EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

I miss Shenzhen

Writer: Priyanka Sharma  | Editor: Jane Chen  | From:  | Updated: 2019-09-17

After five years of living in China, it was time for me and my family to say goodbye to our beloved city, Shenzhen, the place we had grown to love and that felt more home to us than our own home cities.

After months of doubts about whether we were making the right decision followed by another few months of preparations, our family of five including me, my husband, our 1-year-old Shenzhen-born daughter and two 4-year-olds, also Shenzhen-born, and adopted dogs left China. Our possessions were packed and shipped in some 30-odd boxes, our immediate necessities stuffed in five of the largest suitcases available to mankind, and our hearts full of mixed emotions.

There was the excitement of a new adventure, anxiousness of leaving the comfort of the known and having to start anew, sadness for we were going to miss our friends who had almost become family, but also anticipation of being reunited with the friends and family we had left behind.

I knew I was going to miss China, especially Shenzhen. What I didn’t know was how much. I am in severe withdrawal!

More often than I care to admit, I went out shopping armed with my Shenzhen-designed and made smartphone, only to retrace my steps back home to get my wallet. I didn’t have the convenience of WeChat Pay anymore. It felt so archaic carrying a purse filled with paper currency and plastic cards, but the world outside China was still using the old ways; we just had to rehabilitate. One good thing did come out of it though: I got plenty of cardio walking back and forth from grocery stores, supermarkets, and shopping centers.

Even though I didn’t live there anymore, I still maintained my habit of checking Shenzhen news on the newspapers and news blog WeChat accounts twice a day.

I missed the convenience of 24/7 convenience stores. No matter what people say, they are not that common in other countries.

Tons of options of street food: Just grabbing something on the way to a party, meeting or having a cheat day with some of the unhealthiest yet delicious and easy-on-the-pocket food.

Just like street food, another thing that I took for granted was fruit — fresh, cheap and easily and abundantly available. Not so much outside China and not so many choices either.

When I was in China, I always wondered why we ever needed so many restaurants. It seemed like a new one was opening every few months. I miss them now. I am spoiled by choice.

Free home delivery of food, packages and almost everything. We are paying for every single delivery now.

Online shopping and online shop choices: Outside China, one either shops at Amazon or at a couple of more localized online stores with limited available options. In China we have Taobao, Tmall, JD, Baopals for non-Chinese speakers, and plenty other WeChat sellers.

The smaller grocery and green stores other than supermarkets: Never did I have to run to the supermarket for a pack of bread or eggs. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.

The excitement of Shenzhen: There are very few cities that can match the lifestyle offered by Shenzhen. Every day of every week, there is always something happening, and you are constantly discovering something new and meeting new people: a restaurant or a bar, a conference, a startup meetup, a tech boot camp, a music festival, a trade show, food festival, wine tastings, language exchanges, and so much more.

And last but not the least, my friends and my online/offline community. Living in China, you start taking the ease with which you meet and stay connected with people (both personally and professionally) for granted. There is no other country where you can find a friend, a teacher, a business partner, all in one place (WeChat). I had forgotten how hard it is to meet new people and make friends.

It is clear that I am in love with China and the city of Shenzhen and no matter how long I stay away, it will always have a special place in my heart.

(The author is an aspiring writer with a passion for travel and photography.)