The end of the start!


A sunny cold day at the end of November marks a complete year since I moved to China after graduation. What brought me here? Well, the story is long, but to shorten it, a love story.

It all started two years ago when I moved to Shanghai as part of an exchange semester during my master in anthropology. Back then I was a ” good European” as Nietzsche would have said… with an entirely European mindset. Before moving to Shanghai I have never traveled outside the European continent and I was ready to broaden my horizons. I can describe how magnanimous my shock was when I first stepped on Asian soil. And as an anthropologist boundaries should have been imaginary to me. But, as it turned out, I felt as if I took an entire journey to a different planet. My new planet did things in a way that seemed completely upside down to me.

What exactly shocked me most? I can’t really say. Let me see. My list goes as follows: people clearing their throats in a deep and loud way and spitting passionately on every imaginable surface; traffic rules that basically focus on : don’t get yourself or anyone else killed; strong and aromatic cow dung and sewage smells at every 50 meters of any walkable road, some types of delicious stinky dirty socks and expired molded cheese and rotten fish dishes and so on.

Of course, after I accommodated myself to all of the above I started living the high life: events for everyone from everywhere (music, arts, DIY, yoga, cooking, cycling, etc.). Shanghai is indeed a hot-pot of melting cultures and styles with interpretations and reinterpretations of contemporary cultures. Globalization and localization all happen at once in a city full of vintage coffee shops and glass bubble business skyscrapers. You know, at first I said: ‘This is not where I wanna live the rest of my life or at least not where I wanna waste some part of my life’. An exchange semester seemed enough.

Don’t get me wrong, China is a fantastic country to travel around…amazing natural landscapes and traces of cultural wisdom and heritage. But again, as a “good European”, I wanted a fantastic health care system, traffic rules, polite people who apologize every time they touch even a centimeter of your body, huge personal space, clean air, amazing customer service, organized and interconnected university departments, flexibility and most of all the freedom of information and expression. Thus, I promised myself to never come back.  But guess what? I fell in love and came back to draw my own path and start a new story in Shanghai. I called this starting post ‘The end of the start! because everyday I am slowly negotiating what I can live with and how to transform this city and this country into something I can truly call HOME. Regardless of my anger and frustrations, I am pushing myself to find the lovable, the acceptable, the cozy, the familiar, the great unknown, the scent of the past in my present and the dreams of future on the streets of the former French Concession area. Now, almost at the end of 2017, I feel I am ready to mold my life  and transition from a starting anthropology master graduate into a blogger, a full-time traveler, a long-term resident in Shanghai, a recent dog owner, an accepting person of my own ambivalence, a career seeker and a lover.

41 thoughts on “The end of the start!

  1. Aaron says:

    Thank you so much for the like!

    I went through your words, and I really enjoyed them. It reminded me of things I had forgotten and gave me memories I never knew I had.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. B. says:

    It’s fun how life arrangea things to change our mindset. Since when i was a little girl i said i would never get married , and I got married at 22! I always said I didn’t understand people who date younger men, and after divorce I dated a 10 years younger guy…. life just knows what we need to be… and make it happen…


    • Yes, indeed…And the best of everything is that everything that happens is totally unpredictable…and somehow deep inside ourselves we know what to choose and when to choose even though sometimes we deny what lies ahead of us

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Came here to offer my thanks for your recent decision to follow Learning from Dogs. I’m sure you know that the greatest journey is the one within! Do please consider writing a guest post for me about your relationship with your dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the most intriguing post I’ve read in a long time. It’s interesting what we can learn from someone’s personal experience that we never learn from watching the news (which I don’t watch anymore.) Your story reminds me of a favorite TV show from the early 90s, Northern Exposure, where a young New York doctor was recruited to work in Alaska. He hated it at first, but grew to love the culture and the people by the end of the series. Thanks for the follow. I’m looking forward to learning more.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Graham says:

    Hey. It’s 3.5 years since I moved to NZ from the UK…there are still plenty of times when it feels weird…but I also think you grow as a person. I look forward to your blog and your continuing journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t been to Shanghai, but I did go to Beijing in 2000, and your first experiences remind me of just what it was like. I wish you a happy life in China, for as long as you decide to stay.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes from England, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I had a similar reaction when I visited Singapore (which I suspect is less “foreign” that Shanghai), and that was only for a week! What’s life without adventure? Looking forward reading more about your re-booted life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pete Hulme says:

    Many thanks for visiting my blog. I am in awe of your adaptability. I’ve spent time in Shanghai on at least three occasions and still would find the prospect of settling there a daunting challenge. Mind you, that could be because, in addition to all the issues you mention, I have an extra one: I’m vegetarian! There is much to love in China, none the less, that should help you make your transplantation there a success.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well,, you really landed into a totally new universe, didn’t you ! I could almost smell those pungent socks and other exciting aromas you described 🙂 Glad you found a fourlegged companion to steer you through life. Perhaps you’re lucky that your sense of smell is not as acute … just saying! Thank you so much for the follow. Good luck with your continued settling in.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Welcome to Virtual Vitamins! I’m honored by the follow. I remember when, in my childhood, Japan was as aromatic as you find China to be, but my impression is that the Japanese have always had the best manners in Asia. May my words be a blessing and encouragement to you, and may your words and actions likewise bless many.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My wife and I moved to a small Central Asian republic about three and a half years ago. We can relate to the shock you described upon your arrival. It’s been a long, slow road to turn this place into our new home, but it’s been worth it. We’re glad to be here.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Martina Korkmaz // The Depth of Now says:

    “The end of the start! because everyday I am slowly negotiating what I can live with and how to transform this city and this country into something I can truly call HOME.” – A wonderful adventure for discovering what you are made of and who you are. The difficulty isn’t what it seems – it’s only the mind trying to adjust to a new kind of living and this is a thing that our minds should do often. I look forward to reading more about your adventures in self discovery and your new home.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ravisingh says:

    Hi Fragilistic! Yes,your post is straight from your heart and only people with good heart can write such amazing and original is superb.Actually splendid!

    Liked by 1 person

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