With everything that has been going on (and going on my nerves) the past months, it is time to make a conscious effort and think about the positive things of living where I am living…
There is no denying it: Bozhou is a very rural and in parts backward city. Sometimes the living conditions can be unbearable for a foreigner used to a different standard. You will feel lonely and many times more like a zoo animal than a human being. But we chose to come and live here (for practical reasons), so we have to live with the consequences…
There is no use in reminding oneself of the bad and ugly constantly, so instead of making a pro and contra list (as was my initial plan), I decided on an only positive list.
1. Low living costs
I have talked about this aspect before and it is one of the most compelling reasons to stay here for us at the moment.
Compared to other cities in China, life in Bozhou is ridiculously cheap. It is possible to live a comfortable life (thanks to taobao) and live in a big nice apartment without throwing yourself into deep financial misery. We can go out for movies and food daily if we want to.
2. Feeling free
Yes, as paradox as this might sound, being here feels free. Somehow there are less pressures here than we would have when moving back to Germany. China might not be known for freedom in particular or at least the definition of freedom that is circulated in most Western countries, but as a foreigner living in a small city you can actually enjoy a different kind of freedom.
People stare at you anyway; they talk about you and point at you no matter what you do. So why bother anymore? You can wear what you want, say what you want and simply be who you want…
3. Being able to follow my passion
I have always dreamt of making a living with art. Even though I am still a very long way from that day, coming to Bozhou has giving me the opportunity to start in that direction. Yes, maybe it would have happened in any other Chinese city, but circumstances and chances just made it happen here and this is one of the best things ever… By living here and having the luxury to spend time on my art I had the chance to put down a good foundation, and take this with me wherever we might move in the future. Also, being one of the only few foreigners living here and interested in art I was offered many opportunities to learn more about Bozhous local traditional art culture, like Chinese paper cut! Who else can say they had the chance to learn with an old master of Chinese paper cutting art? Or when my mother in law introduced me to Chinese cross stitch or the making of traditional Chinese tiger-head shoes?
I would have missed out on all of that if we would not have moved to Bozhou.
4. Spring time
With the horrible cold winter and no heating, every year when spring arrives I feel like a new life is starting. And spring in Bozhou is indeed beautiful. We do have blue skies and clear air! You might not believe it, but those places actually exist in China. And as Bozhou is the main producer for many Chinese herbal plants, and one of them is the peony flower, during spring time you will see fields over fields of pink and white peony flowers.
But not only peonies, around April the peach trees start to bloom all over and around Bozhou and in general Bozhou is in bloom during spring.
5. Summer in the village with the family
One of the reasons that made the decision easier to come to Bozhou was of course, that it’s my husband’s hometown, or to be precise his home village.
Having family close was so far mostly a pleasant experience (excluding minor incidents of course). And my favourite time is summer. I have lived with parents in law a few times. Winters are tough, but summers are awesome. The sun, blue skies and green fields just make you forget all the negative. And the absolute highlight is taking our electric bike and just cruising around the village, up and down the fields, stopping for a little chat here and there… These little moments are the ones that I should try to remember more often.
6. Experiencing a part of Chinas real traditional life
Those who know me (and the things that have happened lately) might start laughing. This is exactly what has been getting on my nerves the past months. But even though there are a few traditions and superstitions that make me furious, desperate and just hating this place, those are not the majority (or so I try to make myself believe).
I have always been interested in chinese culture and coming to Bozhou, learning the local dialect and being accepted into a Chinese family, opened doors that might be closed for other people. The village life is still full of superstitions and old traditions. While some of them are utterly ridiculous and hurtful to a specific group, some still have their merits and it is great that they are still being kept alive here.
I am mostly fascinated by the different Chinese New Year’s traditions and its stories behind it. Also some of the very old Chinese wedding customs have still survived and I have learned about birthday traditions, I never knew they even existed. Getting the chance to experience the real rural China life has its ups and downs, but it for sure can be something positive.
7. The food
Yes, there is great food all over China. But the food aspect is just such a big deal and makes life here worth living. It’s not only the convenience of access to delicious meals 24 hours a week, but it’s the variety. And then there are a lot of dishes you will only get here in Bozhou, like Niurou mo, or my favourite Mixian, a type of noodle that look a lot like spaghetti with tomato sauce!
It is very easy to forget the good. Especially if you are constantly confronted with unbelievable old superstitions and backward thinking that doesn’t exist even exist in many other parts of China anymore… But where is the point in dwelling over these. We will stay at least for another two years to establish some financial backup and life is short, so I hope to always come back to these good aspects of living here, to overcome the times when the bad aspects overwhelm me again…
If you see me falling into a deep hole of despair about life here, please remind me again and send me a link to this post
How do you cope with bad China days? Have you ever had the urge to just pack you things and leave?
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