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Sleepless nights

December 6, 2009 – 11:49 pm

My fellow reader Aremonus told me in a few comments on this blog, that if I get everything right, I should get the same salary in Asia as I get in Germany. I hope you are right. My graduation comes nearer and in January, but not later than February, I should write job applications. A number of questions spin around in my head. They keep me awake at night. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Why do I want to go to Asia? I made my personal reasons clear in countless posts here on the blog. But the question remains. Why did that happen to me? Why am I different from the rest of the population who just wants to stay at home and never move to another village? Life would be so much easier if I just desired to stay in Germany. Genes?
  • I hope I can prove that Aremonus’ words are right. I was looking around recently and could find a few people who told me how they got to China or Asia right after their graduation. But none of them got a German salary right of the bat. Not even close (I’m not talking English teachers here, people with real jobs). Will I be able to secure that German salary somewhere in Asia?
  • If my first job is in Germany, how long do I have to wait until I can get to Asia?
  • And what opportunities will I miss by not being there?

Many questions, few answers….

  1. 15 Responses to “Sleepless nights”

  2. Well my cousin went to Japan and is making like 100.000 € there, now after 2 years living there – and he didn’t graduate from university. Sure, he was lucky (and perfectly fluent in Japanese), and Japan is not China, but this shows: it is possible. Another cousin of mine was similarly lucky in hongkong… anyway, he now moved back to Europe, as he was missing certain things about here (especially the nature, which I also missed a lot when I lived in China).

    Anyway, despite of your current financial situation, you should try to ignore the money issue a little and ask yourself: what do I really want (which you are also doing ;) )? I mean, what if you just forget about all that money stuff and see that you actually have everything to live?

    However, I probably also wouldn’t have the guts to do so^^ I’d work for two or three years in Europe, live at home (or somewhere cheap), save the money (and the experience) and start my own business in China.

    Another important question you’ve already implied:
    Will asia really satisfy you more than home? Honestly, on the long run, I don’t think so. Someday, you’ve probably had enough women, enough food, and you start to wonder what you are living for. You will want to make some impact, change the world a little – and that’s gonna be the point where you get really stuck in Asia, unless you know the local language and customs well enough to use them well. And that takes many, many years.

    My advice therefore would be: either start working in a German company which is also active in Asia, be relyable, be innovative, keep learning Chinese, tell people around you about your dream – and sooner or later it’s gonna come true. Or work in a German company, save money, keep up learning Chinese and move to Asia after two or three years.

    Hot tipp: try to get an MBA, preferable at CEIBS (Shanghai).

    Why not right get a job in Asia? Because you don’t really believe in it; so it’s probably not going to happen.

    Good luck,
    Aremonus, who’s also havin sleepless nights due to his study and his girlfriend who just arrived and is still living according to Chinese time (+7 hours…).

    By Aremonus on Dec 7, 2009

  3. Interesting questions. For me, going to Asia is connected with love, the career is secondary. But I must say my country has a much lower standard than Germany, so the salaries are more or less same here and in Taiwan, so are the costs of living. And I don’t mind starting at a lower position and working myself up slowly. Most important is, that I can stay there, gain ground, learn and adapt. I don’t believe in things like ‘forever’. Because I may accomplish everything I look for now and then in 2, 5 or 10 years I may want to go after new challenges. I don’t want to plan so far ahead, I don’t even wanna plan the whole next year. Trying to live for the moment and enjoying and hoping that everything will go well.

    Good luck and I’m sure you can make it.

    By MKL on Dec 7, 2009

  4. Aremonus and MKL,
    you both mentioned the coming back to Europe issue. I do know that at some point I want to come back, after I stayed there for a couple of years. Could be 5 years, could be 30 years. And coming back is a money issue.

    Aremonus wrote:
    >> Why not right get a job in Asia? Because you don’t really believe in it; so it’s probably not going to happen.

    I agree. I gotta change that.

    By Hendrik on Dec 7, 2009

  5. Hey – maybe now you know you want to come back in five years. But in five years, you may want something completely different, because so much can happen in those five years especially if that time is in a completely different culture.

    I agree with Aremonus. What do you really want? Its very tempting to look at the financial side because we are socially conditioned to do so. Whenever I changed jobs back in europe (or was looking for a new job), there is almost a total assumption that you will go on to a higher paid job. That only makes sense if income is the ONLY significant factor. But for me, its most definitely not. I moved from germany to asia two years ago. I now earn less a month than I did per hour! OK, I don’t hold down a proper job but that’s not why I came here. I just felt unfulfilled doing the day-to-day type of work most people do (throughout the world). And its much easier to survive on a very low income (while starting up a business) in china than it is in europe.

    But I don’t know your situation. So maybe you need cash fast. In which case, it would make sense to either do that in germany or maybe teach english in South Korea (where you can make the most money – 50USD/hr when I last looked).

    Good luck!

    By Mark on Dec 7, 2009

  6. I make 50 USD / h by translating for the Chinese government… But to be frank, it’s not really a fulfilling job and I wouldn’t want to do it fultime or for the rest of my life; I’m just doing that as a convenient part time job, I’m still a student. If I went to China, I’d rather work as a economist for only 25 USD/h than as a translator for 50; it’s just more fun to be an economist xD

    @Junjiu: what if you don’t have money when you wanna come back? I mean, you’d just sit in a plane and go to germany, than apply for some charity support until you have a job. Wouldn’t that be possible? I don’t know German social policy so well, I’ve just heard a lot about Hartz IV xD

    By Aremonus on Dec 7, 2009

  7. I know that you have a well paying translating job, but 50USD/hour is not a normal wage for a translator. It’s a job you got because of guanxi.
    If you do that fulltime 40 hours per week then you get something like $US 8000 per month or $US 96000 per year. I wonder how many gradutates get this salary on their first job. I wonder even more about that, because translation is traditionally a low paying trade (check statistics if neccessary). Please keep it real.

    Coming back in terms of moving my body from Asia to Europe is easy. The difficult part is having enough money to actually have a life back in Europe. Hartz IV is not enough for a house. I want to save some money during my working life, so when I retire I have some money to enjoy my old years.

    By Hendrik on Dec 7, 2009

  8. I’d still try to gain work-experience and a MBA in Europe, then go to Asia. With an MBA from a renowed insitute, your job opportunities might be quite good, in China as well as in Europe. But of course, this means quite hard work during the next five years…

    By Aremonus on Dec 7, 2009

  9. Another 5 years of waiting…. Great. I’ll think about it. Also, I’ll send a lot of job applications. Maybe I find work in Asia with a good salary and then this whole thing is a non-issue.

    By Hendrik on Dec 7, 2009

  10. @Aremonus: Nice “part time job” – I’d work that full shift :D

    Look, I am kinda in the same situation as you are.
    Finishing my studies soon, addicted to Asia and Asian girls, Asian food and esp Chinese cities.

    I have several job opportunities over there, a few are very well paid (almost 100k USD/mth, right from the start), same here in Germany. Now.. I wonder if I really wanna go to Asia again and why.

    I mean: I love it over there. But I am young, to be exact 25 yrs. What’s in 5 yrs? What’s about my future?
    Food.. okay, nice choices over there.
    Girls too. People as well.
    But all seems replaceable after a while, to be honest.
    I am afraid that one day I will wake up and just have enough of those tiny, slim girls, the tasty food, the big cities and all those Asian people around me.

    Now I still care about those things (and love them), what’s in 5 yrs?
    My problem: once I will go to Asia there is almost no way to go back to Germany. Or let me rephrase that: It won’t be easy to go back..

    Kinda helpless about that :(
    I guess I will stay in Germany eventually – sign with a company that allows me to be here now and then.
    Sometimes it is true to stop when it’s still feeling good.

    By shuaige on Dec 8, 2009

  11. Hello Shuaige

    >>100k USD/mth
    I guess you meant 100k USD/year.

    You are right, coming back is a big problem. And the solution is finding a well paid job in Asia. Unfortunately this type of job is rather rare in Asia. Let me know once you find something ;)

    >>sign with a company that allows me to be here now and then.
    I’m studying computer science and in IT people often stay in one place. That’s different from the management people. What are you studying?

    By Hendrik on Dec 8, 2009

  12. Well my uncle is also a computer scientist, responsible for designing networks for a big pharma company, and often travels to Asia, Russia, USA and most parts of Europe. He got sick of travelling tho, he’d prefer staying at home with his family…

    @Shuaige: (cool name 8D)Why not just go to China, save as much money as you can (shouldn’t be that hard if u get 100k/month) and when you are fed up with Asia, just return? I mean, it won’t be hard to find a job in Europe after having had a good one in China. And also, you’re gonna have enough financial means to build a house and a family here :)

    Aremonus, who is 21 and first of all has to finish studying…

    By Aremonus on Dec 8, 2009

  13. Hello Junjie,
    if it is only the problem to get a proper payed job try this:
    -register at
    -write a profile with keywords AIX, Websphere, Java, Unix Shell, communicative
    -after Headhunters contact you, learn from their requests, whats really needed
    -according re-adjust your profile
    You can say 10 words in chinese, perfect!
    A 100K USD Job will be possible even as beginner. The background is, that a senior IBM consultant charges still around 2K USD per day and every bank in asia seem to run Websphere. So many headhunters will be happy to help you to get a job.
    If this Java/UNIX/Websphere thing is not really your field, the key is to get connected to all this headhunter companies. They get provisions, if they can get you a job. So this method should work with other fields as well.

    By Jadelixx on Dec 8, 2009

  14. Hi Jadelixx,

    now that’s some solid advice.
    Java is definitely my strong point and I have worked with J2EE/Tomcat before, which should be similar to Websphere. However I try to avoid Unix or anything about operating systems, as I prefer to plan, design and program software.

    Also thanks for the idea with a bait profile at monster. I already skimmed over job offers to get some idea what people like, however salaries are rarely posted. Maybe some headhunter can give me a better idea.

    By Hendrik on Dec 8, 2009

  15. J2EE is of course also a nice keyword, that is often looked for. Tomcat is not really used in bank infrastructures (as far as I have experienced it). But you will not have big problems to understand Websphere then. However what MS is for the OS market, is Websphere in the market for Java application servers. So Websphere might be the easiest path through asia for you.
    Its not necessary to use UNIX, but to know it in theory will help.

    Just dont make my error to stay too long in Germany. It will be harder to leave, the longer you stay.
    good luck!

    By Jadelixx on Dec 9, 2009

  16. Cool, now I know what to do during my Christmas holidays :o

    By Hendrik on Dec 9, 2009

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