Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part Two

I have spent the last two months au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here. You can also find part one to this story, here.


Close your eyes, close your eyes and get a surprise

This fun children’s chant could not be more apt in describing my experience in Shenzhen. With every day that comes by, and the shut-eyes in between, I find myself learning more about the environment that lays around me.

Despite the temperamental drenching rain, and the (at times) stifling heat that so threatens to envelop you, the Shenzhen air is clear and the sky is bright.

For those of you who are considering joining the LoPair au pair programme, don’t forget your sun cream – you’re certainly going to need it once you’re here!

One of the most important things to do whilst you are out here, asides from maintaining your work and class duties, is to find and build a support system. I know personally that my experience would not have been the same had it not been for my fellow au pairs. Wechat is such a nifty tool to communicate with others, and it is something that I have definitely taken advantage of whilst I have been here.

u=4031264506,2445458583&fm=26&gp=0.jpg

Moments for wechat users is what stories are like for fans of Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram. Something you can use to show off your lesson plans, and travels. It’s a great way of keeping track of those around you, and of highlighting some of your favourite moments in China. It is these personal touches, aided by digital bytes, that are ubiquitous here. Certainly what surprised me when I arrived, was the seamless integration of technology that exist in everyday life here. For example, people can pay for meals or simple trinkets using wechat pay. You could come across, even the most remote shop in the city, and they would accept payment by mobile. Just scan the QR code, and you’re a-go.

It is with this in mind, that I am left wondering why Chinese stereotypes are not extended to technology. A city full of digital minds and hearts, Shenzhen certainly has a reputation for being the pinnacle of technological innovation (having been dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley), however the same could not be said of reputations elsewhere. China is opening its mind (and wallet) to the possibilities of open networks and constant trade of information and goods, and the rest of the world should take note. With one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world, China is making a stand for modernity and connection.

It would, however, be a digression to delve further into the inner mechanisms of Chinese society. Certainly that can be left to the sociologists, anthropologists and economists of the world.

What are worth noting instead are the smaller connections that are forged within this community. Recently, I attended a KTV session (essentially a karaoke booth) with some other au pairs. From this, I had hoped for two things: to gain a finer appreciation for Chinese culture, and to stretch out my vocal chords. As I expected, I was able to achieve both objectives. There is something special about sharing a song with others. Amidst all your struggles and worries, you can left everything go in the middle of a Beyoncé or ABBA song. It was something I needed, and something I really enjoyed. Despite the lack of up-to-date English songs (unfortunately Despacito doesn’t count, however memorable and fun it may be), the booth was packed with throwbacks. Picture Jamilla and Natasha Beddingfield: absolute classics in their time, and you can begin to have some idea as to what the atmosphere was like that night.

ktv.jpg

It is from this high that I hope to embark on new adventures in my journey here in China.

图片1_meitu_2.jpg

Warm air and picturesque surroundings – what more can you ask for?

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Advertisements

Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part One

I have spent the last month au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here.


 

The art of using chopsticks: like all things in China, it requires focus, speed and precision. It is something I have been getting used to these past few weeks, and like the hustle and bustle of the city, it is slowly becoming a second nature to me.

My experience in the Middle Kingdom has been stimulating to say the least.

From traversing the subway system to tackling testy VPN connections, Shenzhen has not been without its challenges, but like most trials, it has also borne some satisfying ends.

Despite not being particularly known for their warm hospitality worldwide, the people in China have been among the friendliest that I have come across. When you walk around the city, the only danger you face is the traffic (or getting lost!) and the weather is a warm welcome, and a fine departure from the cold drizzle commonly found in Britain.

You are taken in by the vibrance and stir of the city, and by the aroma of street markets and restaurants. The city is young and fresh, and in this moment, you are one of its makers.

Hangzhou group

Arrival orientation in Hangzhou

I have been in Shenzhen for about a month now and in this time, I have gained the pleasure of getting to know my host brother Brian. A sweet-natured five year old boy, he has taken to British children songs like a regular native. From memorising the words to 10 Green Bottles to Coulter’s Candy (a Scottish classic) to even Frère Jacques (allowing him to expand his repertoire of foreign songs from English to French), it has been a sight to see him grow in confidence in learning popular culture from the West.

It is with this eager companion of mine, I have experienced some of my best days here. From swimming in Guangzhou – a marvellous city where Chinese tradition meets modernity – to trying different teas (how I could write about the tea!) to finding a song in every object (Circle, square, triangle, I see shapes everywhere ‘’ Rain, rain go away, come again another day), China has been full of small wonders, and it is these wonders I look forward to, day in and day out.

As a third of my trip goes by, I find myself wistfully yearning for the next adventures of my Chinese experience.

Guanzhou city view

A city full of people – the opportunities are out there!

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Hot Brown Honey – Review (Feminist Fest)

Hot Brown Honey… where to even begin?

Branded as ‘hip hop politics’, the all-female troupe are experts in comedy, spoken word, dance and cabaret. They are truly a revolution. With their seductive ways, they’ll invite you into their beehive and show you a whole new world. Preaching intersectional feminism, the Honeys will have you jumping out of your seat, chanting along and swaying to the music all in the name of social freedom.

From a jokey scene involving a care-free ‘typical Western tourist’ to a chilling 911 call from a victim of domestic violence, the performers skilfully give us a taste of their repertoire. In between the jokes and seamless choreographic dances, they drive home an important message: that inequality is rife in our society. It may range from subtle microaggressions, the ‘can I touch your hair?’ and ‘where are you really from?’, to the blatant racism in the sale of golliwogs in Australia. Our ignorance ends in violence and racial perceptions are steeped in blood.

As I’m writing this, the last hours of my being a seventeen year old are dwindling. The vestiges of my adolescence are a reminder that a different world is yet to come. The Honeys may be fun but they never fail to point out the injustices in society. A powerful political piece, Hot Brown Honey captures and retains the attention of the audience for the entirety of the show. Once it’s finished, you’ll be wanting to rewind and watch it all over again.

A clear 5 star show, the Honeys are right in saying “fighting the power never tasted so sweet”.

Ayah-Sofia reviews: Whiteout

Check out my #feministfest 2016 review on Barrowland Ballet’s ”Whiteout” performance!

#FeministFest

Behold, a black screen. A girl floating; her body a piece of clay. She is lost in time and space. Wrapped in confusion but nonetheless ever serene. She is all of us and yet she is unique. Her fluid motions set her free from the world’s painful, unrelenting grip. In the midst of chaos, she is finding herself.

Barrowland Ballet‘s dance and physical theatre performance Whiteoutis a little crazy, a lot of fun and very symbolic. Opening with a powerful introduction, the strong dancing ensemble stagger their way through each chapter of their lives, discovering new challenges and overcoming social stigma as they find themselves in bi-racial relationships.

At the beginning of their journey, we are witnesses to their confinement and daily struggles. Our senses overwhelmed by the commanding music, we zero in on their every move; each pirouette, jump and pose executed with precision.

At times…

View original post 190 more words

Lucie Pohl: Cry Me A Liver – Review

Cry Me A Liver is a versatile sketch-show that sees Lucie sporting a wide array of accents to go with her stereotypical characters.

dance putin

Her performance is flawless, and at times you just can’t help yourself but smile. We’re given a real show. From Putin’s sperm to an overambitious career mum, to a fanatical German show host, we’re able to observe the complexities of Pohl’s personality and her boundless talents.

She even lends us a true gem: “You know how you know who you is? By knowing who you ain’t is.”

wha

Unfortunately, some of her punch lines fails to hit the mark. At times, her jokes about sexism seems less funny and more uncomfortable, and her show is ultimately let down by a poor script. Her slightly crude New-York style humour can appeal to some, however, for me it just didn’t work. Go watch the show with caution, and a basic understanding of Benicio del Torro.

deep

Credit: gifs from giphy

 

Ayah-Sofia reviews: Black is the Color of My Voice

Here is my #Fringe review on Black is the Colour of My Voice!

#FeministFest

Having watched the Netflix documentary, “What Happened, Nina Simone?” I thought I had some idea of what to expect from Apphia Campbell’s Black is the Color of My Voice. I was wrong.

The show completely surpassed my expectations. Powerful and evocative, Campbell breathed life into Mena Bordeaux, a jazz singer and activist inspired by the life of Nina Simone.

From racial discrimination in childhood to love (and its absence), from falling from grace to redemption, the audience is taken on a moving and relentless journey as Mena tries to find the meaning of self-worth and identity.

Apphia is a star when it comes to her singing – her songs left the audience in awe.

A magnificent show and a true gem, ‘Black is the Colour of My Voice’ deserves no less than a five star rating.

Black is the Color of My Voice | 1.15pm | Gilded…

View original post 75 more words

Key Change: Fringe Review

I’m excited to announce that I am part of the feminist fest blogging team this summer as supported by Engender and YWCA Scotland. I’ve just finished a review on an amazing show called Key Change. Please check it out, and check out the other reviews because they’re simply wonderful! They’ll tell you all you need to know about the must-see shows in Edinburgh involving gender and equality.

Key Change is a powerful show exploring the lives of female convicts affected by gender violence and domestic abuse. Their story sounds all too familiar for the thousands of women trapped in the UK criminal justice system.

We’re given a performance that toes the line between entertainment and reality. We observe the lives of teenagers, mothers, addicts, and most importantly – women.

This theatrical piece is wonderfully written, and gives us an insight into the lives of forgotten women. Through powerful music and choreography, we’re transported to a different world full of emotional turmoil and heartbreak.

This isn’t a tale of friendship. It’s a tale of survival.

As the prisoners list all the things they miss in their former lives, one line particularly resonated with me:

“I miss being treated with respect.”

In captivity, women are denied recognition, and have their identity stripped away.

Make no mistake: this performance doesn’t end with a happily ever after. It’s raw, dark, and honest. It’s the reality for most female inmates.

One thing we know for sure is this. These women are not victims; they’re survivors.