DongBei. The North East!
There are stages you go through when you live in Harbin. At first, when you arrive, you are almost certain that you cannot and will not survive here. It’s rough, raw, the language is just nothing like the podcasts you’ve been listening to on your flight, and well…the extremities! The summer is plagued with heatwaves and the winter gets colder than the Antarctic summer! Not cool. You develop a fear of getting into vehicles; I found myself curbing the urge to text my family every time I hopped on a bus. You know, to tell them I love them and I might not make it to my destination.
Some weeks later, you get to the second stage. When you know 3 Mandarin phrases, you eat everything your colleagues give you, you have a bus card and hop in and out as you please, and you’ve stopped saying, “what the f**k?” under your breath. Just like any new home, you have to welcome it with arms wide open embracing all of the quirks, and in turn, it will reveal itself to you.
Of course a year in, you will still get lost. You might use the second tone instead of the third and you will find yourself in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t quite do that this time but I still ended up in the middle of nowhere. Mei shi ( 没事).
I thought it would be a good chance to introduce Harbin to people that don’t know it. It is home to the Snow and Ice Festival because it’s winter most of the year so you find ice sculptures everywhere during the winter. The last stage, you realize that you really like it here. It becomes home.
Music: I feel love by Mounika
If you have questions about travelling around the North-East, feel free to leave a comment or email.