Feeling Lonely Among 1.35 Billion People


There are more than 1344 million people living in China, 104 million of them living in Guangdong province. Guangzhou alone has a population of 14 million, that’s 2.6 times more than in whole Finland. The school year has started and yesterday I had to wait the third bus until I was able to get in.

There are people everywhere, pushing you at the metro station, staring at you at the crossroads and asking you the same questions over and over again when taking the bus back home after a long day.

Yes, there are more than 1,353,821,000 people living in this country (2012 estimate) and I’m feeling lonely.

Making friends was easy when I was a kid up until high school graduation. After that I made a few good friends at work and university too. But then I decided to move to the other side of the earth.

Being an exchange student doesn’t do good to your relationships. During three semesters at Guangzhou University I saw friends come and go. No matter how we promised each others to stay in touch, it didn’t happen. Today I’m in contact only with one of those friends.

Starting my degree at Sun Yat-Sen University was great, especially that I knew to have same classmates for two and a half years. Almost, at least. After the first semester our two classes were mixed up again as we chose our specializations. Only three students besides me chose teaching Chinese. It’s been nice to be part of a group, even though we rarely meet outside the school.

I don’t really shine at making friends. I’m a bit introverted and feel shy when meeting new people. I prefer texting over phone calls. I’m an over-thinker and hate to make people do things they don’t want to do.

I haven’t been able to make good Chinese friends over here, despite dating a Chinese guy. In friendships I look for something we have in common, something I can relate to in him or her, something that we are both interested in. I found it easier to bond with other foreigners as they are going through the same things as I am. We have a lot to share.

I’ve met amazing people through my blog, people who I share so many things with that it’s even hard to imagine how it’s possible. One of them is Linda, who is coming back to China next year. I’m even meeting a new reader/friend this week!

Sometimes I wonder are expats mostly extroverts that flourish when surrounded by lots of people from all over the world? Or are there more like me who prefer quality over quantity?

As a funny coincidence, I just realized that the island I’m living in right now has almost the same population as my childhood hometown in Finland. Or was it meant to happen that in a city of 14 million people I will end up in the smaller one of two villages on this island?

In a way I hope that this blog will transform into a place where like-minded people can share their thoughts. I get so happy every time I receive a nice comment or an email from a reader. I hope to make friends with all of you.

p.s. For more expat friends when living abroad, check out my yesterday’s blog post.