Latest Column for Expat Focus….
I’ve been living in the middle of China for almost two months now.
It’s my second expat posting, so while I’m not a newbie to “expat life”, having bandied about the term ‘culture shock’ on this column many times, I’ve got to say, in all honesty I had rather naively forgotten how confronting moving to a new country could be.
Arriving in Xi’an, North West China, I knew no one – not a single soul, bar my husband and 3 year old daughter. We arrived at the Westin Hotel – our new home, in the middle of a grey, wet night.
A short flight from Hong Kong, but I went from living next door to the world’s 7th tallest skyscraper on the 43rd floor to a five story hotel that stands opposite a 1300 year old wild goose pagoda. Chalk and cheese to say the least!
It’s fair to say, my first week had me lost in a blur of speechlessness, afraid to breathe for fear of being overwhelmed by the rawness of such a contrasting culture.
China is a place where road rules seem non existent — cars, busses, bikes and pedestrians all competing for the same spot with the same vigor, their hands heavy on the horn but not the break. Someone once said, “In China, whatever’s bigger, gets right of way!” As a pedestrian, crossing the road is taking your life in your own hands. Undecipherable Chinese characters flash vibrantly on neon-lit signs from the side of buildings, strange looking three-wheeler motorbikes rattle on by, loaded up with precariously balanced goods. Cars mount footpaths for faster access….most toilets are holes in the ground and spoken English is minimal.
There is a distinct lump in my throat and that sinking feeling lingers in the pit of my stomach as I desperately try to keep my head above water and tear free, reminding myself this is all part of the ‘journey’. To read more click here…to Expat Focus