"Wish You Happy Every Day": An Expat's Life in China

Not everyday is an adventure
October 13, 2010, 1:46 am
Filed under: the expat life | Tags:

At an expat gathering not long ago, another American asked me a very typical question: “Where are you from?”

I told him I was from New York City.  Then he asked why I was here; usually, I just tell people that I am teaching, but this time I said, “For an adventure.”

He looked surprised and asked me, jokingly, “You’re from New York and you came to Dalian for an adventure?”

Even though this happened at least two weeks ago, his words have followed me all the way to this blog entry.  He had a point, after all–Dalian is not the most exciting city in the world.  I’ve pretty much seen all of the sites, all of which are modern constructions, since there doesn’t seem to be any remains of Dalian’s history.  It didn’t help that, only a day after this exchange, I found myself in the basement of a very ritzy hotel with a bunch of out of place 60+ year old expats, listening to a live band play something that was a cross between bad disco and elevator music.  As someone I met there said, “This is for people who are really, really nostalgic.”

Now, I’m halfway through my second month of living in Dalian, and a growing part of me has to wonder: why am I here? What am I doing?  I think it’s time to face the fact that not every day is an adventure.  And that’s okay–I can’t expect every day to sweep me off my feet.  This is daily life now, and daily life is not always the most interesting.

Sometimes, it also seems like life here is so inconsequential.  I don’t have to stay here; I could get on a plane next week, if really wanted to.  I could make my entire life here disappear–and that is a very weird feeling.

Living in China, thus far, has also been a difficult lesson in learning to be alone.  I find that half of the time I am out and about, meeting people or hanging out with a few friends that I’ve made; but a lot of time is spent in my own company.  I’m not used to greeting the day every morning and not receiving another human voice saying, “Good morning” back.  To my credit, even before I came I expected to be alone a lot.  One of my personal goals was–and still is–to learn how to be okay with my own company.

For this, I turn to this lovely poem by Tanya Davis:

“Just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it.”


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’ve decided at this moment that 1) I really need to send you an email. 2) Your blog is awesome. 3) I miss you tremendously. ❤ J


Comment by jrarcieri

keep on keeping on…and writing. to us. for you. you may feel alone but you’re not.


Comment by susiedec4

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