I landed in Beijing in the middle of the most insufferable humidity I’ve ever experienced in my adult life. I traveled with thirty-two kilos worth of belongings to last me for the year, a ‘basher’ phone for my new Chinese sim card, petty cash and cocoa-butter cream. But nothing could have fully prepared me for this experience.
I knew I could no longer house the feeling of failure compounded by job rejection after job rejection, a bachelor’s degree that seemed to reaffirm its inadequacy and a future met with uncertainty. But this was different, and for a few fleeting moments the thought of life back home felt so sweet. So safe. So tangible. Here their eyes bore into me and a sweet little girl sat with her dad whose hysterical reaction to my brown skin validated my growing discomfort: ‘外国人! / wàiguórén!’ (Foreigner!).