Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part One
The art of using chopsticks: like all things in China, it requires focus, speed and precision. It is something I have been getting used to these past few weeks, and like the hustle and bustle of the city, it is slowly becoming a second nature to me.
My experience in the Middle Kingdom has been stimulating to say the least.
From traversing the subway system to tackling testy VPN connections, Shenzhen has not been without its challenges, but like most trials, it has also borne some satisfying ends.
Despite not being particularly known for their warm hospitality worldwide, the people in China have been among the friendliest that I have come across. When you walk around the city, the only danger you face is the traffic (or getting lost!) and the weather is a warm welcome, and a fine departure from the cold drizzle commonly found in Britain.
You are taken in by the vibrance and stir of the city, and by the aroma of street markets and restaurants. The city is young and fresh, and in this moment, you are one of its makers.
I have been in Shenzhen for about a month now and in this time, I have gained the pleasure of getting to know my host brother Brian. A sweet-natured five year old boy, he has taken to British children songs like a regular native. From memorising the words to 10 Green Bottles to Coulter’s Candy (a Scottish classic) to even Frère Jacques (allowing him to expand his repertoire of foreign songs from English to French), it has been a sight to see him grow in confidence in learning popular culture from the West.
It is with this eager companion of mine, I have experienced some of my best days here. From swimming in Guangzhou - a marvellous city where Chinese tradition meets modernity – to trying different teas (how I could write about the tea!) to finding a song in every object (Circle, square, triangle, I see shapes everywhere ‘’ Rain, rain go away, come again another day), China has been full of small wonders, and it is these wonders I look forward to, day in and day out.
As a third of my trip goes by, I find myself wistfully yearning for the next adventures of my Chinese experience.
A city full of people – the opportunities are out there!
Ayah-Sofia Semlali, au pair in Shenzhen