When I was thinking about what to write today, I was eager to share what I learned about the Tibetan turquoise bracelet I bought last weekend…and share my super hipster photo of me trying to pose with it. Anyway, Tibetan people have a beautiful perspective on it.
However, after some consideration, perhaps I should wait another time though because today something monumental happened right underneath my nose.
Today was my first good-bye. Although I didn’t actually say good-bye I did express to my PhD students how much I enjoyed teaching them, as today was the last class. Next week is the final and they will share their presentations, so I will see them again, but it hit me.
Things are beginning to end.
Why is this so monumental?
I would say that for most expats it’s a difficult realization, and an even more difficult reality…at least based on some of the other blogs I have read such as thecultureblend.com. However, much of what they say applies to people who have lived as foreigners for much longer than 5 measly months. There is a word for people like me who don’t stay for very long: Goer.* I’ve begun to wonder if any of it even counts for me.
They say that things will be different when I get back home, but will they really? It’s only 5 months.
They say I will have changed, but have I really? It’s only 5 months…
They say there will be reverse culture shock, but will being able to flush my toilet paper really be that shocking?
It’s only…5 months.
Then I realize, it definitely counts. My first time living away from home after college is here in China. My first job, my first apartment, my first everything really. This is especially significant considering the fact I spent my last year of university living at home. Five, ten, twenty years down the road when I revisit this revelation I do not doubt that it will have gained even more significance.
Before I even left for China and was still in the conflicted decision-making stage, a wise woman asked me “If you don’t go will you regret it?” In that moment I decided that the answer was “yes.” Now, with just over two months on either side of my journey I have been asked that question again: when I walk back through that airport gate am I going to regret what I didn’t do here? In those moments when I was looking for comfort rather than culture, or when I was spending time with my Western friends rather than my Chinese ones. Am I going to regret it?
The problem with these big life questions it that you can never just ask them once. Sometimes you have to ask yourself every day! I suppose that is life though.
Until next time!
* Many of the thoughts I had for this post were spurred by reading this article from The Culture Blend: http://www.thecultureblend.com/?p=2473&subscribe=success#blog_subscription-8