Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life In China: Three Months In

I can't believe that I've been in China for three months now. Time sure flies! This has been a transition year for me. I graduated with my master's degree, separated from my husband of five years, and moved to China. I can honestly say there have been a lot of bumps along the way, but I'm finally settling in a really good place emotionally. 

My first month here was really occupied with figuring out how everything worked and adjusting to much different living conditions that I was accustomed to. China is very dirty compared to back home and of course there are the squat toilets and smog conditions to contend with. I've learned how to depend on others, which is very difficult for me, to complete even the simplest tasks like paying my electric bill or buying food. Of course I had doubts along the way and wondered why I left everything behind for this.  As I learned my way around and adjusted to my new normal things got a bit easier.

After the first month, I was fortunate enough to have a two week holiday. So of course I set off on a solo travel adventure and visited Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao and Beijing. It was an amazing trip that I had the opportunity to take all because of my decision to live in China and have the adventure of a lifetime. I experienced the kindness of strangers in each city who helped me along the way even when they spoke no English at all. I really had a chance to experience China that most tourists miss out on. There is a rich complexity to the culture and customs here that is often missed by those who travel only to the well known sites and dine in the international restaurants because they are comfortable there. I feel very blessed for the opportunity to experience this other side of China.  

Following my trip I experienced two bouts of illness, one from bad food and the other from a nasty cold. Normally I'm a tough person, but being so sick and weak that I'm stuck in bed for a few days is enough to let the self doubt creep in. I started questioning the direction of my life and felt really alone being in a foreign country away from close friends and family. 

Although when I started to question my decisions and wondered how I was going to survive again on my own, it dawned on me. I've already done it. I took this tiny little apartment and made it feel like home. I've made new friends and I've found ways to enjoy some of my favorite hobbies. I learned how to adapt my cooking to the products available to me so I can still enjoy some of my favorite dishes while sampling the new cuisine China has to offer. I've found new people to cook for, which brings me great joy. Most of all, I've fully regained my self confidence and independence. I never really lost either, but being in a marriage that isn't working can take a toll on your self esteem. 

I finally feel like I am in a place I want to be both physically and emotionally. Living in another country isn't always glory and adventure. Some days are good, some days are great but you also experience the bad and the awful. Everywhere you go there are advantages and disadvantages. Not to mention that going through a divorce isn't easy no matter who or where you are. That experience alone is enough to set me on an emotional roller-coaster. My life wouldn't be anymore perfect if I'd stayed where I was and my life here in China isn't perfect either. However I'm enjoying exactly where I am right now.  Two of my all time favorite movies are: Eat, Pray Love and Under The Tuscan Sun. I feel that my experience mimics each of these, which are actually based on real life stories. Perhaps one day I will publish my story, the Chinese edition.

I know I won't live in China forever, but I want to experience as much as possible while I'm here. And so far, I'm enjoying the ride.




  1. Wow, what an incredibly brave experience you are having! Seriously! You should be so proud of yourself for doing this on your own, for sticking with it, and for succeeding! Living abroad is exciting, yes, but it's super challenging too! And with all the changes and challenges you're going through, that's even tougher! Way to thrive and find your own piece of home! So glad to hear you are happy with your decision! :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! They mean a lot!

  2. I was also thinking that you're living your own version of Eat, Pray, Love!

    1. Perhaps I should finish out my year in Bali?