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SDE International - Shenzhen

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You probably already know that China has a long and vastly interesting history and a rapidly changing culture. You know that Chinese food is delicious, that some of the most beautiful places in the world are in China, and China has the biggest population of any country in the world. So what, you’re saying. Boring, you’re saying. I can actually hear you yawning right now. And you know what? Understandable. I mean, is kung fu even cool anymore? And probably tons of countries are home to fully half of the ten tallest buildings in the world. Why should you live in China, then? Because it’s super convenient. Don’t pitch this to your parents when you’re telling them why you’re moving halfway across the world, but life in China can be super easy, leaving you plenty of time to find the perfect selfie lighting so you can show all your friends back home how much fun you’re having.

World-Class Public Transportation

No, seriously. If you live in Shenzhen, you might know me as “that girl who constantly accosts people at parties and talks at them about how the Shenzhen metro system is the best metro system in the world”. It’s super fast and reliable, with trains coming as often as every minute during rush hour. It’s also clean, and it has stops in most major parts of the city. Additionally, it’s cheap as heck. You can get from one side of Shenzhen to the other for about 4 RMB, or around 60 cents. And if you’re going somewhere beyond the bounds of the metro or want to travel after it closes (around 11 pm or midnight), you can take an equally cheap bus or hop into a cab or Didi (Chinese Uber). Because Shenzhen is a new city its public transportation is more advanced than other places’, but every major city I’ve been to in China has had a fast, navigable metro system, as well as ample bus routes and taxis. You’ll never be stranded in China, and you’ll never have to break the bank to get a ride.

So Much Street Food That I’m Drooling Right Now

I’ve talked at length in previous articles about how much good food there is in China, but I want to talk specifically about street food right now. In most well-trafficked areas you can roll out of bed in the morning and walk out of your apartment to be greeted by a staggering number of street carts and kiosks selling any number of breakfast items. Bready dumplings, tiny dumplings, fried rice and noodles, congee, soy milk, fried bread, and more can be had for cents on the dollar. Of course, foods vary by region, so you might be privy to even more breakfast delights depending on where you live. Grab a bite, scan your phone to pay, and head off to work dough sticks in hand. Breakfast doesn’t get any simpler than that.

And food options continue through the day in China. As night approaches, you can find more dumplings, more noodles, barbecued meats, sandwiches, fruits, and more. If you’re ever hungry, you’ll be able to find a convenient, cheap, and super tasty snack. It might even be on a skewer so you can nosh and walk.

There’s an App for That

Are you out of toilet paper? Do you want a late-night snack? Need a ride or want to schedule an appointment? Get on your phone and you’re there! No need to bother with cash or credit cards or even leaving your house—in China WeChat, Taobao, and Alipay have you covered for everything. I even booked my flight to America on Wechat! Once you’ve experienced Chinese convenience, you’ll never want to go back to living in analog.

Public Bicycles As Far As The Eye Can See

One of the things I love most about living in China is that there are public bikes EVERYWHERE. On almost every street corner you’ll find a row of colorful bikes that anyone can ride – all you need to do is scan a QR code with your phone and hop on! They’re super cheap, they adjust to fit most heights, and they’re cute! You can get around anywhere, and get in shape while you do it. Lots of Chinese cities also have ample bike lanes and wide sidewalks, meaning you don’t have to worry about navigating rush hour traffic while pedaling. You can cruise all over town in them, or if you’re feeling lazy you can just take a bike for a block or two from the door of your apartment to the nearest metro station. You can even reserve bikes in advance, so you can be sure there’s a bike available for you at peak hours. The two main bike apps, Mobike and Ofo, even have English apps, meaning no clicking on random Chinese words hoping for the best.

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SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!
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About the Author:

Molly Oberstein-Allen
Molly Oberstein-Allen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a philosophy degree and currently teaches English in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys travelling and meeting new friends.
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