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LAST WORDS: Tribute to Tianjin (Part I)
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Tribute to Tianjin (Part I)
By Leoni Botha

BT 201910 LAST 06If you are new to Tianjin and China, you are probably a little culture shocked and overwhelmed by your new environment. Don’t feel alone. Even the bravest among us are testament of the road it takes to adapt and accept and finally, surrender to this beautiful city.
 

如果你刚到中国天津,你可能会对新环境感到震惊并不知所措。不要感到孤单。即便是我们中最勇敢的人也证明了唯一的出路是向这个美丽的城市投降。
 

We all have our different stories and reasons why we chose to leave behind our safety nets, families and all that we knew to embark on a journey into the unknown.
 

我们都有不同的故事,因为各种原因我们选择离开我们的家乡,家庭和我们所熟悉的人,一起踏上未知之旅。

BT 201910 LAST 07When I arrived in Tianjin less than two years ago, I had no idea what was lying ahead, which was, with hindsight, maybe for the better. I might otherwise not have come at all. After two and a half days of flights, lay-overs and airports, I finally landed at Tianjin Binhai airport late in Saturday afternoon. I was met by Ginger, whose job was to meet and take care of the newcomers. Without delay I was booked into a hotel and immediately taken on a whirlwind trip to have a look at apartments, as I had to report at school on Monday. Ginger and the estate agent took me to a late night dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant and treated me to a feast of traditional Chinese food, which I unfortunately could not enjoy as much as I would have liked to, because I was so utterly tired. The apartment that appealed most to me, through a haze of fatigue, was right in the middle of the city, next to Joy City. I come from a really small town in South Africa and thought that since I was going to live in a big city, I might as well do it properly and stay in the city centre.
 

当我两年前抵达天津时,我不知道未来是什么,事后想想,这样可能更好。否则我可能根本就不会来。经过两天半的飞行转机,我终于在周六下午晚些时候降落在天津滨海机场。我见到了姜,他帮我预订了一家酒店,并立即安排了去看公寓,因为我必须在周一到学校报到。姜和房地产经纪人带我去一家正宗的中餐馆吃了一顿深夜晚餐,让我吃了一顿传统的中国美食,不幸的是我享受不了这样的美食,因为我非常疲惫。最吸引我的是公寓就在市中心,毗邻大悦城。我来自南非一个非常小的城镇,所以我想既然我将住在一个大城市,我不妨留在市中心。

BT 201910 LAST 05Tianjin is listed as the 6th most populated city in the world - I did my research. But it is not really true. It is the 6th most populated area, with more than 26 million people living in the area that stretches from the Port of Tianjin to the mountainous area of the Huangyaguan Great Wall. Tianjin is widely considered to be the second capital, and there are plans to develop the city in such a way that it will relieve Beijing from its duties as capital.
 

天津世界上人口最多的第六大城市 - 我做了研究,事实并非如此。它人口超过2600万,从天津港一直延伸到黄崖关长城的山区。人们普遍认为天津是第二大城市,并且计划以这样一种方式发展这座城市,这样可以减轻北京作为首都的压力。
 

One of the first things I noticed about Tianjin was the magnificent river Hai He, meandering throughout the city so quietly and serenely. Of course, I was also entranced by all the tall buildings, festively lit in all colours at night.
 

我首先注意到天津的是它美丽的海河,悄悄地在整个城市蜿蜒流淌。当然,我也被所有高楼所吸引,夜晚各种颜色欢快地点亮这座城。

BT 201910 LAST 02The first few months I was here, were anything but a walk in the park. I have been thrown into the deep end and had no choice but to learn to swim, and fast. The biggest problem I, and I am sure most of you coming here for the first time, encountered was the language. No-one speaks English! One of the most difficult things for me was not having anyone to talk to over weekends. My colleagues hail from all over the world and they are wonderful. But for months they were the only people I ever spoke to and that was only during the week at school. For the first time in my life, I experienced a devastating loneliness. At that time, I was more than once, ready to pack my bags and go home. I yearned to do that, even asked my principal to send me home. He just laughed and said: “No way”. But deep inside I knew I would have to see it through, as I am just not the kind of person who would break my word and signing that work contract was my word. Today, I am so glad that I gave myself a fair chance to make it work in a foreign city and country.
 

我在这里的头几个月,只能是在公园散步。我确信我最大的问题是大多数人第一次来到这里都遇到的-语言。没有人会说英语!对我来说最困难的事情是周末没有人可以交谈。我的同事来自世界各地,他们很棒。但几个月来,他们是我唯一交谈过的人,那只是在学校的一周。在我的生命中,我第一次经历了毁灭性的寂寞。那时,我不止一次,准备收拾行李回家,甚至要求我的校长请把我送回家。他只是笑着说,没办法。今天,我很高兴我给自己一个机会让我能在外国城市和国家工作。

BT 201910 LAST 04Fortunately, I had incredible support from my children, family and friends at home. I spent hours talking to them, when the four walls of my very empty apartment threatened to swallow me alive. Everyone had lots of advice, from doing yoga and getting a skipping rope (both which I did) to going out and mingling with people. What they did not understand, is that even when I went out, I could spend a whole evening with people and still not say a single word, because they don’t speak English.
 

幸运的是,我的孩子,家人和朋友给了我很多支持。我花了好几个小时与他们交谈,每个人都有很多建议,从做瑜伽和跳绳(我都做过)到出去和人交往。他们不明白的是,即使我出去可以与人共度一整夜,但仍然不会说一句话,因为他们不会说英语。
 

Moving and living in a strange city is not so easy when you are older. I just could not see myself going to bars and clubs on my own to meet people.
 

Ginger gave me a card with the school’s address and my apartment’s address, so the first days I used a taxi to get to school. Even that was daunting at the time. I had no idea in which direction the school was, and seemed to always get a taxi on a street going in the opposite direction of the school. I had no experience with taxis or subways. For days I walked a few blocks to get a taxi, not knowing that I could walk just up the street from my apartment to get one. One day I decided to be brave and take the subway. I knew the name of the stop where I had to get off, but had no idea that it was in the basement of Joy City Mall. It took me two hours to get out of the mall and to my apartment. I had a landmark which I could see from my apartment and I knew it was part of the mall. I just could not find it. Every exit I took was unfamiliar and even if I walked around, I did not see anything that I recognized. It grew dark and I grew desperate. I envisioned myself sleeping in the mall and just go back to school from there the next day. Finally, I found someone who understood when I said Burger King and they directed me. What I did not know at that time, was that Burger King was on the other side of the road that runs underneath the bridge in the mall and I just never crossed the bridge.
 

我没有乘出租车或地铁的经验,我不知道学校的方向,姜给了我一张卡片,里面有学校的地址和公寓的地址,所以我可以打出租车去上班。有一天,我决定勇敢地坐地铁。我知道目的地的名字,但不知道它在大悦城的地下室。我花了两个小时才离开商场却无法到达我的公寓。有一个地标可以从我的公寓看到,我知道它是商场的一部分。可我却找不到它。我开始变得绝望,我设想自己在商场里睡觉,第二天就从那里回到学校。最后,我发现有人在我说汉堡王的时候就明白了,他们指示我。我当时不知道的是,汉堡王是在商场桥下的道路的另一边,我从来没有走过桥去过。

640Taking the subway was a completely new experience for me. I made sure I always had a subway map with me. Oh, how many times did I get on a train going the opposite direction I was supposed to go. Now I am a pro and can go to any place in the city by subway. Even Ginger was impressed when I showed her a shorter route than the one she knew. It is one of the things I enjoy and appreciate about this city. The subway system is so efficient and easy to navigate. When my daughter came for a visit last December, I was secretly proud that I was able to go everywhere and knew the lines and stops and which exits to take. She thought I was totally cool!
 

乘坐地铁对我来说是一次全新的体验。哦,我乘坐的地铁有很多次去往我应该去的反方向。现在我是专业人士,可以乘坐地铁前往城市的任何地方。当我展示一条比大家都知道的更短的路线时,即使是姜也留下了深刻的印象。这是我喜欢和欣赏这个城市的事情之一。地铁系统非常高效且易于导航。
 

Autumn Festival and a week off school gave me a chance to explore my new city and the area I lived in. I accidentally discovered the Food Street with the stalls offering all varieties of food and delicacies. I learned the quickest route to the subway in the mornings when the mall is still closed. I found parks with inviting little benches and vibrant splashes of late autumn flowers. The river eluded me, though. I so wanted to find the river and spend a few hours there. Whenever I took a taxi, the river was everywhere, smooth and wide. But when I went in search of the river on my many walks, it seemed as if I walked in circles.

秋季一周的假期让我有机会探索我的新城市和我居住的地区。我偶然发现了美食街的摊位提供各种早餐美食,我学会了通往地铁的最快路线。我发现公园里有迷人的小长椅和充满活力的深秋花朵。但是河流让我望而却步。我很想找到这条河并在那里度过几个小时。每当我乘坐出租车时,这条河就到处都是,光滑而宽阔。但是当我在散步中寻找河流时,似乎就消失了。

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