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.)