Coming to China
Whew… I have been in China for two years now. Two long years, and I have not yet been back to the good ole’ US of A… I miss it dearly, but think it would be a bit expensive to go back home and all, so I am going to stick it out a little longer before heading back home.
Nothing like you would expect
Coming to China is nothing like you would expect, or at least it wasn’t what I expected. But I think that is a given. Of course, it depends where you go. Some places may fit into that stereotypical view you may have of China in your head… I don’t even know what that is anymore since I have been studying Chinese and living in China so long. Maybe someone out there can tell me.
Stuck in a China bubble
But most places will not fit in with your expectations. Especially a city like Shenzhen. It just doesn’t fit in with anything, really. It’s like one of those bubbles, that seems so different from the rest of the world. You know, like when you were in College and you didn’t know what was going on in the outside world.
Before I started listening to podcasts, downloading the Daily Show (thank god for Itunes, what a different world China is with that little baby…), and reading a weekly that is filled with tons of articles directly translated from such stalwarts such as Businessweek, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other critical US reading (this weekly has a strictly US-biased viewpoint. Not sure who is in charge of the magazine but I am surprised at its degree of openness and some of the articles that make it through, although some of the articles are definately ‘toned down’ a bit… I guess it’s the price you pay for… lack of something most of us enjoy back home, if you know what I am talking about), I was really in a bit of a bubble. I didn’t know enough of what was happening out in the real world, and even for China things just didn’t seem quite so real. People were so obsessed with money. Now, as many Chinese people will tell you, business is in their blood, but it is especially prevalent in Shenzhen.
Out in the sticks of Shenzhen
On top of all of that, I was thrown out into one of the outer districts of Shenzhen. A place with lots of farmers, factory workers, and unemployed men milling around. A place where you don’t feel too comfortable as a foreigner. People here are driven to make money. Otherwise they wouldn’t have travelled so far away from home to come to such a strange city… they come for the chance to strike it rich, although most of them never get that chance.
So… you have a general idea of my impressions when I first got to China. When I came, I was an English teacher, coming on a program with like 60+ other teachers. That was a good experience, but being way out in the boondocks of Shenzhen wasn’t. Granted, some of the places I’ve liked the most in China have been off the beaten track, but that’s not the same as a factory district in the outskirts of Shenzhen.