Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Ups and Downs of China

So, good news: I think I might be able to blog again! In case you didn't catch it last time I explained, you need a VPN to access many websites and pretty much all social media sites in China. Blogger is included, since China is not a big fan of Google. I have a VPN on my phone, but for some reason it doesn't like my laptop and won't work there. But today I did some digging and was able to get a VPN on my computer that has worked for three hours now, so I'm crossing my fingers that it will last.

I definitely have a lot of catching up to do. I've been living in China for over a month after all. Lots has happened. And I promise I will catch up, but first I wanted to do a post on what it's really like living in China. When I share my pictures on Facebook and Instagram, I'm sure it's easy to think that my life is basically perfect right now. I'm traveling the world, I'm teaching adorable kids, I'm making new friends, and I'm literally crossing items off my bucket list. And that's definitely true- I don't want to take away from that. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and experience.

But I think it's important to know that social media only shows the good side of things. And now I'm not talking about just me- 95% of the posts you look at, especially on Instagram, will make their subject look perfect. They show a fraction of a second of a person's life, but we look at them and wish our lives were as perfect as that. I do this all the time. So for the sake of making a point, I want to share what my life is like here in China.

1. First of all, China doesn't have clean water. We are lucky enough to have clean water supplied to us at our apartment, but anywhere we go we have to bring our own water or buy it. You can't drink out of the tap unless you want a parasite growing inside of you.

2. My shower is a corner of the bathroom with a drain in the floor. The water heater also has to be turned on at least 20 minutes before showering, but not more than 50 minutes because then it shuts off automatically and the water begins to cool. That's when it's working correctly. I've had more cold showers here than I would have liked because the heater just didn't feel like working.

3. Humidity is not fun. It is extremely humid here, and basically all it does is take the temperature outside and make it uncomfortable. When we first got here and while we were in Shanghai it was so about 60 degrees, but the humidity made it so cold that with five layers on I was still constantly shivering. This past week it has averaged 75 to 80 degrees, but the humidity makes it so that you sweat the second you step outside and don't stop sweating until you take a shower that night. You feel sticky all the time. My jeans haven't felt dry since I've gotten here. So far two pairs of shoes in our apartment have molded. MOLDED.

4. We have rats. Our supply room at the school always has rat poop in it. We found a dead rat at the bottom of the stairs a few weeks ago. We have to keep our food in bins so we don't attract them. We also have cockroaches. I woke up to one scurrying on my bedroom floor this morning. Also, mosquitoes. So. Many. Mosquitoes. They are everywhere. We cannot escape.

5. China is dirty. Trash is on the streets. People don't wash their hands here. Soap isn't even supplied in most bathrooms. Neither is toilet paper, by the way. You have to bring your own. Their toilets, squatters, are basically holes in the ground. (The irony is that bathrooms are usually so gross I would much rather use a squatter and not have to touch anything.) The Chinese men burp and spit often. People hock loogies (is that even a word?) ALL THE TIME. Honestly, that is my least favorite thing of all. Also, they don't wear deodorant here.

6. The food here is not that healthy, contrary to what I had believed. There are a lot of vegetables served, but everything is cooked in oil. They love frying here. A lot of the food is very good, to be fair, but not healthy. A lot of the food is also not very good. Panda Express is not Chinese food. Except for chow mein and rice I haven't had a single thing on their menu. Not even like an authentic version of it. Carbs are very popular. I am gaining weight. Half my meals are rice, which I enjoy, but rice makes you retain water like nothing else so I just feel bloated all the time. All I want is a fruit smoothie. Also a brownie.

7. The air is polluted. It's crowded. I miss my family. The internet is bad. Crossing the street is like a game of Frogger. Creepy people stare at us a lot. We stand out anywhere we go. The language barrier can be really frustrating. It shouldn't be that hard to ask for directions, but it is.


Sorry for the extremely pessimistic post. Like I said, I really do like it here. It might not seem like that right now, but I do. I'm surrounded my great people. I've met a ton of great people. I'm getting a cultural experience I just couldn't get back in the US. I'm trying new things and having some incredible adventures. Things are super cheap here, which is great. People stop us all the time to take pictures or just tell us we are beautiful. People for the most part are very kind and friendly. But I also don't want people to think I'm rubbing it in their faces that my life is perfect, because obviously it's not. But it is awesome. I'm having such a good time and I'm so excited for the adventures I still have ahead of me.

I'll get some more posts up as soon as I can. Hope everyone is doing well in America!