I arrived in Shenzhen on Saturday, July 23rd. I was feeling great and ready to leave my heavy baggage somewhere, so I could start exploring the city during my days off until Wednesday 27th, my official first day at work.
Leaving Beijing behind was a little bit sad; it has been the city where we have learnt our first Chinese words and lived our first Chinese experiences. However, it was easier than expected because the weather was awful and rainy 24/7! I was ready for the non-polluted blue-skied and warm weather of Shenzhen -and its proximity to Hong Kong.
I landed at noon, the humid and warm day hit me since the moment I stepped out of the plane (I am still struggling to get used to being sweaty all day). I went straight away to my office where my manager and supervisor were waiting for me. When I got there, I was asked to wait for a couple of hours before going to the accommodation that they are providing me on a temporary basis. I left my overweight suitcase -all of these years travelling and living abroad, and I am still unable to pack light- at one of the meeting rooms and went for a walk around the neighbourhood where I bought some basic stuff to get started with my new Southern Chinese life.
When I got back to the office, 2 of my roommates (at the provisional accommodation we are supposed to share the room with 3 people) were waiting for me. We took a bus and after 40 minutes we arrived. I checked-in and when I entered into my new room, I felt the world smashing me like I was a little bug:
Not only the room was super, very, extra small, there was not a single closet, nor shelves and the bathroom was tiny as well. “OK, do not panic, let’s take the clothes out of the suitcase”. That made everything even worse, too many clothes and zero space to organise them. I decided to only unpack the important things to survive and left them in my “bed”. Why “bed”? Because it was a wooden plank thick as my pinky finger, and of course no pillow nor bedding at all. In that moment I thought about crying, as there was not much else to do.
My 2 roommies Adele and Sunny (both Chinese), were very nice to me helping me as much as they could -Adele lent me a small bedspread so the wooden surface wasn’t too hard to sleep in, but it was not enough. I talked with Fran and with my parents, I needed someone familiar to reassure me. I was tired, the first day was not as I expected it to be, my Internet connection wasn’t great and I had no idea of where I was!
One thing was clear, I was not going to spend another night there. I texted my Erasmus friend Jeffrey, who happens to live in Shenzhen, and we met on Sunday for lunch.
Sunday at lunch time I explained my successful first day to Jeffrey, he told me not to worry and said that one day was time enough to find another place to stay. I was not very positive about that, but by 10pm within that same Sunday, I was unpacking ALL of my stuff in my new room in a shared duplex apartment. We even had time to walk around Sea World.
Monday and Tuesday went by very fast. I had to do much paperwork: open a bank account (I will finally be able to use WeChat wallet!), register at the police station, go to Ikea and buy a couple of things so I could put my personal girly touch to my new bedroom …
This is my bedroom with private terrace that I have happily transformed in my dressing & makeup room
Wednesday was my first official day at work. My supervisor Brandy explained me my tasks, gave me some general information about the company and took me, with some other co-workers, to have lunch. I spent most of my day talking to HR to solve my working visa. I was asked to bring many many documents that of course, I didn’t have with me, so I had to send them from Spain… after this first day and because I had to deal with many news regarding my visa, I was a bit tired. Thanks God Fran is always there (now on the phone) to talk and cheer me up!
The following days went better: after work, I always walk home so I can discover the city. I really like it, however, it is true that we cannot compare it to Beijing: Shenzhen is smaller (which is good!), brand new and has way fewer restaurants.
The weekend finally arrived. To celebrate that I survived to the first week, I decided to treat myself to a nice lunch at a restaurant. What I didn’t know at that moment is that a big surprise was coming later that day. During these past days I have joint different wechat groups (WeChat is the Chinese Whatsapp), and in one of the groups, I read that someone asked about a Shenzhen visa to enter Mainland China for a maximum of 5 days (Whattt??). I sent a screenshot of the conversation to Fran.
That same Saturday around 9pm, Fran was already walking by my side and we were heading to a nice Mexican restaurant in the area of Sea World, where we wonder around after dinner.
Wondering around Sea World, in Nanshan district
Since he couldn’t stay for a long time (he had some MBA commitments for the next day), on Sunday morning I walked with him to the border with Hong Kong. I was feeling both, sad because he was leaving after only spending a few hours togetherm, but full of happiness: we had discovered a new trick to see each other!