TWO WEEKS! Only two weeks until I leave China!
When we leave, The Husband and I will have lived in Shenzhen, China, for a little over eight months. As we prepared to move here back in October, we soothed our nerves by telling ourselves, “Even if it’s terrible … we can stand anything for only eight months.”
And we were right.
Here’s a list of things I’ve learned to love about living in China over the past eight months. After the jolly list, keep scrolling to read about the things I’ve really only endured. Yes, I’ve learned to love this culture, but there are certain things I won’t miss.
More blog posts about China:
5 Things I’ll Miss About China
1. Low Cost of Living
I love being able to afford stuff.
Cost of living in Shenzhen is so cheap. A good meal costs around $3. A massage costs $10. Rent is covered by our company. It’s amazing.
Although The Husband and I have been diligent about saving money, we have also liked that for once, we don’t have to watch every dollar we spend. I’m going to miss that. Now that he will be in school full time, the next two years won’t be quite so stress-free, financially speaking.
We could have saved more. However, if we scrimped all the time and didn’t enjoy ourselves … what would be the point of moving to a different country?
2. Adorable Children
For years, The Husband and I have agreed that we want to adopt a child one day. We also agreed that we want to adopt locally.
Don’t hate me, fellow local adoption advocates, but I might be changing my mind. Simply because Chinese kids are cute. So. Freaking. Cute.
In America, I don’t even like kids. (With a few exceptions.) Here, every child under age eight sends me into a spiral of baby fever.
3. Free Time
Sure, I work an 8-5 job. But I only teach 17 classes per week, and each class is only 40 minutes. Then I spend two or three hours per week lesson planning. So of those 45 hours, I probably spend less than 15 hours accomplishing school-related tasks.
What do I do in those extra hours? Whatever I want.
Not to mention, our lunch break is two and a half hours, and most teachers nap in our offices during that time.
Starting today, I don’t even have to teach the last two weeks of school. I’m an oral English teacher, and I gave my oral exams last week. Now the students are preparing solely for their written exams.
I still have to come to work in order to get paid, but what do I do? Nap. Write–a lot. I just started reading The Fault in Our Stars. Ahem, I’m not crying … you’re crying!
4. My Coworkers
My Chinese coworkers are adorable! My favorites are Bonnie, Fiona, Chu Chu, and Shirley. We have so many hilarious, broken conversations in Chenglish.
For example, Google Translate translates the Chinese word for mosquito to “skeeter.” Daniel laughed for five minutes, then had to spend another 10 minutes explaining to Fiona why this was funny.
5. “Wow! Beautiful!”
Chinese people idolize pale skin, and you know what that means:
I belong here!
I am one of the palest non-albino people on the planet. In America, this gets me a lot of flack, and I can get pretty insecure about it. In China, they constantly tell me how beautiful I am.
If I dress nicely or wear more makeup than usual, Chinese teachers exclaim, “Wow! Beautiful!” as I walk by. Men give me thumbs up, which would definitely be considered inappropriate in the American work force. I just assume they do so because they don’t know how else to tell me I look nice.
In America, no one will notice me. I’ll have a huge ego, with no one to keep inflating it for me.
5 Things I WON’T Miss About China
1. The Food
Sure, I like some Chinese food. Hotpot is great. I like Halal food. Hong Kong cuisine is good.
But for the most part, it’s not sitting well with me.
Most Chinese food is ridiculously oily, even the vegetables. The oil has been upsetting my stomach more than usual the last month or so.
Also, they leave the bones in all the meat. Eating chicken, AKA my favorite food in the world, has become a chore. Chinese people don’t eat around the bones. Instead, they pop the entire piece of meat into their mouths, skillfully chew around the bones, then spit them back out on their plates.
This is impressive, but it’s not an appetizing thing to see when you’re eating in the cafeteria with 80 Chinese people.
Also, if I never see another pink hot dog, octopus, or chunk of stinky tofu on a stick again, it will be too soon.
2. Bad Internet
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Google, social media, and other major websites are blocked in China. In order to climb The Great Firewall and access all your favorite sites, you’ll need a VPN. (My favorite is Express VPN.)
However, even with a VPN, the Internet is often painfully slow. For every 10 hours I spend writing, I probably only spend nine of them being productive. The other hour is spent waiting on pages to load.
I just want to watch the new season of Twin Peaks. That’s all I want! Please, Internet, just load the episodes for me!
3. The Stares
It gets exhausting to know you’re always being watched. Also, I’m really tired of people taking photos of me without my permission. Do they think they’re being sneaky?
It completely blows people’s minds that I’m white. I think it’s partly because we live in an area of Shenzhen that is only now becoming popular among tourists, so locals aren’t used to seeing foreigners yet. Yesterday, I went to a bookstore. When I crossed paths with two middle school girls, they actually gasped and let out little screeches. Weirdos.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to know that I can make someone’s day simply by existing. I know those girls went to school today and told their friends, “You won’t believe what happened to us! We saw a foreigner!”
4. The (Lack of) Personal Hygiene
The other day, I saw a truck driver blow a snot rocket out of his window. Now, don’t get me wrong, I see this all the time in China. I was just grateful he didn’t blow the snot into his hand, then wipe it on a light pole, like a grandpa I once saw.
But it was the most snot I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know that much mucus could fit inside of one human nose. When piled together, the amount of snot would have been the size of a raw pig brain. Don’t ask me how I know that.
I have these moments fairly frequently in Shenzhen.
“Wow, that is the biggest dump I have ever seen a baby take on the sidewalk.”
“Wow, that is the oldest person I have seen pee in public.”
“Wow, that is the biggest butt sweat stain I’ve ever seen.”
It’s not pleasant.
On the other hand, most Chinese people’s faces don’t get very sweaty. Mine definitely does, especially in this summer heat and humidity. So come to think of it, they might think I’m gross.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of durian. I considered accompanying this point with a photo of durian, but I don’t want that kind of evil on my blog.
Durian is a disgusting fruit that leaves an aftertaste in your mouth for hours, no matter what you drink or eat immediately afterward. The smell and taste will haunt your burps. (Or, if react to durian like The Husband, your vomit.)
The stench is possibly worse than the taste, and it’s everywhere in Shenzhen. People sell it on countless street corners. Chinese people love to make durian pizza. Yesterday, The Husband and I went to a pizza joint to happily munch on pizza and practice Chinese calligraphy. Of course, five minutes after we got there, someone ordered durian pizza, and the entire restaurant was filled with the smell.
We requested our pizza “to-go.”
Fellow travelers, what have you loved and hated about visiting China?
*Note: This post contains affiliate links