I made the decision to embark on a journey and quite frankly I did not care what the route or the destination was. As it turned out, I turned up at a city in China called Hangzhou.
Having no clue about this country and city other than it being a communist state. I was immediately blown away by the heat, how different it was, how similar all the buildings looked but most of all how Chinese it was. What did I expect right?
For the first time in a long time, I just broke down in tears. I am not quite sure why; I just did. I guess the realisation that even if I vocalised my fears (and that’s all it was), they would go unheard or misunderstood. The teary session swallowed my concept of time and eventually when I had the courage to wipe my face and look up, I stared into the face of a Chinese local.
Without a single word, from the local, I felt true humility and love acknowledging whatever crisis I was going through. The penny dropped, and at that moment I realised I might be here to teach English to students however I am about to start a serious journey, and I am the one to be educated in the art of life.
Energised with this new inspiration, I start making my way to my new home. I get onto the bus, and I meticulously count the number of bus stops. At the fifth bus stop, I get off, and I walk up and down the road, and the ability to recognise my complex has evaded me.
After 1 and a half hours of pride, I finally pluck up the courage to call my one-day-old flatmate to come and find me. A couple of conversations and we are united. Super embarrassed and slightly edgy me meets glistering smile and humble flatmate. Enroute home in a true British gentlemanly fashion I get teased about walking past the entrance for an hour and a half and not recognising it and in that moment, I am hit by the realisation that I have met a brother and the tone for this friendship has been set.
I have no idea what the metaphysical reason is for me being here, but I know there is one. I know I have arrived armed with a degree, but I know I am 30 days into my BA in life. I know I came to teach and give love but instead I have received it in quantities unquantifiable. I have learned lessons in 30 days that I failed to learn in 30 years at home.
ARE YOU READY to overcome culture shock in China?
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