You know, because I’m all about balance. Except, of course, when it comes to dessert.Much like the stuff I miss, the stuff I don’t miss has been kind of a surprise to me.
It’s not the obvious things — the things I thought I would be happy to leave behind, like the crowds and the crazy traffic and the smog.
If anything I find myself kind of missing those things – well, not the crowds or the crazy traffic.
But the smog did make for some pretty photos. Which always made all those pollution-induced respiratory infections I suffered feel kind of worth it.
5 Things I Don’t Miss About China (Even though I don’t remember not liking them when I lived there)
1. Itty bitty, overpriced toiletriesOn my first day back in the States, I went to the local drug store and bought a bottle of lotion bigger than my head. I had to use both hands to lug it to the cash register, where I was shocked to discover how cheap it was. The thing weighed as much as a two-year-old child, but it cost about half as much as the teeny weeny bottles of lotion I used to buy in China.
You see, the cost of living in China may be cheap.
But the cost of moisturizing (and conditioning and sunblocking) was ridiculously expensive.I have always been a quantity over quality kind of girl when it comes to toiletries.
What can I say?
I go through a lot of toiletries. I attribute this to the fact that when it comes to lotion and sunscreen and other skincare products, I have a pretty large surface area to cover. And I have hair that needs at least a gallon of conditioner applied to it daily to prevent me from looking like the Bride of Frankenstein.
I don’t care if my lotion is chock full of pomegranate extract and honey from some rare breed of Himalayan, albino bees. My conditioner doesn’t need to smell like organic ylang-ylang oil. And my sunblock needn’t have some fancy French name I can’t pronounce.
But I would like it served in a bucket, please.It’s possible I have gone a bit overboard stocking up on oversized toiletries since my return to the States.
Do you know how hard it is to swig mouthwash out of a bottle that you can’t even lift?
And do I really need five hundred cotton swabs? Honestly, there are only so many times I need to clean my ears in a day. But that was, seriously, the smallest size box they had available at the store.
Luckily, the back of the box provided some helpful illustrations on other suggested uses for my new monster stash of swabs. Apparently, I can use them to type with when my fingers get tired.
And I guess they’re also really good for combing the hair of babies. Now, I just need, like, 500 babies and I’ll be good.
2. The gymI can’t say I’m a big fan of gyms in general.
Because it’s a gym, you guys. The kind of people who enjoy gyms are the kind of people who wear yoga pants to do yoga and not just to sit around their house all day.
I think we can all agree I’m not those people.So I was kind of surprised when I went back to the gym in the States for the first time, and I actually almost enjoyed myself.
Nobody stared at me while I got dressed in the locker room.
I didn’t have to dodge children playing hide-and-seek among the weight machines like I used to have to do on a regular basis at my gym in China.
And I didn’t have to spend thirty minutes on the treadmill breathing in cigarette smoke from the gym’s smoking lounge. Because, my gym here doesn’t have one of those. I know, crazy, right? I mean, where are all the middle-aged guys going to go to smoke their post-workout pack of cigarettes? Or, you know, just go to hang out and smoke cigarettes even though they never bothered to work out?
3. Living with my coworkersI’m currently living at home.
With my parents.
And it’s awesome.
I swear I’m not just saying that because my dad reads my blog. (Hi, Dad!)
But because it is awesome.
You see, I’ve always felt living with your parents is one of those experiences that you really can’t appreciate until you’re older. And wiser. And realize that there are worse people you could be living with.
Like your coworkers.You see, in China, I lived in university housing, which had its perks.
Like, you know, the fact that it was free.
And the fact that was my couch.
But the one big downside to this was that I had to live with my coworkers. No offense to any of my coworkers or anything. I worked with lots of lovely people.
But, think about it, guys.
Think about the people you work with right now. I’m sure you work with lots of lovely people, too. But you probably also work with a few people that you’d rather not see past five o’clock on a Friday, right?
Now imagine you had to live with them.
All of them.
All of the time.
Even that creepy dude in Accounting who chews really loudly and always says weird things about your shoes.
Yep, even him.
I told you living with my parents is awesome.
4. My jobDon’t get me wrong. My job wasn’t bad in China.
I had a cushy four-day work-week and lots of vacation time.
My classes were long, but I wasn’t expected to keep office hours or sit at a desk for hours on end.
I had a lot of freedom as far as what I got to teach and how I got to teach it.
Sure, the classrooms looked like something straight out of Little House on the Prairie, but at least the electricity would usually work. Kind of.
But they weren’t particularly excited to be there.
You see, I worked at a low level, private university – basically a last resort for students who weren’t able to get into a prestigious, public university or a higher level, private university.
All of my students had spent the majority of their childhood studying for the national college entrance exam – only to fail it. Understandably, they weren’t too eager to spend another four years of their life studying, but they didn’t have much choice. Many of them told me they had been forced to go to college by their parents. Even the students who wanted to be there were often forced to study a major they weren’t interested in.
While most of them would dutifully show up to class, they weren’t particularly keen on being there.
And, well, to be perfectly honest, neither was I.Two weeks ago, I started a new job — teaching academic writing to international students at a university here in Buffalo.
And, for the first time in a long time, I’m excited to go to work.
Partly because I work with a really awesome bunch of people. And I’m not just saying that because some of those awesome people read my blog. (Hi, awesome coworker people! I didn’t mean what I said up there about living with my coworkers. I would totally want to live with you guys. All of you. All the time. That’s not creepy, right?)
And partly because I work for a university that has abundant resources and excellent facilities. Like, I’m pretty sure all the classrooms come with heat. And I won’t be forced to wear gloves while I teach this winter. That’s going to get exciting.But mostly because I work with such an energetic, engaged bunch of students.
This week one of my classes spent thirty minutes debating the merits of journal writing versus brainstorming as an effective prewriting technique. Then, they almost got into a fistfight over the best way to outline a paragraph.
I could have cried it was so beautiful.
5. The attentionI really thought I would miss all the attention I used to get in China — the stares, the honking cars, the random strangers shouting “hello” at me on the street.
At the very least, I thought I’d miss visiting famous places and having everyone ask to take a photo of me like I was part of the attraction.
Sure, other people might find all that attention disconcerting, but this is me we’re talking about here. I have a blog where I write entirely about myself. And post pictures of myself in a pink pleather cop uniform.
It’s not as if I don’t like a little attention, you guys.After getting all that attention for so long, it’s been weird to return to the States and feel anonymous once again – but it’s a good weird.
I kind of like being able to blend in a bit even with my Bride of Frankenstein hair.
I can take a walk down my street without worrying about cars swerving because the drivers are too busy staring at me to watch the road.
I can go to the grocery store and not have any of my fellow shoppers stop to inspect the contents of my cart.And last weekend I went to Niagara Falls with some friends, and not a single person asked to take my picture.
Which, admittedly, was the teensiest bit disappointing.
I mean, when are you going to see two wonders of nature like this together ever again? Probably not anytime soon.Have you ever found yourself not missing something about a place — especially something you thought you would really kind of miss? What was it?