Saturday, October 03, 2009

my first time speaking Chinese

Today, I was at Safeway, at the customer service desk. A woman was pretending to punch a card and making small shooting noises. She had grey hair, was tiny, and spoke very, very little English. I was imagining a re-enactment of a situation on a bus in Ithaca, where a dark-skinned, silent Asian man had been trying to do something, and the frustrated bus driver finally turned to me and asked, "Do you speak... your language??"

Thus, I tried to avoid the customer representative's eyes, but the woman herself turned to me. "Chinese?" I then proceeded to translate her wants and needs. The rep didn't seemed phased or surprised, merely responded to me as though it happened every day. As for me... I haven't spoken much Chinese since coming back, and none at all on the street, so it was kind of fun to get back into it.

So do I have culture shock? Strangely... no. I lived for a month in rural Oregon, and the isolation helped ease me back. Now, I'm in a much more diverse area than China, and definitely Oregon, but it's a welcome change. I miss Kunming sometimes, and I'm sure I'll get the urge to go back soon enough, but for now... I'm back in the U.S.A., baby!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Just wanted to write a quick update.

Transitions, transitions. They are truly difficult. I don't feel the same as I did two posts ago. Now that I'm about to leave Kunming (for what? where? not sure yet, but I'm 95% sure I'm leaving China), I love it.

The life here is so easy, so amazing! I've just been sucked in. I can get massages for three bucks, facials for eight, a meal for two (and not just noodles!), an apartment to myself for less than two hundred a month, etc etc.

Chinese culture? Of course it's confusing, and it's bitten me in the ass more than once - especially since I look Chinese - but in the end, sometimes things work out so strangely that all you can do is smile. Don't like China? Complaining about it often? Leave. No, seriously.

I am truly picking the worst time to leave, though. The economy is horrible, I don't know what's going on with my life, I can't get a job. But if I stay here much longer, I'm just gonna get sucked in. Or I'll revert back to the me-a-few-months-ago, whining about being here for too long.

Now is the perfect time to go. I'm gonna miss it so much, and when I come back, it won't be the same. I never want to be just a tourist, which may be part of the reason I keep going back to the same places over and over again, rather than exploring new parts of China. (Though my summer may hopefully include a trip to Gansu and Xinjiang, two must-see places on my list.) It's nice to be recognized, to be able to communicate with people, to really try to connect.

China, you've been good to me. Sorry if I'm being corny, but I have about a month left and I'm scareed!!

PS, BTW, if you talk to my dad, don't tell him anything. I'm avoiding him at all costs due to the fact that I have no answers for any of his questions :)