“We’re Not In China In Anymore!”

DSCN0009Chinese is a very difficult language to learn, as I am sure we all know. What you would not expect however, is apparently after seven weeks of being surrounded by people speaking Chinese, you find speaking English difficult. For instance, using grammatically incorrect structures like “You’re going where?” to a stranger on the plane. So kindly forgive any incorrect grammatical structures in this blog post. He actually asked if English was my first language, since I needed him to repeat the questions he asked me in order for me to understand. Then I had to explain how we spent our summer. That was a very entertaining conversation to have. I have never had anyone doubt that English was my first language, and improper grammar drives me insane. Yet here I am, casually throwing out these improper grammatical structures, and bits of Chinese. Yes, Chinese.


I am currently in the Abu Dhabi airport on my lay over. When I wanted to get a cup of Jasmine tea from this café, I walked in and started talking to the barista( I was about to type fuwuyuan). She seemed really nice, and then when she asked what I wanted to drink, I replied 茉莉花茶. She asked me to repeat it, I did. She said they didn’t have that on the menu, and I told her she did and pointed at the big picture on the menu. She smiled and said, “Oh, jasmine tea”. I was astounded. I had not realized I wasn’t speaking English. Also, anyone see the irony of the situation? Even when I am in an English speaking country, and fluent in English(although, I am starting to doubt that this is still the case), I had to point to communicate my order. International gestures are great. We should have more of those.


IMG_1162Also, the bathrooms here are all Western. Is it strange that I find this a little sad? Could I really be nostalgic about those squatting toilets that we all complained about for the first three weeks? The air here is also unnaturally clean. It feels strange, and I’m not sure that I like it. Could I be nostalgic for the polluted Beijing air?  I don’t know why that is the case, but have you ever noticed when you miss something, all those silly qualities you complain about become the ones you miss the most.


Seven weeks felt like a lifetime. Seven weeks felt like five minutes. It still hasn’t hit me yet that we’ve left China. Even if the McDonald’s has no rice, the signs are written in English and the waiters’ let you finish your food before asking you to pay. When I finally get to Kenya, there is a question I know all my friends and family will ask, “How was China?”. To be honest, I don’t know how to answer this question. If I simply stated the facts like that we had no running water in the showers, the toilets were all squatting toilets, soap was a luxury, the air is extremely polluted and almost no one speaks English. It sounds like it was an awful experience, being separated from the luxuries I had always enjoyed. But that’s just it, it’s not. It is probably one of the best experiences I have ever had. In fact, it probably is the best one. I know we’re not in China anymore, but 不担心,we’ll always have the memories(since they’re pretty unforgettable),we still have each other and we can always go back.