There are so many things that I took for granted in the States.
When speaking with other ex-pats, they all say the same thing. Living here, a person goes through ups and downs. Sometimes you like it, sometimes not so much. I am definitely going through a not so much time right now.
Overall, I love the idea that I am out in the world, meeting new people, seeing new things, experiencing a different culture and yes, smelling new smells. But Shekou is really different than San Diego. I know I just earned the Captain Obvious award but it’s true. Nothing is convenient here and most days, I just roll with it. But I think what I miss about living in the States is the attitude of let’s make it better. Now, this can be for better or worse sometimes. But for me in the States, the concept of improving upon something, making it easier for people isn’t really here. I believe it’s what many people refer to when they speak of America’s overindulgence.
I don’t presume to be an expert on cultures and I am hesitant to make such huge generalities, especially for only having lived abroad for what, eight weeks? I am simply stating my observations. Take for instance cell phones. Here you buy a SIMS card that gives you a certain amount of time. As a result, you can’t leave voice messages for people because there is no plan. They either see the missed call or you need to text them. And everything here is done with cash so you need to carry money with you when you want to buy pretty much anything here. If you don’t have the cash, you have to go to an ATM, get the money out, then go back again and deal with the lines. Try that for a few weeks, it’s different.
The no messages or having to have cash is not a bad thing. I mean, it’s nice sometimes not to be connected – if I don’t answer, I am not available. Or with the money, if I don’t have the cash that means I just can’t buy it. I definitely watch my bank account more here because I physically see the money leaving my wallet. Not a bad thing and Suze Orman would agree. So I think for me, it’s a convenience issue. If I want an iPhone, I have to go to Hong Kong. Well, Hong Kong is a 50-minute ferry ride (one way) and they cost around $700 US. They were sold out at the three places I went to. Guess what? No iPhone. Plus, do I really need a $700 phone? Probably not, but I do miss the choice and prices.
Here, it’s as if what you do is limited in a sense because there simply isn’t a lot of choices. And on many levels, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just coming from a place where most things for me were pretty easy: it’s a downshift. Sometimes a girl just wants to leave a message or buy something with her debit card.
What will be interesting for me is the culture shock when I get to the States next summer. That’s going to be interesting!