Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there were whispers and grumbles about a mystical place called China. Expats would gather in dimly lit taverns, sipping on Tsingtao beer, and regale each other with tales of a China so different from today's neon-lit, high-speed bullet train zipping, WeChat buzzing country. Let's embark on a journey through the cobwebbed alleys of memory, shall we? Here are seven things that are no longer true about this land of dragons and dreams.

1. First and foremost, "It's not as Advanced as the West" was a phrase tossed around like a hot potato. Remember when QQ was the pinnacle of digital communication? Before WeChat transformed into the Swiss Army knife of apps, Western expats would often scoff at the technological lag. Now, with a tap and a swipe, everything from hailing cabs to buying street food is done on super-apps that make the West's tech look, dare we say, quaint?

2. Secondly, the "Made in China" label was synonymous with cheap and cheerful trinkets. Ah, the days when your "I Heart BJ" T-shirt would unravel after the first wash! Fast forward, and you'll find China's manufacturing prowess has gone upmarket, churning out everything from smartphones to solar panels that are giving their global competitors a serious run for their money.

3. Let's not forget the food, where "Western Cuisine is a Rare Beast" used to be the game's name. A decent pizza was as elusive as a calm day in Shanghai's Bund area. Now, the culinary landscape has exploded with international flavors, and you're just as likely to stumble upon artisanal sourdough as you are a steaming basket of xiaolongbao.

4. Fourth comes the notion that "English Teaching is for the Uninitiated." Once upon a time, teaching English in China might have seemed like a last resort for wanderlusting graduates. But today, it's a well-paved path for cultural exchange and professional growth. Speaking of which, if you're curious about leaping into this adventure, check out "Find Work Abroad: Teaching English in China: Unraveling the Enigma and Embracing the Adventure" for a firsthand account of the transformation.

5. Fifthly, "Pollution is a Permanent Fixture" was a grim acceptance for many. Skies as gray as grandpa's sweater were common, and clean air was a luxury. Now, blue skies are making a comeback, thanks to aggressive environmental policies. It's not perfect, but the progress is as clear as the difference between night and... well, a slightly less smoggy night.

6. Next, there was the stereotype that "Chinese Cities Lack Personality." Once, you might have thought you'd seen one city, you'd seen 'em all. But now, each metropolis is a unique cocktail of history and modernity, from Beijing's imperial majesty to Shenzhen's technological utopia.

7. Lastly, "China is Closed Off to the World" was the perception. The Great Wall wasn't just a physical barrier but a metaphorical one too. However, China has since flung open its doors, and international influences flood in like tourists at the Forbidden City.

Real people, like expat entrepreneur Emily Wong, have noticed the shift. "When I arrived a decade ago, the pace of change was dizzying. Now, it feels like China sets the pace," she says with a laugh. Meanwhile, tech analyst David Chen adds, "The evolution of China's tech scene is astounding. We've gone from catching up to leading in just a few years."

In the end, the China of yesteryears, with its quirks and inconveniences, is like a beloved old movie: fun to revisit but not quite fitting for the present. As the country continues to sprint forward, it's anyone's guess what the list will look like in another decade. But one thing's for certain: the story of China is one of relentless transformation, and that's a narrative worth watching.
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