I was talking with this American woman while I was getting my hair done the other day, and she was really down on America in general. I mean it was so cliché about how overindulgent Americans are, and how in the supermarkets there are 100 cereals and who needs 100 cereals? And things were just too easy in the US and this that and the other. I think I bit my tongue so hard that it was almost bleeding. She then proceeds to talk about China and how she has lived everywhere and isn’t so lovely and she can get her nails done at such a good price… blah, blah, blah. I really had lost interest in what she was saying after she was speaking so poorly of the USA. To me, your country is kind of like your family and talking badly about it is in poor taste. Especially when it’s a country that gave you so much. You don’t have to like it, but at the very least, have an open mind about it. Or move and be done with it.
One thing that I might have mentioned before about China is that not many things are not convenient. It’s wonderful that I can have a dress or suit made, but the tailors in Shekou don’t have a great selection on materials, so you have to travel by taxi to Dongman or Lowu to buy it, so it’s a good half-day just to get that part of it done. You have to really want it. It’s true of a lot of things here; it just isn’t easy and you end of playing a game of… is it worth it, do I need it? You can’t just go to the store because everything here is a bit of an event – one must prioritize. I don’t know how else to explain it.
So, as this woman continues talking about how wonderful China is, she agrees with me how many things are inconvenient. Then she mentioned that this inconvenience has actually stopped her from doing certain things in her life. And I thought to myself, well which one is it? You complained because things are so easy in the US, there seems to be too much choice, yet you are complaining because there isn’t enough choice here… I like to go into the store with the choice of 100 cereals. I miss that. I love the fact that in America, as an American woman, I have many choices on how I want to live my life, and the opportunity to do it. It’s up to me.
Sure, I hear what she is saying, it’s probably a good to ask yourself is it worth it, do I need it? But for me, don’t pooh-pooh on America because you don’t always agree with choices some Americans make or idealize other cultures because they aren’t American. I live in China because I was given the opportunity to educate myself in America. I teach using American education standards. I am an American. China is a fascinating country and I am just scratching the surface. The idea of immersing myself in this new culture thrills me, but in my heart, I am a Westerner, specifically, a Californian. I don’t have to agree with everything that is American or Western. It’s looking at the good and bad of the many places and people I encounter as I make my way throughout this life that makes things interesting.