Today is my Chinaversary! On September 5, 2006, I set foot in China for the first time in my life. Fast forward 10 years and I’ve been here over 8 of those years! If someone had told me back then, I don’t think I would have believed it! After all, I only intended to stay for one semester.
What have I accomplished during this time? Let me recollect…
- I became fluent in Mandarin. I will never have a flawless accent but I’m comfortable speaking on the phone, watching tv and reading books. Well, more or less. There are always people with difficult accents or writers who use too many unusual words.
- I survived (and even enjoyed!) living in this foreign country where people do weird things like wearing pajamas on the street or walking backwards. I may or may not have gone to the store downstairs in my pajamas.
- I met people from all over the world, especially when I was a student. On a normal week I could go shopping with Koreans, have pizza for dinner with Angolans and then go to a latin party with Bolivians. Now I’m less cosmopolitan and I usually hang out with Chinese, although I also have friends from other nationalities.
- I overcame my shyness. When I speak Chinese my “clown” side comes to the surface. I have no problem singing and dancing in front of people and I even volunteer to do it.
- I met my half orange, as we say in Spanish. Did I mention that we will have our weddings next year?
- I travelled to many places within China and several other countries around. But I still have many more places to go!
- I found a job I love and I’m doing what I always wanted to. And from home!
- I fulfilled one of my childhood dreams: having a Golden Retriever! (Ok, I could have done this anywhere, but it wouldn’t have been Nico!).
In 2006, when I first came to China, I had an online journal in a website called Fotolog. This is the first picture I published from Beijing:
On that first entry I mentioned that people stared at us on the street (I came with a Spanish friend) and that CDs were very cheap. During those first days I also found out that instant noodles are not cooked in the microwave oven (you just pour boiling water inside) and that drinking in bars is not cheap. On other entries I mentioned the school in front of the dorm, where they would exercise with very loud music at 7 am every day, and I also noticed that most tv shows were either historical dramas or singing contests. It’s still like this 10 years later!
I’m very glad I wrote that online journal and that it’s still available, so I can review my first impressions of China ten years ago. Overall these ten years have been positive and China has treated me well!