Life in China is often full of twists and turns and ups and downs, but teaching English in China is definitely a life where you will live life to the full. Despite the excitement, you may find that China is also full of a few surprising everyday pleasures, here are 8 that you can expect while living in China.
- Fruit and Vegetables
Near your home is a fruit shop and a vegetable shop (rarely combined) with the latest and freshest produce. You will be amazed at how much you can buy for very little. Copy the locals and buy only what is in season, never the mangoes imported from Thailand at outrageous prices.
- Empty Spaces
Yes, even in the biggest cities there are unexpected pockets of peace and quiet to be found. A public park at 7 am – often deserted, possibly with the exception of some older citizens doing their morning exercises, slowly. Taking the subway at a very early hour is also a magical experience – no queues, crowds, pushing or shoving. Worth getting up early for.
There is an incredible variety of museums on offer, both public and private, wildly ranging in excellence of its collections and facilities. The official history and art museums are possibly for hardcore visitors. More alluring is the out-of-the-way places. Power Station of Art in Shanghai is an example: huge, impressively restored building, always interesting, often no entrance fee.
- QQ Music
The indispensable app for music. Someone mentions some new music, and you are interested? Want to check out an old favourite? Interested in discovering some new sounds? Listen and download it all immediately from this lovely app. I miss it when I am not in China.
- Online Shopping
China is a paradise for online shopping. Everything is available. And I mean everything. Often at cheaper prices than in the shops. Have a colleague help you with ordering, and have it delivered to the office – that is what everyone does. Addictive. Recent buys: Lavazza filter coffee (20% saving), an iPad Mini cover (at RMB100 cheaper than in the Apple shop) and a mattress for a guest.
Use it to message your friends and colleagues – sure. But also use it to share photos and music and noteworthy articles, get news, buy stuff, pay your rent, pay your utilities, split a restaurant bill between friends. How did we ever live without this social media app? How can whole continents survive without it?
Walking in China, in large cities or small, often (always) yield more than you bargained for. A little shop you never noticed before; a small park; a dumpling shop; a photo opportunity. I often take the subway one stop short of where I need to be and walk the last 300 meters, with the hope of making a discovery. And I am never disappointed.
- The Foreign Supermarkets
Sure, we love life in China. But sometimes, sometimes, we just need to see some familiar stuff around us. And the big, expensive, beautiful and fragrant foreign supermarkets never cease to delight: Ole’, CitySuper, City Shop. Everything is carefully selected and vastly overpriced – but is comforting to know that your cravings can be satisfied instantly. You pay as much for nostalgia as for the product.
Post by Gerhard, EF English First Adults Center Shanghai.
Gerhard is a teacher at EF Adults School, Shanghai. Before coming to China, he worked in marketing in Cape Town; advertising and design in Johannesburg; and at the South African Embassy in Paris. His hobbies are reading, food, travel and photography. Find him on Instagram : gerhard_official.