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How living in China’s South made me appreciate the North

Shenzhen’s hot and humid climate makes me appreciate the drier climate of North China.

30/10/2014

Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr

Author

Are you a summer or a winter person? I’m a summer person. If I’d have to choose between summer and winter, I’d definitely choose summer.

奥地利 Song Yang - Ruth Silbermayr with baby son Gmunden

In Vienna, summers are dry and temperatures are moderate. Highs are around 30ºC (86ºF). Summers are perfect for sunbathing, swimming in the Danube, having barbecue with friends and taking long walks in the evenings.

Moving to China’s South

In June, 2012, I packed a backpack and moved to China. After traveling the southern provinces of Chongqing, Yunnan, Hunan and Guangdong, I ended up in the city of Shenzhen, where I found a job as an illustrator in an advertising agency. I thought it was the perfect place. It was green, sunny with blue skies, but still a big city.

Shenzhen Guangdong province OCT - Ruth Silbermayr 深圳华侨城

I met my then-coworker, now-husband, right after applying for my job. In the past, I could imagine living anywhere in China’s South. I couldn’t imagine living in the North. I shuddered just thinking of the long, cold winters.

Things changed when I had my baby son. When our baby son was 100 days old, we moved to my husband’s hometown in Northeast China, originally, we only planned to visit his parents there, but ended up living in his hometown for a few years to come.

In Shenzhen, summers are hot and humid. Highs are around 35ºC. Which really doesn’t sound too bad, but summers in Shenzhen are long. During the day, it’s usually too hot to be outdoors. During the night, sleep is hard to find without air-conditioning. Mold grows from every corner. And mosquitoes will sting you during the day as well as during the night.

Southern Winters

Winters in Shenzhen are not -30ºC cold, but they are cold in their own way. There’s no heating in Southern China. You can buy an electric heater, but it’s not the same. The cold is a wet kind of cold, not a dry one. It’s the kind of cold you’ll feel in your bones. It’s the kind of cold that makes you want to stay in bed all day long (but then, your bedsheets are probably damp, so that’s not a good idea either).

Northeastern Winters

It’s still fall and I haven’t experienced a real Northeastern winter yet. I’m sure winters here are cold. The good thing is, we have heating (starting from October 25th). These last few days, temperatures in Siping have dropped to 0ºC (32ºF). In the evenings, it’s cold. But it’s not as cold as I thought it would be without heating. Our bedroom is facing south and during the day, the bedroom is sunny and warm (on average, Siping gets about 140 more hours of sun a month than Vienna in winter). I often sit on the window sill and play with our son, who enjoys sunbathing just as much as I do. I go for walks in the sun. 0ºC here feel much warmer than 0ºC in windy and dark Vienna.

Siping market China - Ruth Silbermayr 中国吉林省四平市市场

I always thought I was a summer person. Until I went to China’s South, that is. Today, I’d say that I’m a summer person in Austria. I’m not a summer person in Shenzhen. Because one thing I have learned in my 2 years of living in Shenzhen is that summer is relative to the climate you live in.

Do you prefer hot or cold weather?

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