I’m not going to apologize for not posting a couple of days, that rarely makes a good read. There have been some background updates and I finished The Strain – it ended on an okay-ish note. There was some vampire slaying, a good couple of unmemorable but boggling decision and logical fallacies, but I am still looking forward to a confirmed 2nd season. The Blacklist meanwhile is going strong and so far there was no filler episode and there is humor, suspense and a fantastic James Spader, even without any of the main mysteries being closer to resolved. Gotham is continuing being fantastic – even the young Bruce Wayne grows on me and again The Penguin steals the show and I can’t wait to see how he eventually grows to be the tragic villain and gangster boss. I like how there seem to be James ‘Jim’ Gordon’s villains that give a glimpse of what is to come in the city. I can’t wait, winter is coming…
As a German here in China you meet a lot of other foreigners. What do I say? As a foreigner here in Shanghai you meet all kinds of other foreigners, maybe even as a Chinese. Chances are that if you are female and Chinese then all kinds of nationalities try to hit on you and flock around you, but let’s not go there for now and to be frank, that is not always the case – guess it’s in the numbers then.
If you mean well and you want to come to China and experience 5000 years of culture, ähem, ähem, *clears throat*, then you can have a look at a website like this and dream yourself into a parallel universe were people here solve arguments with Crane Kung Fu versus the famous Tiger Chen Style, but who am I to tell you that. I came here with Jackie Chan in mind and when I was a teenager I wanted to become a Shaolin monk. I kind of met my idol Jackie Chan in Hong Kong once, but I know that the ‘Shaolin Temples’ are more Disneyland than mythical places and no, arguments are not solved with amazing Kung Fu demonstrations, it’s more shouting and pushing, but at the end of the day that is how it is.
Tiffany Wang wrote an article in February 2013 that pretty much shows how the expat situation has changed and yeah, it pretty much happened that way. We are not the unique snowflakes anymore. But hold that for a second, I think I am, but not because I am a Batman this time:
There are I would say three types of foreigners here in Shanghai if we look at them from a time-spent-here-perspective. And this is not scientific by any means nor is it in any way a relevant sample, just my own thoughts, so without further ado…
1 – The internship or exchange student
I was part of that group. They are here for a brief stint, usually between 3 months and one year. They know they will leave after that time frame and they live life to the fullest. Every club has to be hit, it wasn’t a good night, if the location hasn’t change less than 3 times and hangovers are unreal due to fake alcohol. Whatever they do here ends and they leave no marks, but a broken heart here and there and a few furniture pieces they leave in their dormitory room or shared apartment for the next one to grab. They have a blast here, but sometimes they can’t imagine to stay here a day longer then necessary and sometimes they come back, if they come back they graduate to type 2.
2 – The up and down expat
This type of foreigner is here for some time from 1 year up to 4 years. This is the type of person that came back for more or decided to stay for a tad longer but is unsure about their 5 year plan (if there is any). I think this is the most common type. The sad thing here is, that if you are going to be type 3, or even if you are type 1 (not Diabetes) then or a fellow type 2 (not Diabetes again) then you will be hard pressed to be the one that stays longer and sees them leaving to never return (to China that is). Actually that happens even with type 1, but here it hurts more, because you developed a closer friendship. When this type exceeds the 4 years he will be granted the title Level 3 Expat (dips on the trademark).
3 – The longer you stare into the abyss expat
As a Level 3 Expat you are here for the long run, but most likely not forever. Staying here ‘forever’ and completely immersing yourself is rare, if you’d decide to stay and spend the rest of your days in China that might be as rare as The Black Lotus. Honestly, that rarely happens and you will never be considered Chinese. I am now part of this group or type and I can stay another year or two. Funny thing is, once you are in this group you plan from year to year, then you turn around another 3 years have passed.
It’s all good for me here at the moment and what I want to say is that sometimes it is hard to see friends leave and then you will have to find some new ones, I mean new ones that are geographically close, not that you completely lose the others.
So remember – things are good and you better enjoy the ride! Some expat friends walk the walk for a time with you and some don’t stick around that long. I guess living in a an expat city is a bit like living on steroids, you just have to cycle through it faster.