Wherever you live for an extended period of time, the local culture gradually becomes your new “normal”. When I lived in Brooklyn, for instance, watching extremely impressive break-dancers hang and flip off the overhead poles on the moving metro during my evening commute on the J train was just part of my day. Totally normal. In fact, sometimes I wouldn't even look up from my book.
Yet, if a Chinese classmate came to visit me in Brooklyn and witnessed such an event, he/she would likely snap a photo to show family and friends back home what goes down on the NYC subway. I think we can all agree that cultures around the world have different notions of “normal.”
That being said, having lived in China for five years, my perception of “normal” has drastically shifted. Whether that's good or bad, who knows. It just has. When I first arrived in Beijing in 2010, I might have freaked out at ducks hanging from a restaurant window. That’s totally normal now.
Although my idea of normal has done a major 180 , I tend to forget that my family and friends back home share a very different normal than I do in China. Therefore, for the past several weeks, I decided to intentionally carry out my days with heightened awareness and collect a series of “China moments” that capture “normal daily life” in Shenzhen.
If any of my Chinese friends can do a better job at explaining these #ChinaMoments, feel free to send me an email! As always, I would love to hear your views :)
I hope you enjoy my collection!
1. A new "Western-style" restaurant just opened in the mall near me. I think I'll order the "Charcoal snowflake cover on brain" or perhaps the "Charcoal burning snow cowboy bone"...Hard decision. What about you?
2. I went to buy some leisure-athletic shoes today. New Balances are generally pretty comfy, well, when they're not fake. Notice anything special about these NB sneaks? Real or fake? ;)
3. Not really sure what's going on here...Your guess is as good as mine. Take away church food? Or take away OR church food? Other ideas? Didn't realize doggie bags were allowed at church, good to know. China friends, I would love your help here...
4. Just a typical Monday morning walk to the metro when I passed a man giving a speech...beside a can full of flames. Next thing I know, I am breathing in lots of smoke. Applauses broke out. I'm still confused.
5. ANYTHING can be carried on the back of a wagon or bike in China. People, garbage, blankets, food, animals, mail, home appliances, balloons...You name it, I've seen it. #MadSkills
6. That's me just happily chilling at nearby Shigu Shan Park. Catching some rays on a sunny day. Oh yes, I am being photographed from a drone flying overhead.
7. So...what's the point of a garbage can, again? Please explain.
8. China loves piles of stuff. Everywhere.
It's 80 degrees outside in Shenzhen. Translation: It's time to sell puffy winter coats!
Nah, I totally get it though. My cold tolerance has gone way downhill. I bought a portable heater when it turned 70 degrees. Um, how the heck did I ever go to college in Upstate New York? Beats me.
Laundry hangs everywhere and anywhere. Even the highway. Oh, and it never dries because we live in a humid sub-tropical climate. Thus, it's always hanging. Never drying.
Safety? What's that? Enough said.
Fresh food alert! Which fish do you want for dinner? You can choose. Just some fish swimming outside of a local restaurant patiently waiting to be selected for din din.
We keep our streets squeaky clean in Shenzhen. NO LEAVES allowed!
This is how the cool kids get to work in the morning... Mom & dad, my birthday is coming up...Just giving you some present ideas.
This security guard doesn't appear too stoked about their heated game. Maybe he feels excluded. Or perhaps he is playing the winner?
Street games are everywhere. #Community
World's best child jungle gym. I wish they had this in the West Hartford mall when I was growing up. I would have never left.
It's located inside of a high-end luxury shopping mall down the street. Parents go shop, your kids will be busy for a while...
So, does this mean my school doesn't want their teachers and students to stay safe? Kidding kidding.
Outdoor nail salon. Street manicures, anyone? No better way to feel beautiful and pampered...
Snacking on some sugar cane. I suppose it's healthier than a Twinkie.
Sizzling Sichuan-style chili oil quail eggs for an afternoon snack. Any takers?
Is this oil or soap in my soup? I can't really tell. Maybe it's both?
I ordered scrambbled eggs with scallions. It came mixed with stones (as in rocks or pebbles). No, those are not potatoes. They are ROCKS. Anyone have any ideas? I have no answers.
P.S. This one isn't actually very "normal". First time I've eaten rocks for dinner. (China friends, have you ever experienced this?)
Ran past these heads dumped on the street while on a rainy morning run. I had nightmares all week.
P.P.S. This is also not too normal...
The huge new fancy grocery store that just opened near me really mastered their signage. On point.
Yes, this one is very normal. I feel more at home now.
These ladies' job is to make sure people wait to cross the street until the traffic light turns red. Thank you. Much appreciated. But, actually.
Note: Crossing the street here can be real rough.
Siesta time can take place anywhere and at any time in China. Even in a wagon on the sidewalk.
This is not homelessness.
This is just a peaceful afternoon snooze because he probably had a late night. I support that. #Priorities
I had a slight migraine just taking this blog pic. Can I help them do a little zenning, pretty please?
Young love <3 <3 <3
(Not really a "China moment", but I just thought it was cute...)
Seriously, why have daycare when we can all just play together in the middle of the street?
Grandpa sure is having fun! #TheGoodLife
China sells matcha green tea AND lemon flavored Dove bars.
Get with the program, America!
A mountain of lychees. My idea of heaven.
(Actually, these are called "longyan" which means "dragon eye" because that's what they look like...kind of. They are in the lychee family though. Fun fact for you...)
I haven't been sleeping very well at my apartment lately due to this construction directly outside of my building.
It begins at 7am every day (no exceptions) and sounds like drills are going straight into my bedroom wall.
Sorry, I had to. Snapchat had an appropriate "China Moment" filter today. Don't judge.
Am I the cutest Hello Kitty you've ever seen? ;)
So...Have I convinced you all to come visit me in China yet?