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Great expat-ations
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-07 10:40

Great expat-ations

Name: Eskil B Kappel

Age: 37

Nationality: Danish

Time spent in China: eight years

Why China?

Right after I finished high school in 1992, my father was posted to Beijing on a diplomatic mission, so I grabbed the chance to study Chinese at Beijing Language and Cultural University for six months. I traveled around the country and got China under my skin. For the same reason, I subsequently studied East Asian studies while taking my law degree in Denmark and continued to return to China over and over again.

Doing What?

In 2003 I won a Chinese law program scholarship at Beijing University of International Business and Economics. After (completing) my studies I worked at the European Chamber of Commerce in China and since the past four-and-a-half years I have held an executive position as China-based legal counsel of a green-tech MNC. I am trying to set up a consultancy platform - www.kappeladvisory.com - which will provide a variety of corporate advisory services for MNCs in China.

Language?

My mother tongue is Danish. English is a must, coming from a small country. I learned German and French too, although it's gotten rusty. My Chinese is good but I'm trying to spend more time studying characters.

Relationships?

I'm married to a real "spice girl" - from Sichuan. My wife is director of sales and marketing at the InterContinental Financial Street Hotel. We met at a party where I clumsily pushed her drink on the floor and got her a new one, and then we chatted a bit and got along well. It was the most expensive drink I ever bought but a good investment. Last year we had our first son, Oscar, who is now growing up with the gift of several languages and cultures. Fortunate little guy.

Food?

I love Chinese food. I honestly think it beats any other cuisine hands down. But it's also great to discover how the larger Chinese cities now attract chefs from the world over. On any day of the week it is now possible to get exactly what your stomach desires. Even Danish food is possible to find, although I have to admit it is not Denmark's greatest export commodity.

Money?

I have lived here sharing a dorm as a student and had a great time doing that, so it wasn't the money which was the determining factor for me - not then and not now. It is the challenges and opportunities a place has to offer that draw me to it.

Future?

Beijing has become my family's home, and we are happy living here. My son gets a unique opportunity to catch Chinese, Danish, English and possibly other languages and cultural inputs from the international environment here. Of course, there's a price to pay in terms of the distance with family and old friends, but it's the same anywhere else in the world.