Living in China has definitely put things into perspective. The old me could not go a week without either Starbucks or Jamba Juice. Meeting up with friends meant sharing a meal, or dessert, or at the very least, grabbing a boba (pearl milktea). Either way, I spent a lot of money to eat and play. Spoiled? Not necessarily. Comfortable? Definitely. However, when you live in another country…without financial support from parents…with no job upon arrival…you learn to live without certain daily luxuries (by luxury, I mean a cup of brand-name coffee). One thing I’ve learned is that I can do without certain things because there are people in this country who survive on a lot less.
Before I came to China, I thought what most ABCs (American Born Chinese) thought about China: poor. Actually being over here, however, especially the past two years, I’ve seen how rapidly the country is developing. China has 115 billionaires on the 2011 Forbes Billionaires List, second only to the US. Tourism in other countries (such as France) has been boosted primarily because of a rise in Chinese tourists, who are using their newfound wealth to travel around the world. But despite the rapid growth of China’s economy, there still remains a significantly large disparity between the upper-class and the middle or lower-class. According to one of my students, there is no middle-class in China, just a country of people who are either ridiculously rich or ridiculously poor.