Sharina Mae Mendoza Piso takes a selfie near the Fenhe Bridge.
On March 24, I arrived in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province. The feeling was delightful but at the same time nerve-wracking because we were in a fight against COVID-19. In addition, it was my first time to China.
Because of the pandemic, I needed to undergo 14-day quarantine at a hotel.
Life inside the hotel seemed so easy. Within those 14 days, I started observing, learning and adapting to the changes.
The hotel staff and other people who were also in quarantine were very kind and friendly.
I was the only foreigner in the group. The staff always helped me whenever I needed something, asked what foods I like and dislike to eat. The food was great and healthy so I couldn't ask for more.
Every night and day, I looked out of the window to see what was happening outside and observed the people passing by. Many people use bikes to get to their destinations, and that's one of the big differences I can see from my home country, the Philippines.
Two weeks passed and I was freed from quarantine. It was one of the best days of my life－to start living my life in Taiyuan.
I was determined to forge a fulfilling social life. I met some Chinese and other foreign friends and walked around the parks and around Taiyuan's brightly lit shopping district at night.
Another thing that impressed me is the way of living. Food is cheap. The cost of living is not high and shops are very accessible. I also love online shopping, using Taobao and Pinduoduo.
If there's one thing that I do find difficult for me is to adapt to the language. Many Chinese people in Taiyuan don't really speak English. The Chinese language supersedes others in originality and complexity. So I need to put effort in learning the language.
I have one Filipino friend in Taiyuan whom I hang out with. The best place that I've gone so far is the Fenhe Bridge which is very beautiful at night.
One afternoon, I was in my new apartment and I was bored so I went out. I didn't know where to go since I was new in the community and I don't really know much about the directions.
So I just walked down and looked at the places and shops, until I found a park. I went to the park and I saw a bridge from the park, a beautiful bridge. It was almost 6 pm and the sun was setting. I took a picture of it and showed it to my friend on WeChat. And so we decided to meet another day to roam around the park and walk to the bridge.
There are always many people at the bridge. It's a bridge where people can walk and take pictures. I could see children cycling and adults doing exercise.
The place looks so romantic because you can see couples holding hands while walking together. You can even feel the fresh warm breeze from the river, like a kiss on the cheek. It was a relaxing night for me. The river carries me on and it's even nicer when you see the reflection of the colorful bridge on the water.
All these beautiful things, I love. There is passion in nature. There's always good in nature that captures my imagination.
The writer is a Filipino teaching at Pason Training School in Taiyuan.
By SHARINA MAE MENDOZA PISO
（This news was first posted on July 10, 2020)
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