So December officially marks 2 months since arriving in China, and what a period of adventure it’s been. Despite the downsides of jetlag, falling ill, struggling to sleep and anxiety, my first 2 months in Shanghai have been pretty decent.
When the walking black goddess (me, durh) first stepped into Pudong international airport the anticipated stares and whispers assembled like clockwork. Some stared in amazement whilst others stared as if I owed them rent. Talk about balance.
The feeling of helplessness quickly took a turn when I knew I couldn’t freely communicate as I normally would; meaning the help I received was very limited. Google translate and other more reliable apps were and still are my best friends.
Arriving at the hotel at 1am with an 8am start wasn’t exactly what I had in mind and I’m 100% convinced this was a partial contributor to my ridiculous sleeping pattern from then on. My body definitely didn’t want to accept the new time difference of 7 (now 8, eek) deadly hours. The vicious cycle of barely sleeping when I was supposed to, to using the desk and any other random spot I could find during training as my ‘catch up’ was absolutely daunting.
Being ill didn’t help either, when you’ve got the ugliest fever and can’t even breath through your nose, it’s so much harder to deal with when you’re no longer by your local GP or when you can’t even ask one of your siblings to grab you some water for your medication.
Laugh if you like, but I shed tears one night worrying why sleep was such a struggle and if I was going to adjust any time soon. I almost felt my body laugh and say ‘apologies in advance.’
My anxiety mainly stemmed from the uncertainty of how I would be treated by locals and finding my way around the city. Would I need someone to hold my hand and direct me to work?
From my own observation and understanding, Chinese culture is so deeply family oriented with love as the foundation for everything. Locals would give their left arm for their loved ones and I’ve noticed that this impacts how they treat others in general.
Shanghai’s similarity to London meant that getting around the city worked out perfectly fine for me.
Becoming familiar with how to use the metro and navigate the areas was so much quicker than I expected. Like London, there are different lines that each have their own colours on the map. Locations are also clearly displayed in English. Piece of cake.
Exploring is forever on the agenda as there are always new spots we discover, from prestigious restaurants and bars to small cosy coffee shops where you can chill, read and unwind.
In a nutshell, this is one of the reasons why I love the international teachers from the same on-boarding group as I am. Adventurous, spontaneous and daring; yep, that’s me.
Minus the fake alcohol (a post for another day) nightlife feels like an extended freshers week at university. You have absolutely no idea what you’re doing or a plan on what you want to do but you’re having the time of your life and you’re down for whatever.
I think it’s quite obvious that we’ve been greatly deceived with Chinese food in our place of origin. Your whole life has been a lie and you’re currently consuming a basic version. Hey, I don’t make the rules.
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