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I lived in China for a total of 7 years: a year in Guangxi ( 2012 — 2013) and six in Beijing (April 2014 — Feb 2020). Over this time and even now, after I have moved back to Estonia, people have always asked me — do/did you feel home there or is/was that home? I found it very difficult to answer, until I learned about a different concept of “home” from one of my anthropology classes I am taking as a part of my MA program. From there I learned that a home is the relationships with people, things, events, the space I have carved out for myself that might not be related to the physical location I am at. So as it’s been a year (how crazy is that???) since I left China, I wanted to share what my actual answer to that question would be. Was that my home? (And yes, this might come off a bit cheesy, but you know — I did not get to say goodbye last year, so let it be cheesy)

My home is the uncountable improv practices and workshops

BIG in 2015 or 2016?
Broads at the US-China Comedy Center | Beijing Improv in Manila 2019|BIG at the 2016 Beijing Improv Festival

My home is the long days at the bakery that we opened with Jon

Jon and the stupid espresso machine
The stupid espresso machine — there was nothing wrong with it, just nobody wanted it later :(
Exhausted at The Hutong Summer Fayre, but happy to see satisfied customers. Also made dessert stuff as there were no dessert vendors there that time.
We got matching tattoos with Jon a year after closing the bakery (on the right)

My home is the most zen work place — the Estonian Embassy in Beijing

The embassy | In Shenzhen for work | President’s visit
Estonian Embassy in Beijing, so zen

My home is The Hutong

Staff retreat in Hong Kong 2015 | Fujian
Inner Mongolia yurt camp | Genghis and Khubilai :D
My first IM trip in 2014 (I ended up going there more than 20 times from 2014 to 2018)
The Hutong courtyard

My home is learning Chinese

Some of the Guangxi University students I hung out with| My mostly Vietnamese classmates on Ho Chi Minh’s birthday :D

My home is all the good and weird aspects of Beijing

Hutong market pupper| Cabbage wall!!! | Empty Forbidden City work visit
Ditan Park 地坛公园 in spring | Lama Temple, I mostly lived nearby | Drawing from Ditan Park
Jindingxuan — I’ve been there all the times around 24 h | Hutong market near my last apartment | Wudaoying hutong in 2015 before it became a madhouse
Jinsong 劲松 apt, shared with two lovely Chinese girls for two months. I moved in without seeing it as I was so done with the hostel I lived in for 2 weeks. Never cooked there as there were cockroaches in the kitchen.
The view from my Guanshuyuan apartment bedroom!!!! I think, I paid like 4300 rmb for that room with a huge porch and a bathroom!?
2019 December EGRC event with the Beijing Broads’ ladies | Candice from EGRC at the Broads’ show introducing the cause

My home is the visits to Estonia to see friends and family

My grandma and grandpa | My grandpa who turned 88 last October — very auspicious according to the Chinese

My home is exploring Beijing and the rest of China

Singapore Improv festival|Philippines|Thailand muay thai camp
Manila Improv Festival 2019 - clearly pre-covid era as everyone at the party used my blue lipstick

My home is all the people I have met and miss and hopefully will see again

Once we can travel again, come and visit, friends! The way I enjoyed showing my Estonian folks around in Beijing, I’d love to show my friends from all over what my life is like here.

And all these encounters, people, experiences etc will continue to be my home as will be new places, people and happenings. I am sure I left some important thoughts and photos out, but that’s okay. I get random attacks by my brain at 1 AM and am reminded about more events, people, food, traffic, smog, hot weather, the gorgeous springs and falls and so on.

So that’s all. If someone asks me, is/was that home, then the answer is above. Told you it’s going to be cheesy. But cheese is delicious and so much cheaper in Europe so I’m having lots of it these days.

Estonian in China, entrepreneur, improviser, runner