A Little Bit of Nothing

Hello there!

It’s been awhile seen I’ve sat down and written anything on the blog. I last wrote about our short trip to Xi’an, but that was weeks ago! I haven’t written anything since then because nothings been happening over here on our side of the world! We have a busy month up ahead, so I thought I’d throw together an update on the little bit of nothingness going on right now.IMG_8957IMG_9167.jpgIt was a struggle trying to come up with a list of things we’ve been doing, because we haven’t been doing anything fun or unique! Here’s 3 random things that have happened since we got back from Xi’an:

1. Taylor traveled to a neighboring city to work at a baseball tournament. There wasn’t much to do in the city he was in, so I stayed behind in Nanjing for a few days by myself. I met up with him at the end of his trip. Untitled design-2IMG_9069.JPG1

2. While Taylor was away, I planned a surprise birthday party for him! He turns 25 this month, but we’ll be traveling so we celebrated early. All our China friends met at KTV (karaoke) and we had a blast celebrating Taylor! ❤ IMG_9147img_9127.jpg

3. I started working again! I’m freelancing for a company that I’ve worked with in the past. I’m so thankful to have something of my own to do!2As I said, we haven’t been doing much over here! We’ve been working hard and preparing for a busy summer. Other than that, we’re alive and well. 🙂 We leave for Phoenix next week, where Taylor will be working with extended spring training for two weeks. While we’re in the states during that time, I’m flying to Chicago for 3 days to meet up with family! At the end of two weeks in the states, we’ll fly back to China together for one month. Then, I’ll fly back to the states at the end of June for the summer. I’ll be bouncing around between PA and SC! IMG_9180Our upcoming plans are a bit confusing, but I’m excited to be in the states for the summer! Stay tuned for some photos of our upcoming trips. 🙂

Thank’s for following along!

 

10 Differences about China

Ever since we moved to Nanjing, I’ve been compiling a list of all the differences between China and America. Obviously, there are a ton of differences, big and small, so I thought I’d start with one post, and write another one later on if you enjoy it!

This post is based on an American living in Nanjing, China. 

1. Family: China is a very family-oriented country. Kids are the pride and joy here! Families are very close, and spend most holidays eating and being together. There aren’t a lot of single parent families here, and kids don’t experience a lack of parenting with both sets of grandparents usually living with them. Whenever parents go to work, most young kids are looked after by their grandparents. If they’re old enough to be in school, then the grandparents will take/pick them up. At night, you see a lot of families out walking or playing in the park together. Family is everything here.DSC_0523

2. Safety: I was surprised by this! I would never go walking the streets alone at night in America, but I can definitely do it here in Nanjing! Firstly, there are millions of people living in Nanjing, so you’re never really alone. Secondly, the laws are so strict that you can’t get away with anything. There are cameras everywhere so you get the impression that the government is always watching, which instills a fear of punishment and dishonor.DSC_0772

3. Transportation: Taylor and I didn’t grow up in huge cities, so we’re not accustomed to city transportation. There’s a great metro system here, because the traffic is madness (hello 8.3 million people). I was pleasantly surprised at how clean the subway stations were…like 10x cleaner than the ones in New York City!! I would never be able to keep up with traffic in China. It’s every man for himself and you have to watch out for pedestrians, bikers, and scooter drivers. Their depth perception is impeccable, and this crazy system works for them. Every taxi ride is an adventure in itself!IMG_4542.jpg

4. Homes: In America, a lot of people own houses. That’s the American dream right? However, in China, there are almost no houses. It’s very difficult to own property here resulting in very few homes or neighborhoods. So the majority of the population lives in an apartment, typically in a large complex of tall apartment buildings. In America, all the individual apartments are the same within one complex. In China, they are sold as a concrete shell that are then fully customized how the “owner” desires. They’re responsible for installing floors, walls, utilities, bathroom features, etc.Untitled designDSC_0146

5. Drying Clothes: Within our apartment, we have a washing machine, but no dryer. Most families wash their clothes in a washing machine (or hand wash), and then hang them up to dry. This is different, but not the worst. I do miss the quickness a dryer provides and the freshness. DSC_0269

6. Squatty Potties: One of the biggest differences in China, is the toilet situation. First off, you have to squat. Incase you don’t know what I’m talking about- there’s a “toilet” in the ground that you squat over. (It’s as awful as it sounds.) In America, the toilet is above the ground and you sit on it. Not all toilettes are squatty potties, but most of them are in public settings. As if squatting to use the bathroom wasn’t uncomfortable enough, you also have to bring your own toilet paper…yep, that’s right. I have to carry toilet paper around with me at all times. In larger establishments, they will have one or two western toilets and provide toilet paper.IMG_1283

7. Education: I think this is pretty well known, but the school systems here are intense! Most kids leave their homes when they enter middle school, and live at their school from Monday-Friday because they spend all day in class. Everyone wears the exact same uniform, and they are expected to succeed in their education. It is a very competitive environment, where you need to be within the top of your class in order to have the opportunity to attend a high ranking college.IMG_1653

8. Healthcare: In America, it’s more difficult to get your hands on someone else’s medical records than anything else. Thank you HIPPA! It’s clean, sanitary, and expensive. It’s the opposite in China. Depending on the hospital (western vs. eastern), doctors will smoke in their personal offices, depending on the issue you’re examined in front of other people, and sometimes you have to sift through other peoples files to find your own off a printer. However, it’s extremely cheap and efficient so you’re in and out of the hospital within minutes. You can read my full Chinese hospital experience at the hospital HERE.Untitled design

9. Tipping: When going out to eat in America, you typically have one server and you tip them based on your bill. In China, there isn’t one specific person who serves you and it’s not customary to tip. Nobody will check in with you unless you call them over. If you did that in America it would be considered offensive and rude. You can read about all the different food we eat HERE.IMG_1962.jpg

10. Age:  Everyone looks so young here, and it’s very difficult to guess someone’s age! If you ask someone in China how old they are, they will typically tell you the year they’re going towards. In America I would tell you that I’m 26. However, in China I would tell people I’m 27.DSC_0235-2

And that’s just 10 of the ways China differs from our typical American lifestyle! Again, this is just based on our life back in America verses where we’re living in China. I hope you enjoyed this post, and don’t forget to follow my blog and enter your email for notifications whenever I post something new. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see another post like this!

xoxo

7 Things I Wish I Packed

Hello!

Can you believe it’s already March, and Taylor and I have been living in China for 10 months now!? Within these 10 months, we’ve lived in two different apartments and have visited America a few times since. I thought this was the perfect time to chat about our packing struggles.

As you can imagine, we spent months packing our bags before moving from America to China. We traveled with a total of 4 checked bags (up to 50lbs), 2 carry ons, and 2 personal items. Packing for a 2 year journey was daunting, because anything we didn’t bring along either had to be donated, put in storage, or thrown away. It was an extreme elimination process, which taught us a whole lot about what we valued. For the most part, I feel like we did a pretty good job at packing the necessities. However, now that we’ve been here so long, I can shed light on what we really needed and didn’t need! If you’re planning on being an expat in China, this could be informative to you.

What this blog post won’t be:

  1. A guide to packing for China.
  2. Everything we packed.

Basically, this is a list of 7 things I didn’t pack on our first trip to China, but have made the effort to bring back over the past 10 months!

1-3.jpgFor some reason, I didn’t bring my own backpack when we came over the first time. I don’t think I realized how much I’d need one. We’re constantly on the go, so having a backpack has made life so much easier. I can’t be bothered to carry a tote every time we travel.

2I will never stop bringing snacks back with me. When we landed in China back in June, I had the hardest time eating any food, because I couldn’t find anything I liked. I’ve found some Chinese snacks I enjoy now, but I always LOAD UP a suitcase with my favorite foods from America before returning.

3-1.jpgThe amount of bug bites I acquired over the summer is unreal. I did not expect a huge city like Nanjing to have so many dang mosquitos. I also didn’t realized that almost all the sunscreen here had a “whitening” effect (a cultural thing).

4.jpgBefore coming to China, I asked my good friend Caitlyn about what I should pack. (she lived in China for 2 years too.) Her biggest suggestion, was to pack less clothes and more photographs and personal items. Boy was she right! I took home a ton of clothes before Christmas and came back with a lot more photos and items to make our apartment cozy.

5As we expected, we haven’t found a church here in Nanjing. This means we have to really pour ourselves into devotionals. Every time I return home, I find some more that I can bring back with me.

6.jpgFor the first two months, I went to Starbucks nearly every day. Then, I was kindly sent a mini Keurig. Unfortunately, that Keurig blew a fuse and didn’t produce one single cup of coffee. In the meantime, I settled for a small drip coffee maker. The problem I’ve been having is finding LIQUID coffee creamer and GROUND coffee. Most stores here only sell coffee beans and powdered creamer. Along with my snacks, I like to fill my suitcase with the little individual vanilla coffee creamers from Sams! This lasts me a good bit.

7.jpgLast but not least, makeup! I assumed I’d be able to find all the products I buy at Ulta Beauty in China. I was very, very wrong. Chinese woman have completely different makeup needs, and I have yet to find my staples. They do have Sephora here, but again, they don’t carry all the same products I’m used to in America. Also, I’m not trying to break the bank!

And that’s 7 things I wish I would’ve packed from the start, and always bring back with me! I hope this was interesting to read whether you’re planning on living as an expat or not.

xoxo

Living in China Q&A

Good Morning!

A few weeks ago Taylor and I asked our friends and family via social media what questions they had about living in China as expats. Today, we’re excited to answer your questions and share a little bit of our journey! I hope you enjoy this little Q&A just as much as we do.

What are the seasons like in China and when do they take place? This answer is based off our home city of Nanjing, which is located in the southeast part of the country. Obviously, the weather varies depending where you’re located. It was extremely hot and humid between June and September. Although it was still warm in October, it wasn’t nearly as humid. There wasn’t much of a cool fall. Winter arrived in November and has just about ended now that it’s March. The seasons are pretty comparable to the Carolinas in America.2

How do you get around from place to place? Since we don’t have a car or scooter, we have a couple options based on where we’re going. For further destinations, we take the high speed trains/planes. For shorter distances, we can walk (we walk A LOT), bike on the city bikes, take the subway, or take a DiDi (Chinese Uber). Living in a massive city means that we don’t need a car of our own, which is surprisingly nice. It forces us to get up and move. Adventures on the Rocky Trail

How hard is it being away from your one and only amazing sister? All jokes aside, being away from family and friends is one of the toughest things about living abroad. Surprisingly, we see them/talk to them more now though! Isn’t that crazy?3

What do you eat? Thankfully, Nanjing is a massive city that has a ton of western restaurants we can eat at weekly! One of our goals this year is to start cooking meals in our apartment to save more money. However, we don’t have an oven, so I’m trying to get creative. 🙂 1

What type of Chinese food do you like? Authentic Chinese food can be scary, because it’s massively different than American Chinese. You can’t walk into a restaurant and find sweet and sour chicken with a side of fried rice (at least I haven’t). Typically, we stick with white rice and vegetables because it’s safe. We like to eat dumplings, sautéed cauliflower, spicy green beans, garlic crawfish, and pineapple rice! We stick with what we know. Surprisingly, Taylor is a lot more adventurous when it comes to trying new food.Untitled design-8

How do you afford all the traveling you do? We get asked this a lot, and there are a few ways we can afford traveling so often. First, living in China eliminates all the expenses we would typically have in America. The only bills we’re responsible for are my student loans and half of our phone bill. What a blessing this is!! Taylor’s employer covers everything else. Second, traveling is something we both love to do, therefore it’s a priority in our lives. We don’t buy a lot of fancy things and I like to think we live a somewhat minimalistic life. When we do travel, Taylor spends hours finding the best deals and doing a ton of research before we commit. Watch all my travel vlos at reallygreatsite.com

What is your favorite thing about China? Ashley: I know this is going to sound odd, but the freedom we have living in China is unmatched. When we were living in America, we worked our butts off and were drowning in expenses, family, and married life. Now, we’re able to save more money, spend quality time together, see our family more than ever, and we travel often. Taylor: My favorite thing is the ability to live in a culture where things are different. I also enjoy the trains, and being able to pay for everything through my phone. WeChat is huge here! created by dji camera

What is your least favorite thing about China? Ashley: My least favorite thing is the toilets. I don’t like having to squat out in public AND bring my own toilette paper. Taylor: Not being able to attend all the Clemson Tiger football games is brutal! It’s also really difficult to watch all the games because of the time difference. Some nights, I sleep on the couch and wake up at 3am for kickoff.2

What do you miss most about the US, outside of your family/friends/puppy? Ashley: I miss having a full kitchen, speaking the language, and getting my hair done. 🙂 Taylor: I miss being able to drive my own car!

How do you budget all your travels? Like I said above, traveling is a priority for us. We have a separate bank account that holds all our travel funds. We’ve been given random time off since living in China, so it helps to have something saved and ready to go.1

Do you miss being settled in one place? I definitely miss being settled. I like to tell myself that we live part-time between America and China. Living all over the place doesn’t fade Taylor in the slightest. LOL

How much of a culture shock was there when you first arrived? If you haven’t read my very first China blog post, you should go read it (linked here). I HATED being here and wanted to leave immediately. My anxiety was through the roof and I never ever want to experience a week like that ever again in my life. It just goes to prove that prayer is POWERFUL. My heart has steadied and I am enjoying our crazy life. There are so many big and small differences between western and eastern culture. I think I’m going to write a post about all the good and bad differences.IMG_1267.jpg

What’s your day-to-day like? Normally, Taylor works Wednesday through Sunday. He goes into the office around 10am and leaves by 5pm. Sometimes I’ll go in with him and read, blog, or workout. After he’s done, we usually eat dinner with friends and just hangout around the city. This all changes depending on games and holidays of course.

What’s been the hardest thing to get used to? Ashley: Being a minority is a lot harder than I expected. I can’t speak the language and I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m going to start seriously learning the language. I think this will help me feel more at home. Taylor: The language barrier is sometimes difficult. I’m used to being able to communicate with everyone whenever I want.Adventures on the Rocky Trail-2

I hope this little Q&A gave you a better idea of our lives here in China! If you want me to write another one of these in the future, comment down below! I had a blast writing this. ❤

Christmas in America Recap

We’ve returned to China, so that means I’m back to updating y’all on the blog! Welcome back!

Before I jump into more posts about our life in China and the upcoming adventures we have planned (yay!), here’s a brief recap about our time in America during the holidays! (You can read about the specific timing of our vacation HERE.) Sorry if this post is a little jumbled. We did so much in such a short amount of time, so there’s a lot to cover.

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During the months of November and December, I visited all my friends and family in Pennsylvania while Taylor was still working in Florida/China! Here are some of the things I did:

img_5091Kicked off the holiday season with a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

IMG_53081Explored the city of Philadelphia with one of my best friends. You can read that post HERE.

6img_4692Snuggled with Bubba and Riley. a lot.

a.r. workshop spartanburg, scDrank copious amounts of coffee with friends.

img_5575Helped plan our annual Mast-Family Christmas party.

24135a05-5bd1-44af-b36b-1bc800d2a79c.jpgWhen Taylor met me in Pennsylvania at the end of December, he brought Maybelle along with him so she could meet all the other pups! I was in puppy heaven with three adorable yorkies under one roof.

Processed with VSCO with av8 presetimg_5764We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family, then drove down to South Carolina together on the 23rd. (We alternate Christmas each year.) While we were visiting the south for a month, here’s what we did together:

dsc_5855a.r. workshop spartanburg, sc-2Celebrated Christmas with Taylor’s side of the family.

img_6378img_6388Traveled to Dallas to watch the Clemson Tigers play in the Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame.

img_6981dsc_5964Visited Charleston. Twice.

5img_6643IMG_6619.jpg4Processed with VSCO with g6 presetimg_6694Flew to Portland and drove down to Santa Clara, California to watch Clemson win the National Championship against Alabama! We saw the Redwood National Forest and Napa Valley along the way!

3Snuggled with Maybelle.

img_6808Watched a few Clemson basketball games.

2img_6896Participated in an A.R. Workshop for the first time. We made a lazy suzan for the house we don’t have. 🙂 This was a lot of fun though!

In total, I was in America for 3 months and Taylor was there for 1. We’re so thankful for all the friends and family we have who support us on this crazy journey and welcome us into their homes for extended periods of time. We were able to return to China feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the new year!

Mystery Christmas Box Exchange

Good Morning!

There’s 14 days until Christmas, and I’m trying to squeeze in all the Christmas blog posts I can! If you haven’t read any of my other posts so far, check them out! I wrote about the Christmas festivities in Philadelphia, and even wrote not one BUT TWO gift guides for the travel lovers in your life. If you need some last minute gift ideas, my gift guides would be perfect.

Anyway, back to today’s post!

Back in the fall, my fellow Christmas-loving friend Marissa and I were talking about how much we adore Christmas time and came up with a fantastic idea. A mystery Christmas box exchange! The goal was to each fill a box with Christmas goodies that the other person would enjoy, and then exchange them. Marissa just posted a video of her box on her YouTube channel (hello vlogmas!), so you can check her out here!! If you love all things Christmas and fitness, then you’ll love her channel. Make sure you watch and see what I stuffed her box with. 🙂

Here’s a sneak peak of her box! 🙂

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I had so much fun opening the Mystery Christmas box Marissa gifted me! It felt like Christmas came early! Before she filled my box, I told her my Christmas style was all things cozy and warm. She nailed it! The first thing she added to my Christmas box were two Bath and Body Works candles! She got me the Tis’ the Season and Blue Berry Sugar scented ones! So Christmasy! 🙂

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Next, she gifted me an ADORABLE Christmas mug along with a Starbucks gift card. Along with being a Christmas enthusiast, I’m a coffee enthusiast.

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Following along with the cozy theme, she added a pajama set and fluffy socks. I wish you could feel the pajamas through the screen because they are unbelievably soft.

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Marissa also added some festive red nail polish! Every woman needs red nail polish, especially during the Christmas season. The color was Big Apple Red!

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This was such a fun and unique spin on getting into the Christmas spirit! If you LOVE Christmas as much as we do, I’d recommend doing this mystery box exchange with your friends too! It’s so simple. All you have to do is set a price limit and a theme (ours was all things Christmas) and start shopping! The items in my Christmas box would also make fantastic gift ideas for any woman in your life.

I hope you enjoyed another festive post here on A World of Crazy! Make sure you check out Marissa’s YouTube channel to see the Mystery Box I gifted her, and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any upcoming adventures. 😉 xoxo

Marissa’s Channel: HERE

Mystery Box Exchange: HERE