Why China, Why Now?

Whether known for its vast strides as an economic powerhouse or as a country molded by its elaborate ancient history, China is a fascinating place. You could stay here for decades and barely dent the surface of what hundreds of local minorities and thousands of years have contributed to this culture; in fact, many people do. That’s the thing-in every visiting student or recent college grad turned English teacher, you’ll find a Brit who’s managed the same corner bar for eleven years, or an American that came on a whim and now has a family with bilingual children. A great benefit to having hosted the 2008 Olympics is that China moved into international consciousness as a great place for foreigners to live and explore. With an exchange rate that even a broke graduate student would crack a smile at, living in China is beyond affordable-sometimes it’s almost ludicrous. Not to mention, China’s a living case study of how thriving foreign businesses and a matured national culture can work to coexist, kind of like new gears in an old clock. It’s not just the country as an entirety that is so enticing; it’s the unique flavors of each contributing province, each buzzing city, and each sleepy mountain village surrounded by winding rice terraces. As with any culture that’s undergoing a major transformation, there are times when you’ll find surprises and other times when you’ll find a little taste of home. That’s part of what’s so exciting. A weekend getaway from Shanghai or Beijing could lead you to a village of people enamored by your Western looks, excitedly prodding their children to pose with you for two, three, or even ten pictures. Then before you know it, one of the children might bashfully recite a lyric from their favorite Michael Jackson song. The dichotomy is so incredible; it’s almost humorous at times. But yet, as the saying goes, “This is China.” Here, your shock value will certainly be tested, but you’ll be rewarded with a newfound cultural appreciation of a place unlike any other on earth.