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Neil Yaun prides himself on knowing a little about everything, despite no formal college education. He is self-educated, with a love of Chinese culture focused on their history and traditions. Growing disillusioned with the direction America is taking and his negative experiences with American women he is seeking a new path in China. He plans to teach English in China. This blog is about the journey to China and all the pitfalls along the way.
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Why Are You Here?    

By Neil Yaun
3709 Views | 3 Comments | 7/13/2013 1:46:00 PM

Ahhh beer the best way to reflect on things.

I’ve been thinking about my last article, and about how I berated the guys who came here for fun and games. Perhaps I was a little hard on them. We all have our own reasons for coming to China, and leaving behind what we had back home. From economic reasons to personal or even a combination of the two, sometimes we come because we are searching for that beautiful Chinese woman that will complete us. I know my experience with Western women that definitely played a big role for me leaving my world behind.

There are so many reasons to come to China and see the wonder that is the Middle Kingdom. There is the lure of gold to those of us who have smelled the change in the financial winds in the world, and realize that China is a great place to chase El Dorado. Of course, most never find it but the idea still drives people across the sea to a new world and with stories likes these there are always a few who will come with dreams of conquest. Only in this case it’s not territory they are looking to conquer.

The gorgeous and wonderful women of China are at risk when these “mighty” conquerors land looking for plunder and booty. (Pun intended.) The seekers of fortunes are sometimes just as guilty of pillaging the honest women of China for their own purposes as the conquerors. It’s no wonder we’ve been called the white devil, when even in modern days there is a race to exploit the beauty here. Personally it makes me cringe when I see a silver tongued barbarian weasel into the good graces of a Chinese woman only to see the same woman crying the next week after he’s used her and now wants nothing to do with her.

Then, there are those who want to escape from a harder life back home. Work here about 20 hours a week instead of 40 plus, and with many more perks than they would ever get back home. China truly is a dream for those foreigners who’ve worked their asses off most of their life with no reward. Expenses in China are trivial compared to most western countries, so they can do so many things they couldn’t do back home. The time outside of work can be a playground of vices for some or it can be a place of peace, knowing you are actually getting ahead instead of falling behind.

I believe deep down that those people who come to China for the most part come with honest intentions and that my experience with my colleagues is just one of the rights of passage that we all go through when we have been here for awhile. I guess “holier than thou” could be the attitude I have had with them, but I feel that racism and sexism isn’t something one should get a free pass for. We all have our issues with China but at the end of the day most of us are decent enough people not to resort to the ignorance that only makes things worse for everyone. Maybe, I’m not the poster child for how foreigners should behave in China by any means but I truly feel the reasons I came gave me grounding and a foundation that was sounder than the house of cards some come with.

Since I’ve been here in China, I’ve felt that maybe some of the problem with us expats is the bubble we live in. Now if you are living in a smaller city or an area with fewer foreigners that bubble may not exist or it may not consume so much of your life. However, in a city like Guangzhou it’s very easy to be absorbed into the expats in China bubble and to block out both the good and the bad that is in China. In Guangzhou you can sometimes forget you are even in another country. Especially when you barely have to use Chinese and you can’t remember the last time you ate Chinese food. I’ve caught myself in the bubble a few times since coming here. There was comfort in the familiar and it was a relief from the uncertainty of this new land to be able to relate to others. It’s was during that time though that I also realized I was falling back into the rut that brought me to China in the first place.

I came to China because, at home, life became unbearable. Life seems to have no meaning besides a dead in job and a marriage that had fallen apart years prior. I became a drone shutting out the world that was driving me crazy out until there was only the rut of routine. During that time it was routine that made life endurable. My coming to China was a last ditch effort to save myself from the all consuming abyss that my life was becoming. It took travelling around the world to resurrect myself from the ashes of failure, and drag myself out of the mindlessness. If I became homesick I would surround myself with the comfort of familiarity.

Being surrounded by others who knew what I was going through felt good. It felt so good that I forgot to try to experience more than what I saw every day. The realization that I I couldn’t remember the last time I’d experienced something truly Chinese was a startling. So, in a way I have been guilty of not giving life in China a chance. It was the slap in the face I needed to reevaluate my situation and remember why I came here.

I realized that I was here to grow as a person, and to fulfill a dream that I had since as long as I could remember. I didn’t come to China for comfort or for the familiar; I came to be challenged and to learn as much as I could about a culture that was so different from what I knew. What first began as a short term goal of improving me has become a life that I am building.

So why am I here? I am here because I have found happiness here. My attempt at self improvement has become a new life that is built on the bedrock of love. I now live in a country where I can better myself and improve the lives of others around me at the same time. I have a job that I’ve always dreamed of doing, and most importantly I have a wife who loves me more than I ever thought I could ever be loved.

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Comments
(Showing 1 to 3 of 3) 1
#2013-07-13 14:01:24 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Neil, this is one excellent kick in the ass for all those expats in China who are womanizing without any thoughts about the damage they do, for those who have started to forget the sense of awe and wonder they felt for this truly magnificent albeit bewildering country and culture, and perhaps especially for those who find themselves whining and moping about all they find wrong with China, even though they know there are countless more things about China that are right.

I confess to having been guilty of all three of the above during different periods of my stay here, and I thank you for this reminder that during those periods I am not the man I want to be. Hopefully I will never fall into that abyss again, but if I do I will come back to this blog and read it again and again as required.

I like your blogs generally but I say with genuine respect that I think this is the best piece you have ever written. Bravo!

#2013-07-15 00:52:41 by kahnsfury @kahnsfury

Thanks John. I think all expats should keep a firm grip on the reasons they come here, because it is so easy to lose your way in China.

#2013-10-22 12:57:58 by Barry1 @Barry1

@kahnsfury .

Hello Neil.

I've just stumbled upon your blogs and am currently reading my way through them.

I find them mighty informative and this one in particular is outstanding for its information, resplendently bolstered as it is with liberal doses of candor, honesty and integrity.

It boggles the brain why no one (apart from John, the website owner) has not commented this directly to you here before now.

Hellooooo - is everyone asleep out there? Don't you all recognise a really fine piece of sincere writing when you see it?

In many respects, I feel the same as you and have experienced the same as you. More on this another time.

One thing though - does one need to have a working knowledge of "Chinglish" to live in China? I can imagine that meandering through the markets or whatever at the end of the day could be quite frustrating, having to continually depend on your partner to translate everything, day after day, week after week. Then there'd be times when you're by yourself - what do you do then, when attempting to catch a taxi or negotiate a price on something, etc etc?

Anyway, great reading, Neil - thank you.







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