I. Am. Exhausted.
Flew into Shanghai today at 9:30 in the morning, and got into a friend's house an hour later. Crashed till 11:30 in the back room of his apartment. He's on the 17th floor, so there's a nice breeze that comes in through the window and it was perfect for a nice, long, nap.
When I got up we went to grab lunch in an area called XinTianDi. I swear, I have had some of the best food of my life in the last three months in China, and today was one of the highlights. There was this amazing spicy peanut noodle dish, dumplings, dim sum, duck egg soup, and on and on. Incredible.
But I gotta say, Shanghai is so different from other Chinese cities. Where I was previously, no one really spoke English, so knowing a bit of Chinese was really useful (though I wouldn't say really necessary for a visitor). But in Shanghai, a LOT of locals speak English, and they speak it well. At the table next to us in the restaurant, everyone was using English, even with the waitress, and they were all Chinese! It sounded good, too. I was impressed. On the other hand though, it's a weird feeling to be around so much English again.
Thing is, there are TONS of foreigners in Shanghai, including lots of Americans. It's weird to say this, but I have to admit that now I feel like a foreigner when I'm around them rather than around Chinese people. I've gotten really accustomed to the Chinese styles of interaction, manners, and behavior, and to be back in the company of Americans is a strange, almost jarring experience. I've got this feeling that adjusting back into US life is going to be really difficult for me.
One of the things that I find exciting about life here is the challenge of it all. Whether it's speaking, reading, or simply understanding the local culture, it constantly feels like there's something to be discovered, something to be conquered. It feels SO GOOD to be able to try something new, visit a different place, or have a conversation with a local and know what's going on, and it's a huge motivation to keep working on it all. And with the innately encouraging nature of the Chinese people, it's less of an uphill battle and more fun.
But back home, life is life as life has always been. There's not a whole lot to be discovered, not a whole lot new. I'm not saying I can't learn anything from it, but I just feel... restless, ya know?
The funny thing is, I knew this was coming. When I was 13 years old my folks moved our family from Hawaii to California. As you can imagine, I was bummed about it and pretty resentful of the whole situation for a year or so until I realized all the benefits that came from experiencing a new life for a change. Two and a half years later we moved again, this time to Atlanta, and this move was instantly better than the last. It was here that I finished high school, started and dropped out of college, and started Linty Fresh. I've loved it since arriving, but poking at the back of my consciousness was the realization that one day I'd move again.
And here I am!
posted by Mr. Linty @ 10:21 AM,
- At 10:42 AM, Marvin said...
Interesting post. I've been jealous of your time in China all along and it's good to know I can visit Shanghai and be ok. Maybe I should visit. Also, interesting what you said about moving around and feeling out of place with Americans.
The girl I'm dating now is from California originally and went to Hawaii for college, she then spent the next 3 years in Japan teaching english in a small town in the country. She says that whenever she saw another American she would hide and/or pretend not to speak English. Sometimes she says that whenever she hears someone speaking an Asian language she feels the desire to talk to them in Japanese, though they may not understand. Even now she says that sometimes she finds the words we use, or the way we talk very strange and she definitely has a smaller English vocabulary now.
It's just all very crazy what the human brain can do and how it changes with your environment.
- At 9:08 PM, Eric Terry said...
I can definitely relate to that! I have a feeling I will be hunting down Chinese people when I go back to the states to keep my language skills going. When I see other Americans, there's definitely this weird urge to run away though... It's very strange. I think doing the shows this summer will help balance that out though!
But yeah, Shanghai is super easy for an English speaker, and Hong Kong is even better. When I went there a couple of years back it was incredible how good everyone's English was. You'd be absolutely fine.
- At 11:32 PM, Angela said...
"When I see other Americans, there's definitely this weird urge to run away though... It's very strange."
That is strange!! Ha. You're about the most opposite of me, you completely embrace new things and even yearn for them; I tend to freak out over them and just stay with what's comfortable. But hey, it takes all kinds of us to make the world go 'round. As long as we know what we're about and what moves us and can do it, its all good!
- At 8:00 AM, Marvin said...
Cool, thanks! I'd definitely check out Chinatown when you're in NYC if I were you. Plenty of Chinese people to talk to. Though I'm not sure which dialect it is they speak. That's why I love NYC though, culture is still very much in tact for a lot of the immigrants. I love being on the train and being the only one that speaks English.
- At 1:06 AM, Eric Terry said...
Yeah, as a matter of fact the hotel I'm in in Brooklyn is right in the heart of Brooklyn Chinatown. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, most there speak Cantonese and not Mandarin, but I hear the population is growing on that side too, so we'll see!