It was December 2009, I was about to graduate and everything was going according to my parent’s master plan. As any other Asian typical parents they wanted me among the best students at school and then become a doctor. During one night talk with one of my best friends Ricky, who departed from Costa Rica a couple months ago and started his process of becoming an ‘’Authentic ABC’’. Let me explain myself, we (ABCs) are often asked by our friends why don’t we speak fluent Chinese, and we would need to tell the same story that explains what we are basically: a BANANA. We look yellow but we are actually white in the core. I was convinced by Ricky’s adventures in the Chinese capital.
I came to China in 2010. I was so excited to see through the plane's window the heavy snow that was hitting Beijing Capital Airport that afternoon. That happiness disappeared the second I stepped out of the plane. It was Zero degrees Celsius, just to make things clear the lowest temperature that Manuel ever battled through was a night I spent camping with my friends in San Jose, Costa Rica and that was about 15 Celsius. In short, I got used to the weather thanks to those how bubble teas from COCO.
That's me, the guy in red
As every foreigner I ate GONGBAOJIDING for 10 days in a row, as I didn’t know the name of any other dish from the menu. I was very happy with the 1 Yuan mutton skewers from the night market until I ended up atthe hospital due to food poisoning, I was warned by my teachers and classmates before though. I learned a 50% of my Chinese vocabulary during the first month.I spent the other 10 months visiting awesome cities and trying new foods everywhere, and with time my chances of getting diarrhea were lowered, Yes, I was officially immune to street food.
I went back to Costa Rica for 6 months, and then came back to China, this time to Nanjing. Nanjing is smaller than Beijing and Shanghai, but a very nice place to be. I met great friends and people in Nanjing, as I was granted a 5 years scholarship for Nanjing and Shanghai, I could not choose the dormitory. I am not exaggerating but I was placed in a dorm that practically looked like those places where the Mexican cartels and gangsters. I was moved to a new dormitory one week later luckily. I learn a 5% of my Chinese here.
That’s me, getting fashioned and adapted to the localstyle.
It was back in the summer of 2012 when I came to Shanghai with 5 suitcases,3 bags and a guitar. Oh I forgot to mention that I spend the other 95% of my time in Nanjing at H&M or a fake market. In shanghai things were getting serious, I was conscious that I had 2 years of vacations already and that I needed to calm the heck down and learn something. Shanghai was different from Beijing and Nanjing, people here are more used to foreigners and it is a very cosmopolitan city. I learned that there was a Chinese version of Ebay or Amazon here. Yes I am talking about TAOBAO. Since then, I have been buying everything from books to shampoo online. It was cheaper and super convenient. I started my major in International Trade and Economics, during summer I would apply for some internships where I learned how working is in China and how do they do business here. By the ends of every summer I would have friends coming to Shanghai,I did the People Square – East Nanjing Road – The Bund – Yuyuan Garden route 20 times. I started to love Shanghai so much, transportation was so convenient, food was awesome, people were awesome and I saw some nice professional opportunities here. Before getting graduated I started my journey to the west, Sichuan, Qinghai and the Tibet. I always wanted to visit Mt.Everest since I was a kid. Coming to Shanghai was the right decision as studying here I met people from different cultures; we were 28 students coming from over 20 countries in our class. I was very happy that foreigners are welcomed and well received by Chinese students, they were very kind and were always willing to help me.
I got graduated on 2016, and I decided to stay. Because I don’t know where else to go, there is no place like Shanghai, I like the fast paced society, I like the skyscrapers rising in the far horizon. Ilike the contrast of the normal and ultra rich, as well as taking pictures of awesome old houses with new office buildings right across the street.
As you can see my hair got white
Let me share some really gorgeous sceneries with you guys.
The famous Yellow Mountain
This is the place to be, if you guys happen to passby, let me know as I can show you where are the best places to start your food journey and were to eat to become an immune laowai.
Master degree, majored in International Trade and Economics, born in Costa Rica.