Catalans Abroad

Carme Díaz


West meets East

Why did you leave Catalonia?

The first time, I went to improve my English in Dublin and met my husband. So, the second time I left Catalonia was to go to live with him. To be honest, it made sense for me to go there and not for him to come to me, as job opportunities were great there, and I would not be where I am now if I hadn't gone to Dublin.

Why did you choose Shanghai?

Actually, I didn't! After five years in Dublin, just married and sick of the rain, we decided to take a sabbatical and go to Vietnam, and this allowed us to visit other countries in South East Asia. The next step was meant to be Australia, but the visa thing was getting over-complicated, so suddenly we went to Shanghai instead. Really, it was never in our plans.

How long have you lived there?

We have been in Shanghai for about three and a half years. Actually, my son was born in Shanghai: half Irish, half Catalan, born in Shanghai... imagine when older and somebody asks him where he is from, he'll say: “It's a long story...”

Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?

In Shanghai there are so many opportunities. I found a job with an Irish multinational just after arriving, and it has allowed me to travel around Asia visiting factories. Food safety in China is a funny job, believe me!

What do you think is the best thing about living in Shanghai?

The people I've met, our Shanghai friends. The culture is so different that we end up having something in common with people we wouldn't normally have had any kind of dealings with at all. I am raising my kid in a completely multicultural environment. His friends are mostly from mixed culture couples, too: the US, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Italy, the UK, China (of course).

What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?

Ha! Truth be told, I found a job quickly and soon after I was pregnant. So, I have not done that much tourism myself. Of course I've seen the typical spots (the Bund, Yuyuan Garden, Qibao town, the French Concession, and so on), but I am not the best person to recommend hidden gems.

And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?

I would not recommend staying in Shanghai for many days. I would recommend visiting Guilin in the south, Xiamen by the seaside, Beijing and the Great Wall, the Terracota warriors in Xian, Harbin during winter... To be honest, in China I have seen more factories than sights.

What do you miss most from home?

Food... you can find nearly everything here, but not all. And what you find is at stratospheric prices! Also, the clean air. It is kind of movie like! And silence. Chinese culture is very noisy.

Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?

I would love to, perhaps not in the near future, but I would like to have some kind of plan to go back. But if job perspectives do not improve... I would go back, but not at any cost.

Carme Díaz is from Alcarràs. She met her husband in Dublin. The couple moved to Vietnam and finally they settled in Shanghai, where their son was born.
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