Published on July 19th, 2011 | by Paz23
Living in China Reality Check – 6 months in China Report
We have now been living in China for 6 months. It is time for us to give you all our reality check on what we thought it was going to be like and what living in China actually is like. If you were going to move to China or another country what would you expect? Remember living and visiting are completely different and that is why we choose to live versus visit.
We were given contrasting information from lots of people. People who visited, people who read about China and those that actually had lived in China. It was all different and everyone had their personal experiences. What has ours been?
Okay so now that we are here…what are we happy we brought and what are we sad we brought? See what we brought to China.
- Keen shoes for Lupita
- Lowepro camera bag
- Nikon D3100
- Picture & picture books
- Non-toxic crayons & art supplies for the kids
- English books (we have found many in a local bookstore only $2.00 more expensive)
- Too many clothes (we barely wear some of them and now most of them don’t even fit us)
- One suitcase too many. We should have only brought three for the four of us.
- My coffee cup! It didn’t survive…a waste
- Jewelry – I ended up sending all of it back (other than my simple wedding band) back with my mom
A fruit stand right behind our building.
Lupita waiting for our train to come.
We thought public transportation would be easy and it is!! The public transportation system in Guangzhou is not only easy but it is clean and very very safe. The attendants in the metro stations are also quite nice and helpful. They do speak more English than they pretend to…that can be annoying, but hey I should know more Chinese.
I lived in Tokyo for 6 weeks and had to take the metro to and from school everyday so I have been on crowded trains before so I wasn’t extremely surprised. Guangzhou is a large city so obviously the rush hour time is going to be very busy.
Rush hour with kids is hard because we have to take Abe out of the stroller to get on and off and we worry about Lupita getting pushed or stepped on, neither has happened, if the train is too full we wait. When traveling with kids…you need to relax about being a little late or your day not going quite as planned.
Non-rush hour is great! If we have Abe, he stays in his stroller or I carry him. Someone always gives up their seat for us. They are very kind. Lupita has also learned how to read a subway map and knows which stop is ours. We encourage her to follow along on the map when we go places. It keeps her busy and is a great skill to have.
Without public transportation
This is way more difficult than we ever would have expected. Here are the top three reasons.
- You have to have your destination written down in proper character form.
- Chinese have very very bad eye sight, so sometimes they can’t read the business card/directions you are handing them.
- If you try to speak your address or destination and your tone is just a little off they also have no idea what you are saying, you might as well have been speaking English.
So it is very complicated getting around via taxi or on foot. Although, we have never not arrived at our destination. Again patience is key!
What to wear in China?
We had no idea what people wore or didn’t wear in China. When we were packing our clothes there were many times we thought about trying not to stick out too much or offend a culture with our western get-ups! WE WERE SO WRONG!
Girls wear anything in Guangzhou and maybe I should say they wear nothing. We see mini-skirts and dresses where you can see the bottom of the girls butt cheeks! Yes I am not joking. This isn’t just at night or on certain street corners. We see these women walking around at 8 am in the morning with 5 inch heels on and we see lots of them. It is very common for girls in China to wear very very short skirts and shorts. Also see-through clothing is also very popular. A white dress that is short and see-through with black underwear is very common.
The funniest part about it is that no one stares at them. While Zeek is busy closing his jaw (because he can’t believe it) I look around and try to see everyone else’s reaction. They don’t even send a disapproving glance.
Men walk around with their shirts off a lot. First none of them are over weight or have hairy chests…so it isn’t that gross. It is very hot, but still keep your shirt on. No six pack abs in China to look at either. hmmmm
We were not really concerned about pollution when moving to China. Now that we are living in China we have learned to take a few precautionary measures regarding pollution and the acid rain especially.
- We now own umbrellas, rain boots, and a rain cover for Abe’s stroller.
- We bring an umbrella out with us..even when we hate umbrellas.
- If it is raining we try to stay inside…it sucks when it rains.
There is acid rain in Guangzhou. It is at its worst if it hasn’t rained for awhile. Your skin itches and has a little burning sensation when the acid rain touches your skin. No reason to run away screaming from acid rain, it is just something we didn’t expect or know anything about.
We have learned a lot about our kids and their personalities. Somethings may never have come out if we had stayed in our comfort zone. It has tested our parenting and taken us by surprise at times. We now know more about our children and believe that we have created an environment were we are learning and growing everyday.
I have no idea where she gets those crazy faces.
What have we learned about Lupita? 4 yrs old
- She is actually a bit shy. She tends to withdraw when in large groups and unfamiliar settings more than we expected.
- She loves having a very structured schedule and knowing what she does every day!
- She doesn’t like things to be unorganized…even her clothes. She can be a little obsessive sometimes.
- She now understands the concept of learning another language as a valuable part of communicating and wants to learn languages so that she can communicate on her own. A love for language we never could have taught her.
- She is a very empathetic person and cares about others feeling and well being.
- She loves being outside and actually misses our yard at home the most. She wants us to move to a new house in China with chairs in our back yard…like our blue house! Funny the things that were important to her.
- She likes to learn in a calm setting. She watches, digests, and then will produce. She needs to observe maybe a bit longer than other children, but once she does she has learned the concept and is ready to move on. Even though she isn’t responding quite as fast as other children do…it doesn’t mean that she isn’t grasping the concept.
- She has an amazing imagination as most 4 year olds do, and is even very organized in her imaginative play.
- She is interested in computers and hopes to launch her own website like mommy soon. Zeek is giving her computer classes twice a week so she learns how to properly use a computer. Last week she learned what a CPU is…I had to sit in on the class as I am a little behind.
What have we learned about Abe? 17 months old
- He doesn’t sit still ever! I mean ever! Good thing our apartment is small.
- He loves balls, any kind of ball and is actually very coordinated.
- He can throw a ball overhand already. I am still working on this…obviously not one of my traits.
- He also is loving languages. He currently can obey commands (when he wants to) in Mandarin & English and is getting better in Spanish. We recently have re-introduced Spanish.
- He has NO fear. We have to keep him away from heights…he is not afraid of them.
- He loves to be read to…in all languages.
Could we have learned some of these things in the states...yes…would we have…I don’t know. When you are taken out of your comfort zone you pay more attention to everything. You have to! Everything is different! You notice your strengths and your weaknesses. You notice your partners strengths and weaknesses, you notice the gaps in your marriage and your relationships with your children. You also realize how important each member of your family is and the puzzle that you create. It isn’t a pretty picture unless it is put together. Isn’t that what being a family should be about?
Lihu Park, Guangzhou
Although we did a lot of research on living in China…there were some things we were not prepare for. Here they are.
- We weren’t prepared for the stares and the pictures that people would want to take of us and especially Abe. (He has big blue eyes & blonde hair…taking after his Nonna Penny)
- Most Chinese people have never seen someone with round eyes. Yup we all have them..although Zeek’s and Lupita have more almond shape eyes. Some people think Zeek is Chinese. He blends in anywhere.
- We weren’t prepared for how much people push to get where they are going. If you are in line for an elevator you better put your football gear on.
- Chinese people loves their babies. They are a very kid loving society and everyone is very concerned for their well-being.
- Chinese people avoid confrontation at all costs. We see cars cut people off and bikes almost run other bikes off the road and a few harsh words might be exchanged, however that is as far as it goes.
Everyone is very eager to help us and very friendly. We do struggle because of our language barrier, however if someone can help us they do.