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10 things x 6 months – part 2

Things I like about being in America Things I miss about being in America in no particular order

(I had to edit the title of this list seeing that I’m actually back in Shanghai from now until the middle of August.)

1) Reuniting with family and friends
2) Trees, lots of trees
3) Not having to plan for/deal with crowds of people when going most places
4) Church community
5) That no-smoking signs actually mean no smoking
6) The luxury of not having to bring your own TP
7) Home cooking (besides my own … and well this trip I have to eat out every meal, so I might as well also say cooking at home)
8) Avocados, vegetables fresh from the garden, and blueberries
9) Internet (though I admit, I think it’s a good thing to be forced to disconnect from it from time to time)
10) That is so much easier to go on hikes, walks in the woods, & cross country skiing (I do like exploring cities, but I’d take the woods over a city most days)

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10 things x 6 months

Just over 6 months ago, I moved back to America. They day before I left, a good friend of mine helped me write a list of things that I thought I would miss about living in China and a list of things that I thought I would like about living in America again.

I thought I’d share these lists and my reflections now that I little time has passed. Here’s the first list.

10 Things I miss about living in China (in no particular order):

1. My roommate and other good friends. (I really do miss you all so much!)

2. The international community. (There is something special about being a 外国人 “foreigner” that brings people together.)

3. Good rice. (I remember I found myself craving a bowl of steaming white rice my second day in America.)

4. Good Chinese food. (Thankfully, I’ve had some good Chinese meals since I’ve been back.)

5. Not feeling like your clothes have to match. (Perhaps this was just a result of living in a place where you have to wear so many layers, it doesn’t matter what you wear, just that you stay warm.)

6. Communicating in Chinglish. (I don’t have to miss this one, I do this at my job and at church!)

7. Walking arm in arm – in China it’s culturally appropriate for good girl friends to walk around linked arms, and it was sometimes necessary to navigate the icy streets of Harbin. (So far, I’ve remembered I was in America and stopped myself every time I’ve thought to do this.)

8. The sounds of the city – like the door-to-door peddlers, knife-sharpeners, and recycling collectors who peddle around on bikes singing their advertisements early in the morning. (Now I can wake up to the sound of birds, an equally enjoyable sound.)

9. Public transportation. (Despite the crowding, I’d still choose this over having to drive everywhere.)

10. I actually didn’t have a ten on my original list, I think I’d written down “Food 2x” because my friend and I were waiting hungrily for our 大盘鸡 (a chicken dish from Western China) served, and because I really do love most Chinese cuisine. Now, after a few months of reflection, I have a real number ten: I realized I miss teaching. This is something I thought I wouldn’t miss because I felt it was time to do something else. Yet now, I do miss it. I miss the feeling of a lesson going well and actually having taught something to someone. And I miss the interaction with students.

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Taxi

Sitting on a bridge in rush-hour traffic, a taxi driver makes conversation with his 3 passengers.

“So he’s from America, and you two are Chinese?”

“Well, I was born in China, but I grew up in America,” says my colleague, “and she’s …”

The driver turns around to look. “Oh, haha! I thought…”

I’ll take that as a compliment!

 

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For every year…

A good friend in China once told me:

“For every year abroad, it takes 6 months back home to re-adjust.”

She herself had gone through this same transition, of moving back from China to America, and so I’ll take her word for it.  It’s going to be a long process.

By this logic, I am only about 10% done that re-adjustment.

But what happens now, when I find myself getting ready to fly back to China to tomorrow?!?  And what happens when for the next three weeks I find myself again a foreigner in that foreign land?

I’ll be the first to admit, I did hope to back to China someday, somehow, but I never thought (or wanted) this someday to be this soon.  When I left, the earliest the idea of returning to China that seem possible was half a year or so, when I’d at least re-adjusted more than 25% … but even those plans were and are contingent on so many other things that they can only be considered an “I don’t know, maybe, perhaps” kind of plan.

But this plan? Who thought this one up? … Certainly not I!  I imagined myself sitting in coffee shops for the next few weeks or even months sipping the cheapest thing on the menu, as I searched for jobs and re-adjusted to America.  I was content with that.

Somehow, a chain of events, of decisions, and of prayers has lead me to let go of life at home once again, and accept this job (actually, it’s a pretty great job).  A job where I can use Chinese and also learn some business skills.  A job close to home … except for the next three weeks that I’ll be in Shanghai.

Maybe China will feel more familiar than home… I am, after all, only 10% re-adjusted to America.

No, actually, I think that after these two months at home with family and friends, China will feel foreign again.

Perhaps it’ll give me more things to blog about … 🙂

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15 nanoseconds

Is there anyone out there reading this in Indonesia? If you are, don’t be surprised when you see me on TV!

A few days after the opening ceremony I get a call from the foreign student’s department. Would I be willing to be interviewed for a video? It seems my speech has made me the go to person for public appearances. I’m not sure of the exact reason… but I think it has more to do with my nationality than my Chinese abilities.  

Anyways, that next Saturday I show up at the foreign student’s center and meet two Indonesian reporter and their camera man. They also had selected a Chinese undergraduate student to interview. They interview me in Chinese and the Chinese student in English then converse with one another in Indonesian while I smile and nod. And that’s it. 15 nanoseconds. I’m not sure exactly what it was for – some sort of promotional video perhaps?


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