Travel with Nico to China

As part of our celebration for International Women’s Day 2022, we’re featuring a couple of prominent women who have a passion for languages or have lived in China. Today we’re featuring Nico, a content creator from the UK who is currently living in China. Read on to learn from her experiences and advice for those who also wish to travel to China.

Could you give a brief introduction of yourself?

Hi, I’m Nico, a content creator from the UK who has been living and working in China for the past 5 years. I love nothing more than trying new foods and learning about the vibrant mix of cultures that exist throughout the country. I document my experiences together with my husband on YouTube and Instagram with the goal of helping others learn more about China.

Which is your favourite city in China and why?

This is a really difficult question as I feel like every time I travel to a new city it becomes my new favourite. Beijing will probably always have a special place in my heart as we have lived here for four years and I still love the city. It has a great mix of old and new, and because we live in the Hutongs (Hutong: a type of narrow street or alley commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, especially Beijing. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences), it really feels like we are in the heart of the city. But I would say, when we visited Chongqing I was really blown away, I really liked the vibe of the city and I thought it was a really cool place to visit with very friendly locals.

How do you choose where to go?

It really depends on how long we want to travel for and what we can fit in within that time frame. Beijing is quite far from many places so we usually decide based on convenience. But if we have seen something on Instagram or YouTube which looks interesting then we research that area more to see what else is there and if we want to visit it.

Could you share with us your most memorable experience in China so far?

There have been so many memorable experiences but when travelling the ones that stand out to me the most are when we have stayed with people and got to see their daily life or learn more about their culture. We stayed with an 83-year-old Grandpa in the most beautiful village in Hunan. He was so lovely and proudly showed us around his village to the best spots and to meet his friends.

We also stayed with a semi-nomadic family in the grasslands of Gansu and got to learn more about Yaks, and in a yurt in Inner Mongolia and got to experience throat singing. The places themselves were absolutely stunning but it is the people that we meet along the way that makes the adventure even better.

What's one thing that surprised you the most about China?

The thing that has surprised me the most is really how diverse the landscape is. Because China is such a huge country there are so many different areas to it. It has everything, desert, jungles, beaches, grasslands, mountains and more. Most tourists who come to visit mainly stay to the Eastern side. Whilst I think that the big megacities are pretty impressive, I’m always speechless at the stunning views when you get to more rural areas to see what nature has to offer.

What do you love most about Chinese culture?

I love how food is such an important part of Chinese culture. There are so many amazing dishes and each province has such varied cuisine. I love to try all the new things and experience what people in that city or province love to eat the most.

Could you share with us your experience building up a following on YouTube? Your growth has been amazing!

Thank you very much. We initially started our channel because we noticed a gap online. When we were researching moving to China there weren’t many videos showing what life in China was like and so we had no idea. We thought if we were struggling maybe other people were also. We wanted to help people learn more and maybe answer some questions they might have about moving to a new country. Since the pandemic not as many people are moving here and so we have focussed more on travelling in China. We try to show things that are off the tourist trail so that people see a side to China that they may not have known before.

What first sparked your move to China?

Before we moved to China we had been travelling around South America for 13 months and so we wanted something completely different. I had always been interested in China as my mum had been quite a few times before and when researching different countries, we thought that China seemed the best fit for us. It was a mix of a few different reasons but we have never once regretted our decision.

What's one piece of advice you would share for individuals considering moving to China?

Moving to a new country can be hard but it is definitely worth it. As a foreigner in China, everyday feels like a new adventure. Even mundane tasks like going to the supermarket are interesting because there are so many new foods to try. It’s the same with any country but I think you need to experience it with an open mind, be ready to have some interesting experiences and embrace the differences in culture. If you really don’t like it then you can go home and at least you tried.

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