The City of Yangzhou is set alongside many canals and has some beautiful parks, gardens and a great Old Town. There are many nearby cities that can be easily explored on a weekend – Suzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing to name a few. The sprawling metropolis of Shanghai is only 1.5 hours by train, which makes for a fun weekend away!
Our life here in Yangzhou is great! We have met many amazing expats who we now call friends. We have a fabulous team of Chinese Teaching Assistants and other local friends as well. It’s a great mix of people from all over the world, including America, New Zealand, England, Australia, Russia, Canada and of course, China. Our weeks are spent Teaching English for 15-20 hours, exploring new corners of our city, working on our website and hanging out with friends.
Dinners out are one of our favourite things to do. We’ll get a big group of us together and go out to a nice Chinese restaurant for a meal. Eating out in China is much different from home. You would never order a meal for just yourself. What happens is that one person will take the menu (preferably someone who can speak Chinese!) and will order a bunch of dishes for the whole table.
One portion of food is massive here and is meant to be shared. Each person has a little bowl and will use their chopsticks to serve themselves some food from the communal dishes in the center of the table. Stuffing ourselves with a variety of food and drinking loads of beer costs about $6/person. Not too shabby.
Apart from dinners out, the nightlife in this city consists of house parties, going to lounges or nightclubs and listening to our friend play live music. We’ve been enjoying our social life here and have been lucky enough to be invited to a Chinese-Australian wedding, staggette party, housewarming get-togethers, going away parties, brunch with Chinese families, numerous birthday celebrations, weekends away and soon it will be time to celebrate Christmas with all of the foreigners.
There aren’t any English movie theaters here so we download movies from the internet and watch them at home. There’s no swimming pool, no bowling alley and no sporting events. However, we are doing more as the locals do – riding our bikes around, spending time in the parks, and trying KTV (karaoke!) We’ve traded in our hockey sticks and pucks for badminton rackets and birdies. We don’t have a car, we have one-speed bicycles. We eat soup, noodles or dumplings for breakfast and we sleep on a 1 inch thick mattress. Oh yes, life is definitely different here in China.
But the best part about Yangzhou is the fact that it’s not even on the foreign tourist’s radar. When we walk around, we’re treated like rock stars. Everyone says hello, everyone looks at us with curious eyes and when we ride our bikes around, we almost cause accidents from people gawking at us. English isn’t spoken here so we get by with the basic Chinese we have learned, using hand gestures and when worse comes to worst, we call a bilingual friend. Many of the western “necessities” and comforts aren’t available here, but we find the basics that we need to make a meal from home if we want.
We wouldn’t want to live in a more westernized part of China. We love the fact that we are some of the only foreigners here. Living in Yangzhou for the past 5 months has been amazing! We truly feel like we are somewhere different and are enjoying every moment of it. We can’t wait to see what the next 7 months has to offer.