From Israel to China: Being in Awe
We are Gadi and Tun, midlife run-aways from Israel, and we live now in Xian China. We describe our adventures on beinginawe.com and inspire readers to travel the world.
1. Why did you move abroad?
We've always liked to travel and examined almost every corner in Israel, visited several countries in Europe, once visited North America, and three times China. Like almost all the people we spend a lot of time to study and work.
Gadi - programmer and worked for five years in a startup, created a company with his friends from zero and they succeeded by considerable efforts of 10 hours a day.
Tun - physicians specialized in children's diseases, often working in the hospital for 26-27 hours.
Then after hard work, when we’ve reached what we wanted in our careers, we understood that it no longer attracts us. Perhaps we can say that we were overstrained. We really wanted to try something new, get out of the system and routine. And we left. Of course we all need money to live on. Not to squander our savings too quickly, we needed a country where the necessary costs would have been lower than in Israel, in addition to be able to earn some money. And where in parallel we will learn something new, that we are both interested in. Since we have already more than 10 years of experience in kung-fu, China seemed to fulfill all our demands.
2. How do you make a living?
The Chinese still preserve a respectful attitude toward foreigners. They often look at us as lunatics, some seem to even try to find out whether we eat like them, and so on. Many foreigners use this extra attention, they feel almost like a celebrity. (You can read more about it on our blog). And they pay to foreigners much better than to Chinese. Huge niche these days - is an English teachers. You can work twice a week and get salary higher than Chinese teachers for a week. We’ve found out that blondes and black foreigner teachers are in bigger demand. Simply because they are more attractive for parents of children. There are also many companies that are engaged in the supply of foreigner teachers to different schools and kindergarten in China. They meet these foreigners at the airport, provide accommodations, jobs and good salary. It is ideal for people who do not know the Chinese language and the country itself. Of course they take part of salary every month, so you need to pay attention to small letters in your contract.
So we have found a job, and apartment through one of such companies. In parallel, we still train kung fu, learn Chinese, and travel around the surroundings of Xian.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Gad’s parents stay in Israel, so we visited them twice already. The flight is very long and tedious, but on the way we have visited Turkey, and we also described it on our blog. And also visited our favorite places in Israel. Life in China renews our view, now we look at the home as from the outside and see that it is a small, but very beautiful country, and we love it very much, but we also have learned, that in comparison to China or Turkey Israel is terribly expensive ...
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in China?
In China, we are just travelers; we will never become part of their world. This has a huge advantage - we will never be part of the system. Our view remains impartial, moreover, China has a lot to offer to see and learn. And, of course, the pleasant filling to be a celebrity...
But we plan to leave in near feature and to visit other countries. The world is so beautiful and huge.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in China?
When we went to China for the first time in 2003 we were filled with ideas about Eastern philosophy and wisdom. Every Chinese seemed to us as hidden sage who knows the truth ... Of course it is not so, and we think in Israel in our town there are more spiritually searching people than around Xi'an. Here people just want to make money, they are tired of living in poor conditions. Materialism is booming. West swept east. The Cultural Revolution was a success, in terms of erasing old traditions.
All this of course is at stage of development, may be when people finally begin to live better, perhaps their attitude to life also will change.
The consequences of this race for money in China are seen everywhere: the resources are being depleted, nature polluted, cities are crowded and the air is getting worse.
6. What do you miss most?
We feel little tired from living in big city. It was good for some period, but now we looking for some country where we can live in small place with preserved nature.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
We met wonderful people through our passion for martial arts, it is primarily our coaches, and not all of them are chinese . And we very like to work with children at school and kindergarten, The children are always open, sweet and easy to get addicted to.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
We wrote on our blog about the strangeness of some of the Chinese everyday culture. Champion in this list are Chinese toilets. Even if it's super expensive commercial center, or a very beautiful modern subway, you will find the toilet be very smelly and its hygienic condition will always be “poor” in soft words. Something very strange happens in China in relation to the toilets.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
It seems that people in other countries, still perceive China as a communist country. Even in Israel, everybody are still keeping this old stigma.
But the truth is that in last 20 years China has changed tremendously.
It is no longer the communist country, also it is not purely capitalistic and democratic society, like USA for instance.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
As we have noted before, the life in China is much cheaper than in Israel. How has our life changed because of it? We just do not need to work a lot of hours per week, to provide ourselves with all that is necessary. No frills, of course. But it allows us to live, train kung-fu, and travel around Xian.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Primarily for those who live in Xi'an , we figured out that around Xian there are very beautiful mountains, which can be a wonderful break from the big city, details you can find on our website.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
Gadi as a programmer thought to make a blog about our departure; it took time because all our attention was involved in organization of our life in new place. Our blog already exists for more than a year. We have a lot of experiences on our journey and this is good way to share our story with others and also to save it for ourselves. We look at it as our private-public diary.
Gadi and Tun's blog, Being in Awe
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