Keeping Tabs: My First Week In Shenzhen

I’ve spent the last few months thinking about the first blog post I’d have to write from China. It’s insane to know I’m sitting here writing it, living through some of the unknowns that use to run wild in my mind. We still don’t have wifi at our place, so I’m not sure whether this post will upload properly or if any of the pictures will make it on this time. I really hope they do but I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out. 

The week of my flight was a bittersweet one for many reasons (obviously). But, one of the reasons came as a surprise even to me. Since it was my last week working at camp, I couldn’t help feeling like I was leaving an entirely new tribe of friends that I made in the last two months. As happy and grateful I am for these new relationships, it’s another set of people I’ve had to say cya later to and that really freaking sucks. It hasn’t even been a full week since I’ve left and I already feel like I’ve missed out on so much. This week I’ve already found out that I won’t be able to make it to my best friend’s wedding in June. I know these are some of the givens when you move abroad, and I know this isn’t the last time I’ll be missing out on something, but it feels like I’m missing out on so many milestones already. As excited as I am for all these new experiences that’ll come with this year, I can’t help but think about everything that’s still going on at home that I won’t get to be apart of. 

Clearly this post is suppose to be a recap of my first week in Shenzhen but you’re gonna have to go through a few of these ramblings with me for us to get there. I really didn’t know how to organize this post, so just bare with me, ok?

I was running last minute errands and hanging out with my family on the night before my flight. Since my flight was at 10AM on Saturday, I wanted to stay up all night so I could switch my sleep schedule. That definitely didn’t end up happening. I woke up on Saturday feeling pretty good. It wasn’t until I was saying goodbye to Oden that reality decided to punch me straight in the face. I'm leaving for a whole entire year! My brother was holding his phone up trying to catch a picture of us but in true Oden fashion he didn’t sit still, so the picture never ended up happening. Oden was the hardest see you later, and the one I feel most guilty about leaving. I feel like everyone else will be busy living their lives, working Monday to Friday that a year will somehow fly by. But a canine friend? That's something special. I’m telling you, a dog’s love is a genuine kind of love, and you don’t realize how much you miss having them near you until you can’t anymore. Every morning that I wake up, I wonder what he’s up to. I hope he isn’t too lonely when everyone is at work and I hope he knows I’m coming back. If you see him on his walks with his new badass-looking muzzle, make sure you give him an extra long belly rub. Some of my coworkers have dogs here, so I will definitely be getting in my doggy cuddles one way or another.

The goodbyes at the airport went a lot better than I anticipated. I wasn’t a disastrous mess (that’s probably only because my dad left for work early knowing well that he's a crier). Seeing him cry would have made things a lot worse. The flight went by faster than expected. I binge watched Modern Family and Blackish and took naps in between. Every time I woke up, it was time to eat. Once we landed at the Hong Kong International Airport, a driver picked us up to drive us into Shenzhen. It was really neat seeing how close Shenzhen is to the HK border. Once my resident permit comes in, and I can enter and exit China as many times as I like, I’ll let you all know what I think of Hong Kong! 


Shenzhen was hit with a typhoon while we were up in the air, so the first few days were really rainy here. Living out of a suitcase was no fun, so I 100% recommend packing cubes. I ordered mine from Amazon a little too late, but really wish I had them with me. I did get a vacuum seal bag for my duvet which really helped contain the clutter. If you’re moving abroad, I would definitely use them!!!! I packed a few sweaters that will stay in these vacuum sealed bag until it gets chillier and I'll need them. 

Monday was orientation day and the jet lag was real. We got a tour of the school and I already know which room is my favourite. The art room, duh. I bet if Dallas Clayton were here, this room would make some serious magic. Why aren’t art rooms in Toronto this cool? This is also where the English teachers get to do all their planning.  Beats any staff room, if you ask me. 


Monday after school was dedicated to apartment hunting. Our school places us with a real estate agent who then takes us around. The first three spots were total let downs. Since Hannah and I are here on a Z-Visa, we have about 30 days to apply for a permanent working visa that allows us to stay and work in China for the year. In order to start that application process, we need a permanent address. Although people advised us to turn down places we didn’t love, we knew we wouldn’t exactly be able to turn down houses forever. Right as we lost hope for a cute place we’d enjoy living in, our real estate agent showed us some pictures of this one last place. We didn't want to get our hopes up, but right as we walked in, we knew this was the one! Six days later, our leases have been signed and we have officially moved into our new home!

Tuesday morning was spent at the hospital doing another physical for the next step of our visa process. 7 tubes of blood, x-rays, an EKG, and more. I didn’t faint this time though, so that was fun! 


Tuesday to Thursday was spent meeting some of our kindie kids and planning for the first few days of school. At our school, the new students have a two-week transitional period where they get to come into class with their caregivers before the start of the new school year. This gives the kids a chance to integrate into the classroom environment while their parents are still around to support them. 


Friday was actually the first day of school for us! It was weird that the first day fell on a Friday but having the weekend to recuperate  was exactly what we needed. Friday after school we moved into our new place and headed to the grocery store to get some cleaning supplies. Since we've had no downtime until now our bodies are freaking out, and we're feeling quite sick. The weekend has been slow, and I’m not really ready for the week ahead. I feel underprepared to teach tomorrow and a little overwhelmed to be completely honest. It doesn't help that my best friend’s brother is getting married in a few hours and all my friends are there including my parents.  I really wish I could be there. I’m hoping that as the weeks go by and we get into the groove of things, I’ll feel less and less inclined to be closer to home. 


I’m sorry if this post was a little underwhelming. The first week has been about figuring out next steps of our visa and situating ourselves into our new home. Once we start exploring, I’m hoping these China related posts will become a lot more interesting! I've always felt like September is sort of a part 2 of a new year. If you’re going back to school, or transitioning jobs, or hunting for a new one, I hope your September is everything you wish for and more! 

Talk soon, 






A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.