554: My Life Would Have Been Different
Entry Number: 554
Age Group: Secondary Word Count – 764
Title: My Life Would Have Been Different
It is not very often that I think of what Shenzhen was like in the past, but sometimes I am suddenly reminded of it when I walk around outside. There is always a small stab of surprise when I walk past a restaurant and suddenly remember that it used to be a shop, or when I walk into a restaurant only to find that the menu is completely different from what it used to be. Once I looked out the window of my taxi only to see the beautifully bright decorations in Sea World instead of the seemingly never-ending construction, and smooth paved sidewalks instead of holes and mud on the road. However, these changes are either small or gradual and they do not leave behind a lasting impression. In contrast, I think the biggest and most significant change in Shenzhen that I have seen and experienced so far is the flow of people in and out of the city.
Because I study in an international school, I have seen people come and stay for less than a year before leaving for a new school, city, or country. Just in the past two years, most of my friends have left for a new school, and some are currently living in an entirely different continent. I can still remember that night when, out of the blue, one of my friends called me and blurted out, “Hey, I won’t be here next year. I’ve already applied to a new school.” A few months later, two more friends told me that they would no longer be studying here as well because their parents had decided to move either in pursuit of a new career or a new home. In these situations, I felt that living in an endlessly changing city was disorientating and tiring. Most importantly, it made me sad that I would not see my friends’ familiar faces in school again, and that now their once familiar homes would be occupied by strangers. Every once in a while I would go to Jingshan Villa, where I used to live, and I would see that the roads, the buildings, and the giant trees have not changed. But behind the gates of each house, something was different. The different tastes and styles of the new owners were reflected in their gardens and Jingshan no longer felt like the home it used to be.
However, on a larger scale, I think that the constant movement of people through Shenzhen can have positive effects. The influx of foreigners will sometimes bring about changes that make it refreshing to live here. Instead of having restaurants all selling the same kind of food, the restaurants are constantly creating new menus because of the constant change in owners. I know of one restaurant near my house that changed and renovated their restaurant five times, and though I may dislike their previous menu, I can always hope that the new menu will be more suited to my taste. It is definitely a good thing that shops are flexible and will respond well to customer demand, so the changes in the customers may bring positive changes. Furthermore, the increase in foreigners also brings new ideas and services to the city when they open their own businesses; not only that, but foreigners also create new opportunities. I have seen various charities around the city and was even given the opportunity to participate in some of their activities, such as the mini Olympics organized by Captivating International and the visits to orphanages.
I mentioned earlier that the sudden increase in new people can be quite startling, but I have also realized throughout my stay in Shenzhen that strangers can just as easily become friends. Ever since I came to Shenzhen, I have met and befriended at least one new person each year. Looking at it this way, I think another one of the benefits of this continuous change in Shenzhen is that among the many people who decide to stop by and live here, there is bound to be one person who is either someone I can connect with or someone who can provide new perspectives and/or knowledge; and although I would prefer that all of my friends stay in Shenzhen and not follow the stream of people in and out of the city, it is this migration of people that gave me the chance to meet them. Therefore, I feel that the flow of people in and out of Shenzhen is the biggest and most significant change I have experienced during my time in this city.