Life has been hectic at the start of a new semester, amidst a (fading???) pandemic. BUT, one personal milestone has passed in August: my Chinaversary. This one marks 22 years.

And 22 is actually kind of special, because that’s half my age. I’m not quite there yet, but in a few months, I will have been in China fully half of my life.

That’s kind of a weird fact to absorb.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Lots to unpack there, John. For starters, do you ever feel adrift as an individual, unable to fully relate to what’s happening in your birth country and yet aware you will never be fully accepted in the country in which you reside? Or do you simply sweep all that away and consider yourself an untethered citizen of the world? I don’t believe there are right or wrong, better or worse answers to these questions. I’m merely probing for state of mind since you put it out there!

  2. I remember when that happened to me as a Floridian. Until that moment, I had always identified exclusively as a New Yorker. Point is: I can imagine a little bit of what you may be feeling for the monumental difference between living in the US and living in China is quite literally HALF a world apart. Bravo, John! <3

  3. How does it work, being in China that long? Are you a naturalized citizen? Is there some Chinese equivalent of a green card? Do they simply extend visiting visas that long? Or what?

    • There is a green card for foreigners, but it’s a bit of a pain to get and doesn’t come with a whole lot of benefits. (Lots of Chinese people have never seen them, with the unintended effect that you can’t actually use it as a valid form of ID in some cases because people don’t know what to do with it.) So yeah, I just keep applying for work visas… It’s a bit of a pain, but it’s a routine now.

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