A few short weeks ago I sent a victorious text message to a couple of my friends residing in the States and proudly shared with a couple of friends here how I felt I conquered the world.
Ok, it was less “conquering the world” and more “made it through the day”. Either way you look at it, I was excited. It was the first time in six months that I was able to successfully run all of my errands in under three hours. Yes, it only took me one hour to get everything done. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Living abroad is exciting, full of adventure, and at the same time, it is still full of all the ordinary things I had to do in the States. Buying groceries, mailing 24 postcards, paying my phone bill, paying for my Internet, buying a light bulb (which is not sold in the grocery store), and buying food for lunch … All things I had to complete in one day. Keep in mind, my Chinese is awful.
I walked out of my apartment and headed down the street. Went to the post office first and laid everything out for them to count and stamp. They looked at me as though I was crazy. Sending so many postcards at one time, who does that? This girl … this girl does that. I really really enjoy sending and receiving mail. It is one of my favorite things in the entire world.
Finished that. Walked to the grocery store to pick up many items for a few Christmas parties and some things I just needed in general. Done. Went to phone place and had a mini-panic attack (not true) because this is where I really have to speak to people, in Chinese. Oh gosh! Walked in, told the lady what I needed. Everyone in the shop (all 4 people) looked at me strangely. “Great I’ve used the wrong tones and offended the people, awesome.” – my thoughts at the time. The lady did what I needed and I left. Went to the Internet place. Same thing happened. Everyone looked at me crazy. Went to the little “hardware” store – this is in quotes because it is an everything store, but they have what I need so I get things there. He understand when I said “灯泡” (light bulb). I had no idea what he said after that. Maybe something about the wattage or … I still have no idea. Finally, I went to my veggie lady. At least she didn’t look at me weird. She knows my Chinese is awful and is gracious enough to emailed and nod and just hand me my usual (carrots and corn … sometimes potatoes, not this time though).
All of this to say, it is a challenge to live in a country where the language is not my own. It is a challenge I have accepted and am willing to fight through to be here. I forget how convenient things can be. That is until I see an “easy” recipe that is comprised of just canned goods. Eh. Or the idea of pizza. Pizza is so convenient. Oh my, pizza is the sweet nectar of the gods (too far?). Also, things without MSG. I miss that. It is so easy to live in a place where everyone speaks your language. Where bills can be paid online. Where debit cards are actually able to be used in online transactions. Where grocery stores have all the things you need in one place. Where food comes in cans for convenient meals. Where sugar is granulated. Where brown sugar is actual brown sugar and not … whatever it is we have here. Where bread is a thing. Oh, and sandwiches.
I love being here. But, I must confess, I occasionally miss the convenience of picking up a $5 pizza on my way home, in my car. Keisha, I miss you (Keisha was my car in the States – don’t judge, of course I named my car).
Everyone has challenges in their lives. Some look a little different than others. Mine, for now, is language. However, I’m picking up the pace with studying again, as I have sadly had to set it aside after a couple of very busy months. I will learn this language. Even if it makes me cry. (The Chinese don’t make death jokes, so I’m trying to teach myself how to stop saying things like “even if it kills me”).
Chinese – Challenge Accepted