A Quick Two Month Summary of My New Life in China
What Has Life in China Shown Me So Far?
Two months has gone by so fast. Now that I’m looking at the date again its’ actually been a little over eight weeks. It seems like I was just watching football with friends last weekend. Time flies. So what can I say now that I’ve been in China and Dalian for this short period. I can say that I’ve learned and experienced a lot. Let us see what life in China has brought to me at this point.
The Move to China
Moving out to China earlier this year was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. In the states I had a comfortable job, a new car to get me to places, and my own home of which I’d just recently tried updating a bit. I was in a good situation, but inside somewhere I just didn’t feel content.
Many people would gladly accept the situation I was in and I am very grateful for where I was at. However, I felt a change was needed and China consistently popped into my thoughts. Growing up I often traveled to China with my family and had been going more frequently the last couple years. I can’t say what it is exactly about China that resonates with me.
It could be a blend of the culture, the history, family I have here, and the different lifestyle. Maybe some of it is the sense of opportunity I believe is out here. Hopefully that develops into a new career in a big city in China is in the near future. I also felt that lately I was receiving multiple signs that pointed in the direction of the ancient land of pandas and dumplings. I decided to go with my gut to finally make some moves.
Initially thoughts were just to move to China to continue working on my Chinese fluency. Then I got to thinking if somehow China were to suck me in for the long-term that it wouldn’t hurt to look at furthering my education as well. Fast forward six weeks and here I am now in a cafe in Dalian, China, attending a graduate school right on the beach. Dalian is a beautiful city sitting right at the bottom of the Liaodong Peninsula. Geographically it sits in an interesting spot with the Koreas to the east and Beijing to the west. As I haven’t traveled much with school I do hope to take advantage of this when I get the time to further explore the region.
Even though I’ve been to China extensively in the past, there are definitely things that have taken some getting used to. One is most definitely the dorm life. From living in a spacious 1100 sq. ft condo to what feels like small storage room with a roommate definitely made me pause a for a moment to rethink what kind of life decision I just made. That first step into my dorm room was a very slow stroll in while I quickly brainstormed all the first world living amenities I’d be without.
At that same time I met my Mongolian roommate who happened to be going through a very intensive cleansing of the room. It felt a little uplifting during that self-reflecting moment to see that I had a clean roommate. He’s actually turned out to be a great friend as well. I just gotta get into the habit of switching into slippers when entering the dorm instead of walking everywhere in my outside shoes. Cultural changes. Surprisingly enough my Golden Goose sneakers and Common Projects sneakers have been holding great, even with the extensive wear I’ve put on them!
Cultural changes haven’t been too drastic for me. Other than feeling like Frogger trying to cross streets and avoiding crazy bus drivers who don’t know what brakes are, adjustments haven’t been that hard. Chinese people are very friendly people and the pace of life out here is very fast. Personal space is unheard of in China and if that scares you just look up subways in China. The subways are however actually really entertaining to me for some reason. Surprisingly I haven’t missed driving too much as transportation is very convenient around here. I will looking at getting a driver license here just to have on hand.
Peace and quiet also don’t really exist out here. Morning wake up alarm is either a loud car horn or some Chinese guy shouting at a passerby. The food is great out here and I believe is much better than in the states. The only food I can say I miss is my mom’s homemade food, that won’t ever be beat. I’ve taken to jogging in the mornings to the beach and coming back through the local food market to pick up breakfast. Living next to the beach has definitely been refreshing. It’s interesting how simple life is out here even with the new surrounding environment.
The education system has been interesting to say the least. I was definitely expecting more foreign teachers within the university as classes can sometimes seem like an ESL class. When the professor sounds like they’re saying bitch instead of beach, you definitely start thinking of the teaching requirements the university has. I never thought I’d be going through Econometrics or Intermediate Microeconomics as part of my graduate program, so there will definitely be some late evening study sessions coming up. I’ve made it a personal goal to spend at least two hours each day to work on Chinese even though it hasn’t been as heavily emphasized within the education structure. Just living out here these last six weeks has definitely made a huge impact on my Chinese language and I’m curious to see where my Chinese will be in the next year.
I’ve made a ton of new international friends. From all my past study abroad semesters I feel like I have friends from every country now. My class has many Moroccan and Thai students, so it has been interesting learning their cultural backgrounds and daily routines as well. I’ve also made some Chinese friends which has been tremendously helpful for the Chinese learning.
I came to China with a mustache and beard. Now its all been shaved off. The last time I was clean shaven was three years ago. Now that I’ve I’m living in China I guess you can say its ok to take some chances and try out something new. I’ll be sure to update my new life in China a little more frequent than this from now on.