- Making friends is effortless. You connect with someone and become ‘besties’ in a night, even when all that you have in common is the country you flew here from (“Oh, you’re from the U.S. too? Doesn’t matter that you’re wanted in 37 States, let’s exchange WeChats!”)
Everything can be accomplished quickly and cheaply. Sunday I lost my phone charger and spent most of the day rifling through my apartment to try to find it. But then, instead of wallowing, I realized that I could get a new charger from the bootleg electronics store three doors down from my apartment building for less than 5USD. Just like that – problem solved.
- You have triggers. Some days you love everything about your life here. And some days my fingers are clicks away from buying a ticket on the next flight home. My last panic was a week ago, triggered by a carton of Wallaby’s Greek Yogurt and the New Haven Co-Op. After that stupid carton of yogurt, I could think of nothing else for hours. Knowing that this was a commodity I couldn’t get in China for some reason became unbearable to think about. But in the end, it’s
neverrarely about the yogurt.
The Internet is one of the worst parts of living in China. There are seldom days I can go work in a coffee shop, simply because the Internet speeds everywhere but my apartment are so slow that they’re unusable. Even in my living room, it’s unbearably slow (I pay about 220USD a year for 100Mbps, but I doubt I get even a 10th of that). My life is dictated by the places where I can get a connection and the places where I can’t (like my work office, for instance)
You’re at once stared at, yet constantly ignored. The Expat occupies a weird place in the Chinese social dynamic.The other day, while watching a YouTube video, a commercial for Pizza Hut came on. Ok, I haven’t eaten Pizza Hut, or pizza at all in such a long time, yet seeing a commercial catered to my ‘weird American’ tastes (pretzel crust? YES) felt so overwhelmingly comforting. Even seeing the legal fine print about the crust only being available in the contiguous 48 states, I was reminded that in the U.S., we live in a world where things like fine print exist. In China, the way of approaching people, of talking to them, of advertising to the lowest common denominator is just so vastly dissimilar.