by Rebekah Pusateri
Expats have a special bond that unites them together despite differences in culture and background. They all have the adventure bug. The adventure bug is the urge, that constant itch, to go try something new, to experience something extraordinary. If someone makes the move to a different country, there must be an adventure bug stewing inside them. I experienced the adventure bug the first time I went out of country. Since then there has been a drive in me to go explore new places, learn more languages, and gain crazy dinner-time stories. Do you have a voice in your head nagging you about “what would it be like to live in…?” Do you find yourself scrolling through Instagram pictures filled with scenic sites from other countries or watching House Hunters International on HGTV? Do you check airplane tickets to check prices out of curiosity? If so, you definitely have the adventure bug waiting to be unleashed.
In America, having the adventure bug is painful. Traveling is not cheap, and neither is eating out at different restaurants every day. Most jobs won’t let you take enough time off to actually get out and explore. This is one of my favorite things about living in China. Having the adventure bug here is actually affordable and realistic! Food and travel are much cheaper in China because of the USD to RMB exchange rate. Also, there are more types of public transportation and with my work hours at Sias International University, I can take weekend trips whenever I want.
China is filled to the brim with adventure bug opportunities. It’s a massive country broken up into different provinces. Each province has food that they’re known for. In my home province of Henan, Muslim noodles and dates are well known. The food here tastes incredible and fits my budget. I can buy a full meal with a drink for $2 at a restaurant on campus.
To feed my inner adventure bug, I like to reserve my dinners for trying new foods. New restaurants are constantly rotating through with their own specialty dishes. Finding the right place to eat is like a treasure hunt to me. I’ve found places to get egg and spinach dumplings (I’m a vegetarian), a place for ostrich eggs, fried rice, Beijing duck, and even stinky tofu – although I haven’t been brave enough to try that dish yet. At night food vendors magically appear, and the street becomes a new world of bright lights, exotic smells, swarms of hungry people, and a hum of different languages. Visiting food street is a great way to be immersed in the Chinese culture and practice some Chinese. Once a food vender was so impressed that I was attempting to speak to him in Chinese, that he gave me extra food! When the people here see that you are trying to learn more of their culture, it’s much easier to build relationships.
In addition to experiencing new food, I make a point to see more cities and provinces in China. I went to Linzhou to see the Red Flag Canal and hiked up the Taihang Grand Canyon. I didn’t even have to pay for this trip because Sias provides an all expenses paid trip every semester for the foreign faculty. I love how my job actually encourages me to explore! Over Thanksgiving weekend, I traveled by myself to Nanjing to visit a friend. I took a fast train for the first time, and it was very easy and cheap! I have more plans to visit Chengdu, where my brother will be working, to see the famous pandas.
There are countless reasons why I love China, but the ability to travel and feed my inner adventure bug is high on that list. I don’t have to stress over how much it costs or how to take time off of work. I can just live in the moment and appreciate everything China has to offer. To all my fellow adventurers out there, where will you explore next?