China helped me realize what I want in life

Posted by

Today is Autistic Pride Day, a day in which many autistic people celebrate being autistic and share their autism pride. In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I’m an adult autistic woman. Furthermore, I am PROUD to be autistic! The challenges I’ve faced over the course of my life have helped shaped me into who I am today. I’m spending this day feeling proud of who I am and reminiscing about my time in China as well also my upcoming future endeavors.

Decorated my cap for graduation. The Chinese characters read: Autism pride. The rainbow infinity symbol is a common symbol for neurodiversity and autism pride.

It has been a joy and a grueling experience living and studying in China. These past three years flew by faster than I expected and I cannot help feel nostalgic about my time in China. I came to China in July 2017 to begin my two-year master’s program. However, these two years turned into three as I extended one year to have more time for my thesis. The past several months I’ve worked extensively on my thesis and was able to submit it for graduation!

The first year in China was rough. I felt heartbreak and pain from loneliness. Heartbreak from dating and high expectations that I held of others. These high expectations were my fault, thinking far ahead with people I didn’t know very well. My loneliness dissipated after I met my thesis advisor and then a local friend and her son. I also met life-long friends as well. They all gave me friendship and reassurance that I am not alone and am cared for.

The dating was the worst. Dating in China was rough and is almost always rough for expats, especially for Western women. People come and go and locals sometimes are generally influenced by false stereotypes of foreign women. Many foreign women are grouped together under the “you must be open (sexually) because you are a Western woman” stereotype. I experienced this many times and eventually decided to stop dating in China. Honestly, I am so happy that my dating experience failed in China because I have someone special at home. We agreed to spend at least once a week together and spend future holiday events together such as Tet (Vietnamese New Year, the same time as Chinese New Year) and family dinners.

As I look forward to my future, I grow anxious about upcoming obstacles I may face. Jobs, mostly, but also having to adjust being home after being away for so long. My educational career may have ended (for now), but I know that my experiences in China have made me realize what I want in my life.


Thanks to everyone who has supported me the past few years during my studies and for being welcomed as a WWAMBAM contributor even though I’m not a WWAMer (yet!).

Holly Hollins
Latest posts by Holly Hollins (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.