I keep forgetting I’m in China.
It’s the other side of the world, there are very few people that look anything like me, and they all speak Chinese, which I don’t understand at all.
Yet, I keep forgetting that it’s actually China.
I think that’s the thing that really shocks me about this whole moving overseas thing. People really can get used to absolutely anything. Different writing, different customs, not knowing what’s going on half the time. I remember when I first encountered it all in Korea, it was shocking. I really felt completely inept and lost for the first couple of months. But you get used to that feeling.
And that’s the other thing that’s weird – moving abroad and diving into something you’re completely unfamiliar with is also a process you get used to. There is a learning curve to even that, and it’s getting easier.
After 7 months in Korea what struck me was how normal it all was. Taking the elevator down a dozen floors, dodging adjummas, catching a bus, noting the stops in another language – it became so commonplace. Here in China it’s even more striking, because it’s only been a few weeks and I’m getting that feeling of daily living, of things being…mundane.
Because when you get down to it, my day-to-day life really isn’t too different from living in Texas. I wake up, I shower, I work. I get groceries, I make some food, I watch some TV. I go to the movies, I go shopping, I get a bite to eat. And, like evolution, though these things might be punctuated by an intense trip or an adventure, my background state maintains a steady equilibrium. The only big road bump is attempting to communicate to some people, but even that isn’t too bad, usually circumvented by hand gestures and pointing. In understanding that we’re all basically the same, most situations make sense, because we have a basic underlying human intent behind them.
Normality isn’t usually my cup of tea. That’s kind of why I moved in the first place. I would have thought this would fill me with a sense of ennui, but oddly it hasn’t. Rather, it fills me with a perverse sense of joy. Because if I can get used to this lifestyle, then, really, I can get used to anything. I can be whoever I want, I can try whatever I want, secure in the knowledge that even the most challenging of ventures can, at some point, become everyday. It has, in many ways, made me more secure in the idea of living further and further afield in any area of my life, which is exactly the type of total soul re-calibration I wanted when I first decided to live abroad.
I just still keep forgetting I’m in China….
A few days before heading to Wuhan for our teaching job we found out that our recruiter was basically scum and had lied to us, and that the city kind’ve sucked. Doh! Things came together, and we found an awesome city in China to go to instead of Wuhan – Xiaman. It’s a beautiful island city off the coast of south east China, where the temperature is tropical, the people are friendly, and the skies are clean…..mostly. We came here, and luckily we found two amazing websites (What’s on Xiamen and Amoy Magic) dedicated to the city that detailed everything form how to use the bus routes to where the best places to eat in town are. Also, it included an amazing resource – how to find an apartment.
We found a realtor, Paul Ye from Xiamenapartment.com, who showed us around 10 apartments in two days. Paul is a great guy who speaks excellent English, and as a native of Xiaman, knows the town like the back of his hand. He also has an intimate knowledge of what expats expect and want out of apartments and is very familiar with the real estate in the area. He was great at his job and friendly, taking us around the apartments and pointing out where to shop, where to eat, and overall went way above and beyond the call of duty in making a couple of laowai (foreigners) feel at ease in his hometown.
We found an amazing 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment with a killer view of the ocean
and the nearby islet. Paul showed us where to get groceries, marked out places of interest on our map of the city, helped us get internet, and negotiated a better deal with the landlord. Needless to say we are utterly in his debt. We discovered that he likes big, fat, juicy steaks, and we intend to have him over to cook him one. We also intend on introducing him to a Texas favorite, chicken fried steak, which he hasn’t heard of. Anyone have a good recipe!??!