I had no preconceptions of what to expect before moving to China and starting my new teaching job, as I hadn’t had much or any experience of either. I was surprised how easy it is to adapt on a basic level to new surroundings and situations. The moment I walked through the door to start teaching my first lesson, I fell straight into this teacher persona. My best advice is to take to the new culture slowly, don’t expect to know how to do everything straight away as you have plenty of time finding all that stuff out, and that’s definitely part of the fun of it. I enjoy playing charades with the shopkeepers when asking for what I want. A lot of the time the Chinese won’t get the fact you can’t speak any of their language, so they’ll just be talking to me in this complete alien dialect, but I enjoy talking back to them in English and making up a ridiculous conversation on the spot.
Shenyang as a city itself is like a big playground, especially for Westerners. Everything is really cheap and I haven’t had to be concerned about money once since being here. You can also get away with a lot more for just being a foreigner. The city caters for anyone’s needs like shopping, skiing, sports, movies, bars, and galleries/museums. I stumbled upon a little art shop the other day with really cheap art supplies, which is great for me. I’ve only experienced Shenyang in the winter so far, which can get very cold, but you do get used to it, and luckily by the time summer comes around I’ll know my way round a bit better.
I haven’t had much chance to travel yet but I’m planning to take the bullet train to Beijing and then Harbin this coming Spring Festival.