Well, I’m here in China learning Chinese in Yunnan.
What an experience! Here are some of the experiences I’ve been able to have so far!
It’s super dry here. I feel like I may nose bleed anytime. My skin is usually oily combination skin, but here, it has become quite normal. Good or bad?! Who knows. I am almost regretting not bringing the thicker body butters, moisturizers and BB creams. Gah! Who knew?!
I am also getting more and more tanned. I ride to school and my arms are mostly exposed. Getting a seriously dark arm tan. Face isn’t too bad as I wear a helmet, sunglasses and a face mask (for dust!).
It is so dry here that they are subject to spraying the roads and walk ways with water that they pump out of the ‘sewage/drainage’ waterways and into trucks. These trucks drive up and down roads spraying the nasty refuse behind or infront. It smells pretty bad. Supposedly it also helps the sub-par quality road from cracking if you keep it moist. The only warning you get is that the trucks play random icecream-truck-style music as they spray. Do NOT get caught behind or next to one of those.
The altitude was a huge issue to get used to. It is much harder to breathe deeply here. The oxygen content per breath is far less. So, walking up stairs is a chore and you can become so much more short-of-breath than back home. Let’s just say, with the amount of walking, riding and climbing stairs, we are like those long distance ‘high-altitude’ runners training. 😀
To be honest, the culture shock is ongoing. It wasn’t so bad, as I’ve been to China before. The people in Yunnan are very different. They are kind, usually nice and when they find out you are a foreigner, are genuinely interested in why you are in China. They don’t purposely go out to rip you off, but you may get one or two.
The hacking and spitting thing is audible everyday. But far far less than it used to be. I think the idea is to get rid of the pollutants breathed in and not to swallow it. But yes, a long way to go yet.
Drivers and riders. There are more and more cars here now. Until about 5 years ago, it was mainly just bicycles. So, alot of the current drivers you see are brand new drivers. Most have driven less than I have! They drive like they ride their bikes. Wherever there is a space, go for it! If the light is red, one can still ride through in a gap between oncoming traffic. Let’s just say that riding has been a funky experience. I definitely need to ask for protection every time I head out. I’ve yet to run over, or be run over, by someone. Let’s just hope it stays that way.
Still getting used to things such as – no lining up, just push your way through (although it is not as bad as I expected) and hanging produce (meat in particular) just about anywhere along with washing.
Overall, I am slowly getting used to it. But like most things, I think some things will always take me by surprise.
So, I know all of you Asians with some sort of Chinese heritage are going to expect the next line. I am so glad I did some sort of Chinese School back when I was younger. Thank you parentals! It has come in handy. No matter how little practical stuff I actually learnt. Just a basic understanding of pinyin can take you far.
Malaysians and Singaporians (and Taiwanese) – WOW, how different our Mandarin is to the people in China! I have had to learn other words and new words to replace some of the ones that are not heard of here. An example is the word ‘fridge’ – There are four different ways to say it! Also, ‘pineapple’. And I’ve noticed that M’sians and S’porians also don’t do our ‘_h” words very well. Such as ‘sh’, ‘zh’, ‘ch’ , etc etc.
So, will take some time to get used to, but getting there, little at a time. Feel free to practice with me!
The other thing that makes learning difficult is also that not everyone speaks ‘pu tong hua’ Mandarin here. Some will speak their dialects. There are 20+ minority groups (out of 50+) living in Yunnan, so each one has their own unique dialect. So… like Mandarin, but not.
But overall, I am loving this place. Loving learning new things daily, being challenged, making new relationships, strengthening old ones and getting used to the hustle and bustle.
What a blessing it is to be in this land. I am looking forward to many more exciting experiences ahead!