2022 Recap: 10 Things I am Happy About this Year

Okay, as usual, I am a bit late but what else is new, ey? Happy New Year! Welcome to 2023. Let’s hope this shitshow will turn around a little bit.

As we all know, a classic thing to do at the end of each year are recaps of the year we’ve had. So again, I’m a bit late, I know. But without further ado, here are the top positive developments that happened for me in 2022.

First off a caveat – we have had some really bad health situations this year, but since my mental health journey I have been trying to focus more on the positive things in my life.

  1. Buying a flat

Right off the bat, the biggest one has certainly been the fact that we found and bought a flat, yay! This actually was something we planned to do when we returned from China in 2019. But due to my illness, it’s been dragged out and this year in March we just about managed to close a deal and right before the interest rates just shot up insanely due to Ukraine and the inflation and all that jazz.

So we really got in at the last minute and I consider us so extremely lucky that we did. I’m super happy with my flat. Finally, I feel like I have a home that is mine after almost four years of just floating around in the ether and not settling down and only living in temporary flats. So that’s also been a reason why I completely went nuts, decorating for Christmas because I finally feel like I have home again.

2. Being fired

Then the next big thing for me was that I got fired from a job that I started in 2021. So you may be thinking how the heck is being fired from a job a good thing? Well, here’s the thing. I took that job mostly because of its location and it served its purpose in getting me there. However, the topic that I was working on really was not up my alley at all as a proclaimed feminist. I was working in the permanent makeup industry and this company was essentially making money off making women feel insecure about their bodies and about the ageing process.

So I really did feel quite out of place in terms of my values, but also, I didn’t click with my colleagues, many of whom were from the Balkan area, which I think can be culturally quite different, especially when you’re coming from China. Aggressive shouting matches were not uncommon in my office, which is something I, as an extremely conflict-shy person, absolutely do not like. There was name-calling of colleagues in front of everyone. Yeah, not a very healthy and supportive work environment either. So both of those factors really impacted my mental health. And so when I was fired, I suddenly realised that my mental health just improved so much. I felt so much happier.

3. New jobs, new boss

I’ve also started with a new company, sadly, not full-time yet. And their company environment and culture is just the most amazing one that I’ve ever seen. This was exactly the type of work environment that I imagined when I left China and thought about what is it going to be like working in Europe. So I am super pleased to have found this company now. I’m just trying to work on convincing them to give me at least 20 hours a week, ideally a full-time contract. But that’s not going to happen.

Anyway meeting my boss at said new company was another highlight for me because even though she says of herself that she is not a feminist I have only seen her do things to prove the opposite. She was a big factor in introducing menstrual leave in my company. She is amazingly inspiring, a successful career woman now a co-founder of the company I’m at. She’s incredibly kind and she is very generous with positive feedback. On those occasions when there is criticism, it’s delivered calmly, it’s delivered in a nice manner and you can learn a lot from her. She is actually the best boss that I’ve ever had. And she is the reason that I’m still clinging on to this company, although most of my friends and colleagues have said they think I may be better off looking somewhere else if I need full-time employment.  But I’m hoping that 2023 is going to be the year when that all turns around. I am quite optimistic.

The other good news is that I started with a second company that is China-related. Yay! I’m finally back to working as a content creator who creates content explaining China to non-Chinese people, which was what I was doing in China for almost six years and it is still something that inspires me and makes me happy. I don’t know how aware you are of this but especially German language media coverage of China is just so skewed and so insanely negative all the bloody time. And yes, it’s not factually incorrect. But the German media – believe it or not, even worse so than the British – just really, really focused on all the negative aspects of China. Therefore, me being able to do a slightly more neutral type of content creation about this complex country makes me happy.

4. Getting back on camera

The other big thing for me is that I finally got back my confidence to step in front of a camera because I absolutely loved working as a TV reporter. I really enjoy filming and editing and working on-camera, but due to my illness and the medication that I had to take, I put on 20 kilograms. Now I was never a very confident person in terms of my body shape and size.

I always felt a bit uncomfortable when I was at around 60 kilos. So you can imagine what being 80 kilos did to me. I’m happy to say that, I don’t know how – don’t ask me how, but I lost 10 of those kilos over the course of the last year. And so that’s been one of the factors that have made me confident enough to say okay, even though I am still larger than I used to be, if I work a bit with good angles, I won’t look like a walrus.

So then I started to film videos for my social media channels. And now I’m also doing video content for both companies that I’m working at. So I’m super happy to kind of get back on the horse in terms of working with video. (The feature image of this post was the first photo in three years I actually felt pleased with).

5. More travel than I’ve done in the past 3 years combined

Another big one for me, especially considering our past epidemic years is that this year I got out and about and I travelled a lot; as much as I haven’t travelled in the entire past three years. I was in England twice and then I did two weeks in Turkey which was absolutely amazing. I cannot recommend Turkey enough as a place to travel and Izmir in particular where I spent a really chill and lovely holiday or a ”workation” as you call it now.

6. Getting my groove back

Then the next big thing for me was motivation. Depression really knocked my motivation flat. I think that I’m generally quite a motivated person. I like to make things happen. I like to do stuff and keep busy but the depression just caused me to completely lose my motivation. All I would do after work is lay in front of Netflix and on the weekends, I would sleep at lunchtime for hours on end and I just didn’t even want to go outside at all, which was also not super great for Mr. Li because usually it’s the other way around. I’m the one dragging him out and dragging him off everywhere. But not so in the past couple of years.

But when I visited the UK in May and also while I was there saw a chiropractor who did a little bit of strange readjusting to my head, all of a sudden, my motivation just came back so I was absolutely fascinated by that but also very, very happy.

7. Getting back into cooking and baking

The other thing that happened this year is that I’m now finally back in a place where I can cook on a basic level and bake again, because on the one hand I have a good kitchen but also on the other hand the aforementioned motivation has returned. So I mean, yes, the luxury of living in China was that there was no need to cook ever because food delivery and restaurants were so cheap, cheap but now I’m getting back into it, especially baking, and just putting a podcast on or putting some music on and just pottering away. I’m really enjoying that again in our new flat because we now have a really lovely kitchen. The year before we did not, since we were staying in a temporary flat.

8. Enjoying clothes again

The other big thing for me was that I decided to enjoy clothes again. I came back from China with two full suitcases stuffed to the brim with barely worn clothes. Because at my job in China, I was given a budget to purchase clothes because I was on camera. And that meant that I had all these clothes that I’d worn maybe once or twice and then I come back to Europe and as I said, need to take medication, which means I put on 20 kilograms. So of course, none of my clothes fit me anymore.

This also meant that I just felt too fat to even be allowed to have nice clothes. I really didn’t want to shop for clothes at all. I hardly bought anything, partially because I was also unemployed and didn’t have any money coming in, but mostly really due to my physical “transformation” if you like. But, again, my visit to England where I ran across Uniqlo, my favorite clothes brand really kicked off this feeling where I realized okay, now I’m back to 70 kilograms, which still isn’t ideal, but I can fit in the standard clothes sizes again. So that makes me feel much better. And I know it shouldn’t really matter with all the body positivity yada yada yada but for me, it really did. So another thing this year I’m happy to report is that I’m back into enjoying clothes and liking to dress up a bit and feel a bit fancy.

9. Finding my tribe

Another big one for me was building up my circle of friends in this new city and through sheer luck ending up with a circle of China expert friends as well as some amazing Chinese friends that I have met via my Douyin channel. So I’m now back to speaking Chinese on a regular basis and not just with Mr. Li. I just have met the most incredible people here and I’m so grateful for the circle of friends I’ve managed to build up that reminds me a lot of my circle of friends in Beijing.

10. Finally – sleep

Another big topic for me was sleep because at the beginning of this year, I was still sleeping a good 12 hours a day. I managed to quit one type of medicine that made me sleepy and drowsy and then over the course of a few months managed to quit the other medicine that was also making me really drowsy. So I’m now just on one type of medication, which doesn’t affect my sleepiness.

As a result, now I’m back to sleeping normal hours – between seven and nine hours a night – and that has also made such a difference. Because when you’re sleeping 12 hours a day, what else can you do? There’s hardly any time to do anything but sleep and you know, having to have afternoon naps or lunchtime naps breaks up the day in a way that I really do not like and so I am very, very pleased that I’ve also managed to normalize my sleep patterns again.

So all in all, I have to say looking back at 2022, although there were some sad news and some health-related issues, overall, I couldn’t be happier with how this year has turned out.

Right, so I think that’s it from me. I’ve gabbed on for long enough once again.

How has your year been? Let me know! I would love to hear your 2022 recap and I’m hoping that you also came out on the other side with a bit of happiness and achievement over the past year. Here’s to 2023. Yay!

My Hodge Podge Christmas Traditions

As the years go by, I am noticing more and more how my family’s Christmas celebration is not very “traditional”, whatever that means. This is partly because I have moved countries so much and have taken traditions from other countries on to the next place I go. Another reason is that I grew up in a British-German household and so “traditions” ended up being cobbled together with us picking the best ones out if the bunch.

The way I celebrate Christmas now is definitely not what you would think a traditional German Christmas celebration looks like. How so? Well, for example, a big tradition in my household growing up was me and my mum baking mince pies together. The Brits in the house will know what I’m talking about. Every year we’d put on the radio – back then when we still had radios HA, I’m old 😅 – and bake together. Mostly mince pies, then my mum would also bake a Dundee cake. But she’s kind of given that up as the years have gone by because my parents both think it’s too heavy and I can see why.

To Christmas Tree or not to Christmas Tree?

One of the Christmas things that is an absolute must for my family is having a Christmas tree. We used to have a freshly felled Christmas tree that at the end of the holiday would then be chucked away, which is definitely not very environmentally friendly. It’s good their starting to offer Christmas trees🎄to rent.

This year was actually the first year in my entire existence, that my mom said she does not want a Christmas tree. That’s 3.5 decades! That felt very monumental in a way.

Until this year, we’ve never not had a Christmas tree

However, I’ve actually never had my own real Christmas tree. I’ve always had just plastic versions. When I was in Austria I didn’t really decorate at all. And in England neither because we would just go to my parents for the holidays but once we were in China, I finally started getting decorations together and so especially in Beijing, I got a plastic Christmas tree and now in Vienna as well. Just a small one.

Another tradition in our household was that on our Christmas tree there would be a bell made of glass with white glitter dusting and a white glitter motive. And we had to ring the bell, so everyone could go and get their presents. This is something that we always used to do at my parents place but that I have not taken over. Mainly because I haven’t really yet found a little glass bell like the one that they have.

Our super special Christmas bell 🔔

One of the German things we do is we celebrate our main holiday on the 24th of December in the evening rather than Christmas Day the 25th.

What Christmas Food we eat

In terms of food on the 24th Germans traditionally have sausage and potato salad or fish. But we never did that. We always just picked one dish that we liked from the past year or so or just general dishes we liked and then my mom would make those, later on with some assistance from myself. So this year, she asked me what I wanted and I said I want a Shepherd’s Pie, yumm!

Mum’s Shepherds Pie 😋😋😋

Another interesting item is mulled wine because I never really liked mulled wine growing up; the main problem being that it’s red wine and I do not like red wine at all. So a few years back in Beijing, I somehow stumbled upon a mulled wine recipe with white wine. At that time in Germany, it was unheard of but now more and more places actually have mulled white wine. Now when I have get-togethers in the Christmas season I’ve just started to make mulled white wine. That’s definitely my new Christmas tradition.

Wearing Silly Christmas Sweaters

One tradition that I have absolutely embraced but which my parents cannot understand is silly Christmas sweaters. I started realising that this was a thing watching Bridget Jones. Of course two years in the UK, I did hear about it a bit.

But it wasn’t until I was in Beijing at some point, that I kept thinking I would like to get a Christmas sweater because I heard that some of the expats there were doing silly Christmas sweater parties or ugly sweater parties. And then I stumbled upon a post in a second-hand WeChat group: somebody was selling a Christmas sweater for like 30 Kuai. Just 4 euros. And I was like “That’s great. I’ll try that.” It fit perfectly and it was my first of many, many, many Christmas sweaters to come, including Disney motives and reindeers and the craziest one that I have so far that I bought this year with penguins on it.

If you know me, you already knew it wasn’t going to be subtle 😂😂😂

My parents cannot understand this at all – and don’t even get me started on the antlers… but I love it and I think it’s definitely a more English-speaking nations tradition. Germanic peoples are just too serious for this type of fun, I guess 😂 Although I was recently in a pub in Vienna and saw a lot of men wearing Christmas sweaters as well. I was very pleased by that. (Might have been a skewed sample though, as the blokes that go to the Irish pub often tend to be Irish or British…

Window Stickers for Festive Cheer

One thing that I started doing that my parents never did was to buy stickers to stick on the windows, such as snowflakes, santas and reindeers and such. That was never really a thing in my household but for some reason I really just love having a window with snowflakes and Christmas characters on them. So that’s something that I started and continued this year as well.

Loved the snow collecting on our windows 🤩

Which Christmas Songs I listen to

One Christmas tradition that is definitely very individual to our family is that we listened to a very particular album called SalSoul Christmas. It features Caribbean music mixed with a traditional Christmas songs and is just the best! I grew up with this track. Nowadays I tend to just put on a YouTube playlist best UK Christmas songs but every now and then I’ll also give the SalSoul a listen because it definitely reminds me of growing up.

Speaking of favorite Christmas songs; two of mine are actually newly acquired. My favorite one at the moment is Ed Sheeran and Elton John’s Merry Christmas that was launched last year. I may have heard it once or twice last year, but this year I really got into it. I love how the videos spoofs other Christmas songs and I just love the lyrics and so that’s my favorite Christmas song at the moment.

My second favorite one dare I say it is actually Fairy Tale of New York. I actually played that when I was learning the drums ; it was one of the first songs I played. Sadly, it’s a bit problematic, isn’t it? Includes that very bad slur for gay men. I have heard versions now where they just replace that word with a similar sounding one. So that’s a good thing. And then you can kind of enjoy it a bit more. But I mean once you listen to the lyrics, you’re like, why is this holiday cheer again? It’s pretty depressing. But I just like it, couldn’t explain why.

As it’s the Holidays – more Food!

Another tradition for my British-German household happens on the 25th of December. We have a massive English breakfast and then in the late afternoon, we have British High tea with sandwiches. Although my mum doesn’t actually drink tea – it’s like high treask – she is the only British person in the world who doesn’t drink tea. Anyway, digressing – we have sandwiches (egg mayonnaise, tuna cucumber and plain cucumber) and mince pies. Sometimes we’d have scones as well.

What Christmas Movies do I watch?

I was thinking back to my childhood and the Christmas movies that I watched growing up versus the Christmas movies that I simply must watch now.

When I was growing up the two that I remember most werr the Last Unicorn – this is some German kind of thing. I do not know why. But every year at Christmas, they show the Last Unicorn. If you’ve ever seen it go check it out. It is surreal but also really fun.

I actually painted the unicorn and the flaming bull adversary as part of my art course. The other staple was Home Alone, classic. So those were really big while I was growing up.

However, now in 2022 my classic Christmas films have changed. You probably won’t be surprised that at the very top of the list is Love Actually. Yes, we all love it. Or at least most of us do. Although, I recently found a YouTube account called Cinema Therapy and they look at the relationships in Love Actually from a psychological perspective and they were like all of these relationships are incredibly unhealthy except for the one between Liam Neeson and his son. Whoopee.

But Mr. Lee absolutely loves Love Actually. He will watch it multiple times over the year, even in the middle of August. He does not care. He just loves it to bits. So you know it’s nice for us to have a movie that we share the love for.

Then, for me, Muppets Christmas Carol, this was something that I saw at my family’s place in the UK when I would stay with them. Even today, I just love the Muppets Christmas Carol. It’s so good. Especially since I like oh god the actor. What’s his name? I’ll have to look it up. Ah, Michael Caine.

Some fairly recent ones on my list are The Holiday with Kate Winslet. I really liked that it’s got a bit of a Bridget Jones feel to it. And actually Bridget Jones is also a Christmas classic for me, all three parts. I just binge them. I think a week or two ago. I finished all three of them in one day.

But one full-on American production that I’ve really grown to like is Bad Mom’s Christmas. There are so many amazing actresses in this and it is fun and quirky and interesting. And nice to see a movie that is all about women and their relationships with their mothers rather than being about women and their love for one man or another. You passed the Bechdel Test, congratulations!

I also quite like the Grinch. When I have some spare time, I will watch that as well.

Okay, phew. I think that’s it. Those are all the different customs that I’ve incorporated into my life over the years.

What about you lovely people? Is your Christmas international or is it super traditional? Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Bye

Christmas Decorations Throughout My Life

As I have finished clearing every last Christmas decoration item out of my regular supermarket, I have been reflecting on the topic of Christmas decoration and my relationship with it.

I realised that I never did any Christmas decorating of my own in Germany, Austria or even the UK in the first 25 years of my life.  It wasn’t until I moved to Nanjing and was removed from the Christmas celebration environment that I felt any desire to start acquiring my own Christmas decoration.

Why I never decorated in Europe

Of course, growing up in Germany, everything was done by my mum. But even when I moved to Vienna for studies, I did not decorate at all. I was on a student budget and I was going back to Germany for Christmas anyway. Then, when I was in England, my parents came over to the UK to see me and we went to spend Christmas with my family in Harrogate.

Also, technically I wasn’t staying in the room that I had rented, because I’d just gotten together with Mr Li and in that strange way that seems to be a WWAM thing, we pretty much moved in together within a week of officially becoming a couple. It didn’t feel like his flat was really my flat at that point, so then I also didn’t think of or want to decorate too much.

Then, a year later in London, I don’t remember having any Christmas decorations and again we went back to Germany for the hols.

Living in China kicked loose an Obsession

In the end, it wasn’t until I moved to Nanjing in 2013, where I was removed from the Christmas environment I had grown up with, that I felt any desire to start decorating.  There was so much Christmas decoration going on in the European cities, but of course, in China, it was a completely different story. Though, that first year in Nanjing, I couldn’t do too much. I was sharing a flat with a Chinese girl and we didn’t have a very big living room. We really just had a tiny table squished into a corner. I did get a mini-tree and some Santa hats though.

The year after that I was living in my own flat, which was the only time I’ve ever lived by myself for a longer period of time. I didn’t purchase anything Christmassy, mainly because there was nothing in the supermarkets and I hadn’t signed up for the black hole of Taobao yet. I also flew back to Germany that year.

Then, my first year in Beijing, I didn’t get the serious Christmas bug either, though I did buy a set of Christmas candles as an improvised wreath. Mostly, because our flat at the time was not that big. Also, we travelled to Hong Kong over Christmas.

It was only when we moved to my favourite flat, which we lived in for 2.5 years until we left China, I was suddenly like “Okay, I want the Christmas decorations now”. 🎄🎄🎄 That’s when I discovered the dangerous world of Taobao Christmas decorations. That was a game-changer. 🎄🎄🎄

I bought a fake Christmas tree that was about one meter high. And it was super cheap and even included some basic decorations and lights. I paid 25 RMB (3 Euros), which is absolutely insane. From then on, I just kind of started accumulating Christmas stuff until I had quite a sizable collection by the end. The last year that I had Christmas in Beijing, I bought some stickers for the Windows as well. I really managed to get that magical holiday feeling going. It was also adorable to see that Mr Li has become a total Christmas nut. He absolutely loves Love Actually, it’s now his favourite movie ever. He’ll be watching it in the middle of July, just because.

So the last year that I was in Beijing was a time when I really got into decorating. But then we moved back to Europe, and I left pretty much all the Christmas stuff in Beijing with my mother-in-law.

Knock-out in Europe

After returning to Europe, I got very sick and ended up living in my parent’s village for 2 years, which meant that my mom had all of her Christmas decorations, so I didn’t really get involved. Furthermore, I didn’t have a full-time job. So that was two years gone.

The third year, we were in a flat that we rented temporarily as we looked at flats to buy. I was still recovering from being sick and a big issue for me at that time was motivation. I simply couldn’t muster the strength to go big.

All I did, in the end, was to buy a tiny tree and that was it. But I didn’t realize quite how small it would be, turns out it was not even half the size of the one we had in Beijing; it’s minuscule. And I don’t even have any photos of it – which says a lot about my mental state, as obsessive Christmas Tree photographing is kind of my thing…

That was last year. We were counting on moving soon, so there was no point in going all out. Also, this flat never felt like home. We really just picked it because it was the best option standing out in a sea of crap and we had no other option.

Christmas Passion Returns with a Vengeance

And suddenly, we find ourselves in this year, 2022. This is the first year that I am living in my own flat, one which I truly consider my home. It’s also the first year in four years that I’ve felt that Christmas inspiration. As a result, I have just completely gone overboard.

I cannot walk into our local supermarket because they have a Christmas corner and every single time I set foot in there, I find something to bring back home. I now have all the decorations. I got a super inexpensive wreath from the low-budget supermarket, which was just 8 Euros. Loving it. I also ordered some stickers. I’m really happy with how everything’s turned out. It’s incredibly cosy.

I hope you all are able to enjoy Christmas. Let me know how you have been fairing with your Christmas decorations!

Merry, merry Christmas 🎄🎄🎄

Turning over a new Christmas Leaf

I know, I know. I did say I would update you with my next article about dating in two weeks time.

I knew I shouldn’t have committed to a timeframe. There you go. Suddenly, it’s like what month later? I have all my content prepared. I just need to get it into a written form. So, I’ll work on that at some point.

But December has just been so busy. It’s kind of returned to the situation I used to have in Beijing, where December would just be the huge socializing month. Everyone was having Christmas parties. Everyone was meeting up. And so there just wasn’t a lot of time for anything else.

So yeah, that’s what’s happened again. I just came back from a Christmas party, where I spent seven hours just talking to people, people that I really connect with and the importance of surrounding yourself with inspiring people has absolutely been brought home to me this past year.

This time last year, I was in a company where I just didn’t connect with the people there at all. It wasn’t that they were unfriendly or anything. But they just weren’t… How do I say this? They just weren’t very interested in having the types of conversations that I enjoy so much. For example, cultural conversations, meeting people from diverse backgrounds who can tell me all about their life story.

Funnily enough, today, the table got turned on me a bit because usually as the journalist, I’m the one who’s asking all the questions, but then I met this lovely Chilean woman and she quizzed me for a full three hours about my life and China and my wedding.

I ended up showing her my wedding video and taking her through the whole thing and I just really enjoyed it.

Maybe unsurprisingly after three hours of babbling, now I can hardly speak anymore, my voice is so hoarse but I just had such a lovely time and it’s left me feeling more energized in a way that I haven’t experienced in years.

Do you know that feeling, when you spend a lovely evening with someone and just come away from it feeling so positive and inspired and impressed?

In that way, this Christmas party was a complete turnaround from last year’s, where as I said, I was in this company where I didn’t quite fit in. They were culturally quite heavy drinkers. And hey, I used to love the alcohol, all of it. But since I’m on medication, I can’t do that any longer. Essentially, it ended up with me standing there for hours feeling a little bit too awkward to just leave. But yeah, watching everyone else get pissed off their face, while just being the only sober one among 30 drunk people was a bit awkward in the end.

Since I felt I couldn’t be the first person to leave, but at the same time, I didn’t really want to be there, I actually ended up sitting on the loo with the lid down watching a TV series. Just so that I wouldn’t be the first person to leave after a rudely short amount of time.

Therefore, I’m just really incredibly happy right now about how my experience has just completely altered within the space of a year. I am so glad about all the interesting connections I get to form in this international environment.

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences. I would love to hear if so, drop me a comment.

Okay, I will get back to the dating pieces soonish. It’s on the list, but it may take a while. If you don’t hear from me, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – just in case. Bye bye.

Foto by Artem Kniaz

Modern Dating 3: Revisiting Tantan

Welcome to Part 3 of my Modern Dating Series. I have decided to revisit the topic of Tantan, due to a super interesting convo I had with an American friend in China (let’s call her Debs).

In the last post I wrote about three WWAMs who had met their husbands on Tantan, or Chinese Tinder. However, Debs shared a very different experience, so let’s dig right in.

Just some background about Debs. She is a white American WWAM in her early 30s, divorced with two kids in a first-tier city in China. She had not used dating apps before the split from her husband.

Broken Guys Only?

Newly single, Debs decided to go on Tantan – and her experiences were not great.

“It’s about the quality of men on there,” she explained. They’re not all looking for physical relationships. Rather, what they’re looking for depends on who they’re talking to.”

However, Debs feels that “quality guys” who are normal, without baggage and weird behaviours, would usually not be on Tantan – or only for a very short amount of time.

“They just don’t need to use it, since they can find a partner quite easily in person,” she said. “I found out after a while that because there’s such a social atmosphere in my city, its super easy for guys (no matter whether they’re looking for hook-ups or a serious relationship) to meet people through Wechat groups, hobbies and social clubs.”

Debs concluded that usually only men who are “extremely broken” in one or many ways are on Tantan for longer periods of time. “The quality men get snatched up before having to resort to Tantan,” she feels.

A Short-term Match

Debs did find one prospect on Tantan that seemed promising at first.

“I was involved with a guy last year; he was very soft-spoken and very smart and very kind. He was just the biggest coward that I’ve ever met. He would not be able to talk to women face-to-face because he was too much of a coward.”

They dated for 3-4 months, but never talked about their relationship status. Then, suddenly one day he completely freaked out and said he needed to know if Debs wanted to have his kids and marry him, because if not he didn’t want to waste his time.

“We talked about it and I said honestly, I don’t know if I want more kids and so I agreed there was no point in carrying on, if we would end up wasting time and getting hurt.”

Yet it looked like everything worked out and things went back to normal for a month after this talk. But then he just disappeared one day, going back to his hometown. He ghosted Debs for two weeks and then messaged saying “I’m sorry I don’t have any faith in our future.”

However, after they broke up, this guy proceeded to send Debs a friend request to ask her for s*x every month for six months. Finally, she blocked him and forgot about it.

“I just remember thinking it’s because I met him on Tantan,” Debs explained. “And many of the men who have been on there for a long time are similar.”

Dating Racism on Tantan

But that’s not the end of Debs Tantan story. In fact, as it turns out, Debs and her closest friend, an African American woman, ended up having two very different experiences on Tantan. So much so, that as an experiment both would message the same guys and then compare their replies.

“It was so different,” says Debs. “With me they would be very respectful and ask a lot of questions and be super nice. But with her they would immediately ask her for s*x, and asking if she wanted to receive a dirty picture.”

Her conclusion was that many guys on Tantan are not necessarily looking for a hook-up, rather they are looking for anything they can get and change their approach depending on who they’re talking to.

“For me, Tantan was like a crash course. I was dating for the first time in my second language and it was a bit uncomfortable at first. I needed to learn by doing, I needed to get burned to know the questions to ask and what to accept and what not to accept,” Debs sums up her experience.

“It was very useful, I learned a lot, then I took a long hiatus and wasn’t interested in dating and just wanted to invest in myself. So, I got into fitness and exploring other sides of myself. And I am now very happy with myself.”

What Debs found was that, once she came out of this all fresh and new, the men came to her. She believes this has to do with her new-found confidence shining through.

“As a result, I didn’t have to do anything. I was just glowing, and they just kept coming to me. And these were quality men saying: You are beautiful, can I take you on a date.”

In the end, Debs realised she never actually needed dating apps at all. And her current boyfriend is great.

I would love to hear about your experiences with Tantan or generally dating in China, feel free to leave a comment!

Look out for Part 4 of Modern Dating coming up some time in December (I am optimistic, I know…)

Feature image by amrothman from Pixabay

Modern Dating 2: Before there was Tantan…

This is the second part of my Modern Dating Series. Today I want to talk a bit about some Chinese dating apps: Tantan and WeChat.

WeChat??? Is there nothing this omnipotent app cannot do?!

“How is WeChat a dating app?”, you might be wondering. Well, before there was Tantan, aka the Chinese Tinder, there was WeChat. So, how did people use it to meet others? You might have come across an interesting little function called “people nearby”. This function allows you to see all the WeChat users in your vicinity (that have agreed to be featured) and you can strike up a conversation.

Old-school: WeChat’s People Nearby Feature

When I asked about Tantan in our WWAM WeChat group I was surprised to find that a lot of the women in there actually met their husbands via WeChat’s People Nearby function. Indeed, a Chinese friend of mine met her husband through this function when she was studying abroad in Thailand. So, this really seems to be a thing.

I feel it may be a bit risky or possibly inconvenient in the sense that there is no About Me page attached to this, as would be on actual dating apps. So, you have no idea whether you are going out with a porn star or an axe murderer, as it were. Which I guess is what dating pre-internet just used to be like…the joy of gambling with your life on every date.

Chinese Tinder: Tantan

I’ll talk about Tinder in the next post but for now let’s focus on the “Chinese Tinder”, known as Tantan. Tantan became known as the hook-up app, though it’s probably not quite as bad as Tinder in terms of fuck boi ratio, since one-night stands have previously not (yet!) been very widespread in China – though this may be changing.

I feel it was probably a good thing that when I studied in China in 2010, there were no smart phones or dating apps. Wechat didn’t launch until January 2011. Which is really making me think, how on earth did we stay in touch with each other and plan outings??? We must have used text messages, I guess? Far out!

Anyway, I digress. Back to Tantan. I was surprised that quite a number of WWAMs reported back to me saying they had met their husbands on Tantan, seen as it’s more on the non-committal end of things.

So, I dug deep on this one and got to interview 3 WWAMS who met their husbands on Tantan, and it’s been so fascinating.

Katrina (name changed) – There’s the Catch

Katrina decided to use Tantan to get over a long-term boyfriend. Like any dating app, it was a numbers game. More boys, more chances.

“Compared to Tinder in China, on Tantan I came across so many more f⋆ck bois and cheaters (both scams and married men) than on Tinder. Much more one-night stands. I ended up meeting a lot of long-term friends on Tantan but many more a⋆⋆holes.

I would recommend Tantan to anyone who is aware of the massive risks emotionally and physically and is smart enough to see through the bad eggs. I got cheated out of 30,000 RMB by a Tantan man. He moved in with me straight away due to “COVID” and said he couldn’t get money out of the bank because of COVID, so I paid the first three months’ rent and deposit. He continued to borrow money.

Then one day the electricity goes out and I couldn’t reach him, so called the landlord. He told me the guy had never given him the money and instead said we were moving to Canada soon. The landlord actually thought we had moved out and was wanting to show the house the next day…”

Impressively, Katrina is chalking it all up to experience.

Then, she recalls, the day she met her husband through Tantan, he spent the night on the floor and just never left.

Maria (renamed) – From Fun to Wedding Bells

Maria got introduced to Tantan the first day she got off the plane in China. She was in a tiny city, single and 25 years old.  She was looking for fun.

“However, when you don’t know anybody, it’s really hard to meet people,” she recalls.

“It was fun using Tantan and I like Chinese men, so I loved it. But one issue was that many men on there couldn’t speak English. And my Chinese was so bad at the time. I would recommend the app if you speak fluent Chinese.”

“With my husband, we were just talking. I met him and I was like ‘Oh my god’. At the time we just treated it as a hook-up, we never thought we’d get married, yet here we are three years later.”

She admits, she sometimes feels a bit awkward admitting they met on a dating app, but she does think this will really just become the norm in the future.

Caroline (name changed) – Surpassing Expectations

The first time Caroline used Tantan it was just a “game” with her friend to find their university classmates. She had the app but didn’t connect with anybody for 3 months, then one day her VPN stopped working, she was bored and decided to give it another go.

“When I was using Tantan, I didn’t have a one-night stand, but I received many messages from men inviting me to hotels or to stay in their apartments without even having had a talk or meeting each other first. I guess they just wanted to have an experience with a foreigner.”

“My craziest Tantan date was the first date with my husband, I missed the last train back home and couldn’t catch a Didi around that area, so we had to stay in the street until 5 am to catch the first train 😂.”

Caroline says she personally didn’t expect anything at first and also didn’t use Tantan for one-night stands.

“I guess I was lucky to find my husband there but if you just want to have fun and meet people, I’d recommend it.”

So, there you have it. It looks to me like Tantan is great to meet people not necessarily exclusively for dating but just as friends. But as Katrina’s story taught us, be on the lookout for dodgy behaviour!

Have you ever used Tantan? If so, what was your experience with the app? Would love to hear from you!

Feature Image by Adem AY on Unsplash

Modern Dating: Foreign Women in China

Ok, so this has me stumped. Thinking of a scenario where I might end up single has become absolutely horrifying to me. ‘Why?”, you ask. Because modern dating is effed up!

Mr Li and I got together in 2011, so I have been off the dating market for the better part of a decade.

In all that while, I have had a number of friends still single and on the prowl, as it were…and the stories they bring back from the trenches are bad enough to put you off for life!

You can probably imagine where I am ultimately going with this – and you’re absolutely right – massive Tinder rant coming up in one of my next posts. But first, I would like to share some of my dating observations for “foreign women” – for want of a better term – in China.

Dating in China as a Foreign Woman
All in all, I’d summarize this as slim pickings. Many single Western women I knew in China would not really consider dating Chinese men. Which makes the dating pool quite a bit smaller as you can imagine.

Add to that the fact that you will encounter a considerable amount of foreign (read “white”) guys running around China who have more or less severe cases of yellow fever, so once again the pool shrinks. Of course, not all white guys, yes, yes. But still a substantial enough amount that those “plenty of fish in the sea” for foreign women amount to maybe just 50% of male foreigners in any given town. And since COVID it has gotten even rougher.

🧐 Let’s look at some figures 🧐

According to the Beijinger, a census published in 2020 showed that the number of foreigners in Beijing dropped from over 107,000 in 2010 to just under 63,000 in 2020. Shanghai dropped from 208,000 to 163,000.

We can all imagine why…

But for Western women still holding the fort in 2022 – and we imagine those to be even fewer now than two years ago, thanks to the Shanghai lockdown in particular – that means if we assume a fifty-fifty gender split (not accurate math, I know, I know), there are now a generous estimate of around 30,000 foreign males in Beijing and 80,000 foreign males in Shanghai.

So, again working with rudimentary guesswork maths, if half of those males are focused on dating Chinese women, that leaves our Beijing ladies with 15,000 and our Shanghai ladies with 40,000 male specimens.

But this doesn’t even include the number of foreign males in partnerships! I can’t tell you that exact figure sadly. What I did find was the number of Chinese- foreign marriages over the span of 40 years: around 20,000 in Beijing. So that comes to about 500 per year – which is negligible.

Again, please don’t quote this maths exercise as academically sound in any way, shape or form!

So, let’s continue with the sketchy maths to compare Berlin, Germany’s capital with our two Chinese cities. Berlin has a 36% singles population, so about 1.3 million. Let’s assume a 50-50 gender split again. That leaves 650k eligible bachelors in the city.

650k in Berlin versus 15k in Beijing! And that is being generous! 🤯🤯🤯

I mean, WOW! Even I didn’t think it would be this bad…😵

And that’s not even looking at intersectionality. I was always in awe at black women I met in China, since the racism towards POC can be pretty severe, depending on where in the country you live. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to find someone as a black woman in China? 🥺

I guess we needn’t wonder anymore that the No.1 complaint I heard from Western women regarding China was that it was a terrible place to try and find your big love.

Of course, these ladies could also consider a Chinese man, but still, few of them do. Even if they did, though, most Chinese men I know are paired up out of university, and since they marry so much quicker and younger, for a Western woman over 30 – it’s pretty much a desert out there…

So, that’s it for today on the dodgy math front. Look forward to my upcoming post looking at Tinder dating. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on this article or your China dating experience!


Feature image by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Finding my Tribe

Hello folks,

I have finally had the muse to sit down and write for a change, instead of just pushing videos on you. Those of you, who follow me on Insta will already have been accosted by many posts about my recent trip to Turkey. If you have had enough of that skip this post, I guess ;).

In today’s post, I don’t want to talk about this particular trip but rather I have recently been ruminating about what a lucky person I am to have made very international connections through my time in China.

Growing up in Germany

Growing up, my circle of friends was very homogenous. I hung out exclusively with Germans, who had been born and grown up in Germany. I was the only person among them who has a slightly international background – my Mum is from the UK.

When I was in grammar school, I always felt a little bit detached from my friends. I just somehow didn’t fit in so well. Like I was the odd one out. I didn’t feel a genuine connection with the people around me and I noticed that members of that friend group really liked to gossip, so I didn’t want to know what they were saying behind my back.

Studying in Vienna

Moving to Vienna changed everything for me. I had Austrians, Germans and Chinese in my field of study. In a very short amount of time from starting university, I made a number of very meaningful connections; friends with whom I am in touch to this day 15 years later.

But the one thing that really eluded me and that I had always craved was finding English-speaking friends. I always identified a bit more with my British side and I just would have loved to build friendships with English native speakers. For those 4 years in Vienna, there simply weren’t any in my general vicinity.

A Taste of China

That changed drastically when I moved to Beijing – initially for 7 months to study abroad in 2010 and later moving back to China in 2013 long-term. In 2010, I went to China with a fellow Austrian major in Transcultural Communications. Through total coincidence, we met a BBC (British-born Chinese) and a Malaysian on the street near our uni. And then somehow, we had an in – suddenly there was a bunch of Asian Australians we would hang out with. I was so incredibly happy about this. What’s more, during our studies, we encountered Germans, Brits, Americans, Koreans and Japanese. I found this environment incredibly stimulating.

After my return, I ended up in Newcastle, UK living with a German, a Brit and three Spaniards and making loads of Chinese friends, which was a complete but welcome surprise.

Lonely in London

During my second year in the UK, I joined a very international company. However, having socialised with so many Chinese in Newcastle, I was super disappointed that there was just one Chinese at the company. I also just felt a little out of place again due to my China obsession, which my colleagues didn’t share.

Cross-cultural Comrades in China

So then, finally, at 25 I moved back to China. During my almost six years there, I was so happy to have built up a super international circle of friends, including short-term students, professionals from many English-speaking countries and a massive group of WWAMs (Western Women & Asian Men) from all over the globe.

Although I like to rant about the toxicity of the internet, I appreciate it has allowed me to stay in touch with all these friends as we move on to new countries. In fact, I made my WWAM friends only through being pulled into a WeChat group for women like me, married to a Chinese guy.

Surprise in Europe

When I left China, I was very unhappy about the thought of returning to a culturally monolithic society, that speaks German, nonetheless. But this has not been the case at all. Due to Mr Li being in my life, we quickly established contacts in the Chinese community. Through my efforts on Douyin, I have also made some Chinese friends. And finally, I have stayed in touch with many of the international friends I met in China.

This is also how I got the opportunity to go on this exciting Turkey trip. When I was there, I felt incredibly grateful to have made all of these friends that now live all around the world. I get to travel to far-away and not-so-far-away places to meet them. I have already been to the UK, Australia and Turkey. And I know people in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, America, Denmark and many more.

I really don’t necessarily pick a travel location and then book anymore. Instead, I think where do I know people from my China days? This takes me to so many places. I am incredibly fortunate and grateful for how China set me up for this.

Have you had a similar experience? Let me know in the comments!

A pretty shitty Birthday

Hi everyone,

just wanted to drop a quick note to say Mr. Li had to go back to China for personal reasons and now Hohhot is under complete lockdown the way Shanghai was for two months.

So he is stuck in his flat with his mum and an Ayi 24/7. I won’t go into all the issues that lockdown presents, since anyone following news from China will know all about that from the Shanghai lockdowns.

But I just wanted to share the news that it is my MIL’s birthday today. So the poor woman cannot even go out to a restaurant or have a cake delivered to celebrate. Of course, she cannot spend her birthday with her larger family either, although they literally live in the next compound.

Pretty shitty birthday I feel. But then again, she doesn’t really celebrate her own birthday that much. And at least her son is with her, for the first time in years. That’s a tiny silver lining I guess.

Happy Birthday, MIL!

Feature Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

The Wedding – German Version

After we had our massive wedding in Hohhot, the German wedding in the Black Forest close to the French border was a very cosy affair indeed.

To sum it up: the Rose Garden was fantastic, one of my fave restaurants catered and their wines were great. What more do you need?

Mr. Li told me after that he enjoyed the German wedding much more. Not that it’s a competition. But we won! Haahaa.

Here is the short version of our German wedding – enjoy!

9 July 2016 Bahlingen a. K. Rosenhof Wedding

Or The Unofficial Fiancé; A German Girl and a Chinese Guy get married

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