A year or more late...

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Viktor K
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A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Mon Jun 26, 2017 2:35 am

I realize I never made one of these, but figure this is the best place to give quick recap of my last year and pose a question.

I'm American, 26 and have a girlfriend that I hope to marry one day. I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, went up to Boulder, Colorado for college and got baptized as a liberal. After college I mosied around in Colorado hating life for about a year, grew some bud, met my girlfriend, and then we went to rinky dinky small-town in China to teach for half a year. I took a hiatus in Las Vegas for 1 year, didn't really appreciate much about it. That's when I joined here in 2015. Now I'm back in China, Shenzhen to be specific.

Anyone else in China? Texas people? Millennials?

Did
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Did » Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:44 am

Do you enjoy china? How's the pollution, including in the food? Serious question.

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Viktor K
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:23 am

Ya I love it. I'm happier here than the states.

Your other questions though are too broad to answer. It's a massive country. You would have better luck checking the internet.

I don't test the food and haven't looked into it so couldn't say.

As for air pollution, that's why we chose Shenzhen this time around. One month in Shanghai was enough pollution for a lifetime. It's pretty disappointing, I'm hopeful that in 20-30 years we'll see China get their pollution in check. Shanghai and Beijing are both incredible cities otherwise.

One memory I have of Shanghai was being downtown near the Bund, and the night ran late. We needed a taxi, but they were all booked already down there. We started walking a few miles, came around a corner and saw a wall of "fog." AQI was above 400 that night.

mathewsmith12
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by mathewsmith12 » Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:47 am

Viktor K wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:23 am
Ya I love it. I'm happier here than the states.

Your other questions though are too broad to answer. It's a massive country. You would have better luck checking the internet.

I don't test the food and haven't looked into it so couldn't say.

As for air pollution, that's why we chose Shenzhen this time around. One month in Shanghai was enough pollution for a lifetime. It's pretty disappointing, I'm hopeful that in 20-30 years we'll see China get their pollution in check. Shanghai and Beijing are both incredible cities otherwise.

One memory I have of Shanghai was being downtown near the Bund, and the night ran late. We needed a taxi, but they were all booked already down there. We started walking a few miles, came around a corner and saw a wall of "fog." AQI was above 400 that night.
400 AQI :shock: Is it even safe to walk around in that!?

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Viktor K
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:34 am

Definitely not. We could feel it in our throat, eyes, and chest. Luckily, we found a cab almost immediately after that, and took shelter (for what it's worth) indoors.

I would never consider Shanghai or Beijing for teaching until something changes. Meanwhile, these are from Shenzhen in the last week or two (had a tsunami and a lot of rain, but once it cleared up... :!:)

Image
Image
Image

We had a couple days when we first got here where the AQI jumped to about 150 in the city center. We were worried that we were oversold on air quality. It has been two months now though and that hasn't happened again.

However, it is worth mentioning that Shenzhen, even being great compared to other Chinese cities, big or small (when we were in a tiny city we had a coal plant for a neighbor), is still behind as far as the WHO is concerned. Shenzhen is the black line in this graph from https://www.quora.com/How-bad-is-air-po ... s-in-China:

Image

For reference, you can check your own cities AQI data online. For example, here is my old college town:
http://aqicn.org/city/usa/colorado/boulder-cu/athens/

AQI 10 right now! I sometimes wonder/worry if/that being here in order to save at the clip we are while working as little as we are will one day come back to bite us health-wise. Hopefully not!

mathewsmith12
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by mathewsmith12 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:50 am

Viktor K wrote:
Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:34 am
Definitely not. We could feel it in our throat, eyes, and chest. Luckily, we found a cab almost immediately after that, and took shelter (for what it's worth) indoors.

I would never consider Shanghai or Beijing for teaching until something changes. Meanwhile, these are from Shenzhen in the last week or two (had a tsunami and a lot of rain, but once it cleared up... :!:)

Image
Image
Image

We had a couple days when we first got here where the AQI jumped to about 150 in the city center. We were worried that we were oversold on air quality. It has been two months now though and that hasn't happened again.

However, it is worth mentioning that Shenzhen, even being great compared to other Chinese cities, big or small (when we were in a tiny city we had a coal plant for a neighbor), is still behind as far as the WHO is concerned. Shenzhen is the black line in this graph from https://www.quora.com/How-bad-is-air-po ... s-in-China:

Image

For reference, you can check your own cities AQI data online. For example, here is my old college town:
http://aqicn.org/city/usa/colorado/boulder-cu/athens/

AQI 10 right now! I sometimes wonder/worry if/that being here in order to save at the clip we are while working as little as we are will one day come back to bite us health-wise. Hopefully not!
Can I ask what the living costs are out there? I love Texas but I'd always considered moving out to Asia to save :) Also what is the WIFI connection like :lol: ?

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Viktor K
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:42 am

Actually I'm about to update my journal tomorrow night so you'll be able to check my first month* costs there. Off the top of my head I can give you these numbers for Shenzhen:

1 USD = 6.78 RMB

Food: <1000 RMB to eat street food for every meal
Rent: You get what you pay for. 1500 RMB-5000RMB per room for adequate furnished housing, you can spend more for nicer and bigger, or less outside the city
Utilities: ~300-500 RMB per 45 sqm. in the summer, but varies
Insurance: Subsidized by companies usually, we pay 150 RMB/month for our share of ours
Transportation: 2-5 RMB per one-way on the metro. Taxies about 10x for same distance. Buses about 2/3 for same distance.

The kicker is that you can spend just as much as the US if you're in a big city like I am. I pay 3 RMB per 600 ml beer. Others pay 60-100 RMB for the imported stuff. I spend 15 RMB tops for dinner. Others spend 40-100. We spend 4200 RMB for our 45sqm 2-bedroom, others spend more than 6k.

Wifi connection varies from what I've heard so it is hard to answered. When I lived in a tiny city in Jiangxi province, I couldn't play online games because the internet was intermittent, wifi or direct connect. Streaming movies and torrenting were no problem however. Thus, download speed was high, but so was ping.

In Shenzhen, our internet is not as fast download speed, but it is free with our apartment. The ping is rock bottom (a good thing) and I can play online games better than I could in the US. OTOH, a guy at work pays through the roof for the fastest speed they can get, and it is hit or miss.

*First month actually being situated

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Tyler9000
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Tyler9000 » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:46 am

I'm glad to hear you like China!

I'm a fellow Texan who has spent a lot of time in Shenzhen/Dongguan and Shanghai for work. While I never officially lived there, I've probably put in ~1yr of cumulative time in China and Taiwan (BTW, Taipei is a great city if you like Asia, with no visa required for US citizens).

I can vouch for the poor Shanghai air quality. I remember the first time I saw the thick "fog" and asked a local about it. I was told that it's not so much from cars or industrial pollution (although they certainly contribute) but from millions and millions of inland people cooking exclusively on coal stoves. Prevailing winds push it all east, which is why air quality in eastern cities is so much worse than in Shenzhen. So interestingly, industrialization isn't all bad. I also remember that they were trying to discourage so many cars in Shanghai to help with the air quality, so the government mandated that you could only drive your car every other day (dictated by the last digit on your license plate). So what happened? Anyone who could afford it just bought two cars with complementary plates. The pollution didn't change much but there was now a big parking problem. Just another lesson on what happens when capitalism and communism collide. :lol:

I personally found living in China very isolating, although I'd attribute most of that to traveling alone and being so far from friends and family. But with your SO there with you, I bet it's an interesting adventure.

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Viktor K
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:11 am

Hey Tyler9000, always nice to hear from another Texan, thanks for saying hi. Shanghai would be a great city if it wasn't for the pollution. There's a lot I wish I had the time to see, but I was pretty restricted the month that I was there (long story).

As for China being isolating, I could definitely see this being the case. I still have yet to form a deep relationship with a native Chinese person, even as I continue to improve with the language.

Fortunately, Shenzhen's expat population is big enough where I feel if I had never met my girlfriend, I could still eventually find a group to fall in with. It is pretty awesome having her here, though. I don't know if I would have survived when we were in a smaller city where no one spoke English if it wasn't for her. I like to think I would get by and just fall into video games and television, but it is more likely I would have slowly drifted into some sort of depression :|.

Thanks for the tip on Taipei. In the back of my mind, I knew this already. I have a college friend there who is actually doing a lot of outdoor rockclimbing on the weekends in Taipei. I was thinking I would just be stuck in Shenzhen with no rockclimbing for the next few year, but your reply is making me think maybe there will be an opportunity there in the future :D

slowtraveler
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:01 pm

Cool journal, I like all the numbers and that you're pulling off ERE level accumulation while living abroad-gives me hope. I'll join you in the expat dream soon.

I think it's interesting how aware we are of the difference in prices available to us. I can't imagine paying $10/beer in China but with some tariffs and shipping something across the ocean....

Do you live on street food or do some cooking? The Chinese grocery stores around here are one of the few places with good prices.

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Viktor K
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Re: A year or more late...

Post by Viktor K » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:42 pm

Thanks. I feel like my situation in China makes a lot of sense from an ERE perspective. At the same time, I caution any following in my footsteps. I have studied a lot of Chinese culture and language, I'm in a very foreigner friendly city, and I've had my girlfriend with me to keep me company. Absent these factors, I suspect I would be grappling with a lot more culture shock.

We've just about only ate street food aside from one time cooking, my girlfriend making oatmeal for breakfast, and a nice dinner at a teppanyaki :oops:. Once we get out of the training center, have more free time, and move to our new apartment which is more near a supermarket and has a better kitchen, we will cook more, or almost exclusively.

It isn't necessarily that we expect to save that much money by cooking for ourselves, but rather we are more concerned that our street-food diet is extremely unhealthy. Lots of oil, almost exclusively simple carbs, and just a handful of vegetables.

Our goal is to get back to whole grains and lean meats (for me, my girlfriend is vegetarian) with lots of vegetables and fruit.

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