"So... what's it like living in China???" This is the #1 question that I'm asked...
"VERY Chinese" is usually how I respond. Because... well.... it's true. I'm surrounded by millions of Chinese people. I eat Chinese food almost every day. And I speak Chinese everyday. So it's pretty much all things Chinese, all the time. But there's more to it than that. Here are a few key insights to what's it like for ME, living in this very homogeneous and completely foreign world.
I'm a unicorn... Within a twenty mile radius, there's literally only one of me or anyone that looks like me. Spotting another Black American female around these parts is rare. I stand out, to say the least. In American culture it is very rude to stare, but that's not the case in China. I am stared down and critically surveyed from head to toe on a daily basis. It was off putting at first, but now I've become comfortable being uncomfortable.
I'm a foodie... I love whole foods (not the store which is overpriced and overhyped IMO), and so do Chinese people. I love that I can purchase a healthy meal full of vegetables, prepared fresh, or little or nothing. In China we eat family style, which means you share all of your food. Each person brings one dish to work for lunch, but they end up eating a 5 course meal!
I'm a diva... the Chinese are all about pampering. There's a spa on every block. These spas provides services like... Foot massages, full body massages, cupping, manicures, scrubs, facials... and much more. I would never treat myself to a massage at home... but in China, it's not uncommon to go once or even twice a week. In fact, I might just have to delay finishing this blog post... and go to the spa right now. Did I mention that a two massage is only $25usd???
I'm friendlier... I love saying "hello" to people in the morning. There's just something joyful about smiling and engaging with a stranger. Being friendly is something that I totally missed while I was living in New York. If you say good morning in NY... you will mostly experience one of the following outcomes #1 you get totally ignored or #2 you receive a grimace and a profane remark or #3 you get hit on by someone three times your age.
I'm scary... to Chinese children. Chinese toddlers just don't understand. Most likely, they've never seen anyone like me. I've bumped into several children (because they are allowed to run freely, like children should be able to do) If I say "boo" to a chinese toddler... oh my god, they might just die
I'm like not suicidal... okay, I've never ACTUALLY been suicidal... but riding the subway in New York almost pushed me past my limits. If I had to encounter one more crazy person... or two seemingly sane people having an argument for an insane reason.... I was going to lose it. Also, driving down 1-95 for 2 hours everyday, definitely took some years off of my life. Now I walk around 5 minutes to work down a beautiful street lined with palm trees and pango trees. Really, in one month I'll be able to pick mangos on the way into the office... YUM!
I'm Rested... 2 hour lunches anyone? Midday naps are the SH*T... and in China, they happen every single day. The country basically shuts down for 2 hours. Once, I tried to take a train at lunch time, "ummmm nope, no trains till 2pm ma'am." Between the hours of 12pm and 2pm, I'm allowed to do whatever I want. Generally, I'll walk home and cook.... sit on my balcony and read a magazine. But if I'm exhausted, I hit snooze for one long glorious hour. I'm rarely exhausted though because I turn in for bed around 10pm.
I'm drama free... well there's a little drama here and there... but not being able to understand the language fully means that I am immune to the everyday gripes of the people around me. I'm in my own little happy bubble. I also find that Chinese people are generally very happy and easy going.
I'm like felicia... always going somewhere! The Chinese word for "China" is "Zhong Guo" which literally translates into "Middle Country"... as in China is the center of the world. And this is pretty much true when it comes to Asia. Travelling to surrounding countries from Southern China couldn't be easier. I feel very blessed to be on several hours from some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. In the past year I went to Australia, Cambodia, Bali, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam!
I'm Beyonce... I get asked to take a photo with random strangers all the time! Some people don't even ask, they just start snapping. If I'm out for a holiday... say... touring a waterfall, or some national monument... there's no way that I will make it through the day without someone asking to take a photo with me. Now I've started whipping out my phone and asking these strangers to also take photos on my phone. I figure I'll start an album to show my friends when I'm 60... like "Hey guys, look how popular I was in Asia. I was pretty much a celebrity... like Beyonce, you ask??? yes, exactly like Beyonce!" (okay, not EXACTLY like Bey, but a girl can dream right?)
So basically... what's it like living in China??? It's Awesome!
Thanks for reading!!!