I’ve officially lived in China for two weeks and have gotten over the initial shock of moving to a foreign country. I had many assumptions about what it would be like and what it wouldn’t be, but for now, I can say that life in Guangzhou is really not bad. In fact, I would think this is one of the more desirable places to live compared to the other major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and here is why.
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The climate here is really nice. Think California in the dead of winter. It gets a bit chilly at night but during the day it is really quite comfortable to walk around. The pollution can get a bit nasty when the clouds roll in but from what I’ve seen, most days are clear or at least close to it.
The are trees EVERYWHERE. And it’s awesome. Seriously, every street is lined with these trees which creates this cool overhang that shadows everything below it. This was a nice surprise considering what I was expecting before: dirt, smog, and human feces on the street (which I’ve heard is true in some parts of China).
The subway system here is on point. Each station is spotless, easily navigable, and cheap as hell. Once you buy a metro card the machine will charge you based on distance traveled. And from what I’ve seen, most rides cost cents. It is unbelievable to me that a major international city like New York cannot figure this out. I think they could learn a thing or four from their Chinese counterparts.
If you like Chinese food then you are in the right spot. Guangzhou, or rather the entire Guangdong Province, is famous for their cuisine. And it shows. I lived in New York, which is the restaurant capital of the world and I think this place beats it in terms of number of eating establishments (I looked it up. Over 10,000 to be exact). No you will not get the diversity and range of foods that you can get in New York City but they have everything under the Asian sun from noodles, to fried rice, to chicken feet. Oh, did I mention how cheap it is? Yeah, most meals will run you $2-$4 USD and will consist of rice or noodles, meat, and some vegetables. This is my kind of place.
The people here in Guangzhou are, for the most part, friendly. Most of my interactions have been from situations like ordering food or trying to buy a sim card, and even though they might not be very expressive or smiley, the people are eager to help out a foreigner in need. Keep in mind, this is the South of China we are talking about. I have heard many different things about cities in the North but that’s another story. I’ve also noticed that they are quite cut out from the Western world and it shows in how they react to the face of a foreigner in the subway or on the street. Many times I will get blank stares and double takes as if many have never seen a white guy before. Or even better, they will stop me to ask for a photo like the one I took above.
Life in Guangzhou is far less crazy than I thought it would be. Yeah, of course little things like ordering food or setting up a Chinese bank account can be difficult, but it hasn’t been too extreme. The city is really modern with great transportation. The food is known for being the freshest in China, and the people are pretty relaxed and overall, helpful. I can imagine that after I learn more Mandarin the quality of life will only increase, so I’m learning away!
I hope to make some new posts soon with a different focus on things here in the city and my thoughts as I adapt to my new Asian home. Stay tuned!