So it’s been a year since moving to the other side of the world and boy has it flown by. Being a British born Chinese, I’ve been brought up and am influenced by both the Western and Chinese cultures, but I would say I’m more of a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside, in other words, more Western).
My Mandarin has improved tenfold, reading, writing, listening and speaking, basically the whole lot but there is still a lot of vocabulary which I don’t know but am always improving, learning new vocabulary everyday through conversations, tv dramas, films, signs, menus, everything and anything.
Not only am I improving my Mandarin, I’ve also been given an insight into the actual Chinese culture as I probably only understand roughly 10% of it (Chinese New Year for the win). There’s a lot of holidays I have never heard of nor do I know the significance of them. I’ve also had the chance to see how the locals celebrate them.
I’ve also made friends from around the world, from Colombia to Serbia to Russia etc. The sad part about this is that these type of friends are the come and go type. It’s not what you think. It’s due to their next step in life, their new adventures, but they are the type of friends where I can visit their home country. Without them, it would have made my stay in China that little bit harder.
Don’t get me started on dating. Let’s say I’ve not had a good experience with any. There seems to be a common correlation where the guy is interested in your weight, whether you’ve had any sort of plastic surgery, do you photoshop your photos and any other ridiculous information they want to know about you. Also, there’s not many who just wants to get to know you, they only just want one thing, especially since I’m a foreigner with Chinese blood. I’m just going to stop here before I go on a massive rant on my experiences.
I remember the first few days here were so stressful that I ended up crying on the phone to mum in my hotel room. I remember the feeling of wanting to take the next flight back to the UK and to never step one foot back in China ever again.
My confidence has actually gone down hill but it hasn’t hit rock bottom so that isn’t too bad I guess. There are many causes, encountered many problems and bad experiences, being a perfectionist, body issues and just China in general making me feel like this.
It’s changed me, but not for the better. I would say it’s made me more vulnerable and weaker yet I always put up a strong front, to hide it from others. When I’m in that vulnerable state and the country doesn’t have that home feeling, it does feel lonely whenever I have one of those days.
I would say it has also affected me mentally. Everyone knows that I have tremendously bad body issues and being here has made it worse. Appearance is important, the number on that scale does also matter here (over 50kg is considered big), and I do feel the pressure to look good all the time and to get a lot slimmer. Because of this, I have really bad eating habits and have been using ridiculous methods to get me that inch or more smaller which I’m not proud of. I’m trying to fit into “that” requirement. Doesn’t help that a date told me to lose weight, don’t worry I ditched him but what he had said is still imprinted into my brain. But not all cities I’ve visited had made me feel this way.
Overall, it’s a bit of a mixed experience. I’m already thinking about when to go back to the UK for a visit or maybe back for good. Who knows. Will have to wait and see what the following year has in store for me.