A friend of my from High School has been living in China for a bit now. For I love traveling and getting inspiration from other people’s stories and posts on Instagram, I wondered to myself: Why had I not featured her yet?

Her story is very cool and brave and I hope you enjoy the read.

1.So Mpho, tell us: Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Mpho Mphahlele I am 25 years old of age, born in Mitchells plain and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

2. Where do you live? 

I’m currently living in the southern part of China, Shenzhen Guangdong Province. It’s a city in between the two biggest shopping hubs Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

3. How did that come about? 

After varsity my life became a bit stagnant, as employment in my field with my level of qualification felt unattainable and the thought of going back to school to study further was really exhausting. I just had a lot of self-doubt because it felt like everyone was progressing around me. 

So, I joined a group of people who had similar if not the same experiences and one of the ladies sent me a link of the company I’m currently working for. The process of getting here was really quick. Three months post application I was in China.

4. How long have you been in China? 

I arrived on the 22ndof August 2018, so it’s been a 1 year and 2 weeks. 

5. What was your initial reaction upon first arriving? 

I was really overwhelmed by the humidity and the heat, the air here is really thick. I was also just exhausted because we had arrived at 1:30 am and the traffic was really bad. Stunned because I opened the door on the left side of the car and there was a steering wheel, felt silly but the excitement of just starting a new chapter in my life really took over. 

6.What was the hardest adjustment that you had to make? 

I think two of my biggest adjustments were the accessibility to essentials such as toiletries and hair products but I was introduced to an online shopping platform that literally has almost everything. Secondly, people taking pictures, videos and staring a lot. A lot of the arguments is if it’s from curiosity, ignorance or from a racial point. Eventually one just gets used to it.

7. What do you most miss about home? 

Family, Food, of course and knowing exactly where to find what I need and just being able to speak my native language.

8. What do you most love about China? 

China is really efficient from transportation ( subway station, busses, an equivalent of Uber but much more affordable) and public bikes) to making payments. I don’t have to carry cash, card or a wallet because one just scans a QR code. I live near the bay so evening cycles have to be one of my favorite things to do.  From going hiking, visiting parks and artsy spots to having dim sum, malatang, street food, hot pot or BBQ just on a regular day off is refreshing.   

The locals are really friendly, learning the language slowly and just being informed about people’s different ways of living because I’ve met and interacted with people from all over the world different who have varying backgrounds, perspectives and motives for themselves or the world and it’s been amazing. Also, I live in an expat area which comes with a lot of Western restaurants so I get the best of both western and Chinese food. 

9. What has been your biggest take from the experience so far? 

Traveling is really such an essential life experience. I mean marveling at the wonders and the beauty of the world is the cherry on top but physically experiences different lifestyles, cultures, laws, moral and all these things that make the world the world, gives one a deeper wisdom and knowledge books, pictures and the internet can’t. 

10. What advise would you give someone planning to visit China for the first time?

Get a VPN, Amaps, translation app (do learn the basics it does help) and the metro app before you get here. People will stare, take pictures, videos and if your experience is centred around that you won’t like it much. Either than that enjoy it to the fullest. 

Thanks Mpho for sharing your view on Living in China.

You can follow Mpho for more updates on her Instagram: @Braveheart_mpho

Love and Light!

Lesedi Dawn

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