Occupation : Translator
Years in China : 18 years
As my Chinese improved, my connection to China, its people, and its culture grew stronger. The language barrier was soon gone, and being able to talk to absolutely anyone was incredibly liberating. I used to love chatting to people in shops, putting the world to rights with taxi drivers, and showing off my new-found skills when friends came to visit. And as I learned to read Chinese, I was able to engage with Chinese culture on a more advanced level and have more sophisticated conversations.
At that time China had such an amazing positive energy. In fact, it still does. People worked hard – incredibly hard – and they were optimistic about the future. Cities were being built from the ground up. The streets were clean and safe at all hours. Xiameners were proud of their city yet modest and welcoming to outsiders. You could just tell that China was going somewhere, and it was exciting to experience that first-hand and to really be a part of it. I suppose that’s the main reason I chose to stay on after my gap year ended. There was just so much more to experience and discover.
That was quite a while ago now. China has changed vastly, but the things that made me fall in love with this country have endured. Work has since taken me to other cities in China, first Beijing and now Shanghai. I love these cities too, but Xiamen is the place I hold most dear, and I return to the city whenever I have the chance. Though it’s been years since I’ve lived there, my face still lights up every time I hear its name, and I never fail to sing its praises to people I meet. For that reason, I’d definitely call Xiamen my home away from home.
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