What Nobody Tells You When You Move to China

I just completed a bit over a month here in Changsha!

So you might be wondering how things are going so far…

Do you want the sugar coated version? Because then the answer is that things have been splendid and China is the best country ever.

The 100% honest version?

I’ve learned so much about myself through smiles and tears in the time I’ve been here.

I’ve had days where I’ve felt on top of the world. I’ve had days where I’ve questioned if I made the right choice coming here. I’ve had amazing days exploring the city. I’ve had one slight anxiety attack (so far). I’ve had days where I’ve attended many fun events. And I’ve had days where I’ve felt lonely.

And boy, there are so many things I miss.

I miss my mom and home cooked meals. I miss healthy smoothies and legit brunch (why can’t I find a brunch place here???). I miss my friends. I miss hiking. I miss random neighbourhoods in Vancouver like Gastown and Kitsilano. I miss $3.50 California rolls and non-crowded gyms. Oh, and I also miss breathing fresh air (jokes).

So what does nobody tell you when you move to China?

Here’s a list of my personal favourites:

– The noise pollution is INSANE. As in “wear-earplugs-to-sleep-even-though-you live-on-the-27th-floor” insane.

– Your phone and a portable charger are the only things you need to carry. Forget cash. Wechat Pay and Alipay are your entire wallet and BFFs. Even locals selling fresh vegetables on the street have a QR code for you to scan (which is crazy to me).

-Welcome to the country where you can find amazing knockoffs at great prices. You’ve heard of knockoff designer shoes and handbags, but what about art exhibits? Like the Kusama exhibit I visited in this mini vlog:

-China is extremely safe. Need to walk or bike home at 12am by yourself? No problem, you’ll get home safe. Maybe it’s due to all the CCTV on the streets?

-Smoking is allowed everywhere. And by everywhere I mean in elevators, in hotel lobbies, and coffee shops. This is something I really can’t get used to.

-Healthy, western food is expensive. Good luck finding Chia seeds, Kombucha, and organic Almond milk. And why are nuts so damn expensive here? Somebody please ship me a giant $20 tub of Costco mixed nuts…

So, here’s what I’ve resulted to for my breakfasts:

But overall, my experiences so far have been positive. I’ve been focusing my energy on work and working on improving myself in all aspects.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what I have in life, especially this opportunity. I guess I just never realized how difficult it would be moving to a new place by myself.

I’m so thankful for getting to live the life I’m living right now, and the support from the people around me. I’m also realizing and learning (slowly) that everything is about perspective, that nothing is perfect, and to always focus on the positive things in life. If you puked a little reading this, you need to work on being more accepting of my “living life to the fullest” attitude. 

On an end note, let me share with you some pictures of this beautiful city I’m slowly exploring!

Young Chairman Mao statue – He was born in this province!
Graffiti I discovered in the city! Does not feel like China at all…
Arts and Culture Centre in Changsha – designed by Zaha Hadid!
KAWS x Changsha “Seeing/Watching”
Breathtaking sunset at Orange Isle by downtown Changsha

Thanks for reading!