How has living in China changed you?
Georgi Grancharov, lives in China (2012-present)
I believe the most important change that happens is mentally - you really start enjoying your life much more. I rarely see someone complain, about anything.
Look at your timeline on Facebook, all those people arguing about politics, global warming, gay marriage or whatever - people here don’t discuss those topics. They, or should I say ‘We’ don’t care.
It’s so nice just to sit with a bunch of people and not get into deep discussions. Drink, eat, enjoy and work the next morning. There are no ‘weekends’ here as we know them in the West. People work constantly, but they also have fun constantly. It is not as monotone as in the West.
I don’t remember the last time I had dinner just by myself. Usually there are always some (Chinese) friends, somewhere, and we eat together. When the bill is due, everyone wants to pay it - not the other way around like in the West. Money is not the number one priority here - it’s building up a network (guanxi) of friends and acquaintances, so you can help each other out in various situations.
I am not a teacher - I run a small design and advertising firm. After spending 6 years here, I cannot imagine moving back to Europe again. The things I would miss the most are the people - even just strangers, but they’ll treat you as family.
Many Westeners will never understand this, and that’s a good thing. In fact, we foreigners, who have ‘real jobs’ and really understand the Chinese lifestyle - we don’t want you here. Because the majority of foreigners just come here and they simply cannot adapt. Then they start complaining or even behaving publicly in a way that makes all foreigners look bad.
Pat Munday, Professor of Science & Technology Studies (1990-present)
My experience in China is based on living and teaching as a visiting professor at universities in three Chinese cities: Chongqing in “southwest” China, Yinchuan in “northwest” China, and Guangzhou on the southeast coast. I have also visited a dozen or so other cities and some remote regions such as rural Ningxia, the mountains of Yunnan, Zhangjiajie, etc. [I use air quotes on southwest and northwest because, looking at a map, we would think of these cities as southern- or northern-middle.
Three things about living in China have changed me the most: (1) deeper understanding of personal liberty and freedom; (2) awareness of how a long-settled and densely populated nation manages socio-economic growth; and (3) appreciation for the North American model of wildlife management.
It is true that in terms of official personal rights such as carrying/using firearms etc. that Americans enjoy great freedom. That said, Americans often abuse these rights, thinking that universal means absolute. Chinese citizens, on the other hand, enjoy none of these rights and live in a culture of self-censorship—they are very careful about what they say and to whom they say it. Nonetheless, at an everyday level Chinese citizens feel every bit as free as Americans and simply tend to ignore many laws such as traffic regulations.
Eric Miller, Ph.D. in Cultural anthropology, research professor and applied anthropologist
As with others, living in China has certainly changed my thinking on things. I’ve definitely realized the importance of rule of law