(view from my apartment)
So I'm going to reawaken this blog because I feel the need to write down (when I can) the experiences I'm having now I have moved to China - Chengyang a suburb of Qingdao.
Years ago I passed through Shanghai in transit and those few hours were some of the 'scariest' yet exhilarating moments of my travel experiences to date and I said to myself, at the time, that I should come back when possible - when I was brave enough! China is like a whole different world and the vastness of it is semi-mind-blowing. You feel so small and insignificant - like you could easily get lost in the chaos, swallowed up forever.
Well, I finally felt brave enough so many years later and it just happened to fall into my lap, like fate had always been planning it. It's only three days in, so it is hard to know for sure, but so far its been great. Having undergone culture shock in the Amazon and India I was bracing myself for the dreaded hit, but apart from a strange moment in the dead of night where I woke up in fear (I'm supposing the day's overload of information suddenly hit my subconscious mind hard) and the usual nerves of walking into your first class at a new school, it has been a remarkably smooth transition.
This could be down to the brilliant people I find myself surrounded by - the teachers at my new school. They are such a wide range of nationalities and personalities but all have made the effort to be helpful and supportive. I'm so impressed with their language ability too (some are studying Chinese for three hours, five days a week at the local university) and without them - getting around, buying food - everything would feel incredibly difficult. It encourages me to get cracking at the language, despite its pronunciation challenges, so I too can navigate and stand on my own two feet. On top of this, their passion for China and dare I say life and adventure is also infectious. I think it also helps that my boss is British too - takes the edge off things, and needs and worries can be communicated more effectively and dealt with.
(some Chinese food we had today)
(a super huge building in Qingdao)
The people seem friendly, curious and full of smiles and the landscape is actually greener than I expected but juxtaposed with so much grey high-rise buildings and multi-coloured neon signs. Some places look like a massive mixed up patchwork quilt of craziness.
If you are fussy and want your western comforts, okay...maybe China isn't for you just yet (though I have been surprised at how developed it is already so I'm sure you can find these things and they have all the western brands at their shopping malls...). However, if you want slightly uncomfortable excitement and the challenge of overcoming what at first seems impossible (but having faith deep down that you will succeed) then I'd say come here. Come here and find a good group of people - a school and network that will help you make the transition.