Living in China is wonderful and challenging at the same time. It seems that everyone who moves there goes through a period of shock. Sometimes, I'm still shocked by things I see, smell, taste, experience. But mostly, I've come to expect the shock. To accept the shock. Or at least to not be shocked by the shock. Something inexplicable happens, and you just shrug it off and say, "that's just China". Some of the shocks have become my normal, while others have become my preference.
This makes visiting America so interesting. Re-entry is shocking. Shocking because everything that was once familiar has become a little...foreign. The flavors are different, the sights are different, the sounds and smells are different. Each difference magnifies the two worlds that I'm a part of. Some make me appreciate China more, while others make me wish that China did things a little more "American" at times.
But mostly, I realize that I miss China.
It's been nearly 2 weeks since we locked the apartment door and headed for the airport. However, I'm still experiencing some re-entry shock. Here are a few things I'm reminding myself are "normal' in America.
- Food portions. American mediums are HUGE. They're ginormous! American mediums are bigger than Chinese larges.
- Food portions continue. So the next time, you think you're smart and you order the small size... If you order a small, it's still going to be too big. Bigger than a large in China.
- The amount of people on the roads, in stores, at restaurants is significantly smaller. For instance, the last time I went to a market in China a few weeks ago, I was surrounded by probably about 10,000 people. And it felt normal. So when you walk into a Kohls that only has about 50 shoppers browsing the shelves, you feel like you might have just missed the rapture. Or at least that you should be looking around corners for zombies.
- There are cops in America which pull you over for traffic violations. There are also street cameras that send you electronic tickets. I found myself panicking at a monitored intersection because I wasn't sure if I could turn right on a red light. Still not sure about it.
- The internet is enormous. In China, I'm limited so much with what I'm able to view. In America, I keep having to remind myself that I don't have to use a vpn to access facebook or blogs. And I can use my iPad to access facebook (which I can't do in China).
- People can understand me, and I can understand them. This means that you should not talk about people in loud voices, when you're right next to them. They will understand that you just questioned their wardrobe choice.
- Everything is more expensive in America.
- The news is so sensational in America. I almost miss the censored news reports in China.
- There are LIBRARIES where you can check out books FOR FREE. I've never appreciated libraries more than this year. Not only can I check out books, but so can Willow. It's amazing. It's a miracle. You would cry if you knew how much money I spent on electronic books because of lack of library resources. You would cry if you knew how much time I spend online looking for free ebooks
- The air is CLEAN in America. You don't have to check the pollution count before going outdoors. You don't have to worry about opening windows because of all the pollution that will come in and ruin your cleaning and laundry.
- America is boring. You aren't constantly living in survival mode, or constantly being entertained by your mere surroundings, or constantly avoiding near death on the streets, or constantly amazed at Eastern culture. It's just...standard. Everyone dresses the same in America. Everyone eats the same. Everyone talks the same. Everyone drives the same.
This pictures is a great illustration. I love that this man is riding a mini-segway through the street. He looked ridiculous. And no one cared. That's China.
Although I have family in America--and it's amazing to spend time visiting with them--China still possesses Adam. So, I suppose that this is the biggest reason why I miss China right now. Because if I were in China, I would be with Adam and it's hard to be apart.