I moved to Macau (China) in 2001.
Before that I lived in São Paulo (Brazil).
The reason for moving here was my dad’s job, he is a pilot and got an opportunity to come to Asia and we (Mum and 2 young sisters) join to support him.
If I were to describe my current city in one word, that would be (And why?) Special or multicultural; it’s a mix of East & West plus is such a special place because is so small but has so many people and opportunities.
The first thing a new expat needs to know when moving here is that is all about understanding the culture. It’s not that the Asians are not well educated or polite, is how they grow up, so just accept and try to leave like that without complain too much hehe.
The language issue My mother tongue is Portuguese, when I move to Macau I hardly speak English… and in Macau they speak Cantonese. Everyone things Macau still speak Portuguese but you can hardly find someone that speaks fluently… What is special is that the streets names are still in Portuguese and that’s good for me! So my first step was to learn English so I could continue my studies at University. Then slowly I started learning the local language by myself: in the street, writing in a piece of paper and practicing. Now I do understand Cantonese but I speak Mandarin that makes my life much easier. Took me about 6 years to speak Mandarin but I still needs a lots to improve.
Since I moved here I stopped: …hum don’t know maybe phoning people, is all about text messages, otherwise is a nightmare if you need to call to fix a problem.
Since I moved here the new thing I started doing is: use toilet paper as napkins, not in my home but now it’s normal to go to a local restaurant and have toilet paper on the table.
My biggest lesson learnt was not to judge people; again it’s all about culture.
Some weird habits at the locals: eating noodles for breakfast, bread is normally sweet, personal space doesn’t exist in cue (you can feel the breath in your neck) or even sometimes when there is no queue.
My biggest cultural shock was the food.
My funniest / weirdest / scariest experience was squat toilets.
What I miss the most from home are the people or a beach where you can swim.
Whenever I get home sick, what I miss is hummm call my mum to cook me a meal.
I go home as often as: I went “home” this year after 8 years.
I keep in contact with my friends and family: I keep contacts with social media like whatsapp, facebook and often skype with my grandma.
My favorite dish/local food is Yum cha / Dim Sum – small little steam dumplings that normally is served from 11-3pm and it’s a culture thing to eat in a round table with your family or friends.
My favorite places in town are: The Taipa Village, seat by the Museums houses and watch the crazy lights from the casinos. Or the Taipa Hill for a big run/hike. Seat by Ocean Gardens and watch Macau side from Taipa . And this Italian restaurant in Coloane faces the beach and the public swimming pool.
I get around the city by walk, ferry, scooter and car.
Street fashion? Anything, when I say anything is really anything. From chic to casual and you can mix any color, type, patterns, anything! It’s very hard to have a correct first impression of someone judging by the way they dress (what work, do, blabla) as we normally do in our culture. Everyone mixes and the fancy is accessible for anybody.
My view on people: Friendly but not to warm people until they get to know you well.
Being an expat: Totally changed how I see the world and myself! You are always free but since I’ve been living as an expat I learnt the word “freedom”. I got friends all over the world now and I’m always learning their culture & costumes. I’m not afraid to go anywhere and be lost. I became part of the world. As my mum says: “whatever you go, when you close the door is your home”. You learn to say goodbye, you learn to speak many languages and gestures in the same conversation, you learn to pack less, you learn to accept the person who you are, you learn how to be patient and you keep learning and changing.
In 5 years, I see myself living in…hmm it’s been 13 years so maybe here? 🙂