I would like to share some insight into what the life of a 22 year old Chinese girl is like. Well at least the one I know.
She wakes up probably at somewhere around 7am or earlier. She has to leave for work. A 10 minute walk from her apartment where she lives with 12 other girls. I’ve seen her apartment. There are two rooms. The one where she sleeps has four girls living in it. Four beds made up of the personal items of her coworkers. Pink sheets, pillows, teddy bears and clothes. The bare cement floor I can only assume is freezing cold all day long. But they have heat, better then most. The other room, bigger room has eight girls living in it. Both rooms only have a bed sheet to separate them from each other. I’m sure that there is only one bathroom.
The living room has a small table and mini chairs. They probably only use them when they wash their clothes by hand. They have no washing machine nor dryer. It doesn’t matter much because the apartment isn’t used for anything much but sleeping.
She gets up at about 7, maybe earlier, I’m sure that she doesn’t take a shower, but maybe she does. There are five or more girls that leave at about the same time and I’m sure that there isn’t enough hot water to go around. She probably washes her hair and gets ready. She makes the 10 minute walk at 8:15 am to be at work by 8:25. She clocks in at 8:30.
There are days, usually at the beginning and the end of the month when she doesn’t eat lunch. She doesn’t have time to. From what I gather she has to write reports, money and supplies go in and out. The reports have to be in at the end of the month. She usually eats dinner at work. She gets off work at 5pm. But she can not leave. They don’t pay her to stay but she has to. She has to wait until the next person that does her job comes in and makes sure that she did her job correctly. Last night she was there until a little after 7pm. She stopped getting paid at 5. There are times where I’ve talked to her at 9 at night and she still hadn’t left work.
When she does leave work she heads back to the apartment. A 5-10 minute walk. Usually with a coworker. It’s dark, and her job isn’t in the middle of the city. She arrives back at her apartment and washes her clothes and maybe takes a shower. Not all the girls are there at the same time. Some work a second shift type schedule. She watches tv and maybe reads. Goes to bed early, 9pm, maybe 10pm and then starts the next day the same. 6am maybe 7am she gets up.
She gets 4 days a month as rest. She can pick them. But she gets only four. Maybe she takes some Sundays off, maybe a Tuesday too.
In her spare time when she has rest, a day off, she heads to her aunts house. It’s her closest family. Her mom and dad live in a different province, a 24 hour bus ride away. She goes to her aunts house 30min away and sleeps.
Day before yesterday, China’s biggest holiday, I called her. I was watching the biggest gala of the year on tv. The lunar new year. China New year. She was sleeping, at 8pm.
When she has rest, she sleeps, when she is not at work, she sleeps. She is always tired.
There are many things I wish I could communicate to her, but most are even hard concepts to discuss in English.
How are you going to live a life like this? How can you find a husband when you are always tired, never want to go out and have fun, never have time to have fun?
I’m sure that her family is hounding her about finding a husband and getting married. The typical Chinese way. At least she has a twin sister and a older brother. Something that is very rare here. Her family surely had to pay a fine for having her and her sister. Because of the one child policy. Her brother, her and her sister will be responsible for taking care of the elderly in the family. At least she has an older brother to do this. There is no retirement in China. So the young take care of the old. For some there is no other reason to have children but to only secure your future.
For her efforts she gets about 274 USD. Not bad. Her company pays for her rent, at least as far as I know. She buys clothes and does what she wants for the most part. I am probably correct in the fact that she probably saves most of it. Sends some home to her family.
When I first met her she had the raddest smile. Full of life. But I’ve watched it drain from her for the past 3 months. Why, I am not sure. I can only assume it went something like this and I don’t pretend to know what really is going on but I can speculate. I know some of this for fact but as to the bigger picture of what is going on with her, I’m not sure. She won’t tell me.
She has had 2 boyfriends. One for 3 yrs and 1 for 6 months. She’s getting older, needs to start thinking about settling down. She has gotten burned twice and doesn’t want to have that happen again. Her previous boyfriends have both told her she is too much of a kid. Acts too silly or childish. She can’t stand the feeling of breaking up. So she doesn’t start anything with anyone. She hates falling in love because she can’t take the breakups.
Along comes a guy who is nice, different, etc. She is full of life, fun, smiles. Then a month later, she starts to get sad and depressed. I can only assume it’s because her friends have found out about this guy and who he is. They have all said that he is bad, and will just hurt her. Because most of these guys do, but more importantly it’s what is depicted in the movies. Her friends probably don’t even know anyone like this guy. But they are full of whatever pride they have and spread the rumors that are online. Unfortunately most are true.
Her hopes, if she has ever had any, are crushed. She realizes that she started to like him but wasn’t sure about him. She listens to her friends and maybe even family. Now she has an internal struggle about what to do. She wants to make sure that anyone she meets will be the guy she marries. But no guy wants to wait around for this. Think of it like this. In the America we will date, and doing that we find out enough things about someone, where we then say, ok, let’s become exclusive or boyfriend/girlfriend. Well imagine if you wanted to skip that and just go to marriage, or the decision at least. You have to find out enough about someone that you would marry them, then you could become bf/gf. How long would it take? Would you wait that long for someone to pick you?
She wants to just get married because she doesn’t want the breakup, at least probably. She wants to make sure that he is the one. Then she will become bf/gf. The problem is how can she do that with the life that she has. She has no time to go out, when she does she just goes to the aunt’s house and sleeps. It’s possible that she is beginning to realize this. Will a guy even wait that long. Probably not. You don’t wait in China. You can’t. It’s the same with business here. You have an opportunity, you go for it. You wait, the opportunity passes. She waiting and maybe things are passing. I’m not sure.
This is a Chinese life. A typical Chinese girls life.