Being an Expat During the Olympics

Being an expat living in China is very different from daily life back home. How does that affect life during the Olympics? At home proud Canadians are watching and listening to the various events, interviews and reading about beaver_721-300x283great wins and losses in the daily papers. Highlights are played and re-played in case you missed it. At work back home daily comments like “Did you see that winning goal?” or “Did you watch the game last night?” or “Wow we got another medal” could be heard in staff rooms and around the water cooler. Being an expat it is very different… we don’t get any of this. It goes without saying your home country TV is not available. Trying to watch the Olympic games can be difficult and if you can tune into it your host country will be playing events that that country is involved in. Some web hosts show TV programs and movies, rarely sporting events. Throw in living in China where access to home sites are blocked because it reads your local IP address. End result —no Olympic coverage. Watching events is not easy for expats. Trying to get information on medals, wins and stories becomes a quest of details on the internet trying to find access to local blogs and newspapers.

Image Credit: Bev Young

Image Credit: Bev Young

I am not a big sports fan and I never watch events, or care much about who won or lost. The Olympics, for me, are DSC06643different. The Winter Olympics are my favourite. The opening and closing ceremonies dazzle the senses and the events with close calls, falls and medals are a true edge of your seat action that never disappoint. The feeling of pride comes through the glow of the television as you watch all the hard work of all the athletes involved. Canadian’s show more patriotism and wear their Olympic mittens with pride.

2010 Vancouver Olympics were on home turf. Energy and excitement was everywhere. This was just before we left for China, so we had our fill. Along comes 2014 and the Winter Olympics are here again. Our TV mostly comes from Hong Kong and the Philippines. Both countries who will not be sending teams to the Winter Olympics. We can watch CNN, but their reports are brief on the games. CNN comes from Hong Kong, but the Olympic information is from the American feed. It doesn’t fill the quest for our Canadian content. Local restaurants have been putting on the local Chinese channel, so we have been able to see a few things in action. Of course the sound is turned down, so it is a bit hard to follow. We seemed to always hit the curling events, which are not action packed excitement, but it was better than nothing.

Each morning I would turn on the computer and check the standings. A number of Canadians work at the same school as I, so our new morning ritual on the bus became a recap of medals, or what story they read about. It certainly isn’t the same to see live action or at least the highlight reel, but it will have to do. As the Olympics are winding down someone discovered a local bar/restaurant will host the final Gold medal hockey tonight. The place is owned by another expat Canadian. Tonight will be finalΒ  game, so despite a late school night we plan to be there and cheer Canada on. No matter win or lose to be a part of the action with fellow Canadians will only add to the excitement. Being an expat in China and still able to watch the game for Gold, who would have thought it?

Photo Credit: Canadian Olympic Commitee

Photo Credit: Canadian Olympic committee

Good luck Canada….


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28 thoughts on “Being an Expat During the Olympics

  1. Haha – If it wasn’t for your blog and FaceBook posts, I’d have completely missed the winter Olympics!! India doesn’t exactly follow these events πŸ˜‰

    • Yes the TV channels we get don’t really either. It is a great way to connect with others though… brings people together and a sense of community even though so far away from home.
      Go Canda!
      I’ll have to post a comment tomorrow with the results for you πŸ™‚

      • Can’t wait! Go Canada!! πŸ™‚

        • WE DID IT!!!!!
          It was an exciting game. Canada took the lead in the first period and then scored again in the second and third. The Swedes fought hard, but Canada was always in their way blocking shots. I was SURE it would tie up at any second… real edge of your seat action. Super exciting.
          Near the end of the game our table started to sing Oh Canada in the last minute and the entire place joined in. Oh what fun. It felt like we were back home right then.

  2. Freda Goulet

    Enjoy the hockey game with your fellow Canadians…lots of excitement here. Some of the gold medal games and events have been watched at Thompson Creek.

    • It is an exciting time… I am missing all the back stories and the media coverage. I miss seeing the events or at least some replays on TV. Pictures are just not the same. It is labor intensive to find Candian content sometimes. I was really surprised by one article I read when 2 men tied for a Bronze medal. The statemement was the American athlete performed well and he was FORCED to share it with a Canadian. WOW… really is that in the spirit of the games???? Both men had the same time down to the milli-second, so how was that forced to share a win? I think that was pretty amazing and look at the odds at that happening!
      I have been sharing with my class and it was a great teaching tool with real life situations. We did graphs, adding and subtracting. I think they learned more with that then a regular lesson. πŸ™‚

  3. Funny, I never thought of the restirictions in getting the information there, I mean I knew, of course, but didn’t realise the consequenses until your post. I’m a bit like you, not really into watching sports, but winter olympics are great to watch and something that gets everyone going here as well.

    Love the mittens!

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ The Olympic team had them and they made them avaialble to the public for the 2010 games in Vancover. They were such a hit they have a new design every year. It is great since the proceeds go to the althletes.Being here in China other people recognise them and know what they are. It is a great conversation piece.

  4. Btw, Canada-Sweden 2-0 at the moment but won’t be able to tell you how it ends as I just got overuled and The Cars is on πŸ˜‰

    • We went to watch with a bunch of work collegues. We won 3-0. I thought for sure Sweden would get on the board… they fought hard. It was a good game.

  5. Spoiler Alert…

    I saw a comic “Advice to the Canadian men:”Play like a girl”.” And they did. Canadian Men followed the Women to GOLD !

    • LOL that is good. My dad said he liked the women’s game…. they play clean and none of the silly nonsense and penalties.
      It was a great game… and in the last minute our table sang Oh Canada. THe entire place started singing along. It was just like we were back home…
      PS someone was saying women AND men won curling… and women won hockey…. now that the men won it would be a DOUBLE DOUBLE πŸ˜‰ !!!! Ha ha

  6. Oh I’m so glad you got to watch the final game at least! It really feels like the whole Country was at a standstill while it was on. Even my mother, who has no interest in hockey, called me up when she got up this morning and asked if they’d won! I like the Winter games too though I really haven’t taken the time to watch much of it. I do keep track though and I did get up to watch the game which was 8 a.m. my time zone. People were up on the west coast at 4 a.m. and bars opened early to show the game.

    • That is what my dad was saying… bars had permission to open early. It was an 8PM start for us. Up a little late on a school night, but it was worth it. The crowd was excited and funny how we had the local Chinese and a live feed from somewhere else with English commentary. The Chinese station was 10 seconds ahead, so the second goal half the bar went mad and the other half was like what??? Then saw it and we all cheered again.
      The last minute our table started to sing Oh Canada and the whole place joined in. It was like we were back home. What a great game and so glad we got to see it.
      GO CANADA!!!


    I am not a sports fan either but I never miss the Olympics! I am sorry you had too! Love those mittens!
    One of my dreams is to go to a host city. (Dream)

    • I would love to go as well. I had hoped to go when the olympics were in Vancover in 2010, but we had to save our money since we were moving here to Shanghai. Next time!


        I didn’t realize you lived in Shanghai ( I have never written the word) How wonderful!

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