Going to China was my first time travelling alone. Naturally, then, I felt out of my depth and uncomfortable to begin with. But by the end of my 6 months there, I had made a big group of friends, survived a month of travelling solo, and then went on to teach in another country, so I had learnt to shake off the nerves.
On one of my first weekends in Chengdu, I had arranged to meet a friend in the city centre for lunch. However I’d felt nervous about travelling in by myself; it would be a 10 minute bus journey to the main bus stop, and then a 20 minute journey to the city centre. I’d felt ridiculous that I was feeling nervous, too; I had chosen to go travelling, and I had chosen the Far East- I knew I wouldn’t exactly be in my comfort zone!
Anyway, I made it to the city centre, and walked across to the square outside the train station where I was meeting Becky. As I stood there, alone, surrounded by groups of people and armed policemen, I could feel myself getting nervous again. However, then I heard my name shouted out, and as I turned, I saw 6 hands wave at me.
As it happened, word about lunch in the city had gotten around, and so some of the other TEFL teachers had came along too. That really put me at ease, as I was happy to be with a group of people- safety in numbers, I suppose. Simple things like that made me feel more comfortable. Some were loud, some were quiet, some were funny, some were serious. After a long lunch chatting about our busy weeks, we headed to People’s Park.
People’s Park is a beautiful area in Chengdu, with winding paths to explore. Everyone seemed to be out on a pedal boat on the lake, and we took in the views whilst chatting and walking along. Eventually we reached a square where many couples were dancing, a norm in China. My friend, Chris, and I joined in, twirling each other around and getting tangled up.
And then we were stopped. A man took my bag off my shoulder and handed it to Chris, and then the man proceeded to dance with me! I tried my best to shadow his moves, like stepping one foot behind the other, and we attracted quite a crowd of spectators who clapped and cheered us on. This was when the photograph in this post was taken.