And Sometimes I Have Nothing To Say

Living abroad isn’t all excitement and adventure. Sometimes it’s like I never left Finland. I have days when it’s raining outside and my fridge is full, then I don’t have to go anywhere and I can spend the day with my morning robe. I can be lazy and get bored when the Internet connection is getting slower and slower when lovely neighbours start using it in the evenings.

I don’t have to go outside and make comparison about customer service in local shops between China and Finland. Sometimes I even spend the whole day alone and doesn’t even need to open my mouth in Chinese. I can stare my IKEA furniture and eat my ryebread, just I could do back home. Sure there are some things reminding me that I’m in China, like when I need to use the toilet. But I can also put those things in the back of my mind and just relax.

If you haven’t lived in China you might think why I came here in the first place if I need a break from it too. In a foreign country it sometimes takes more energy to even go outside your front door. Here people are looking, you can’t disappear because even from the behind people can see you’re a waiguoren, foreigner. People are rude, but you have to keep in mind that they are just Chinese. What is rude in Finland isn’t so in here.

I am living my dream, but sometimes for a while I don’t want to think. What do you do when you don’t feel like experiencing the foreign country you’re living in?

  • It’s easier for me because I’m in a big city. When I want a break, I go to the area with lot’s of Western restaurants and treat myself to an “expensive” meal. I can spend hours reading in a cafe like I used to back home.

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    Sara Reply:

    That’s a good way to relax Michelle! Thank you for sharing. I go to that kind of restaurants once in a while, but the problem is that I live 1 hour away from the Guangzhou city center. So it takes time and trouble to get there by foot+bus+metro. And as a student I also have to count my money more carefully and going to town to eat is more like a speacial treat than a daily/weekly habit.

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  • I once tried to explain my Tibetan family, that I’m alone all the time but I have no privacy here. The problem was, that I could not find a proper word for privacy. Either it meant something that you want to hide (like diary sort of thing) or that you wanted to be alone, both of which are not what I wanted to say. So, I just gave up.

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    Sara Reply:

    It really seems that there is no privacy here and people do thinks in public that we would only do in private, like pick their nose. In some cases it seems that Chinese people do what they do and it doesn’t matter if there are million other people there too. Because of your comment Nomad I had to check to dictionary what it says about privacy. Does words like 个人隐私 and 隐逸 go even close?

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  • Tom

    I know exactly what you mean Sara. My wife an I refer to apartment as “America town”, not quite as exciting as it sounds, but some hot chocolate or coffee and watching are favorite TV shows, or skypeing with family sure makes it feel like we are back home.
    It’s funny that people think when you live in China you’re running to the great wall every day or living in temples, instead of curling up on the couch at the end of a long day of work.

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    Sara Reply:

    Thanks for commenting Tom! This reminds me of a friend of mine who was studying here a year ago. She didn’t really warm up to Guangzhou and thought Beijing is much better because all the cultural and historical sights. I thought that after a day at school or work you don’t need the Forbidden City, you need nice relaxing time at home. For some Finnish feeling I cook some Finnish food and eat it while reading Finnish blogs.

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