“Two men looked out from prison bars,
One saw mud, the other saw stars.”
It’s inevitable that I’ll be faced with the same question over and over once I return to the land of the free….so, how do you like China?
Quite frankly, I’m not looking forward to answering this question. I’m sure not about my relationship with the PRC. I’m opting for the “it’s complicated” status. Where would I even begin??? I’ve never had a place that I both love and hate so much simultaneously.
The lack of hygiene makes me c.r.a.z.y. The field day in the press between the dead pigs in the water supply, a deadly new flu strain and rats being sold as lamb meat leaves me at a loss for words. And, the air quality more often than not gives me a sore throat if I’m outside for more than an hour at a time. Good times China.
The one and only thing that has truly made all the difference is the people. I love expats. Everyone is so open and kind and willing to help you transition. A chat over coffee or a simple email goes a long way when you’re so far from home. Small acts of kindness that were pleasantries back home are now your life line for survival. Some days you just find yourself having the best chats with people about your respective countries, education or business and you forget you are in China at all.
Although my desire for city life always rested somewhere stateside…I do like the lifestyle of being a city girl. I still miss my routine back home yet I’m relieved to have a break from the monotonous lifestyle we often get comfortable in. I find I have WAY too much time on my hands leaving me bored occasionally yet I’ve found time for other things like writing and volunteering. While China does allow us certain luxuries I swear these merely help counteract the fact that we are in a third world country. These perks could easily be traded for American conveniences without batting an eye I assure you.
So, you see, it’s complicated. A total mixed bag. I’ve heard living abroad can be an extremely bi-polar experience. I would have to agree. The highs are higher and the lows are lower.
The good news is that it’s getting easier. I’m definitely ready for a visit home though. US Soil – fresh air – safe food – my house – my bed. My comfort bubble. My family – my friends – my pooches. My happy place. I’m doing my best to embrace this experience and adventure for what it is. A unique time in our lives that challenges us, bonds us and gives us something to laugh about when we look back. Even though I have my fair share of “Shanghai-low days”, I also know I’ll be glad we came for this assignment. For now, I just want to enjoy my summer at home…snuggling these lil guys.