Moving to China, but where to go?
My personal considerations:
-I'm not so keen on moving to a brand new mega city that was a town of 40,000 people ten years ago. I'm more interested in something a little more traditional. At least a little.
-I'm very eager to learn Mandarin.
-Warm weather makes me very, very happy. Humidity is even ok with me. Cold is ok if it's dry, but warmer is better.
-I'd love to avoid drastically polluted areas. I understand that pollution issues are to be expected, but I do get asthmatic at times and won't handle really bad air well in the long term gracefully.
-I don't feel like I need to live somewhere with a big community of foreigners or any of the Western amenities. If it's there, fine, but I kind of enjoy being forced to really immerse myself too.
I'd love any insights any of you may have on any of these places. Several of them I've kind of eliminated on my own due to contract issues or geography, but am curious to get other opinions.
- any place north of the Yangtze is going to be cold in winter.
- any place south of the Yangtze is going to have more limited mandarin usage.
- any city with less than 1 million ppl is considered 'rural' in china. Having said that, in many places, a city of 1-2 million will seem a little bit rural. Many city populations include many, many surrounding suburban and rural areas in their population count.
- stock up on rescue inhalers before leaving. China is polluted. A lot of that pollution is from coal though (in my opinion), so any city south of Yangtze that doesn't have tons of factories will probably be better.
- if it were me, I'd go with Suzhou without a doubt. But it is probably the biggest and most western of all the places you mentioned. But it seems like it might be a better fit weather and pollution-wise. (Though still cold in winter, but bearable).
*i have NO personal experience in ANY of these cities. This is just based off what I know from working with Chinese for the last 20+ years.
From what I can tell, the urban area is about 1.5 million. I'm definitely concerned about air pollution. I've had asthma issues on and off which were exacerbated by a brutal lung infection I picked up in Bolivia. Good advice to stock up on inhalers. Could I get them there though? I don't have insurance here, and if they'd be cheaper there, I'd rather wait.
I really have no idea what I'm getting myself into and am so calm about it that it worries me. Pragmatic advice is most welcome. Anybody have any good tips for learning Mandarin? Grocery shopping? Not offending the locals? Being a first time teacher? I'm a pretty well seasoned traveller and very flexible, but if you have some good, practical advice about assimilating and/or coping I'd love to hear it.
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