Welcome to China! Greetings and smiles, a shining airport and suddenly you are in the middle of a world which is nothing like what you have seen before. I have survived here for three years already and I am still doing it. Why survived? Well, don't be scared of this word. China is not bad place, but living here requires moral strength.
I came to China after 4 years of studying Chinese in Ukraine. You think, I spoke fluently right after I landed? No. Totally opposite. I was one of the best students in my university, but after coming to China I realized that I knew nothing. I was trying to ask people how to get somewhere or so, they didn't understand me, and if they did, I could not understand their answers! So, I felt lost. But everything got better when I started to study in university here in Hangzhou. I met great people, I started to know the city, got used to Chinese life, well, more or less.
Before coming to China I thought that Chinese people are obsessed about fengshui, Buddhism and Daoism. I was reading a lot about all this, digging deep to understand Chinese culture, history, traditions. I expected to see the ancient country with good old traditions, great literature, but insteadwhen I arrived I saw that people care only about money. You know, even in Buddhist temples they put money first to the box in front of Buddha just to make their God to listen to them. So, no money - no help. However, there are still people who care about traditions, poetry, Chinese traditional art and calligraphy. I am friends with some famous painters and writers, also one great calligrapher. These people opened my eyes to a better China, not glassed buildings and fancy malls, but the soul of country. And, I should admit, I really love this China. I started to teach in China almost two years ago. English for school kids. I had such experience in Ukraine, so for me it was not difficult. Maybe, even easier beause Chinese students come to class to study, not because their parents pay money. At least, most of my students. Chinese kids are lovely, I love all my students, even the naughty ones. They can shake my soul out, but when I see the progress in their studies, I know it was worth it.
Now I am teaching dance in a public high school. I am lucky to have such adorable students and friendly coworkers. I go out from work even with more energy than I came to school with. Dancing is my life and I'm doing now what I really love. Isn't it happiness?
Hangzhou is my home now. I feel safe here, no matter what time I am out, I am not worried about anything. Driving bicycle in Hangzhou can be a little stressful because of the intense traffic and, I won't lie, because of crazy Chinese drivers, but it is possible to deal with it. About food as well you need to find your preferences. I like to cook by myself, but I also like to go to Chinese or Western cuisine restaurants sometimes. When I was studying in university, we had many tasty things in our foreign students' canteen. For example, steamed eggplant or chicken in sweet and sour sauce, mmm, finger-licking good!
Do I miss home? Who does not? But I am not homesick, just envy sometimes when my family celebrates something and I am not there. But here in Hangzhou I have another family, I have my friends.
China is a good place to be, it really is. Travelling around China is exciting; I wish I could see more. Working here so far is also good, sometimes even more relaxed than back home. I hope all of you will feel what I was trying to say through my small speech. I wish you luck and a good time in amazing China.