Monday, October 8, 2007

Question Four

4 What would it be like if you were a single guy like myself?

Geez man it's hard to say. I think the pressure to be with someone might feel pretty strong. This is a hard situation to lay out because I know if you came here it would be amazing, and totally change your perspective and whatnot, but I'd be worried about you if you flew solo.

What does coming alone mean? Coming alone and staying alone would be closer to hermitage than odyssey. But if one is inclined the prospects for a college-educated white guy with a good job are many.

The expats here all seem to be pretty wolfish in their interests, eliminating potential partners only for the gravest of offenses.

But what a window it would offer into the country if one dated someone from here!

If you're working for a company like mine, you're working with a lot of Chinese women who speak good english and may or may not be interested in meeting someone. And then there's the issue of dating someone from work.

The fact is that coming with someone isn't easy. It's more tempting to just stay in and speak English rather than go out and practice making a fool of yourself in shops. But without mastery of mandarin one's dance card will remain pretty empty for the first while, single or not.

That said, the big weird experiences available here are endless. Traveling with a romantic partner, it's hard for either of us to say "hey, let's go try this, maybe it'll be a public bath and sauna, maybe they'll try to burn our skin, let's go find out." Bravery doesn't necessarily stack, but one person's cowardice often applies to both.

Shared experiences have colored my time here a lot, so it's sort of hard to know how things would be. Without someone to go with who would Sara be videotaping here?

We know two girls, college friends, who came here together, and they've got a lot of benefit from it. They go places together, give each other sympathy, but they're also free to pursue their own stuff. I don't know if they can always draw comfort from each other, but still it's going well.

That'd be my recommendation: don't fly solo. Go on craigslist Beijing, find a roommate, have the school room you with somebody, invite one of the other n00bs out for beer the first day, do something so that you feel like you've got some context.

Maybe you can't take photos like this:

But still, you'll have someone to go with you to this:

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