Day-to-Day Living in China: Day 77

In the United States life is comfortable, clean and (sometimes) crazy stressful. On the other side of the world, in China life is a slower pace of life and, at times, not as comfortable. This not so comfortable way of life can actually be beneficial and you would be surprised to how much you could get used to and tolerate.i-LFpBt98-L

Being a Non-Comformist 

When I left the United States a year ago I didn’t work the traditional corporate American job; I nannied and tutored for a private company. This past year, my second year in the work force, I taught English in China for a private academy. This coming year I am hoping to continue this non-comformist lifestyle by building a photography business (while staying at my previous day jobs). Leading the non-comfortmist life means you have a lot more freedom. This year my life in China allowed me to spend those other 19 working hours (40 minus the 21 working hours)  on developing my writing on my blog and learning the art of photography. My husband Denny researched internet based income for months and is now starting a coffee internet based business, Third Wave Coffee Club. Visit his site if you would like to order really nice coffee shipped to your door.

Some of our friends and family  (or non-comformist friends) might be wondering what all did Denny and I do in China. How did we spend our time. Below I list the bullet points of a typical week for us.

A Typical Day in China:

(Monday and Tuesday: Our Weekend. It was nice having weekends when the Chinese didn’t because the lines we’re smaller but not so nice for catching up with expat friends.)


(9am-Wake Up to either a smoggy or blue sky on a 21st story flat.)

This picture was taken on Christmas morning 2012.

This picture was taken on Christmas morning 2012.

(9am-6pm– FREEDOM to do whatever we wanted with the one life we were given.)2013-09-02_0002

(4pm-Workout: Crossfit)13177_4897381345152_1237899341_n

[box] During our FREE TIME we usually: Blog, research, take pictures for the 10,000 Smiles Project, spend time with friends, hang out in coffee shops[/box]

[Marina City & Social Coffee]2013-09-02_0001553874_10200283236896352_2006293451_n 971515_10200793303727704_506769342_n

6:30pm: One class with Kings English for Kidsi-4jv2svt-M

Saturday and Sunday: Classes from 8:30am-8pm

If you are teaching English in a foreign country what does your week look like? If you’re not, does this kind of schedule sound appealing? What would you do with your free time? 


China: Eastern Living Details


Rent– Payment was included with our teaching contract. Our new 2 bedroom apartment averaged monthly 2,500RMB ($417). If you are living in China without your company handling it, the apartment rentals go on year contracts where you have to pay the year’s rental cost.

The sky-riser to the right was our nesting grounds for a year. This was a view was taken while I was walking to work.

The sky-riser to the right was our nesting grounds for a year. This was a view was taken while I was walking to work.

Housing Water & Electricity for our flat– In Qingdao there would either be a sticky note paper on our door or on the billboard in the front of our building in Chinese characters. We have only had 3 occurrences this year when we had no power for hours because of the language barrier. At our apartment you had to prepay for the service instead of the Western style, pay what you use.

Phone– Just like the water and electricity you have to prepay your monthly service. I have an iPhone and spend about 300RMB ($50) that gives me texting, phone and internet data for a few months.

Bottled-Water- Between Denny and I we buy 3 large water jugs for 40RMB ($7) that last us on average for about 2 weeks.


Taxi- The base pay starts at 9RMB ($1.50) in Qingdao and goes up 1.90RMB after that. On average Denny and I usually spend between 10-20RMB for a cab fare.

Buses- Most buses in Qingdao cost 1RMB (.17cents) for as long as the bus route. Buses are usually reasonable to take during off peak times (10am-3pm) (8pm-10pm) and when you don’t have a lot to carry. For an expat the buses can sometimes be stressful depending on the temperature, time it takes and close proximity’s of people.

The bus on off peak hours.

The bus on off peak hours.

Walking– FREE exercise. Got to love and appreciate the legs God has given us. I sometimes love being forced to walk as a form of commuting because I can then see China’s culture on a more firsthand experience. It was during my walking that I took my best travel photographs. Walking was a pain when I felt lazy and didn’t want to carry my groceries long distances.


Grocery Shopping: I usually did most of my shopping at the local farmers market near my school. This forced me to eat produce that was in season. The best part of the accessibility is seeing the Chinese version of Wal-Mart shoppers buying produce on the streets outside their complex in their PJ’s. The first time I saw that it made my day.  I would buy my meat and expat comfort foods at a grocery store; my favorite place in Qingdao was called Metro. When I would buy these splurges I would stock up for about a months worth of food because carrying groceries without a car can be a hassle. Olives and parmesan cheese became a delicacy in China. The monthly runs were transported via taxi and the daily shopping by bus and walking. My biceps loved China. Denny and I loved China more when we had the comfort of the motorcycle for two months.

Developing world issues: adventures with my husband on our Chinese motorcycle. These are moments I will remember. We did our monthly run to Metro and came out and it was pouring during rush hour. We carried our groceries in between us and in our bags.

Developing world issues: adventures with my husband on our Chinese motorcycle. These are moments I will remember. We did our monthly run to Metro and came out and it was pouring during rush hour. We carried our groceries in between us and in our bags.

My two favorite Chinese food’s that I will miss:

Lamb and green onions


Pork Ribs and Rice: Who knew the meat that was once a mystery would become one of my favorite dishes. Try new foods. You won’t regret it.


If you are an expat living in China what’s your favorite dish? 


My CHEAP LAZY staple meals: I basically survived off of these this year.

Scrambled Omelettes gallo

Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes make me smile.

Baked sweet potatoes with Irish butter make me smile.

Day-to-Day Life for the Chinese:

These are highlights of my living in China on Instagram. Which picture is your favorite and why? aprilmaurainstaCollage


Instagram Video Highlights in China:

Eating at my favorite restaurant: See an average restaurant.

My English co-worker Gareth speaking in Mandarin.

A tiny Chinese dog riding the elevator without a leash.

Chinese girls chanting in Mandarin.

A panorama of a common Chinese street.

Chinese teenagers saying “Welcome to China”.

Nightlife, Chinese BBQ.

Street life in China during lunch time, a mother and daughter playing.

Children singing a goodbye song.

A Chinese drum performance.

A Chinese woman singing opera.

My husband’s motorcycle getting stolen.

Chinese people traditional dancing in the street for exercise.

Which clip is your favorite and why?


“Like” aprilmaura Instagram

As you read this post Denny and I are probably above the Pacific Ocean flying home to the United States. Please say a prayer that we have safe travels. Have a restful sleep for us. We are excited to see all of you.



10,000 Smiles



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