Little life changes since moving to China

Since moving to China just over three months ago, a lot of things have changed.

Some big, but mostly it’s the small things I’m noticing that are really telling what it’s like to live in my new adopted, country.

Here are a few small and unexpected life changes I’ve picked on since moving to splendid China.

I’ll add to this list as time goes by and would love to hear about your changing habits, too!

Talk Texting

No longer do I waste precious time, and thumbs, texting friends in China – now, I ‘hold to talk’ and send voice text messages.

A typical conversation on WeChat (China’s Whatsapp) looks like this. Usually, with a few emojis and graphics thrown in, for good measure.

Source: Quartz
Source: Quartz

It is commonplace to see Chinese people speaking into their phones (not held to their ear) while walking, driving, eating, etc, as they are all sending these voice message snippets to one another.

At first, I just hated listening back to the sound of my own voice while struggling to nervously bumble out what I had to say.

But now I realize how quick, direct and practical voice text messages are!

If you think about it, traditional texting is wholly cumbersome.

Simply saying what you mean, via text, helps to organize your life with unbelievable speed and efficiency.

Added bonus – no room for misunderstandings.

More: Stop Texting Right Now and Learn From the Chinese.

Allergic to the Sun

As a pale Australian I have never enjoyed compliments about my “gorgeous, bronze glow” but here in China, my vampire-esk skin is full embraced – and even adored.

Having lighter-skin is an obsession for many women in China, who not only carry sun-blocking umbrellas everywhere, but who also apply all manner of skin-whitening creams to their face and body.

To the extreme: some women wear 'facekinis' at the beach to stay white.
To the extreme: some women wear ‘facekinis’ at the beach to stay white.

I am hard-pressed to find moisturizers, or even sunscreen, without whitening elements.

So now, every time I apply my daily moisturizer I am gradually getting more translucent. This is ludicrous to me, considering all those teenage years I spent staining my clothes and bed linen with fake tan.

Wait, but why?

In China, there is an old expression that basically says that “fairness covers a hundred faults.”

But I think this whitening craze also has a lot to do with social status. The wealthier you are, the more time you can spend in indoor areas, and spend cash to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jackson.

VPN Addict

Ah, my VPN. A true frenemy.

Sometimes we are close and hang out for hours, but mostly the VPN is my enemy.

She is a volatile drama queen, who leaves my house in a huff every 30 mins, refusing to come back until I have run a speed test or attempted to reconnect with her at least 10 times.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Adapted for expats in China.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Adapted for expats in China.

For those lucky enough to not know what I’m talking about, a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is an online tool, mainly used by foreigners to access sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google, which are blocked by the “Great Firewall” of China.

It works by hiding your I.P. address so that your computer looks like its operating from somewhere else in the world, like Singapore, Australia or the U.S. – even if you are in China.

But, even though there are lots of countries to choose from, only a few work, and of those few, only some work well sometimes.

Astrill and Express VPN are considered the best companies to go with but nobody’s perfect.

What little changes are you finding as an expat living in China? Tell us below!


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