Five Life Lessons I Learned Living in China

China has shown me another side of the world, a side I had no real knowledge of, and at the same time, it’s shown me other sides of myself that I’ve been neglecting. And if nothing else, the challenges we’ve had here have helped me make some self-improvement discoveries that I’ll take with me when we leave.

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Working Out in a Chinese Gym

One of the unexpected upsides of living in China has been our ability to consistently live a healthier lifestyle. Between walking to work everyday, the active nature of our jobs, and the wide availability of cheap and delicious fruit and veg, we’ve become much more fit and healthy than we were when we left.

Plus, we’ve added about four or five weekly trips to the gym. But of course, Chinese gyms are not exactly like what we’re used to back home…

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Five Life Lessons I Learned Teaching in China

An acting teacher once told me that people stop changing at twenty-five, that after that time your character is pretty much set in stone. When I moved to China to teach at the ripe old age of 27, I realized just how wrong he was.

These are five life lessons that I learned in my time living abroad that I will take with me for the rest of my life:

A Taste of Canada in Dalian

We couldn’t quite believe our ears when we heard the news that the iconic Canadian cliché had arrived in Dalian. A co-worker had excitedly called it “Team House” and said we must love it because we’re Canadian. We were slow on the uptake but after she showed us a picture we couldn’t help but smile.

A very surprising and unexpected arrival in our small(ish) city but welcome nonetheless. We just had to try it the first opportunity we got!

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How to Cross The Street In China

Okay, you may think we’re being dramatic here. A ‘how-to’ article about crossing the street? Really!? But after more than a couple close calls trying to make it to the other side of the road, we can confidently say that the traffic here is not a joke. Since we’ve mastered the art of Chinese street-crossing, we’d like to share with you the top tips you didn’t even know you needed for safely navigating the treacherous Chinese roads.

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How to Take the Dalian Metro

Fun fact: Dalian is big. And not just population big (6.7 million people), but area big–over 13 000 square kilometers. That’s double the size of New York City. Like all five boroughs. So needless to say when we arrived here without a car, figuring out how to get around became a necessity. And once we did, the whole city opened up to us.

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How to Use Dalian’s Buses

Fun fact: Dalian is big. And not just population big (6.7 million people), but area big–over 13 000 square kilometers. That’s double the size of New York City. Like all five boroughs. So needless to say when we arrived here without a car, figuring out how to get around became a necessity. And once we did, the whole city opened up to us.

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The Cutest Café in Dalian You’ve Never Heard Of

You’ve heard of the cat cafés in Japan and may even have a dog café in your neighbourhood, but nothing can compete with Dalian’s Alpaca Treehouse Café (树洞听), offering western food, coffee, cocktails, modern décor, and most importantly… the opportunity to get cozy with two adorable and friendly alpacas.

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Going With the Flow in Lushun, Dalian

The day was a Monday and it was my day off, but unfortunately Rose had to work. I had the urge to take a day trip because my days off up to that point had consisted of staying inside or going to neighbourhood stores and restaurants when necessary or to meet up with Rose. It was time to do what we had come here to do in the first place: explore and travel. 

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Finding a Sense of Community in Ganjingzi, Dalian

We all have favourite places. Favourite stores, favourite restaurants, favourite cafés, favourite parks… We love these places because of the good times we’ve had, making us feel safe because we know exactly what to expect. We have best friends or friendly staff members that we meet in these places giving us happy social interactions. Or we may very well just love the food and drink. 

So what happens when you leave your city or neighbourhood or country and don’t have these favourite places anymore? When we left Hamilton, a city full of familiar coffee shops and meeting places, we absolutely missed these places more than we expected. But it also gave us the chance to create new favourite spots wherever we end up.

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