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A young Taiwan woman's experience of diversity on the mainland

By Xu Xiaoxuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 14, 2021
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"I love the metropolitan modernity of Shanghai and miss the barbecue on the mainland," said Alfie Yang, a young woman from Taiwan.

Yang travelled to the Chinese mainland in 2005 to study a bachelor's degree in business administration at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). After graduation, she landed a job in the Shanghai offices of Giant, one of the world's largest bike manufacturers headquartered in Taiwan. 

Alfie Yang (R) poses for a photo with a friend in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower on the Bund in Shanghai, 2017. [Photo courtesy of Alfie Yang]

Life in Shanghai

Yang relished the experience of living in Shanghai by visiting its many areas. Taking a stroll along the Bund, exploring one of China's busiest shopping streets Nanjing Road, and sampling its mix of modernity and history at the Xintiandi commercial district, all enabled her to learn more about the city. "I lived in the Xuhui district for most of my time in Shanghai. I'm as familiar with that area as I am with Taiwan, if not more.”

"Language caused some confusion at the beginning due to the different uses of some specific words and phrases between the two sides of the Strait. For example, the Chinese word 'kaishui' means boiled water on the mainland but room temperature water in Taiwan," Yang recalled. "However, it didn't take long to get used to such differences."

Yang would often miss her family back in Taiwan when she studied in SJTU, since there were no smartphones allowing convenient contact and she could only fly back to see them during the summer and winter holidays. Nonetheless, with the advancement of social media and weeklong trips back to Taiwan every three months after she started working, Yang basically felt no sense of distance with her family and friends.

New friends also made Yang's life more comfortable and relaxed. Yang struck up friendships with a host of people both from Shanghai and other parts of the mainland. "We used to hang out, eat and have a few drinks in our free time. We also traveled around together, as I like to see and savor the hometowns of my friends after they introduced them to me."  

Alfie Yang and friends visit the Great Wall in Beijing, 2017. [Photo courtesy of Alfie Yang]

Diversity on the mainland

In addition to Shanghai, Yang visited such cities as Beijing, Qingdao in Shandong province and Xiamen in Fujian province, as well as Hong Kong and Macao. She left Shanghai in 2016 when her company posted her to Tianjin and then two years later moved to Dongguan in the southern Guangdong province. She has been working in Taiwan since last year due to the pandemic.

Despite the agreeable life and work in Taiwan where Yang can be closer to her family, working on the mainland is also enjoyable for her since she can enjoy a wide range of different cities. 

For Yang, life on the mainland was more convenient in terms of mobile payment, online shopping and traveling by subway. "I'm still trying to do without the mobile payments back in Taiwan," she said. Given the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan, she is currently working from home, which has caused some disruption to her work and daily life. 

"If there's an opportunity to go back and work on the mainland after the pandemic, I'd love to go," Yang said. "Since I enjoy living and working there."

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