Why don’t you just move?

Day 46 of the Shanghai lockdown is about to end and yet we wait for our release. We’ve had our freedom severely limited, further still — to the point where we cannot buy food ourselves and have to rely on rations, whatever the powers higher up are deciding to send our way.

One of the most common questions I get is “Why don’t you just move?”, and sometimes it’s even asked as an honest question.

But Shanghai isn’t just tarmac & highrises. If it was just that, I’d already be back in the Netherlands.

I could point out the joys of living in a vastly foreign culture (and the hassle of it), but I could just move to any country in Asia if I wanted that.

What keeps me here are the friendships made —  the people dear to me, by who I feel loved as well. And it’s way easier to see those people by working in China and traveling to the Netherlands than the other way around.

Not everyone abroad can easily separate a country’s citizens from its government, especially if you’ve never been to that country — but I ask you to try, or reflect on yourself whether your own government’s handling of things fully represents you.

I like the foreigners here a lot, because all have a very open and adventurous mindset, and I love the Chinese people, even though I don’t like saying “Chinese people”, as if they are different from me because they rarely make me feel like as if they are ‘them’ and I am not. Often, they make me feel at home.

During normal times I stand butt-naked with them in the changing room of the swimming pool. We squeeze together on line 10 until we arrive at our station, we wait at Haidilao for when our table is ready. I even donated blood which now probably flows through a Chinese person.

We play football together — win or lose. We catch fish together and afterward eat fish together. During the Chinese New Year, we’ve burned floss money together — they remembered their parents and grandparents, and I remembered mine — Dutch yet part of a Chinese tradition.

“Why don’t you move?” makes it look like life is as portable as a laptop with some Bluetooth accessories, while it’s not. Our stories twist & tangle, and where our heart takes root is never up to us ourselves.


If you need still don’t feel why I don’t want to leave China, maybe now you will: