This is my first post in a while. I’ve been absent from this blog and social media in general because I’ve been completely occupied with writing my doctoral thesis and preparing for my actual PhD defense that took place on October 24th. Now, a month later, I am very relieved that I survived the whole ordeal. So far I haven’t felt any happiness over the fact that I’ve obtained a PhD degree, I’m just relieved that it’s over. Phew!
For completing my PhD I decided to take my long awaited vacation, which was something I hadn’t taken for years. I went for a solo trip to China and South Korea for three weeks. During these exhausting but fun three weeks I visited four cities, Hangzhou, Nanchang and Beijing in China and Seoul in South Korea. As I mentioned in a previous post I was born in Nanchang and lived there for two years before moving to Sweden. Though I’ve been to China a few times since then, I’ve never visited Nanchang.
Thus, visiting Nanchang was going to be special, which it was for mainly two reasons. The first reason was the fact that it was my first time visiting my birthplace, a place I have no recollections of. Nanchang is a relatively small and out dated city with hardly any visitors (international or domestic). The lack of visitors is mostly due to the fact that there are few attractions in the city and because its out dated. Most notable attractions that I visited are the Tengwang Pavilion (originally built 653 AD but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times), Bayi Square (2nd largest square in China) and the Star of Nanchang (tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2008). However, to me the most striking thing about the lack of visitors was how it affected the behavior of the people, which was the second reason why it was special. When people realized that I was not one of them and couldn’t speak Chinese they were always staring strangely at me, even the staff at the hotel I was staying at. Though I don’t speak Chinese (with the exception of a few phrases), it wasn’t very difficult to understand that the staff was very surprised that someone all the way from Sweden had come to stay at their hotel. In other places that get more visitors the people are used to see outsiders, so meeting someone like me is not a big deal for them. But in Nanchang this was not the case, which made me feel very isolated. During my stay in Nanchang I barely saw any foreigners.
But even though the city is out dated, lacks memorable attractions and people staring at me like I was an alien, just walking around the city was nice since it gave me an opportunity to reflect over the fact that this is the city I was born in. Now that I’ve been there I don’t ever have to go there again.