree of inclusion in the organization they are working in. This workforce is also less subject to top-down international assignments as companies welcome foreign people who were not part of the workforce originally.

Business travels or what is also called commuter assignments are also on the road to increase dramatically, leading to a brand new kind of international assignees who actually do not relocate abroad.

Instead of the traditional expat package, what PwC calls “destination pay and local plus” will be more and more common.

2. Technology Will Change the Way One Experiences Her or His Global Career

Technology is already playing a huge role for people working abroad, and it will increase even more. Now, one can easily access information and networks to learn more about a potential destination beforehand. Facebook groups, LinkedIn, forums play a key role in a global individual’s not only decision yet also life afterwards.

Apart from this “practical life” advantages, technology will also change the way international corporations manage their employees. Data collection and analysis will enable them to increase the chances of an assignment to be success by isolating key parameters to closely monitor before, during and after the assignment. Artificial intelligence can also play an important role in helping international assignees once they are sent abroad.

3. An Even Greater Boom of Emerging Economies as Expats’ Hosts and Talent Pools

As we touched upon, an explosion of activity in emerging markets has changed the way global individuals can envision working abroad, more specifically from where and to where. First, companies will be more and more eager to employ people coming from all around the world, and second, the destinations are more and more diverse. As the PwC’s report points out, the growing importance of emerging economies will also lead local employees to increasingly operate across their own continent and beyond.

Traditional “capital cities” are slowly making way for new mega cities such as Mumbai, Dehli or Dhaka, while others such as Lahore, Shenzhen or Chennai are making their way into the top 30 most populated cities. Because of their growing population, these cities and their region are becoming important economic centers, attracting companies and as such becoming a chosen expat destination. In terms of headquarters, companies are now more prone to choose competitive and cost-effective locations which enable employees to be the closest to the needs of the customers. This also explains why these new economic centers become talent pools as the latter “produce” more and more skilled workers with a first-hand knowledge of the market.

In parallel, Asian cities such as Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh or Singapore are often ranked the most desirable for expats to live in. Given how welcoming these cities already appear to those with an international career, one can only expect their popularity to further increase.

The new decade will certainly be marked by great changes and evolutions when it comes to working abroad. A more flexible and detached way of working will certainly gain popularity, while the most attractive destinations for those who work abroad will likely be in emerging countries. In 2020 as in 2019, ASI Movers is dedicated to accompany global individuals in their international move from, to or within China. We make your relocation process the smoothest possible for you to focus on what matters, especially in such a changing environment for those working abroad.



ASI Movers team wishes you a happy new year 2020!

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This article is partly based on PwC's report "Talent Mobility 2020: The Next Generation of International Assignment".

Temporary Residence Registration: A New Online Application System for Shanghai Residents

As you may know if you have already been living in China, foreigners as well as residents from Hong-Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, need to register to the police station within 24 hours after their arrival on the territory. For people staying at the hotel, the latter will take care of the process on their behalf. Registering might also be required when one re-enters the country, changes address or passport number (depending if one is under a visa or a resident permit).

The Usual Process

This mandatory registration step would require you to go in person to the police station and provide your passport, copies of the ID page, of your visa or resident permit, and of your latest entry stamp. If you are staying at your own home, you would also have to provide a lease or deed proving that you are actually staying at the mentioned address. In the case of living in someone else’s place, you would have to present the latter’s hukou (户口簿)or his/her lease or deed.

If not registered within the regulatory 24h, one might have to pay a fine which ranges from RMB 0 (as a warning) up to RMB 2,000. -

For many foreigners, this process appeared not very convenient, especially after hours of traveling.

The New Online Application Process

Starting October 25th 2019, a new process has come into effect which spares Shanghai foreign residents having to go in person to the Police Station to register.

How to apply online? 

  1. You can either go to the dedicated website;

    Or scan the following QR Code:

    The form is available in both English and Chinese and is rather convenient to fill up with a user-friendly interface.

  2. The documents and information you will need to provide are:

    • Your email address;

    • Your address in Shanghai;

    • Photo of the ID page of your passport;

    • Your arrival and departure dates.

    Unlike when you are registering in person at the police station, you do not need to provide your lease or deed to prove your address.

  3. The system will process your application and you will receive a confirmation email within a few minutes.

    Once you have received it, you can go back on the website, and choose between downloading the pdf file of your Registration Form of Temporary Residence, receiving it by email, or sharing the pdf.

    Conveniently enough, the application stores the history of your previous registrations.

A Bit of Background: Why Has This System Been Implemented in Shanghai?

Shanghai is the first city in China to benefit from such a system, but why is it so?

It was actually intended to make the life of foreigners attending the CIIE easier. Many of the latter, because of the massive affluence the city experiences during this period, did not reside in a hotel (which would have taken care of the registration on their behalf), and many did not have enough time to go to the police station as they were in Shanghai only for a small amount of time.

In addition of the Entry Exit Bureau having a venue at the Expo where foreigners could register, the app has thus been developed to solve this issue.

For more than 10 years, ASI Movers has been expats' best moving partner from, to and within China.

Our purpose? Make your relocation process the smoothest possible for you to focus on what matters!

Discover our full range of solutions!