I Found a New China, I Found a New Home, by Abigail Scott

I Found a New China (South African cockney rhyming slang word which means ‘good mate’ or ‘good friend’), I Found a New Home!

If you’re anything like me, then teaching in China, or anywhere in the world that’s not ‘home,’ is what you need to do next.

My move to China marks my first travel experience abroad. I know, it’s crazy right? For someone like me who thrives on change and making big, sometimes-drastic decisions having moved out of my family home to another province and city pretty early in life, one would’ve thought a trip abroad would be first on my list. Well, when the opportunity came along I thought now is as a good a time as ever. I strongly believe that if you’re going to do anything great with your life, starting small will only make the process that much harder and honestly speaking, I’m getting older, so there’s definitely no time to be taking my time!

I didn’t come here because I’m taking a year off from my life (I wish I could afford to do that). No. I came here because I am a teacher. My name is Abigail Scott and I’m a teacher. It’s what I do, it’s what I love, it’s who I am. I’ve been teaching for the last 4 years and I needed to see if what I had chosen to pursue as a working career back home in South Africa, would be transferrable for me to do anywhere else in the world. When I think about China, I think HUGE! I figured if I could make it happen here, if I could do this solo trip and end up being happy doing what I am truly passionate about, then I could go anywhere else after this experience and be successful… well hopefully.

I’m about to hit the 3-month mark living and teaching in Beijing – you can clap yes! One of the biggest regrets I’ve had so far was researching “Terrible things about China” before arriving. I wasted so much time trying to pre-empt the negatives and now that I’m here, those very things don’t concern me at all! It’s not at all as bad as what Google makes it out to be. China is more ‘normal’ than you may think… with some exceptions!

Yes, they drive on the opposite side of the road in the most chaotic manner I have ever observed. In South Africa, I thought our minibus taxis were crazy but China takes first prize on bad driving. The ‘robots’ (South African term referring to ‘traffic lights’) ALWAYS work here though, come rain or shine. Yes, the concept of western toilets is foreign in China and so we’re subjected to the use of latrines which requires you to know how to squat really well, and never ever really smell great.

Yes, you are constantly pushed and shoved about in and out of lifts, buses, subways, walkways… just about everywhere. Yes, and probably the most unsavory aspect about China and its people, that I have witnessed with my very eyes, ears and on a number of occasions, through feeling a couple of splatters on my skin (eeek)… the Chinese have a revolting habit of spitting! It happens anytime, all the time and anywhere without any prior warning and I have not, and don’t think I ever will get used to it. To be fair though, I’m sure there are some things in your country a Chinese person visiting is going to think are weird too.

Word of advice for those considering travelling or living in China; come to China to appreciate what you didn’t know you loved back home.

I didn’t know how much I would miss my car. The freedom of just being able to get in and go out at my own leisure, was something I didn’t realize I took for granted. I’ve recently purchased a scooter here though and it seems to be slowly easing the yearning for my little vehicle.

I would never have anticipated just how much I would miss a traditional South African ‘braai’ (South African slang word for ‘barbecue’ or ‘grill’). But, thanks to China, or more so Baopals, a site where you can literally find and buy anything, a couple of fellow South Africans that have been living in Beijing for a while managed to get a good braai stand and voila! We were able to have ourselves an authentic rooftop braai with all the lekker goed (South African Afrikaans word which translates in English to ‘superb or fantastic things’) like mielies (South African Afrikaans word for ‘corn’ or ‘maize’), rooste broodjies (South African Afrikaans term referring to ‘roasted bread’), wors (Term for traditional South African sausage), chicken and lekker braai potatoes. We even managed to order Savanna ciders (Popular alcoholic cider beverage widely available and consumed in South Africa)!

The point I’m making is that China, or any foreign place can become your home away from home. All the not-so-nice things just become another part of your daily routine. It’s all up to you to decide what you make of an experience that is in the end, all yours. And as for me? Well, I’ve decided to call this huge, chaotic, smelly and completely foreign China, my new home.

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