I am finally back in the states - and it does feel really good to be here. Maybe I still was not completely adjusted to China during my two months, but I cannot see myself ever permanently living there. That being said, there are certain aspects of China and life there that I will really miss here in the United States.
Things I will miss:
I have always grown up without an extended family nearby, and without knowing what I missed, it did not seem like such a big deal. Yes, we celebrated holidays with close friends instead of relatives, but I thought it just made our nuclear family closer. However, upon going back to China I realized that I really enjoyed being around my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. I feel like your own flesh-and-blood relatives, like parents, will always love you unconditionally. In China, a lot of importance is placed on family ties. During major holidays such as the New Year, everyone, no matter where he/she currently live, tries to journey back "home" - the childhood home where he/she grew up and where the grandparents live. As my grandparents talked about the celebration in their home, I realized that my own nuclear family has been the missing piece of the united extended family for many years.
Though we do try to visit every few years, we miss a lot of important family events such as marriages, college graduations, or the birth of a child. Each time we visit, it seems as if their lives have been fast-forwarded into the future and we are only viewing snapshots in time. I have no idea when I will see them again.
No one needs a car in China. There are all kinds of buses, taxis, subways for extremely low prices. I found that most buses only charged 1-2 Yuan (about 15-30 cents). Subways were around 2 Yuan. Additionally, usually schools and stores are easily within walking distance. If you are skillful and can navigate through a sea of pedestrians and cars, you can also ride a bike or motorcycle. It was so convenient and affordable to get anywhere in any city I visited.
There is so much good food in China that sadly cannot be replicated here in the states. For example, right-out-of-the-ground fresh Chinese greens, fluffy white steamed bread, or salted duck eggs. Maybe I can try replicating some of the recipes? However, without the fresh ingredients, it probably will not taste the same.
It's no secret that most everything is cheaper in China (with the exception of western brands, cars, and housing). I estimate that everyday goods are around 5 times cheaper there. It was really fun to buy things knowing that I was spending basically spare change. However, there is a hidden cost to the low prices. Who knows under what conditions and pressures laborers work under to produce massive amounts of goods?
So those are some things I miss. Next I will write about what I do not miss about China.