Chongqing- Stefan has been a long-term resident of Chongqing since 2015 when he moved from Philadelphia after gaining his law license. In this time, he has opened his own company TheaCorp and currently lives in Yubei District.
As the 13th Five-Year Plan draws to a successful conclusion, iChongqing has reached out to members of the local expatriate community, to hear in their own words the changes they have seen and experienced during this time.
When asked about the changes he feels have been most noticeable in everyday life, the swift development of transport infrastructure and commerce throughout the city offered a wealth of examples to choose from.
“I first moved to Chongqing in 2015, but I had visited the city previously. The most striking changes have to be the malls. The growth of malls is nothing short of incredible. Just off the top of my head, I can think of The Oval, The Ring, Aegean, Xin Kong Plaza, IFS, Xing Fu Square, MixCity, and Raffles City. Along with the malls, there seem to be new skyscrapers everywhere I look, and it’s not just in the major commercial districts.”
“When driving to some further suburban spots, you can see city growth. They are landscaped and quite nice looking. Other infrastructure growth really jumps out as well. Numerous subway lines have been added recently, along with high-speed train stops. I haven’t had free time to use them to explore China yet, but I am very much looking forward to this in the future.”
“I also see more electric vehicle charging stations and electric cars. Even my community has a spot for charging vehicles. I sat in my first electric taxi around a year ago and it felt like the future is here now.”
“Previously smaller communities are now more bustling. When our English school, TheaCorp, first opened, there were hardly any businesses around us. Three years later, there are many more people on the streets and multiple businesses. Soon a new mall will open next to us. There are even more bridges popping up.”
It’s not just small restaurants that are popping up, either. I’ve noticed more cultural places like ErChang (Testbed2) and Jinshan Yiku (Ecool Design Park). There are even more vegetarian restaurants now. I don’t have any measurement or available data, but it feels like the art scene is expanding as well. Recently, I went to a very nice jazz lounge. There are also more coffee stores, including local shops and international brands.”
Recently, the Canadian brand Tim Horton’s came to Chongqing, where has big designers like Hermes now along with lesser-known high-end items like B&O. "There are places I would expect to see in NYC, LA, SH, and BJ, but now CQ has them as well. These options really make the living environment quite nice.”
“Convenience has also expanded during this time. WeChat started more than 5 years ago, but it isn’t that old, and it really permeates so many aspects of life now. Hailing a car isn’t challenging, and delivering food is extremely convenient. I don’t really have to go to the supermarket anymore.”
“There are lots of choices now, as well, including organic. I don’t know if it’s my increasing comfort with finding things or the greater availability, but I can find more products like cheese, bread, and other Western culinary items more easily now, too.”
With such numerous changes that spring to mind, we asked Stefan to pick out a few examples that have benefited him most in daily life.
“(Subway) Line 5 is quite convenient for me as it’s located near my school. The malls near me have also directly benefited my life. I am looking forward to the expanded food options near my school for some greater lunch and dinner variety.”
“I’ve also enjoyed some of the more boutique shops, especially coffee ones. Weiyi coffee, for example, is near my house and gives me access to freshly roasted coffee, and coffee supplies for drinking at home. The guy who runs the shop also speaks great English, which is another plus for me.”
As public services have developed quickly over the past few years, there have also been efforts to make Chongqing more convenient and user friendly to make the city more international. For example, an initial batch of eleven hospitals recently launched 24-hour medical consultation services available in English. The subway transportation lines also offer bilingual signage, machines, and announcements.
When asked whether personal experience matches this description, he was keen to accentuate the examples of transport, hospitals, and child education.
“Yeah, definitely. Transportation is pretty convenient and clean. And it keeps expanding. The hospitals are large, clean, and modern. Even smaller medical needs are pretty easy to satisfy. You don’t have to look far to find a place to get prescription glasses.”
“Parents here really care about their children’s educational progress as well, so you see lots of private academies in each new mall ranging from robotics to dance, along with traditional school subjects. In fact, my own school, TheaCorp, focuses on providing greater flexible use of English for those students who may be interested in studying abroad one day. Parents now don’t just care about test scores, but also the general intellectual enrichment of their children.”
Finally, we asked Stefan which changes he would personally most like to see.
“I’m looking forward to (Subway) line 5 being completed, and any additional subway expansions/high-speed train expansions. I’m also looking forward to more electric vehicles on the road. I’d like to see more grass parks for dogs. I don’t have a dog, but I’d like one and I notice a lot of people have them. So this would be something cool to see.”
“Chongqing also has two great rivers, so maybe some more water sport activities. Honestly, it could be they already exist, but I just haven’t discovered them yet.”
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