It’s bizarre how quickly China became home.
Of course There have been a thousand small moments of culture shock and fear. Simple everyday tasks like ordering a tea or paying for eggs at the grocery store still requires a few deep breaths. Fumbling with money at a cash register is unnerving, for some reason.. But these moments pass, and every time I’m getting more brave. The months of painful culture shock that I was primed for hasn’t yet materialized, instead manifesting itself in quick bursts.
Roughly round the second day after stepping off the plane, it felt completely normal to be in China. My hotel room was my new home, the people in my orientation group was my new family, and Shenzhen was just another place to live.
Now that I’ve been working at my school and living in my apartment for nearly a month now, the sense is even stronger. I don’t wake up in my bed and think that it’s strange to be in China, I wake up in my bed and it’s like any other morning in any other apartment I’ve ever lived in. I’m finding my favorite restaurants, my favorite bakeries, my favorite running paths.
I’ve struggled for sometime to explain precisely how normal everything feels, and how quickly it happened. I read in a blog post about travel that no matter what level of culture shock, you will always be able to find more similarities than differences between the new place and your home. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Yes, the cultural differences are everywhere.(I was advised that if I get hit by a car, to try and limp out of the way as quickly as possible in case they try to hit me again to finish me off so they don’t have to pay for medical support.)
Still, Shenzhen is a city like any other, full of people living their lives, and now I’m one of them. I’m still a weiguoren, and I always will, but I’m home.