Deep in the urban jungle of Shanghai, an expat is waking from his slumber. The year is 2020, Spring Festival has sprung but this foreigners life like many others, is at a stand still. Naturally at this time of year, locals would be returning from the great human migration while some expats would be either returning from a pilgrimage to Thailand, or emerging from their self-imposed hibernation, sustained by home deliveries and Oscar screeners. But there’s a problem. Originating from Wuhan, a fast spreading virus has thrown China into an extended winter of uncertainty. This tall Scottish expat is going against all of his natural instincts to seek happy hours and taco Tuesdays, and instead is self-isolating himself, for survival. He, like most expats needs to teach english to survive. But the chances of his school opening anytime soon, are slim. The expat starts his morning replying to emails and taking phone calls from relatives assuring them of his safety. Hey… (Screaming) It’s okay, really it’s okay. It’s not nearly as bad as it seems. Alright look, I’m going to call you back okay. (Another day in Shanghai) (Types “Feeling…. scared”) (Types “Feeling…. happy”) (Another day in Shanghai feeling happy) He convinces them, for now. With supplies dwindling, breakfast can be a challenge. Luckily for him, he finds a forgotten collection of exotic instant noodles. Rich in both minerals and nutrients. As a hypochondriac, the environment and situation that this expat now finds himself in has become a daily struggle to survive. It’s really simple. Just going to reach out, here we go. He attempts to leave the confines of his lane-house apartment. You got this, you got this. In the end, his crippling fear of contamination wins the battle. Defeated, the expat once again retreats with a long cry in the shower. In the natural world expats must form a lasting bond together based on smell, taste, sight and sound. It’s these relationships that will sustain them on the long journey that lies ahead as an expat in East Asia. Hold on, you decided to stay in Shanghai for Chinese New Year again? Yeah, jokes on me, right? Dude, you told me you weren’t still poor! A transient species, the East Asian Expat is biologically coded to not settle in any one area for more than 10 years. But the events of the past few weeks means that many are stranded around the world, waiting for the next development. Still stuck here in Australia, not knowing what the next move is I see. Yeah it’s tough, mate. Not sure I’m going to make it. Yeah… I made a dash for the airport the moment US airlines announced cancellations. But it turns out I could have stayed in China longer but here I am. Well at least you get to spend more time with relatives. Who are you talking to? Uh nobody, just a friend. Just get off my back, jeez. Excuse me!? What did you say!? Nothing, nothing. None of us want to be here right now. Dude, when the comedy club got shut down in Shanghai we thought moving to Hong Kong was a safer bet! Now look at me! Yara hasn’t spoken to me in days! Nothing… can’t think of anything new to do. Well just, try to stay positive I guess. Yeah, don’t worry. I would choose staying here during protests and an outbreak simultaneously rather than going back to Egypt any day. I think you might be overreacting, it’s not that bad. Says the guy hiding out in Manila. Yeah and you could just get on a flight if you really wanted to. No way, airports are giant petri dishes. I forgot how sparse Scotland is, you really got to make an effort just to see people. Nope. Nope, nobody. It’s really not that bad, man. I’m actually on my way out right now to get some groceries. Aww f*ck! Let’s play a game and you tell me your favourite number. And I will… yeah it’s a game, just tell me your favourite number. Well don’t slow down the internet. The last time you were here you slowed down the internet I couldn’t even get in to do my work! What? That’s not… Alright, okay okay. I gotta be careful man, people around here are getting paranoid. (Sneezes) Get him! (Screaming) Say hi to Winnie! Yay! Yay! Yay! Well… Yay! In these circumstances the expat would pass the time by binging on his favorite television shows. Completed it, completed it. But this far into his self-quarantine, he has fully caught up with all of his stories. Instead the expat attempt to pleasure himself by hand. (Types “boobs”) (Types “giant boobs”) We are about to witness, one of the great phenomena of the natural world. After a 20 min chase to maintain his VPN connection, the expats energy is now spent. The expat now weary from another day of isolation, retreats into his den for the night. As he lays awake in bed, for the first time in a long time, the expat longs for a sense of normality. In this ever changing terrain, one cannot ignore the impact of mankind and the degradation of the environment. Sadly, if the expat cannot adapt to the harsh realities of its
surroundings, its numbers may dwindle, and this fragile species may be no more. A social creature trapped in isolation, as the expat slips into hibernation, he let’s out a final call into the night. Come on, Wuhan. waiting for the next development.