It’s been over two months since we arrived in China and time just flew! The learning curve is intense when you move to a new place and a new country is even more so. I feel like I have come a very far way from the girl who sat down at a restaurant on her first night and realized for the first time that, “OMG…I can’t read the menu! I didn’t even THINK of this. What if I get fish?” (I’m severely allergic to fish) Then I pointed at something on the menu, said “ye” (meaning one) and pointed at another thing and said “Ye” and then hoped that whatever came wasn’t totally disgusting. Ha!
I was also the woman who was TERRIFIED of taking a taxi because I just felt so lost and vulnerable. I didn’t want to get into a cab with my son and not be able to tell him where I needed to go. I didn’t know how to say it at all. I wandered around on my first weekend here (also known as my 40th birthday), lost and unable to find the Qing Gai (LRT) that everyone said was ‘just over there” and ended up going nowhere. If I had gone a few feet more instead of turning around I would have found the Market. However, I didn’t find that until 2 weeks later. Now I am able to figure out what on the menu probably isn’t going to be terrible. I now know how to ask to go to multiple places in a taxi as well as get to the Qing Gai and when I get there, I know how to use it to get elsewhere. I figured out how to get a Qing Gai card ALL BY MYSELF and also found the Market by myself. I have had some new friends show me things I couldn’t figure out myself and have learned, despite my long, hard-to-break-habit of NOT asking for help, how to get people to come with me so it’s not quite as terrifying the first time. That in itself is a big move for me. I am desperately independent and have worked extremely hard my whole life to NOT be pathetic and to avoid being the stereotype of a single parent. “I am NOT lost, I do NOT need help,I do NOT need anyone” I scream in my head when I feel the most vulnerable. It doesn’t really work when moving to a new country when you cant speak a word of Chinese.
I have to say that one of the benefits of being an ex-pat is learning how to rely on people and discovering just how nice people are at their core, usually. I think when you are in a community of expats it’s easier to pull together. Since I’ve been here I have seen a few people go through really hard things. One person had some scary health problems, another broke her foot and has to hobble around on crutches and is trying very hard to be brave but it’s hard to be hurt and in another country, far away from family and friends and reliable health care. However, I have seen those same people helping each other in a way that would never have happened back ‘home’ because everyone would be so busy with their own things and would expect that one’s family and friends would help.
On another track entirely, one of the nice things about being in China and away from North America is the LACK of bad, scary news that happens in abundance in Canada. I knew we were under constant barrage of bad news but didn’t realize how QUIET the lack thereof would be. I don’t hear about the recent stabbings or shootings in Toronto, Surrey or wherever. I don’t hear about news I have no control over and can’t possible help with and yet frightens me and makes me afraid of my neighbours. It’s nice to not hear that chattering anymore of the 24 hour, constant bad-news-source.
Another good thing about China is the food. It is delicious! I am going to really miss Chinese food when I get back to Canada this summer. The Chinese food they serve us in Canada is not real Chinese food because it is not delicious in the same way at all. I will also miss how cheap everything is. I know that copyright is important…yadda yadda…but I do delight that I can buy “Dr Dre’s” headphones for cheaper than the cheapest headphones in Canada go for. (They aren’t real of course, but they look real!) I have also seen very real looking Prada, Gucci and many other looks-real knock offs.
Well…I meant to say a lot more stuff in this post. I feel guilty that I am ignoring my blog since I really thought it was important when I started it. It’s annoying to try and get photos on here so I have neglected it a little. I am also annoyed with the spam I get every time I post. I will try harder, I promise!