Monday, August 30, 2010


I boarded the plane that would take me back to China with a fever and a throat that was nearly swelled shut: Not exactly the note I wanted to start on as I returned for another semester in China.  The flight was long, to say the least, and the layovers certainly didn't aid in the overall experience.  But as I stepped out of the luggage claim of the Wuhan aiport, I was immediately greeted by my smiling Waiban, with big slaps on the back shouting, "I know you! I know you!"  Although, I've always been fond of Jian, the enthusiastic greeting coming from this typically docile character, caught me off guard and served as a precedent for how I've found my transition thus far-- surprisingly pleasant.

The American faces are different this time around [pictured above].  I felt crushed at the end of last spring to say goodbye to the old team, who had become like family to me, but have been blessed with another great crew to work with.  Clay, Rebecca, Kelly, and Brad heartily welcomed me into their circle of friends, full of laughter and lively conversation.  It seems hard to believe we only met days ago.  I suspect there's something about lack of personal space, sleep and showers, that bonds people together more quickly than when comfortable, well-rested and groomed; For our extra time spent in Wuhan, ensured that any and all camaraderie would take place in said nature.

I find the mixture of familiarity and changes comforting, as I sit here in the same apartment with my old friend and new roommate, Shine, after having dinner with a group of old and new friends.  Next week, I begin teaching my Oral English classes and as I prepare my lessons I feel experienced and self-assured.  This time around, I'm teaching in a different college, one in which the students, I hear, actually care about learning English!   So, as I paint pictures (that my Chinese friends so sweetly describe as "like a Child's art") and strive to give the same apartment a fresh, new look,  I can't help but be excited for my newly found world in China, which is familiar enough to be comfortable, and yet, different enough to feel as thought it's endless with possibilities.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I did it. I passed the HSK Chinese Proficiency Test. I'm tempted to leave it at that, so you'll be impressed, but maybe I should add that I passed the most basic level offered-- the Level 1. Meaning, I almost have the understanding of a two-year old.... Hmm. I'd say less than that, but a lot of one-year-olds don't understand squat. So, maybe somewhere inbetweeeeen there.

A pass is a pass, I say!

PS- Yes, I now allow comments on my blog. Thank you to Shmeliz, Ashlee, and Sun for being the firsts! And now you are forever immortalized on my blog. NO THANKS NEEDED.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An American Summer Sandwich

I just returned from an incredible weekend with a group of friends. The inside jokes, the teasing, the shared interests.. Simply the understanding between my American friends and myself is one of the biggest things I've missed from my relationships in China. Sometimes I've heard Americans speaking of this problem almost as if the blame is to be placed on those people different from themselves. But I think most people, when taking an objective standpoint would agree: it's just hard to learn how to relate to someone from a different culture. And the cultural differences between China and America possibly hold one of the largest gaps on this planet.

My first year in China was a lot harder than I expected it to be. And for those reasons, I find myself sinking into the undeniable comfort of familiarity that now surrounds me, and clenching my teeth at the thought of the discomfort that will shortly ensue upon disembarking from my plane and stepping foot on Asian soil, once more.

It's been an interesting summer, what with being sandwiched between my first and last experience in China. Looking back, it seems I've been home far longer than just a month and a half. Each stage has been so vastly different from the next:

Stage 1-- Everything is weird! *Cry, sleep, cry.* (Exhausted and emotional state)

Stage 2-- Everything in America is PERFECTION! (Beyond excited to be home)

Stage 3-- Nooooo, do I really have to back to China? (Denial, denial, denial)

Stage 4-- Dude, when I go back to China I'm going to.... (Acceptance and contented preparation)

I have to admit there are times when I flip-flop unexpectedly between Stage 3 and Stage 4, but since the last time I hit Stage 3, I've realized I would be heartbroken if I was unable to go back and step into a classroom of fresh new, excitable faces, eat all of my favorite Chinese dishes, improve my Mandarin, talk about things larger than life in my apartment, provoke Daisy to bite her fist at me, or walk around taking in all that is Yichang.

So, onto the second loaf of this Chinese/American sandwich, where I shall swallow all that I can chew! (Just nod and feel inspired, as if that made sense.)