Life in China – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Nicol Yuk Lui Wong 黄郁蕾 Huang Yu Lei

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).

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Ugly

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.

23 Comments

  1. 5th September 2018 / 11:47 am

    This is so interesting! My sister went to China for six months last year and really enjoyed it. I’m going to have to ask her about her dating experiences now… 🙂

  2. Nina Bashaw
    5th September 2018 / 3:59 pm

    You’ve taken on learning a new language that huge! Congrats on your success and with your positive attitude you will conquer the rest of your fears and doubts!

  3. Frank
    5th September 2018 / 4:21 pm

    I’m sorry to hear your trip had some bad effects, but nonetheless you did something new and unknown and learned some great lessons along the way. Improving a second language, meeting new friends, perceiving the world in a new way. When you decide to take your next path in life, you’ll be a stronger person than before. 🙂

  4. 5th September 2018 / 4:29 pm

    This was a really interesting read for me! I’ve always wanted to visit China, so it’s important to know what to expect when I finally have the opportunity to do so. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. 5th September 2018 / 8:48 pm

    This is a really interesting read! I’m from Singapore, a Chinese but educated in English my entire life so I can identify with being a banana! It’s incredible how you’re living in China now, despite some of the ‘ugly and bad’! All the best with the future! Hope you begin to enjoy it more and more!

  6. 6th September 2018 / 6:07 am

    Wow so interesting. Lol, I love how you said you’re like a banana. I hope dating gets better for you, that must be a struggle. I couldn’t imagine things being like that over here in Australia (:

  7. 6th September 2018 / 12:33 pm

    This is so interesting. I have always wanted to go to China so this is really helpful in terms of what to expect. I’m glad that there are still good parts, despite the bad and the ugly.

  8. Autumn Murray
    6th September 2018 / 12:41 pm

    I was just in Sheghai, China this past summer with my family. Definitely a lot of good in China but nothing is perfect. I hope dating gets better for you soon.

  9. Preet
    6th September 2018 / 1:10 pm

    Looks like a great place to visit. I’ll definitely go here one day with my family. china is such a bucket list material.

  10. 6th September 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Oh wow, It sounds that it has been challenging as a woman to immerse yourself in the culture there ( especially the dating thing). But I am glad you were still able to see the positive of being there and that there has been an improvement in your Mandarin.

  11. Catherine Santiago Jose
    6th September 2018 / 3:12 pm

    Learning a new language and able to talk to those people in their language is such a great achievement for me. I can say that it is okay to have insecurities but it’s better if you use your insecurities as your strength to become a better person. You don’t need to be beautiful for others you just need to be yourself and accept your imperfections.

  12. 6th September 2018 / 3:33 pm

    It is great that you learning a new language, I wish I could live in another country for a year to learn a new language.

  13. Marcie
    6th September 2018 / 4:23 pm

    It’s really impressive that you are learning Mandarin in an immersive way. But, it does sound like a very isolating journey. I’m a pretty thin person and I was surprised that I wear a large (or sometimes extra large) when I shop in China!

  14. 6th September 2018 / 6:45 pm

    I think you are explaining dating in 2018 in general. what happened to the romance? the class? the mystery? ugh guys today are terrible.

  15. 6th September 2018 / 7:59 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that! Changing cultures is never easy, it’s true. Chine isn’t easy to live in, I know a lot of people who did and only one stayed there happily… well may be it’s because he had found his soul mate there

  16. Melanie Walsh
    6th September 2018 / 10:09 pm

    It is such a big change moving to a new country. I’m not surprised your experience hasn’t been 100% positive. But I am confident you will find good in it, and I love following along with your adventure

  17. 6th September 2018 / 11:26 pm

    Every place has it’s pros and cons. You have probably grown as a person from your experiences.

  18. 7th September 2018 / 3:13 am

    Oh my goodness, this is so sad. I glad you have improved your Mandarin and that you’re sort of getting settled in, but it’s sad that it’s been so tough for you. I’ve never experienced such a drastic change in my life before, so I can only imagine how hard it must be. I hope you are able to adjust well soon!

  19. Rose Ann Sales
    7th September 2018 / 3:16 am

    I’ve been to China before and really having a hard time learning and understanding their language. Glad you were able to learn and understand it and I know someday you were able to grow as a person you just need to wait and take it one step at a time.

  20. 7th September 2018 / 12:52 pm

    Sounds like even with the bad that has happened with dating that your experience has been a good one.

  21. 7th September 2018 / 3:23 pm

    Learning a new language and able to talk to those people in their language is such a great achievement. I’ve never experienced such a drastic change in my life before, so I can only imagine how hard it must be. Hope you begin to enjoy it more and more!

  22. 7th September 2018 / 3:48 pm

    Great post and really honest too. Great to hear your mandarin is improving – that must be super hard to learn. Cool pics too!

  23. 9th September 2018 / 10:18 am

    My dating experiences in Hong Kong were also an absolute minefield. It was so odd to experience how old-fashioned it all was in comparison to progressive UK! And that’s so great that your Mandarin is improving. My Cantonese improved SO much whilst I lived in HK and I’ll be forever grateful for that. It’s made me a better communicator with my parents now that I’m home (:

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