Today I have given myself a whole day to relax and reflect on my time here in China so far. I had planned on going rock climbing with Pat and Lala but felt like having a quiet day (and saving money!).
It’s good to have time to slow down and try to process everything that has happened within the past couple of weeks – possibly the most hectic and out-of-my-comfort-zone couple of weeks I have had in my life so far.
There have and still are massive challenges for me here. First of all, the language barrier that holds me back from really interacting with local people and having meaningful conversations is something that can make you feel not only very lonely and isolated, but also frustrated, confused, rude, ignorant and generally like a “stupid foreigner”. I’m sure this isn’t at all what every Chinese person I meet thinks about me, but it’s hard not to feel these things when you can’t communicate simple things and end up looking completely baffled and awkwardly gesturing replies to questions you didn’t understand. If anything though, at least this is a motivator to learn the language- or at least to try to grasp a few basic phrases. This is something that so far I have found challenging because of being so busy and settling into my new life here.
It really is a strange feeling being so far away from home. Sometimes I have to deliberately make myself stop and think about what things were like back home- the complete change of routine, surroundings and circumstances in general have made me almost forget about life back home. This is probably also due to the fact that I have been so busy and not had time to stop and reflect. But it is always a great comfort to speak to friends and family back home and hear about what they are getting up to.
The distance from home also makes things I was preoccupied with before seem so trivial and unimportant.
One thing I love about being one of few foreigners in a small city in China is that you can pretty much get away with anything (obviously I’m not talking about crime) and people will just shrug it off as a thing that foreigners do. You’re already going to be getting stared at, so why not make the most of it and act up to the strange foreigner stereotype. People will most likely just laugh or take photos!