At the beginning of December, I decided to move to China. I had never been to China before and the first time I was seeing China was the day I moved here. Yup, crazy or brave? You tell me!
There are many reasons why I moved to China, but that’s for another day and another blog. But one of the main reasons was because I strongly believe there is so much out there for us to learn from. Things might not go to plan and I might end up hating it. But at the end of the day, I will still take something I have learnt and seen back with me. Good or bad, It’s a learning curve and experience.
It has now almost been seven weeks since I moved to China and yet it feels so surreal.
Before I moved to China, I read and researched all the good and bad about the country and the city. But of course, you will never know how something is, unless you try it yourself. Everyone’s experience is different.
The bathroom: my first day at work when I used the bathroom, I saw a note behind the door. “Don’t flush paper, put in basket”. Now I really thought they must have spelt or got the sentence wrong way round, or completely wrong. But boy was I wrong! I eventually found out that some toilets in China (most), or maybe in this city, don’t allow you to flush down the toilet roll in the toilet. Instead, you must use the bin. Now some people might agree, for whatever reasons, however, it still is a little difficult to get used to.
Pollution: since I’ve been in China, I’m not sure what clear skies are anymore. The sky is always grey, I can hardly ever see the clouds. The air pollution is bad as it sounds. It’s not so bad that you need to leave the country, but it can be very uncomfortable at times. So I decided to invest in a mask, which I have only used once or twice!
Internet: the service is not so great. In order to access my usual social media apps and emails, I have to use a VPN (virtual private network). You can download apps from different providers and pay for the full year or monthly. This then allows you to check your WhatsApp, Google, Gmail, Instagram, Facebook et cetera. Which is all great, but it does slow down your Internet a lot, so I, therefore, end up waiting around for the apps to load. Even though I have VPN, I still find it very difficult to access sites such as Netflix now and then. Sometimes it will work, and other times it won’t, which sucks when you want to watch something familiar, or in my case Friends at the moment.
Food: before I came to China, I decided that I will be a full-time hundred percent vegetarian. I know what you are thinking, full-time? Back in England, I was a vegetarian, but on very, very rare occasions I would eat a non-vegetarian dish. I know some people will find its extremely weird and not understand it, but that’s okay.
Since I arrived in China, it has been very difficult to find vegetarian dishes. Because almost everywhere and every meal has some kind of meat in it. At first, the only vegetarian food I could find to eat was side dishes, such as boiled spinach or cabbage or rice. I didn’t find anything tasty at all for the first few weeks. I am now slowly, slowly finding places with some veggie options and trying to cook more at home. But from what I noticed around me, especially at work my colleagues and the work environment is somewhat unhealthy in terms of food choices. I have also noticed the local people eat a lot, yet it is a wonder that they stay so slim!
But they are some good stuff that I like. I have seen in restaurants and cafes that they always give you warm water to drink. I found this so bizarre at the beginning but now the more I think about it, I think it’s great.In terms of Chinese food, from what I have been able to taste as a vegetarian, I would definitely give the hotpot and noodles a thumbs up!
Another thing I have noticed in restaurants, your food never comes out at the same time as your friends. The waiters, waitresses will literally bring one dish out first and then it’s a guessing game to when yours will come out. Still trying to get used to this part.However, I get to enjoy some good food in a nice restaurant for a cheap amount compared to British pounds.
The spitting: more or less everywhere you go in China, you will come across a lot of people who spit anywhere and everywhere. Not exactly pleasant? Yup. I totally agree!
Health and safety: I am not quite sure that health and safety matters as much as it does back home in England. More or less every day, I see some kind of hazard, let it be driving, supermarkets, the streets etc. I’m pretty much used to all this now, but what does bug me is the pavements. Every now and then (almost every day), I see drains not closed properly, or the pavement bricks are wonky. It always leaves me wondering, one of these days, someone will really get hurt. It’s the same with the supermarkets, there’s always people loading and offloading stuff, a massive pile of God knows what, middle of nowhere. But I’m sure you get the picture, you just got to be very careful and look carefully at where you are going and walking.
Animals: before I came to China, I had heard some not very nice things about the way China treats its animals. But I can assure you, from everything I have seen so far in terms of animals, it is so far from the truth. Chinese people absolutely adore their pets, dogs, in particular. I see really cute puppies and dogs every day, pampered and dressed up by their owners! Trust me, these animals get treated more than I do!Pretty much all the dogs have some really fancy clothes and accessories on. They are very loved and lucky indeed!
Driving: okay, so let me start off by saying, they may not as well be any traffic lights. Why? ermmm because hardly anyone cares or abides by the rules!
I mean, you would think green light means I can cross the road and the cars will stop?Nahuhhhh! Not in China. It took me a very very long time to be able to cross the road on my own. Now don’t think I am wuss or something, I have seen some crazy driving in different countries. But nothing like China. I look right and left, and still somehow a car or motorbike will come out of nowhere, right next to my feet. And that my friends is not an exaggeration, I have had motorbikes just about missing my foot. That’s how close they get, whilst driving.It isn’t so so bad, you just have to be very careful and look right, left, here, there and everywhere.
The locals: before coming to China, I didn’t have that much experience of Chinese culture and Chinese people. I found the language quite alien like, but now that I am here the language is actually very fascinating and I wish I knew Chinese! It is important to learn basic phrases for shopping and transport, et cetera. But even in general, the language is smooth and interesting. So I’m really hoping over the next few months or weeks, I can learn a little bit more Chinese, even though my pronunciation is terrible!So far my experience with the local Chinese people has been good. Everyone is friendly and upbeat, at my workplace anyways. I do get some days when I’m walking down the street and I smile and nobody smiles back. But there are other days when you meet really friendly people who are willing to help you and laugh with you, lost in translation.
Gratitude: so far I am glad I came to China and I definitely have learnt a lot already. I’m hoping to see and learn a lot more in the upcoming weeks. I’m pretty sure I am experiencing and learning a lot more than I would be back home in England. I have met some lovely local people and foreigners and made some amazing memories!More than anything, I am just grateful that I am able to travel and experience all of this because end of the day, we are all just wanderers with so much love to share with all these amazing strangers in this world.