Things I Won’t Miss From China

After 5 years of living in China, and with departure only a few weeks away, here is a list of things that I won’t miss from China.

If you happen to be from China and don’t want to get offended then I suggest you don’t read this blog. I have lived here for long enough and I’ve experienced all of the things listed before, so I’m not making these up. These are all my own opinions so this doesn’t represent every expat here in China.

Of course my own country has it’s fair share of problems, I know this… it’s known as having a  ‘compensation culture’, sky high rents and having a homeless epidemic, among many other things! So I can even write my own post about the problems in Ireland!

Maybe this blog will might help foreigners coming to China for the first time and what to expect!

Drivers; I honestly feel most people here have paid their way to be able to drive on Chinese roads, and they actually haven’t done the apparently very difficult driving test.

People don’t indicate… or they indicate right but then they turn left. They don’t use their mirrors, some don’t put their lights on at night.  Some stop at road corners which is incredibly dangerous.  I don’t know… it just feels like they have no regard for anything/ anyone except themselves. Once they find a spot to park their car, regardless of if it will affect other people… it doesn’t matter. They’ll park there.

They parked in the middle of the road to take a phone call and there are 5 cars behind them beeping like crazy for them to move. . . and they will continue to just stay there. They are oblivious (or don’t care) for other people. And I have witnessed this plenty of times.

Lack of common sense: Time and time again I have seen people casually walking across the road and NEVER look left or right! I remember once I was waiting to cross a busy road. There was a lady about my age waiting in front of me. So the green man comes on and out she walks into the road. But I saw there was an e-bike racing towards here. Thankfully he managed to stop in time but he was only 1 foot away from her. Not once did she even glance left to make sure nothing was coming. Because I was maybe 3 feet away from here, I saw the e-bike coming, and I was thinking “Is she not going to look left before she crosses?…..Oh, no she didn’t”

So when the e-bike had stopped, she got a bit of a fright… but carried on. She didn’t once look at the man on the e-bike and apologise, but just continued on walking like nothing happened.

To me, this is pure common sense to be aware of your surroundings. Chengdu has loads of e-bikes, and they won’t stop when the light is red. . . people here are aware of this, but still they don’t look before they step onto the road.

When I used to live in the city and I would cycle to work, and plenty of times people (without warning) would just step onto the road in front of me, and I would have to slam on my brakes to stop a collision. It’s so frustrating.  And of course they don’t look first.

Another time I was cycling around a corner. What a surprise, there was a car parked on the corner of the road, and a man and woman standing right in the middle of the road… TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE. Jesus, why stop in the middle of the road and start talking to people who are on the footpath???

Obviously I didn’t want to cycle on the opposite side, so I had to cycle between the man and the car, and as I did I was ringing my bell on my bike furiously and I shouted “Jesus Christ, will you move out of the way!!” He looked at me with such a dirty look  and was probably thinking “huh, this foreigner telling me what to do.. IN MY OWN COUNTRY”. . . Yeah I will tell you what to do… if you are that stupid to stand in the middle of the road, then someone needs to tell you.

Lack of Queues: When I go to Walmart to go and buy things.. I hate queueing up…. just because no one here apparently knows how to do it. Because someone skipped us in the queue once before, read here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl I’m always constantly aware of the people coming behind me… Oh are they going to skip me?? Oh they moved, where are they now? (quick glance around my shoulder) Make a barrier so they can’t skip ahead.... You really shouldn’t have to be thinking about that kind of thing, but unfortunately here you have to.

Another time my fiancee was waiting to get veg weighed, and of course an old granny comes up and puts hers on first. He didn’t do or say anything because whats the point, he will most likely be ignored by the old lady plus the worker there, so he let her go ahead. The old lady wasn’t even fazed about it. Maybe she was thinking I’m an old women I deserve to go first. 

For buses, people (especially old people) make a mad rush to get on, it’s like if they don’t get on, then the bus will go without them. Planes are the same. Once the plane touches down, there is a mad dash for their bags. We always joke that they are afraid they’ll get stuck on the plane forever if they aren’t the first 10 people to get their bags. Haha that’s what it looks like though.

Materialistic: Because China has become rich quite fast, this means that a lot of people think about material things. Every Chinese person NEEDS to get the latest iPhone, or they will seem poor.

Every week= new shoes, new clothes…. it’s a never ending battle to look rich and pretty here! I definitely can’t handle it! I can’t wait to go back home and not have to worry about looking like I have money.

Wasteful: Because of this new wealth, unfortunately many Chinese people waste a lot of food. Once I saw a family of 3 (mother, father and a 5/6 year old daughter) come in to a restaurant. Usually when you order food, for 2.5 people you would order maybe 3 dishes and rice. But this family ordered about 6/7 dishes of food! Just for the 3 of them! Usually this is to show ‘we have money, we can order as many dishes as we want’. We left after our meal but I seriously hope they got the rest of that food to take out!

But anyway, here they do waste a huge amount of food. I hope in the future the government will educate China about wasting food, because it’s such a a shame. There are many many poor people… give the leftover food to them instead of throwing it all in a big bucket.

Pollution: I don’t need to elaborate on this.

Being ‘fat’: I’m absolutely fed up of feeling constantly fat in China. At the moment I’m 9.5 stone, but be god thats FAT here. I constantly feel like every Chinese girl is looking at me and thinking “Oh wow look at her skin, it’s so white…. but she’s fat.” I know 100% that that is what they are thinking.

I can’t wear shorts because I just feel so self-conscious. I don’t like like wearing t-shirts because they ‘showcase my fat arms’. To be 45kg (7 stone) is the perfect weight for Chinese girls here. WTF!!??? To me that is just unhealthy, and definitely not attractive looking. So I really do worry about my weight and just feel so self-conscious here. They think that I don’t exercise and I eat crap, and that’s why I’m like this. It’s true. In class sometimes we would talk about health and what not, and the students would say “Don’t eat unhealthy food so you won’t get fat”. Simple as. So they must think I gorge on food and don’t exercise whatsoever.

So yes, I really really won’t miss that aspect.

My god that’s a long list!

I know It sounds like a big rant, but I honestly have enjoyed living in China. And don’t think it was all about getting good money; I’ve been here two years working part time, so I really didn’t earn a lot. If I wasn’t fed up of teaching and had a job related to what I want to do, I think I would have stayed here for longer. So although I have mentioned some things that I won’t miss about here… there are a lot of positives about living in China.

So that will be another post to make, things that I WILL miss from China.

Aisling

Getting Fit From YouTube

I’ve no doubt in my mind since leaving Ireland 4 years ago that I’ve put on weight. From seeing pictures of myself then and now, and due to the fact that clothes from years ago don’t fit me now, I certainly not naive about it.

So because we live on the first floor of our building and we now have an enormous amount of space, I’ve started to do some exercise to try and get fit and healthy. In my old apartment we simply didn’t have the space, plus every movement we made could be felt in the apartment below us, so it just wasn’t really possibly to be jumping/ dancing about in our place.

So now I have absolutely no excuse not to exercise!

At first I was doing zumba dancing which was ok. But then I felt that I wasn’t pushing myself enough. I knew if I wanted to lose weight/ get fit, I needed to sweat that bit more! So I’ve found some videos on Youtube that have really helped me to get motivated!

The first one that I’ve subscribed to is the YouTube channel ‘BeFit’. They have lots of videos on exercise but I mainly stick to ‘Burn to the Beat’ fitness routines that are in the ‘BeFit’ channel. They are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), so at most these videos are 15-17 minutes long, and they definitely make you sweat!! Check them out if you want a short exercise routine. Plus there are lots of benefits of doing HIIT exercises.

burn

From ‘Burn to the Beat’ I found out that the lady Keira LaShae who does it actually has her own channel; ‘superherofitnesstv’ and she has tonnes of fitness exercises. I really really enjoy her videos; she’s really enthusiastic and she really motivates me while I’m working out.

superherofitnesstv

So atm I try and do two of her videos 4 times a week. Currently I’m doing an abs workout video, then I move on and do a HIIT one. But of course sometimes I’m lazy and don’t do it, but I try and do it at least 3 times a week.

I like doing exercise in the comfort of my home and not having super skinny Chinese girls look at me and think “Oh look at that fat foreigner running” because I know that’s what they are thinking. I know I’m not going to be as skinny as the people here (not that I’d want to, a lot of them are just too skinny) but at least I’m trying to be a bit more healthy.

I just need to make sure I don’t lose my motivation for it!

Aisling

Loosing Weight

Recently I’ve started to make more of an effort to loose some weight. Once again, my student called me fat ‘Aisling you are so fat’…. and at that particular time really upset up. I tried to explain to her that Asian and Western bodies are different.. but she just didn’t understand. She has told me numerous times that her Mum tells her she is fat… so that is where she has picked up her bad habit.

So I told her that it’s rude to say that to me… ha I think she was more confused that it’s rude… in China it’s not at all.

So since that upsetting experience I’ve made more of an effort to cut down on food and exercise more. Since returning from Ireland in January, I know I’ve put on some weight…. and recently I’m been feeling really down and self-conscious about it. Having to see teeny girls in short skirts showing off their skinny legs definitely makes you feel fat. And I know when they see me they think ‘Oh there’s a fat foreigner’. Just because I’m bigger than then.

In Ireland I’m definitely not fat, just average. Oh how I miss being average.

Also at work, there is a Chinese girl who I work with who thinks she is fat, and is on a diet and doing loads of exercise. But to me, she is DEFINITELY NOT FAT.  I think she has a lovely figure. I really do.  But the rest of her colleagues are stick thin… so she also has to be stick thin.

I really do enjoy living in China, but when you are constantly being judged on your weight, what you wear, and how rich you appear to be… it does take it’s toll on you. It does on me anyway. My accepting of myself and my body is definitely being pushed to the limit.

And to show you how obsessed the Chinese people are about being thin, here is an advertisement I found.

IMG_8355

It says 想吃不想胖,喝。。‘Would like to eat but not get fat, drink…(name of drink)’

So it’s condoning not eating and becoming anorexic.

In Ireland, this ad would really make people angry.

再见

爱玲

My (few) New Years resolutions.

With 2016 nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking about what my new years resolutions will be.

Study more Chinese.

This is the most important one! I really love learning Chinese, I really do,I just wish I could actually see some significant improvement! I know I learnt loads, but until I can successfully have a decent conversation in Chinese, I won’t be happy. I plan on reading Chinese books (thanks to Rafa for buying them for me), watching Chinese movies and practise my listening and speaking.

 Do the HSK 3 exam.

I’ve been putting this HSK thing off for way too long now, so this year I WILL do it! I really need to focus on the characters though, as for the level 3 exam there are a lot of characters I don’t know. As I don’t get a degree from studying in the Uni, this exam is actually physical proof of the effort I put into Chinese.

Do more exercise.

These past few months I admittedly gained some weight. My suspicions attributed to this come from buying a huge block of cheese from Metro…. and it was gone in about 4 months. We plan on doing more walking to and from Uni, so hopefully we will see a difference. Also, when we make food ourselves, our portion size is a tad on the large size for just 2 people. 

 Travel more around China. 

Although this resolutions is only a dream, as, at the moment I can’t afford it, but maybe I may get the chance this year with a stroke of luck. Ha I’ll give the Chinese Lottery a go! There are so many places to visit here, you would need a few solid months to travel around.

Last but not least, be happier.

Although I enjoy living in China, just some days I wish I was back home with my family. I enjoy my Mum’s cooking too much while I’m at home, and I will really miss clothes shopping in Penneys (Primark). I hate clothes shopping in China; the employees girls hovering beside me makes me feel like a robber in their shops. I think my problem is I reminisce too much about home and then get sad. I need to enjoy my time in China more!

再见!

爱玲。

Being ‘fat’ in China.

I’m well aware that my body shape isn’t the conventional shape of a Chinese body. I know this. Every day having to look at girls that have literally no fat on them whatsoever has definitely cemented this in my head!

So when my students say I’m fat, it makes me both a little angry, but It also forces me to explain to them that in fact, outside of China… I’m not actually fat.

During class, my 10 year old student and I had to make up a story. I was teaching her irregular verbs, so making up a story would be a good way for her to practise. I started mine off about a scary house. To make it more interesting I acted it out. I was pretending to try and open the door to run outside but of course it wouldn’t open. My student says to me…’But you are fat!’

I have no idea why she said this, my only guess is that because I am ‘fat’, I should be able to open the door. So, this abrupt sentence made me stop, turn to her and say… ‘I’m not fat.’ Her reply was ‘You are.’ In which I started to explain ‘ Yes, in China, I’m fat. But in Ireland I’m not. I’m normal’.

Her reply was ‘Really?’. Not the best thing to say to someone…..

I could as easily have said to her ‘You are fat too.’ As in China, she would be considered bigger than normal Chinese kids. But I would never say this to her. If someone told me at her age that I was fat, or this or that….. I would certainly remember it. So I held my tongue.

Compared to Chinese, I’m pear shaped, so I have bigger hips than them.  And I know this. I don’t try and flaunt them; wearing short shorts or the likes. Getting me into a bikini during summer nearly gives me a mental breakdown; the mental anguish of them seeing my ‘fat’ and ‘wobbly’ bits. The Chinese however, they have NO hips, and thats the way they like it. They also have no fat… like anywhere. No fat legs, no belly fat,  not even BINGO WINGS!  Sometimes I think ‘How the hell is that even possible??’

The bottom line is; Thin is beauty. Oh, and white skin.

I know my student didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, as it has happened to me before. For instance; when I came back to work after my trip to Mexico, my Chinese colleagues said ‘Aisling you are skinnier’. I didn’t know whether to be happy that I lost weight, or annoyed at the fact that before I was fatter.

It’s just a Chinese thing. In Ireland we wouldn’t mention anything about weight, but here it’s not considered taboo. If someone got fat, they will tell them, without meaning to be mean.

I heard that if someone is fat, then they enjoy eating and that they enjoy their life. Being plump means you are healthy. But the way people here are obsessed with being skinny, I don’t think this ideology applies anymore. Pity, the old idea definitely suits me better!

I’m slowly learning not to pay attention to these comments. It is hard sometimes though, especially as I’m not the most body confident person, so any criticism sticks with me…. for a long time!

Though once they say it in Chinese, then thats ok, as I won’t have a clue what they are saying about me. 🙂

再见!

Aisling.